Banking on Business Support for the Arts

Posted by Laura Bruney On May - 23 - 2014
Adolfo Henriques

Adolfo Henriques

This interview with Adolfo Henriques by Laura Bruney and Etain Connor of the Arts & Business Council of Miami was originally published May 6, 2014 on their blog, www.artsbizmiami.org/ArtsBizBlog.

Sitting on the 8th floor of the Gibraltar Bank offices, we are first struck by the incredible views of downtown Coral Gables. We are here to meet Adolfo Henriques, a paragon in our cultural community and an enthusiastic supporter of the arts both personally and professionally. As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust, Mr. Henriques has embraced the value and economic impact of the cultural community. His civic contributions are extensive, including serving as Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council since 2008.  Under his leadership on the Council, he has helped keep local arts funding intact during the great recession and helped the Council continue to provide resources to strengthen the 1,000+ arts groups in Miami-Dade. He has also served in senior leadership positions at some of South Florida’s most prestigious institutions including Miami-Dade’s Beacon Council, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, and United Way of Miami-Dade County.

ABC Miami: What do you think makes a vibrant community and what role do the arts play?

AH:  I believe people make a vibrant community. But what attracts and retains people? The opportunities and resources a community offers to improve quality of life are essential to attracting and retaining key talent in Miami. And the arts are a key element to improving the quality of our lives. I like to think of a city in the same way that a film maker creates a scene. You begin with actors performing in front of a green screen. All you see are the characters moving amongst a blank background, it isn’t until the editor adds color, visual effects, music and more that a truly cinematic moment is created. The arts are like the special effects. They make the impossible happen, make a moment memorable and make people happy. The arts connect us and give us cause to explore our own creativity. They provide context. That is why the arts is an essential part of our local community. It is the unifying element and proactive catalyst to the nation’s most diverse and fastest growing cultural city in the U.S.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dirtbag Comedians Shall Inherit the Earth

Posted by Negin Farsad On December - 2 - 2013
Negin Farsad

Negin Farsad

It’s the future, bitches. And the future needs figuring out. It needs parsing and unpacking because it’s…ugh… so complicated and booooring. Where there used to be two dudes at a table having a conversation, there are now algorithms spitting out preferences. Where once upon a time we could count on social responsibility and public good, we now count on public shaming and seemingly irrefutable made-up factiness.

Where do we develop a sense of social justice in a climate like this? How can we see things for the bags of dog pooh that they might actually be? The journalists, they have a heckuva job because they’re supposed to understand everything and type it out in palatable but non-partisan high-traffic news posts. The commentators have to churn out really narrow talking points, so they’re booked. The prose writers have to save novels from vanishing. The philosophers are trying to get paid more than their adjunct teaching jobs so they can focus on philosophizing. The poets never made any sense. So who’s left?? Who’s going to help us FIGURE IT OUT? Read the rest of this entry »

Humor & Social Change: An Introduction

Posted by Joanna Chin On December - 2 - 2013
Joanna Chin

Joanna Chin

When I talk to friends who are not in the arts, or show them my creative work, the most common response by far is some variation on: I could never do that. I’m not artistic. I’m so not creative. Which, of course, cannot be true. Mostly because my career is predicated on the belief that participation and access to the arts and creative outlets are both a human right and also a basic need. However, when I hang out with my friend who does stand up or anyone with a talent for the perfectly timed punch line, I empathize with my (so-called) non-artistic friends. In the same way that Michelangelo’s work was deemed mysteriously divine, so comedy has this unattainable quality to it (divine comedy, anyone?) that makes its power to poke fun and change perception equally hard to pin down. Although I think of comedy and art in parallel, in many of the circumstances where humor is used for social commentary and as an agent of change, humor also IS a form of art.

Animating Democracy’s December blog salon seeks to explore how artists, comedians, and other cultural commentators employ humor in the heavy work of social justice. As articulated by Dr. Nancy Goldman in her Animating Democracy trend paper about the role of humor in the work of social change, comedy – from satire to parody to slapstick – has a long history of calling attention to and commenting on the ways in which we live in the world together, socially and politically. From the days of Old Comedy in ancient Greece, and for centuries since, humor has provided a largely acceptable means by which to hold ideologies up to the light for inspection and critique. Join us as our bloggers apply their wit and irreverence to fundamental questions associated with this work: How does humor work?  When is humor a strategic choice and toward what social effects? What are examples of projects that have applied the power of “funny” to take up difficult issues and seen positive social change?  What is over the line?

You’ll hear from the Founding Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising Jamil Khoury, whose post unpacks how humor contributes to success measured in the “parallels and knowing moments;” political cartoonist Liza Donnelly on being a culture sponge; artist and co-founder/director of Fulana Marlène Ramírez-Cancio’s examination of satire as a tool for “protest with punchline;” comedian Negin Farsad  as she explains how dick jokes will change the world, and many more.

Ajaz Ahmed

Ajaz Ahmed

Successful collaborations between brands and artists are possible, once outdated preconceptions are overcome.

Where art and business overlap: Burberry's collaboration with artists adds to the credibility of the brand. Photo Credit: Felix Clay

Where art and business overlap: Burberry’s collaboration with artists adds to the credibility of the brand. Photo Credit: Felix Clay

The poetry of ancient Persia is full of bridges. In the works of Rumi and others, metaphors are the bridges of art, in the sense that they unite two seemingly irreconcilable things. They give people a route to make sense of an alien world or concept by relating it to something familiar. They illuminate by association: here is how this world connects directly to that other, seemingly isolated world. Bridges also represent journeys between states of being, rather than just a means of get from A to B. For example, the Persian belief that people in the west are perhaps too far over on the prose side of the bridge, while the east is too drawn to the poetry side. If only we could meet in the middle, we might find a perfect balance of mind and body, of calculation and creativity.

That idea of two cultures stuck at either ends of the same bridges could be applied to art and business today. They need each other, despite their apparent differences; they are concerned with many of the same things, but that is obscured by their mutual suspicion. Perhaps a bit more metaphor and magic would be a start in changing this state of affairs. If arts practitioners and brands had the same big, captivating idea to focus on, cultural differences would be pushed to the side and more worthwhile collaborations would surely result. Read the rest of this entry »

The Kansas City Chiefs Tackle the World of Art

Posted by Harlan Brownlee On September - 12 - 2013
Harlan Brownlee

Harlan Brownlee

Recently, I attended the opening of the Kansas City Chiefs’ new art installation at Arrowhead Stadium.  Initiated by Sharron Hunt,  and developed with assistance from local experts Jacqueline Chanda, President of the Kansas City Art Institute; Barbara O’Brien, Director of Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Julián Zugazagoitia, Director and CEO, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; and the Sherry Leedy and Dolphin Galleries, the collection features eleven works by regional artists.  As an arts enthusiast, I was pleased to see the Chiefs’ send a clear signal to the community that they value the arts as an important cultural amenity.

Most people would agree that having a sports team, like the Chiefs, is important to our region and the same is true of the arts. Everybody benefits from the vibrancy of our arts scene, regardless of their level of participation.  And kudos to the KC Chiefs’ for selecting fine art pieces by artists with roots in the region and national reputations. Our region has many accomplished artists and I am so pleased to see them getting the attention they deserve.  Read the rest of this entry »

Happiness Is The Arts

Posted by Stephanie Milling On August - 14 - 2013
Stephanie Milling

Stephanie Milling

The last couple of weeks, two interesting news stories that shared conflicting perspectives of the arts were reported on the NBC Nightly News. The first report told the story of a failing school in Boston that was turned around when the principal chose to eliminate the funding that customarily subsidized the security force and invest it in the arts. This move that some considered controversial at Orchard Gardens , a school in Roxbury, MA, resulted in one of the fastest student improvement rates statewide. The other anecdotal evidence that students, teachers, and the principal shared during the report reinforced evidence that arts advocates have always had statistics to support: students who study the arts in school perform better in the classroom and demonstrate more prosocial behavior. As an arts advocate, this feel good story tugged at my heart strings. I was satisfied that this principal’s quest to prove the value of the arts in education proved fruitful. As a former teacher in schools like Orchard Gardens, I was delighted to see a failing school turned around.

The second report featured the retailer, The Children’s Place, and the demands to stop selling a girls t-shirt after complaints that it portrayed a sexist stereotype. The shirt said “my best subjects,” and featured checkboxes next to shopping, music, dance, and math. The boxes next to shopping, music, and dance contained checks while the box next to math was empty. While the controversy surrounding the shirt was motivated by individuals who viewed the shirt as sexist—and I am not denying that it was sexist–I was also bothered by the fact that it trivialized dance and music as core subject areas. By selling such a product, The Children’s Place and the t-shirt designer communicated that young women are intellectually inferior to their male peers and that studying the arts is equivalent to shopping.

While the first news report portrayed the type of story that supports the work arts advocates do in this country, the second illustrates the need for continued dialogue with those who fail to understand the value of the arts in education—even if the faux pas was unintentional. While there are many ways to approach the dialogue of why students benefit from studying the arts with statistics and research to support this perspective, lately I have been thinking of a more straightforward point of entry into the conversation that might resonate with multiple audiences: engagement in the arts can lead to happiness. While approaching a conversation about the value of the arts in education with the idea that it makes us happy might sound facetious, I think it might help develop some common ground between those advocating on behalf of the arts and those who need to be more receptive to the idea that engagement in the arts leads to success in other academic subjects and life. Read the rest of this entry »

Join Arts Advocacy Day from Your Desk (or Couch)

Posted by Tim Mikulski On April - 8 - 2013
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As Congress returns to work in Washington, DC, this week they will face more than just angry tourists who came to see the not-quite-in-bloom cherry blossoms.

Today, advocates are receiving training from experts and tomorrow 500 arts advocates from across the country (and even Japan!) will take to the Hill on behalf of their local arts and arts education programs.

The good news is that you don’t have to be here to participate (although we’d love you to come next year!). In fact, you can pick and choose your ways to support the arts over the next two days.

1. Send a letter to your member of Congress! Head over to our Action Center and send an email stating your case for funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, arts education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, and encouraging their participation in the House Arts and STEAM Caucuses.

2. Watch the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy live online! At 6:30 p.m. EDT join us live as we stream Yo-Yo Ma’s lecture and performance tonight via our YouTube channel. You won’t want to miss his inspiring story!   Read the rest of this entry »

Adding Arts to the Equation

Posted by Susan Harris MacKay On March - 19 - 2013
Susan Harris MacKay

Susan Harris MacKay

Every day, in every aspect of curriculum, Opal School students are invited to work with the arts to express their interpretations and growing relationships with the world around them.

Inspired by the municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, Opal School began 12 years ago with the intention to pursue the question: What are the implications of these approaches for the American Public Elementary School?

Carlina Rinaldi, has written, “We are all researchers of the meaning of life. Yet it is possible to destroy this attitude of the child with our quick answers and our certainty.”

We ask ourselves daily: What assumptions need to shift if we are to sustain curiosity and preserve this attitude of research? What would school look like if it intended to promote the development of the kind of healthy brain architecture our citizens need to support a healthy planet and democracy?

What happens if we withhold quick answers? What relationships become visible? What tools and strategies become of value?

In TED prize winner, Sugata Mitra’s recent talk, we hear him ask similar questions. While I agree with his equation/response to these questions: broadband + collaboration + encouragement, my experience tells me he is missing a vital part: the arts.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts: Promoting Language & Literacy of Young Children

Posted by Louise J. Corwin On March - 18 - 2013
Louise J. Corwin

Louise J. Corwin

Art has traditionally been an important part of early childhood programs. The arts in early childhood education is spontaneous, creative play—drawing, painting, self-expression, singing, playing music, dancing, storytelling, and role playing.

Pre-school age children love the arts because that is what they do naturally. The arts engage all the senses and kinesthetic, auditory, and visual modalities. When parents, early educators and early childhood teachers engage and encourage children in the arts on a regular basis early in life, they help lay the foundation for successful learning and school success. The Early Years Matter!

In early childhood vernacular, the arts include children’s active participation in a variety of experiences—dance, drama, fine arts, and music. These activities allow them to express themselves through the arts and appreciate what they observe.

To be ready for school, children need to reach core milestones and master key skills and abilities in seven domains of learning including the arts.

Important questions to ask include:

  • What skills in the arts do young children need?
  • Why are the arts important to school success?
  • How can parents support the arts?  Read the rest of this entry »

Former President Learning to Paint in His Retirement

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 11 - 2013

In his retirement, President George W. Bush has been spending time learning how to become a better painter.

He recently hosted an artist from Georgia at his Florida home for about a month as she taught “43″ and his sister-in-law new techniques. The former President began by painting portraits of dogs, but artist Bonnie Flood says he graduated to landscapes and has a natural talent.

FOX 5 in Atlanta aired this report late last week:

Although we often think of arts education as a K–12 activity, lifelong learning in the arts is something we can’t forget about. Even world leaders can experience the pleasure of discovering a new art form late in life!

The Marriage of Arts, Economics, & Education

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 4 - 2013

The NABE FoundationThe NABE Foundation, the charitable arm of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), and Americans for the Arts will present Paul Vancea with the the 2013 NABE Foundation Americans for the Arts Scholarship Award later today in Washington, DC.

The Scholarship Award was established in 2008 to encourage the integration of the arts into the economic education process. Recipients of the scholarship must come from economically disadvantaged households and have attended public school. Successful candidates demonstrate long-term participation in the study of, creation in and/or performance in one or more art forms, including dance, music, theatre, literary, visual/media arts; excel academically; and have formally declared the intent to study economics for policy purposes, or in applications in the private and public sectors.

The scholarship recipients are selected following a competitive review process which begins with a pre-screening of applicants by Americans for the Arts, followed by a review of finalists by a sub-committee, and ratification of recipients by the NABE Foundation Board.

Vancea is receiving a scholarship in the amount of $5,000 to support the study and application of economics in his undergraduate studies and professional career. He is currently a junior at Brandeis University, majoring in Economics, Business, and Film.  Read the rest of this entry »

What Are “The Arts” Anyway?

Posted by Howard Sherman On February - 22 - 2013
Howard Sherman

Howard Sherman

Art. The arts. Fine arts. Performing arts. Visual arts. The lively arts. Arts & entertainment. Arts & culture. Culture. High culture. Pop culture.

The preceding phrases are all, on a very macro basis, variations on a theme. However, were you in a research study, and I showed you each of them, one at a time, I daresay they would provoke very distinct associations, very clear delineations of what each encompasses in your mind. Those responses would also likely change depending upon the order in which I showed these to you.

I could also take any two and combine them in a Venn diagram and the overlapping segment would be quite clear. But incorporate a third or fourth and you might find one of these categories the odd man out.

Why do I bring this up?

Because as the “arts community” fights its valiant, essential, and never-ending battle to convince the public at large of the value of “the arts,” I cannot help but wonder whether those on the receiving end of such messaging each hear very different things when these words are presented to them.

I’m prompted to these thoughts by a variety of “real world” examples and experiences, some quite personal. I’m hoping that perhaps someone will want to test my assumptions.

Visit the websites of a few newspapers. The New York Times “Arts” section is a big tent, where theatre, dance, and opera fit in alongside movies, TV, books, and pop music; only on Fridays in the New York edition do they distinguish between performing arts and fine arts, by dividing them into two printed sections.  Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Whitacre

Bruce Whitacre

“We have a euphoria inhibitor in Stage 2 trials,” explained the drug company executive to the bio-tech venture capitalist.

I paused. I told him that we in theatre seek euphoria wherever we can find it. He laughed and explained that euphoria inhibitors help keep strong pain medication from becoming addictive. The venture capitalist leaned in to hear more and I went to the buffet for another sandwich.

I was attending the Long Wharf Theatre’s 2013 Global Health and the Arts symposium, “Obesity and its Public Health Consequences.”

Driven by the combination of Yale Medical School and other Yale University researchers, the proximity to the Boston research corridor, the Tri-state pharmaceutical industry, and the catalytic qualities of Long Wharf trustee David Scheer, the conference capitalizes on Long Wharf’s unique location in New Haven, CT.

The idea came from David’s desire to do more for Long Wharf Theatre. It played to his strengths, and as I’ll explain later, those of Long Wharf as well.

In past years, the conference has focused on cancer, addiction, mental health, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a serious medical conference that is convened in and uses theatre to enliven and engage researchers and businesspeople alike.  Read the rest of this entry »

Getting to Know Our Staff: Ten Questions with…Tim Mikulski

Posted by Tim Mikulski On February - 8 - 2013
Tim Mikulski selling our wares at the 2011 National Arts Marketing Project Conference.

Selling our wares at the 2011 National Arts Marketing Project Conference.

Last week we launched a new regular series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff here at Americans for the Arts. While Kristen Engebretsen happened to give an excellent podcast interview, not everyone has those opportunities; but, it got me thinking about coming up with a fun/interesting way for you to learn about the people behind the organization.

And that brainstorming led me to “Ten Questions with…” in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.

Of course, I then realized I have to start with me since it will encourage the rest of the staff to share. With all that in mind, here is the debut of “Ten Questions with…” as I have interviewed myself:

1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less.

ARTSblog editor; writer; part communications/part web team member; internal reporter.

2. What do the arts mean to you?

As I often say, I used to have musical talent—until my voice changed. I also acted a bit in middle school, high school, and one brief appearance in college. But, I have to admit that in addition to being something I enjoy attending or wish I had more talent or courage enough to try, the arts were a refuge for me as a kid. While struggling with your identity during that critical time period everyone reacts differently. For me, I had the whole The Tears of a Clown thing going on—I seemed happy on the surface, but felt very isolated on the inside. The arts, in this case mostly music and television, made me feel less alone. That’s one of the big reasons why I feel passionate about the arts and arts education.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts Are Patriotic, Too

Posted by Robert Lynch On February - 5 - 2013
Robert L. Lynch

Robert L. Lynch

Imagine this scene: there is a band playing as you walk in. As the musicians wrap up their piece and take their seats, a large choir pops up, featuring top-notch a cappella performers. This performance segues into rousing solo performances from vocalists backed up by beautiful orchestrations. Great writers are celebrated. Poetry is recited. And the whole celebration is capped off with—what else?—dancing.

If you were in Washington D.C. last week, or anywhere near a television, you might recognize this event, not as an arts festival, a cabaret, or a musical, but as our Presidential Inauguration. It’s probably not the first thing most people noticed as they watched the pomp and circumstance of a centuries-old tradition play out, but it is certainly what struck me most: at our most essentially American moments, when we want to celebrate most fully and most impressively, we inevitably employ the arts.

What I saw was:

  • The presentation of our National Colors through military music and choreography.
  • The spectacular Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
  • Myrlie Evers-Williams reciting the words to a great, moving spiritual at the center of her comments.
  • The story of the Dome of the Capital—of architecture, art and fine craft—completed in the middle of the Civil War as an artistic symbol of our Union. And the story of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome—a piece of art cast, assembled and put in place by slaves in 1863.
  • Musicians James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and the Marine Band each singing our national treasures: the great patriotic songs of our country.
  • Poet Richard Blanco reading “One Today”; references again and again to a movie, “Lincoln;” handcrafted crystal vases gifted to the president and vice president at lunch; the gifts given to all members of Congress, a portfolio of essays related to the Statue of Freedom—in the words of Nancy Pelosi: “Freedom stands on the Dome of the Capitol.”
  • And so many more examples, from the arts and music performances in the parade and balls, to Speaker John Boehner’s story of a team of mother and daughter seamstresses who made the huge flag that hung over Ft. McHenry and inspired our national anthem.  Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.