The Critical Role of Higher Education in Arts Education

Posted by Ron Jones On February - 21 - 2012

Ron Jones

Americans for the Arts now has excellent webinars on understanding the roles of seven different constituencies that influence arts education policy: federal, state-level, school boards, superintendents, business partnerships, principals, and parents.

Perhaps I suffer from a perspective biased because of my own professional experience, but there is one glaring absence from the series: higher education.

One reason why higher education has been overlooked is that academics, as well as the general public, tend to think that the mission—the only mission—of our colleges and universities is to train artists; to prepare college students for careers as artists, teachers, and scholars. While this is an obvious and honorable mission for arts education at the collegiate level, we are missing a real opportunity if we do not subscribe another major role to our colleges and universities: the development of future participants in the arts.

Post-Secondary arts education has an obligation to re-think how it functions and what its obligations are to the academy’s dream. Many, if not most, higher education institutions train arts majors. Most, if we are convinced by our own self-assessment, do a great job of that. But, is that all higher education in the arts can and should be doing? Can we not make a greater contribution to society than just focusing on careers?

We must have audiences. We must have donors. We must have supportive civic and corporate leaders. Therefore, we must give equal—if not priority—attention to the challenge of audience creation, development, and retention on the college and university campus. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally Time for the Arts to Shine in “The Age of the Creative Economy”?

Posted by Hannah Jacobson On February - 21 - 2012

Hannah Jacobson

Delight or die; this is the new paradigm set forth by Steve Denning to adapt to the new creative economy.

In a particularly fickle consumer-centric universe, the increased focus on services as opposed to goods, he says, creates a need for “continuous innovation” and what he terms “radical management.”

This new economy will be David versus the Goliath of the outgoing manufacturing economy, and we all know who ultimately wins that battle—but it will require smarts, innovation, flexibility, a great survival instinct, and a lot of new energy.

Yet for the arts, how “radical” is it really to be focused on services, to continuously innovate to survive, and, perhaps most importantly, to delight audiences? If nothing else, the arts community provides a masterful example of survival in any economy—creative or otherwise.

So the idea of the “creative economy,” a concept that has more disparate definitions than can realistically be explored here—think about the spectrum of understandings that would arise from places as distinct as the United States, Norway, England, Australia, and far beyond—might be relatively new, but creativity in the economy and even creativity as a driver of the economy are functions that the arts have long recognized. Read the rest of this entry »

Wayne Andrews

Where we live is important to each of us. It is a key part of our identity. It’s a source of pride, even if our hometown is the punch line to a joke.

Is it really the good schools, parks, and access to shopping centers that make us live where we live? Many people find a fulfilling sense of community in smaller towns and rural regions that do not have all the advantages of larger communities.

Maybe it is not the measurable elements that give a place a sense of community but rather those intangible qualities that create the feeling. Could it be that working with your neighbors to build a park is more important to the sense of community than the actual park? The arts have always been one of the focal points around that help to build a sense of community.

Town festivals, cultural events, and celebrations are often the most visible signs of a community working together. Each pumpkin festival, summer concert series on the town square, or art sale pulls together diverse elements of the community.

An example of this can be seen in Oxford, MS, which has worked to define itself as an arts community. Numerous programs have been launched in partnership between various segments of the community.

Last year working with local business owners, artists, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, a monthly art crawl was launched to highlight the visual artists in the region. Read the rest of this entry »

State Arts Funding: Good News! There Isn’t That Much Bad News

Posted by Justin Knabb On February - 16 - 2012

Justin Knabb

While state legislative sessions are just getting underway in the new year, perpetual campaigning for the election is no doubt leaving everyone already feeling cranky and cynical (or is that just me?).

But take heart, advocates! Despite the cornucopia of GOP candidate positions on public arts funding—ranging anywhere from mild tolerance to total abhorrence—President Obama just proposed an increase in NEA funding!

And on the state level, while some familiar faces are making waves, several states are receiving some great surprises and proposals for steady funding:

Connecticut
Last month, Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) announced the launch of a $3.1 million local-level creative placemaking initiative in July. Gov. Dannel Malloy’s FY13 budget recommends eliminating all direct art support and redirecting those funds to a statewide marketing campaign that would include tourism. The state’s budget office indicates that arts organizations will be able to compete for $14 million in funding with other programs in the DECD.

Florida
The state legislature is proposing an increase to Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Cultural and Museum Grants. These grants were appropriated $2 million for the current fiscal year, and for FY13 the House and Senate are currently recommending $3,025,000 and $5,050,000, respectively.

Kansas
After zeroing out the state arts commission last year, Governor Sam Brownback reversed his decision and proposed $200,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. However, these funds would be for a new Kansas Creative Industries Commission, a merger of the Kansas Arts Commission and the Kansas Film Commission, housed under the Department of Commerce. Read the rest of this entry »

President Obama

President Obama speaks about his new tourism plan in Disney World.

Our President & CEO, Bob Lynch, is always on the road extolling the virtues of the arts and arts education on behalf of our members and the general public.

Recently, Bob spent a whirlwind week talking about tourism, business partnerships, and advocacy in Orlando, Houston, and Miami.

In Orlando, Bob was sworn in for a two-year term as a member of the United States Travel and Tourism Board. He was honored to receive the appointment and feels it is a great opportunity for the organization and the field.

The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The board consists of up to 32 members that advise the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry, offers counsel on current and emerging issues, and provides a forum for discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related problems.

Little did he know that he and the Advisory Board would also have the opportunity to experience a critical press conference held by President Obama (right in the middle of Disney World’s Main Street USA – incidentally a 2011 BCA10 honoree) in which the President put forth his plan to utilize tourism to create jobs and bolster the American economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy New Year from Americans for the Arts!

Posted by admin On January - 5 - 2012

Happy New Year 2012

In 2012, Americans for the Arts resolves to invigorate political discourse and the nation by continuing to spotlight the importance of the arts in America. Artists, teachers, arts managers and professionals, lawmakers, administrators, and advocates are integral to this mission.

This election year, the urgency is growing to have political candidates and office holders understand how arts are vital to our communities. We ask that you make your own resolutions this year by responding to this question:

How can the arts energize the political dialogue in your community this election year?

Here are some insightful responses to get you thinking. Add yours in the comments below! Read the rest of this entry »

Reflecting on the Holidays, New Year, & the Arts

Posted by Tim Mikulski On December - 22 - 2011

Tim Mikulski

It’s become a tradition that ARTSblog offers up a question as part of our annual New Year’s card (our 2012 question will be posted in two weeks), so I didn’t want to take away from that when I started writing a “Happy Holidays” post this morning.

As I began writing a simple message thanking our members, friends, arts leaders (both emerging and emerged), artists, arts administrators, arts educators, social media readers, bloggers, advocates, funders (current, past, and future), partner organizations, business leaders, and (insert anyone I accidentally missed here), I searched the Internet for a quote that would be appropriate for the holidays or New Year that also included the arts.

I found a few that I liked, but then it dawned on me. I need only look back to our 2009 Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy given by Wynton Marsalis. His performance/speech was titled “The Ballad of the American Arts.”

As he covered our country’s history, the end of Marsalis’ speech talked about the future and I think this passage sums up the end of year/holiday feeling that many of us have this time of year: Read the rest of this entry »

Life Lessons for Everyone in the Arts

Posted by Stephanie Riven On December - 21 - 2011

Stephanie Riven

Perhaps you have been following David Brooks’ series of op-eds in The New York Times. He asked people over 70 to send him “Life Reports” — essays about their own lives and what they’d done poorly and well.

No need to wait until we turn 70 to reflect on these “life lessons” and devise our own, especially as we approach the time for New Year’s resolutions.

Formulating lessons are important for all of us who work in the arts, whether as a performer, an administrator, an advocate, or an educator. These lessons are especially important because of the nature of our field — low wages, long hours, competition for jobs, among other obvious challenges.

What can we learn from Brooks and those who submitted “Life Reports?”

Divide your life into chapters: Brooks talks about “the happiest of his correspondents being those that divided time into (somewhat artificial) phases.” He describes these people as those who could see time as “something divisible into chunks” and they could more easily stop and self-appraise. This approach, he says, “gave them more control over their lives.” Read the rest of this entry »

Social Media Trends for 2012

Posted by Tim Mikulski On December - 20 - 2011

David Armano of the Harvard Business Review recently published six 2012 predictions for social media.

Although he made some inaccurate predictions about 2011, here is what he is suggesting for 2012 (with links added by me):

Convergence Emergence. For a glimpse into how social will further integrate with “real life,” we can look at what Coca Cola experimented with all the way back in 2010. Coke created an amusement park where participants could “swipe” their RFID-equipped wristbands at kiosks, which posted to their Facebook account what they were doing and where. Also, as part of a marketing campaign, Domino’s Pizza posted feedback — unfiltered feedback — on a large billboard in Times Square, bringing together real opinions from real people pulled from a digital source and displayed in the real world. These types of “trans-media” experiences are likely to define “social” in the year to come.

The Cult of Influence. In much the same way that Google has defined a system that rewards those who produce findable content, there is a race on to develop a system that will reward those who wield the most social influence. One particular player has emerged, Klout, determined to establish their platform as the authority of digital influence. Klout’s attempt to convert digital influence into business value underscores a much bigger movement which we’ll continue to see play out in the next year.  Read the rest of this entry »

Random Acts of Culture™

Posted by Tim Mikulski On December - 19 - 2011

Throughout the country, many performing groups have taken to public forums to display Random Acts of Culture™ (supported generously by the Knight Foundation) covering all art forms including music, dance, and theater.

Just a few weeks ago, the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte captured this dance performance from their local airport:

But there are so many other examples to choose highlight including a string quartet at an outlet mall in Georgia:

Read the rest of this entry »

Rewarding Sustained Attention (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Barbara Schaffer Bacon On December - 14 - 2011

Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical by Marcia Muelder Eaton

“Great art rewards sustained attention.” This simple theory comes from philosopher Marcia Muelder Eaton, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota.

In my personal experience, it is true. Eaton has been considering art and writing about aesthetics for a few decades. Her early publications get to the heart of this definition but a later book, Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical (Oxford Press 2001) offers an inclusive concept of art, aesthetics, and value that is very relevant to the themes of Fusing Arts Culture and Social Change.

In that book, Eaton suggests that “formalists in the world of aesthetics ignore the roles that artworks play in the life of community and conversely, ignore the ways in which communities determine the very nature of what counts as artistic or aesthetic experiences that exist within them.” I recommend her writings in general and this book specifically.

I share Eaton’s work here because my enthusiasm for the conversation raised by Fusing Arts Culture and Social Change is not to call out the major institutions and question whether they deserve support, but rather to encourage sustained attention for small, mid-size, and community-based arts groups that are rooted in communities, neighborhoods, ethnic, and tribal traditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from Public Funders

Posted by Barbara Schaffer Bacon On December - 13 - 2011

Barbara Schaffer Bacon

Grantmakers in the Arts asks, “What can private foundations learn from public funders who are working with marginalized communities?”

I think public support programs, some old, and some more current have a few lessons to offer. Though neither was without problems or controversy, both Roosevelt’s Federal Arts Projects in the 1930s and The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) in the 1970s suggest that light structure can produce great results.

They provide evidence that talented artists will answer the call and can produce great works that are relevant to and reflective of the communities for which they are created. While the Federal Art Project was more prescriptive, artists had a very public platform and some latitude to create their work. The public works created and the artist’s interaction with the public is credited with stimulating national interest in American art and laying the groundwork for the National Endowment for the Arts to be established.

As a jobs (not an arts) program, CETA had a looser structure. Artists and creative administrators were deployed, often creating their own job descriptions as they went to work in neighborhoods and community centers around the country; but they found their way and many of the programs created had staying power. Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking of Leadership: Michael Spring

Posted by admin On December - 12 - 2011
Michael Spring

Michael Spring

Michael Spring has been pretty busy these days; even more so than usual. Not only does he oversee a half billion dollar capital project budget with the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, but Spring recently came off of a five-month stint as an assistant county manager while Miami-Dade searched for its new mayor.

“I accepted the challenge,” Spring says, “on three conditions: that I would not get the office, that I wouldn’t get the parking space and that I wouldn’t get the title; I really wanted it to be an interim responsibility.” Since 1990, Michael Spring has served as Director of his department, and 21 years later, he still just wants to be nothing but a “director of a great local arts agency”.

With the appointment of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in July 2011, Spring sees great promise for his community: “Our new mayor is a ‘progressive arts supporter’” and in realigning much of the county government, he “took all of the cultural facilities that were being managed by the parks department and transferred them to my department”.

When asked about this ‘added responsibility’, Spring says, “Organizationally speaking it’s the right thing to do. Practically speaking these facilities have been starved for years in the Parks Department. They come with enormous challenges. They are underfunded, understaffed, and in desperate need of capital improvements” In align with his Department’s mission, he resolves, “We’ll have to dig in and figure out a way to make them great. But that’s the job, right?” Read the rest of this entry »

Stewardship: Culture Wars 2.0 and Placemaking

Posted by Roberto Bedoya On December - 12 - 2011

Roberto Bedoya

I ended my previous blog post with a reference to the San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grants (CEG) program that I want to expand upon in the context of the democratic ideals of inclusion and stewardship.

CEG is a national model of excellence that shows the cultural sector, how through grantmaking one can address the systemic roots of inequity in society. CEG’s 19 years of service illustrates how the stewardship ethos of taking care is made real through programming strategies that serves our culturally diverse society.

This cheerleader moment for CEG is tied to the backlash being felt against the equity conversation that is heating up in our sector and the nation. CEG is a reminder of what’s possible — that citizens can manifested their passion for equity in a cultural policy designed to serve all.

Let’s call this backlash an example of “Culture Wars 2.0.” The first Culture War of the 90s was an attack on art and artistic free speech. Cultural War 2.0 attacks are against our civil and cultural rights — the right to be taught the works of Latino playwrights in high schools; a women’s right to control her body; the right of gays and lesbians to marry their loved one; the right to be free from racial profiling that is happening within intensity to America’s Muslim and Latino communities; the right of collective bargaining…Attacks by whom? — The 1%, the “me and my friends” of a privatized a “we” of self-interests, the intolerants? Read the rest of this entry »

The Storyline Project

Posted by Maggie Guggenheimer On December - 9 - 2011

The Storyline Project is a great example of effective and inexpensive collaboration with valuable community outcomes.

Launched in summer 2009, the project had roots in an impromptu collaborative effort from the previous year. Charlottesville Parks & Recreation came to Piedmont Council for the Arts (PCA) for help painting a school bus to transport youth to recreation centers around town. Aware of our limited capacity, we reached out to another nonprofit, The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, for help.

Though similarly small, The Bridge had experience working with local artists on public art projects. With their expertise, PCA’s commitment to managing the project, and our shared enthusiasm for the possibilities, a new partnership was born.

Together, we coordinated a team of local artists and Parks & Rec summer camp students for the exciting challenge of painting what became known as the Fun Bus. Read the rest of this entry »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

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.