Annual Convention in 90 Seconds or Less

Posted by Ben Burdick On April - 29 - 2010

In a fun, new video Americans for the Arts talk about the diversity and breadth of the annual convention programming and schedule from great session options and dynamic speakers to special events in Baltimore. To find out more about the convention go to

The Creative Economy (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Mitch Menchaca On February - 24 - 2010

Over the past few months, questions about the creative economy have lit up the phone lines at Americans for the Arts. Members are interested in learning of examples of communities where efforts are thriving; others want to build successful initiatives to engage their local community in the support and promotion of the creative economy; and some members are just wondering what the “creative economy” is all about.

The discussion on the the topic has taken on a high profile around the country (and around the globe) over the past decade. In 2002, Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class highlighted the need for creativity as an asset in the economy. Communities across the country face challenges in attracting and retaining highly skilled workers, developing creative industries, as well as expanding for creative products and services.

A creative economy is dependent on a creative workforce and the presence of creative industries—for-profit and nonprofit businesses involved in the creation or distribution of the arts. They are businesses that we participate in for enjoyment (seeing a movie, attending a concert, or reading a novel); engage in for business (architecture, design, musical instrument manufacturing); and invest in to enrich community livability (museums, public art, performing arts centers). Creative industries contribute to economic growth by attracting a dynamic workforce, serving as a destination for cultural tourism, and creating exportable cultural products. Read the rest of this entry »

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Business pARTnerships: THE BCA TEN 2010 (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Timarie Harrigan On February - 3 - 2010

Last month, as hundreds of thousands of New York City sight-seers walked through Times Square, the message of arts education was promoted through an interesting partnership of arts and business. For an entire week in January, MTV aired Americans for the Arts’ The Arts. Ask for More. public service awareness campaign television ad Raisin Brahms four times per hour on MTV 44 ½, one of the largest high definition screens in Times Square.

As an entertainment industry stronghold that believes in the power of the arts, MTV leads by example—showing other companies that supporting the arts is crucial to creativity, learning, a powerful workforce, and a strong economy. This collaborative effort is a great example of creative partnerships between business and the arts.

Each year at THE BCA TEN: Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America gala, businesses are celebrated for their support of the arts, including partnerships with arts organizations, sponsorships, leadership, grants, and other cross sector collaborative efforts. In November, the Business Committee for the Arts will once again come together to celebrate THE BCA TEN 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Introducing the National Arts Index (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Randy Cohen On January - 20 - 2010

Today, Americans for the Arts released our new National Arts Index at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  This report represents a major milestone for arts in America. Never before has there been a single and annually produced measure of the health and vitality of the arts in America. 

While new for the arts, we interact with indicators daily. If you want to know about the stock market, you check the Dow-Jones Index.  Are we optimistic about the economy? Track the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index. Indicators are broad measures that compress a lot of data into a single indicator. 

The National Arts Index is an annual measure that uses 76 equal-weighted, national-level indicators of arts activity-making it one of the largest data sets about the arts industries ever assembled.  This new report covers an 11-year period, from 1998 to 2008. 

The 2008 National Arts Index score is 98.4-down 4.2 points from its 2007 score of 102.6 (2003=100). A score of 105.5 would return the Index to its highest point, measured in 1999. While the arts industries in the U.S. have become increasingly creative and the number of working artists and arts organizations is growing, audience demand has failed to keep pace-causing the National Arts Index to drop to its lowest level in the 11 years we’ve tracked. 

The overall Index score is only one of the big stories in this report.  Read the rest of this entry »

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This Message Brought to you by the Letters P, B, and S

Posted by Tim Mikulski On January - 15 - 2010

Yesterday, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) President & CEO Paula Kerger told a Los Angeles audience that following years of decline, arts and culture will once again have a home on PBS stations throughout the country.

The new endeavors for PBS include an online arts portal (starting in April) and a plan to devote one night of programming each week to the arts (starting in the fall or winter). The network is also looking to serve communities that have lost arts educators, by providing new arts inclusion material on the PBS Teachers website.

“To be candid, over the last years, we haven’t done as good a job (with cultural programming) as we could,” Kerger said. “I think we can do more. We’re looking to increase the investment we’re making in the arts. The budget (for such programs) has been flat or slightly down. I want to ramp it up.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Rocco Landesman Interview on PBS NewsHour

Posted by Ben Burdick On January - 7 - 2010

Last night, PBS NewsHour aired an interview of National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman. The interview provides some good insight into his background and some important questions and answers about his role as NEA Chairman. Click below to watch the video.

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Avatar’s Economic Impact (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On January - 6 - 2010

Since everyone else is talking about Avatar, we may as well continue the conversation in Arts Watch and on ARTSblog.

I saw the movie in IMAX 3-D on New Year’s Day, along with what seemed like the entire Washington, DC metro area. 

We bought our tickets two days ahead of time, and arrived at the theater two hours early to get in line for our seats. When we arrived at the theater, flashing signs indicated that the movie was sold out for the next three days. It’s been a long time since I’ve ever seen this much hype around a movie. The hype, in my opinion, is well-deserved.

I woke up Monday morning to the news that after the weekend, Avatar had already exceeded over $1 billion in box office sales.  Talk about economic impact.

The movie was made using the digital 3-D Fusion Camera System, co-developed by Director James Cameron. All of this new filming technology got me wondering:  If we didn’t have art in schools, communities, or non-profit arts organizations, could this movie have been made? Read the rest of this entry »

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So…What Exactly is a Local Arts Agency? (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Mitch Menchaca On December - 16 - 2009

Trying to explain to some family and friends about what I do in the arts is a challenge.  In my last role at the Arizona Commission on the Arts I had friends say, “Oh, I have driven past your building. What do you do in there, paint?” I finally had to create a statement and definition about my work that would help convey what I did at the state arts agency. When I accepted my current position at Americans for the Arts the question shifted to “what is a local arts agency?” Surprisingly, I have even been asked by both artists and other arts managers.

So, what is a local arts agency?

Technically, a local arts agency (LAA) is a private community organization or local government agency that supports cultural organizations, provides services to artists or arts organizations, and/or presents arts programming to the public. LAAs endeavor to make the arts part of the daily fabric of community living. Each LAA is unique to the community that it serves and each change as fast as its community changes. However, all seek to serve the diverse art forms in their community and make them accessible to every community member. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts and Human Rights

Posted by Ben Burdick On December - 15 - 2009

For many years, the State Department has viewed cultural exchanges as an important tool for sharing America’s values, ideas, and creativity with the world.  Programs such as Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad have helped audiences abroad gain an understanding of our society and presented our country in a positive light.  On Monday, December 14, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of the arts and artists in her remarks at Georgetown University on the Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century.  During a question and answer session, Secretary of State Clinton was asked about the importance of the arts and artists in helping to promote human rights.  In her reply, Clinton stated:

“I remember some years ago seeing a play about women in Bosnia during the conflict there. It was so gripping. I still see the faces of those women who were pulled from their homes, separated from their husbands, often raped and left just as garbage on the side of the road. So I think that artists both individually and through their works can illustrate better than any speech I can give or any government policy we can promulgate that the spirit that lives within each of us, the right to think and dream and expand our boundaries, is not confined, no matter how hard they try, by any regime anywhere in the world. There is no way that you can deprive people from feeling those stirrings inside their soul. And artists can give voice to that. They can give shape and movement to it. And it is so important in places where people feel forgotten and marginalized and depressed and hopeless to have that glimmer that there is a better future, that there is a better way that they just have to hold onto.”

Clinton also noted that she would be trying to increase the number of these types of artistic exchanges.  To read her remarks in their entirety, please click here.

President Continues Show of Support for the Arts

Posted by Ben Burdick On December - 8 - 2009

On Sunday, December 6, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Kennedy Center Honors recipients Dave Brubeck, Bruce Springsteen, Mel Brooks, Robert De Niro, and Grace Bumbry at a White House celebration prior to the awards show at the Kennedy Center.  President Obama described how at age 10 seeing his first jazz concert starring Brubeck had made him a life-long jazz fan, saying, “The world that he opened up for a 10-year-old boy was spectacular.” 

Obama went on to describe the importance of the arts and artists such as these in America:

“These performers are indeed the best. They are also living reminders of a single truth – and I’m going to steal a line from Michelle here – the arts are not somehow apart from our national life, the arts are the heart of our national life.”

To read more about this story and the Kennedy Center Honors recipients, click here.

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Gifting the Arts (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Tim Mikulski On December - 2 - 2009

Since it feels like Halloween just passed, it came as a bit of a shock to me that it’s already December. With Thanksgiving now also behind us, the celebration of the holiday giving season can begin. I know that I do not have to remind you that it is a great time to give last-minute donations to your favorite arts organizations, but it is also a perfect time to support your local artists.

As I have been catching up on my Google News searches from the past week, I noticed a number of articles in both major and local newspapers encouraging people to buy their holiday gifts at local craft fairs, galleries, and the like. While the members of the arts community might think of this as a no brainer, a simple letter to the editor from a local arts council chair or statewide arts organization director encouraging the rest of the public to do the same could do wonders for the individual artists who have scraped by through this interminable recession. Read the rest of this entry »

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Remembering Artist Jeanne-Claude

Posted by Liesel Fenner On November - 19 - 2009

Jeanne-ClaudeI am personally saddened to learn that Jeanne-Claude, collaborator and wife of Christo, died late Wednesday at age 74. It is widely-known Jeanne-Claude was the passionate proponent and advocate behind the artist team’s spectacular works of art in public space. My life’s work has been dedicated to publicly-sited work in the environment after witnessing Jeanne-Claude and Christo’s Running Fence at the age of 10. The image of the white billowing fence stretching across the California hills was an experience that impacted me profoundly – a parallel experience of the many audiences that have witnessed the duo’s great works. The arts field will not forget Jeanne-Claude’s tireless advocacy, so many art leaders diligently trod, in pursuit of grand-scale creative works, realized in unique spaces for moments in time.  May Jeanne-Claude’s next gate of transition billow in spectacular saffron.

photo credit: Liesel  Fenner

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Watch Tomorrow’s NEA Cultural Workforce Forum Live Webcast

Posted by Ben Burdick On November - 19 - 2009

The NEA is inviting the public to watch a live webcast on Friday, November 20, 2009, about America’s artists and other cultural workers who are part of this country’s real economy.  Some of the topics the panelists will speak about include Artist Labor Markets, Artists and the Economic Recession, Artists in the Greater Economy, and a number of other important arts research and information topics.  For more information click here, and to watch this live webcast tomorrow from 9:00 am-4:00 pm, visit

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Pope to Convene with Artists

Posted by Sherri Ellerbe On November - 12 - 2009

Have you been invited to Rome to attend the Pope’s upcoming arts event?  The Catholic News Service reports in an effort to “renew friendship and dialogue between the church and artists and to spark new opportunities for collaboration,” Pope Benedict XVI will be meeting with artists from around the world November 21 inside the Sistine Chapel.  The guest list is comprised of 500 representatives from the visual and creative arts, architecture, literature, poetry, music and the performing arts.  At press conferences leading up to the event, Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, said, “Over the last century,…artistic excellence and faith have separated and it’s the job of people of culture to try to mend the rift.”  Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, announced that next week’s meeting was to be the “first of many initiatives aimed at bridging the gap that has developed between spirituality and artistic expression.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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First Lady Honors Coming Up Taller Award Recipients

Posted by Ben Burdick On November - 5 - 2009

On Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama continued her show of support for arts and culture by honoring recipients of the Coming Up Taller Awards, given out each year by the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities. The Coming Up Taller Awards recognize and support outstanding community arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, provide them learning opportunities and chances to contribute to their communities. Mrs. Obama recognized the importance of these programs in her remarks:

“Ultimately, each of your programs is using achievement in the arts as a bridge to achievement in life.  And you see all this every day, each and every one of you working so hard.  You see this in your students as they become more confident and more engaged and more willing to take risks and to take responsibility for their futures.  You see it when their academic performance improves, when you see improving attitudes and higher GPAs.  And you see young people who never saw themselves as college material, you see them getting those acceptance letters and you see them going on to pursue their degrees.  So we all know in this room the power of the arts to change young people’s lives.”

To read all of the First Lady’s remarks, click here.