So, What Do You Do?

Posted by Ashley McDonald On June - 26 - 2015
Ashley McDonald

Ashley McDonald

Felicia Shaw Headshot

Felicia Shaw

Editor’s Note: Ashley McDonald, Membership Associate at Americans for the Arts, interviewed our member Felicia Shaw about her work in the arts field. At the time of this interview Felicia was in the process of transitioning from her role as interim executive director of Young Audiences of San Diego to her new role as executive director of the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) in her hometown of St. Louis, MO.

AM: Can you describe your role at St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC)?

FS: My job at RAC will be to assume the leadership role of a local arts agency that has had an impressive 30-year history of growing the arts and culture community throughout the St. Louis region. I’ll be working to preserve the vitality of a successful organization that is ready to grow to the next level, particularly at a time when St. Louis is turning the corner and looking to the future. I am charged with establishing a vision for RAC and strategically moving the organization forward in a new and impactful way for the next decade and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Action Heroes to the Rescue!

Posted by Robert Lynch On June - 24 - 2015
Robert L. Lynch

Robert L. Lynch

During my 30 years at Americans for the Arts, I have had the great privilege to visit and learn about a different community nearly every week. While they differ vastly from one another, there is one common strength I have observed: the arts have made a profound impact on the health of each community.

Across America, in communities of all sizes, a rising population of arts action heroes — both individuals and organizations — are stepping up, armed with the tools of their craft and a vision of how their work in the arts contributes to the well-being of a community. Read the rest of this entry »

Some Expressions about the Arts and Creative Expression

Posted by Charles Jensen On June - 23 - 2015
Charlie Jensen

Charlie Jensen

I was thrilled to sit in on the “Vocabulary for Arts and Arts Education” session at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention this year. All three presenters—Christopher Audain, Kevin Kirkpatrick, and Margy Waller, along with moderator Margie Reese—were all on point for the session and I perhaps overtweeted in my enthusiasm over what they shared. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Fundamentals to Creating a District Arts Plan

Posted by Una McAlinden On May - 21 - 2015

Una McAlinden

Although each of us can probably recall a time when success could be defined as not losing (too much) ground, we all want to feel like our efforts have been worth the commitment and have made a lasting difference in some way.

During my ten years at ArtsEd Washington, we saw these rewards when we worked with school principals implementing the Principals Arts Leadership program to help them be effective instructional leaders for the arts. This program confirmed the importance of the principals’ role in the day-to-day provision of arts learning and also illuminated for us how difficult that role is to sustain without the context of a supportive school district publicly committed to the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Glenna Avila

Glenna Avila

What a treat to be in Sweet’s Ballroom in Oakland, home-away-from-home for Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Tito Puente, Dizzie Gillespie, Lalo Guerrero, Xavier Cugat, and so many more! And how wonderful for Sweet’s Ballroom to be a part of the Oakland School of the Arts, allowing their talented students to follow in the footsteps of the some of the greatest musicians in history.

The convening on January 30-31, 2015, was made possible by CREATE CA, which brought together over 225 arts leaders from across California for two days of listening, working, and participating in learning about CREATE CA and its release of A Blueprint for Creative Schools (funded by the California Arts Council). Spearheaded by the amazing Malissa Feruzzi Shriver and others, this important work began in 2011 as part of the Education Leaders Institute (ELI) funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Read the rest of this entry »

The Intersection of Public Art and Arts Education

Posted by Patricia Walsh On May - 4 - 2015
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

Patricia Walsh

Patricia Walsh

Across the country, the arts are changing: demographics are shifting, modes of artistic participation are becoming more diverse, and once segmented artistic practices are converging. These changes ring true for both public art and arts education, and over the past year these respective fields have been discussing their convergence.

The Public Art and Arts Education Programs at Americans for the Arts endeavor to explore this intersection, better understand the potential for collaborations, and create tools and resources for encouraging inter-sector cooperation.

As a first step, we have begun to research the shared space. There is an inherent connection between the intrinsic goals of both areas of artistic study and practice. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Creep

Posted by Bridget Woodbury On April - 19 - 2015
Bridget Woodbury

Bridget Woodbury

In Boston, a nonprofit organization called the Theatre Offensive came to the conclusion that the work they were doing – the work that their mission mandated – was stale. When the company was founded, it was a challenge to find live performances that addressed LGBT issues and contained LGBT characters. TTO strove to make that comment widely available in Boston. Now that theatre addressing sexual orientation and gender identity has become common in Boston proper, TTO’s adherence to its mission – to make queer-themed plays accessible – suddenly feels out of touch with the energy behind its founding. Read the rest of this entry »

Whitney Roux

Whitney Roux

David Bowie said “The future belongs to those that hear it coming.” As the arts sectors faces challenges of shrinking funding, aging audiences and wavering government support, professional groups, like Rising Arts Leaders of San Diego (RALSD), offer hubs of new ideas, fresh faces, and unjaded ambition. Leveraging our emerging leaders’ passion and talent, we can start to make real impact on our communities and the sustainability of the arts. But we have to act now!

Guided by Rising Arts Leader’s vision to Make San Diego an innovative, inspiring, world-class arts leader, the network took practicing leadership to a new level by creating solutions to the challenges that face our sector. Our steering committee started with a listening campaign; doing short surveys at networking happy hours, hosting workshops that brought together admin, funders and constituents, and through our annual Creative Conversation event, defined the five biggest hurdles in our city. Read the rest of this entry »

Doug Israel

Doug Israel

Urban school districts, such as New York and Chicago, are taking bold steps to expand the school day curriculum and once again invest in arts education. After years of budget cuts, and a narrowing of curriculum at public schools across the country, cities are taking action.

Owing largely to mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, school districts of all sizes spent recent years focusing educational goals very narrowly on improving test scores in just two subject areas—English Language and Math. This focus came at the expense of the arts, music, and other subject areas that were not being tested.

Fortunately, the tide may be turning, and arts education may be making comeback. Read the rest of this entry »

Kellyn Lopes

Kellyn Lopes

There have been a slew of discussions lately centered around the potential in combining art and technology, two sectors that operate differently but ultimately share many similarities. A recent article in the New York Times by Alice Gregory questioned if in the physical world, the arts and tech are clashing cultures, or “parallel universes that rarely intersect.” Stephen Tanenbaum, on the other hand, noted that “arts and tech are not in competition with each other,” but are at a juncture that offers exciting opportunities for collaboration and growth, pointing to San Francisco in particular.

Perhaps instead of asking: “Are the arts and tech in competition?” we ask: “How can the arts and tech partner to foster the next wave of culture and technology?” Read the rest of this entry »

The SIMPHONY Project: How Does Music Change a Child’s Brain?

Posted by Dalouge Smith On March - 20 - 2015

Dalouge Smith

Dalouge Smith

Dr. John Iversen

Dr. John Iversen

Music is a central part of life for many of us, whether we listen, dance or play. It makes us feel good, or transports our imagination, but what is going on in our brain? Can music be used to help an ailing brain, or boost a learning one? An emerging field of Music Cognition is studying these important questions using new tools such as brain imaging that allow us to examine how the brain is changed by music. In this post we would like to tell you about one study we are doing that is trying to answer some of these questions. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Reasons Not to Forget Special Education Students

Posted by Stephen Marc Beaudoin On March - 19 - 2015
Stephen Marc Beaudoin

Stephen Marc Beaudoin

They’re often left behind.

Left out of the discussion. Forgotten. Not on the stage or missing from the page. Frequently not even in the room.

I’m talking about students experiencing disability, or special education students.

In the swirling national dialogue on arts education and cognitive development, it is surprising to see how infrequently students experiencing disability are included as part of the research and discussion.

As K-12 schools everywhere are realizing that, if well implemented, inclusive classrooms can lead to better student outcomes, it is critical that the voices and talents of students experiencing disability are included. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education and Cognitive Development: Compiling the Research

Posted by Jeff Poulin On March - 16 - 2015
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

More and more, we at Americans for the Arts are talking about the transformative power of the arts, echoing the work that has happened at a local level in the arts across America for the past several decades. However, as I move more and more into the education space, I hear a call for the hard facts amongst the heart-warming stories. Education decision makers want to see results, they want to see change, and they want to draw a correlation between the two.

As a professional arts education advocate, I can keep up with most of these requests, but recently I found myself at a bit of a cross roads. I was in Los Angeles, speaking with a self-described ‘music education evangelist,’ who was telling me all about some research that had been conducted on the impact of arts education on the cognitive functions of the brain. Arts Education, he said, could work to close the opportunity gap faster than other – more conventional – tactics. Read the rest of this entry »

Search and You Shall Find… a Cultural Destination

Posted by Reginald Jones On February - 5 - 2015
Reginald Jones

Reginald Jones

Since the inception of our work at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI), arts and culture taken form in the development of an emerging cultural district, bringing together community members, organizations, and artists to shape both its look and character. Read the rest of this entry »

Inspiration Lives Here.

Posted by Kerry Adams-Hapner On February - 4 - 2015
Kerry Hapner

Kerry Hapner

Inspiration: Symphony Silicon Valley’s musicians, instruments in hand, bustling in and out of the beautifully renovated 1927 California Theatre. Crowds lined up to see Opera San Jose’s latest production of Rigoletto. The Subzero art festival, during which the streets are jammed with a mix from Millennials to families to empty nesters – all curious about the art work of creative entrepreneurs and eclectic music performances. Youth mixing new music and producing new multimedia projects at MACLA’s PeaPod Academy. Art loading into the galleries. Anonymous and whimsical artistic expressions of yarn bombed bike racks and light poles. Sidewalk cafes with people dining to see and be seen – and yes, be inspired. This is the daily life of San Jose’s SoFA district. Read the rest of this entry »