Why Is It So Hard? Seriously.

Posted by Matt D'Arrigo On October - 22 - 2014
Matt D'Arrigo

Matt D’Arrigo

I write this as an arts leader but, more importantly, I also write this as a dad. My wife and I have two amazing children, ages 5 and 8, who are lucky to have both parents who are artists and work in the arts. They receive daily

artistic and creative encouragement at home. We want our children to be creative in their approach to everything in life, to learn and grow with a sense of wonderment, curiosity, and discovery. We want them to express themselves in authentic ways and to respect and understand the immense role the arts and humanities play in shaping all of our lives to be more meaningful, fulfilling, and enjoyable.

They attend a fantastic public school, one of the best in San Diego (I know, I’m biased). They receive arts programming once a week, but only through the generosity of parents and families donating to a foundation that pays for it and volunteers who help support in the classroom. We’re lucky they attend a school in a more “well off” area of town whose families have the means to fund the arts programs. If they attended a lower income school, and we didn’t hold the arts as a highest priority in our home, they would receive very little to no arts exposure or engagement. I don’t think that’s fair.

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Investing in the Artists and Fans of Tomorrow: StubHub’s Story

Posted by Emma Leggat On October - 20 - 2014
Emma Leggat

Emma Leggat

I have the pleasure of serving as StubHub’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and in September 2012, had a life-changing opportunity to visit New Orleans with a special mission.

New Orleans was to host Super Bowl XLVIII, meaning it would also be the site of StubHub’s annual Super Bowl Pregame Bash, which attracts some 7,000 attendees each year. The city of New Orleans has given so much to sports and music fans alike, and as the world’s largest ticket marketplace, these very fans are the core of our business. Naturally, we wanted to give back.

While considering ways to narrow StubHub’s CSR focus to increase our positive impact, we uncovered findings any Americans for the Arts member knows all too well: while more research than ever before demonstrates how vital the arts are to youth development and future achievement, budget cuts continue to threaten arts education in schools across the country, particularly those in underserved communities. These findings further spurred our drive to give back. Read the rest of this entry »

A Dancers Life Made Immortal

Posted by Jennifer Oliver On October - 12 - 2014
Jennifer Oliver

Jennifer Oliver

On the fourth Saturday in May, every year, I wake up early to begin a day that continues to ground me in the field of arts education. I arrive at Dance Place San Diego to set up for the Carrie Anne Fipps Memorial Scholarship. Typically, Carrie’s family and friends are hanging banners and posting direction signs as I walk up. I am greeted by warm and cheerful embraces before I run upstairs to set up the check-in tables, the audition space and the judges table. It is an hour before the event will begin and parents and children have already begun to line up in the narrow hallway.

Once the doors open, students are signed in, given their number and ushered into the large dance space. The room quiets as I approach the middle of the floor to greet students and families, “Thank you all for coming today to support your child and this gift. We are all here because of one child – one young dancer who believed that dancing was a gift worth fighting for and one family whose mission has been to provide that gift to others – help me in welcoming Carrie Anne Fipps’ parents and brother to the microphone.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Easy Math of Good Service

Posted by Jim McCarthy On October - 9 - 2014
Jim McCarthy

Jim McCarthy

I’m very excited to say that I will be leading a Community Forum at this year’s National Arts Marketing Project Conference in November.

In preparation for this, I’m spending some time talking to people in marketing roles in theaters and other arts organizations to see how they think and feel about customer service and its importance. (By the way, this is just as relevant outside of the “arts” part of live entertainment.)

Anyway, a picture has started to form from these conversations, and I want to put forward a simple thought as a starting point: Good service is the best marketing money you’ll ever spend. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Dismiss Digital Experiences

Posted by Aaron Bisman On October - 7 - 2014
Aaron Bisman

Aaron Bisman

  1. The average American adult spends 11 hours per day with electronic media.
  2. 58% of adults in the United States own a smartphone and 40% own a tablet. Cellphone adoption transcends race, location, and income level.
  3. 73% of adults use at least one social media channel.

These facts help to establish a truism of life today. We live in an augmented reality; for more and more of us, we value and desire digital experiences alongside “real world” ones. And one need not negate the other. Our lives do not only take place in the physical world; why should our experiences with art and culture? Read the rest of this entry »

Kellyn Lopes

Kellyn Lopes

A private sector partnership with the arts is creative outsourcing. It is an understanding that human development is inspired by changing cultural practices. It is a realization of the responsibility to organize and produce an effective community.  It is a commitment to lead and serve vibrant neighborhoods that emphasize solidarity and forward-thinking.

In my hometown of the Napa Valley, California, the wine industry has saturated the economic landscape and cultivated an incredible hub for arts and culture: a cultural experience that pairs wine and food with art, music, and dance. Read the rest of this entry »

MORE THAN A FEELING: What Our Creative Youth Programs Are Really About

Posted by Jennifer Carroll Abssy On September - 16 - 2014
Jennifer Abssy

Jennifer Abssy

Inner-City Arts is now in its 25th year of offering high quality arts experiences to youth. Our programs include  professional development for teachers, schools and university programs, school day arts programming for K-8, and out of school programming for grades 6th grade and above. These Middle and High School Institute programs have grown from offering 5 art forms for 120 students in 2009 to today offering 15 to 22 workshops three times a year, to 600-800 urban youth. Here is what some of our Institute youth say about our programming:

“They don’t judge you here… I can be my own person.”  Angelica G.

“I can count on so many people here.” Sandy A.

“These people can benefit me a lot.” Gabriel U.

“I feel loved…”  Michael M.

Youth in our Institutes engage in high quality arts experiences in multiple forms such as Graphic Design, Visual Arts, Ceramics, Dance and Choreography, Acting, Spoken Word, Stand-up Comedy, Animation, Digital Photography, Guitar and Documentary Film – all located on our state of the art campus in downtown Los Angeles, near Skid Row. Read the rest of this entry »

Cultural Patrimony: Learning to Save Los Angeles’ Mural Legacy

Posted by Felipe Sanchez On September - 6 - 2014
Felipe Sanchez

Felipe Sanchez

By 2008, the world-renowned murals of Los Angeles metaphorically had a nail in their coffin; they had become a faded memory in the consciousness of the city. This amnesia of preserving the cultural patrimony of LA was a social epidemic that I later learned was happening to public art in many cities across the country. Mural after mural along the LA’s freeways and neighborhoods were disappeared and abandoned by the city – scenes so appalling that I set out to find organizations that could shed some light on the issue. Little did I know this small but significant action would set the stage for the next phase of my career in the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

The Making of “The Wolf of 18th St”

Posted by Marion Levine On August - 29 - 2014
The Film Production class at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

The Film Production class at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

The Film Production class at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies was busy shooting a narrative film projects this past semester with the generous help of Vans and Americans for the Arts. With our grant, we were able to hire USC Film School graduate student, Julius Robins, to facilitate workshops and demonstrations of every aspect of film production from script writing to post-production effects. Julius runs our sessions the way film classes are run at USC. Read the rest of this entry »

Las Plumas High School Ceramics holds much appreciation for Vans…

Posted by Kandis Horton On August - 11 - 2014
Kandis Horton

Kandis Horton

…and not just because they make awesome shoes!

In addition to the Vans Custom Culture Contest the company puts on for high schools nationwide every year, they have partnered with Americans for the Arts to contribute $2,000 to ten high schools in order to further art programs that have big goals or aspirations to improve facilities for students. The Las Plumas High School (LPHS) Art Department teachers–Kandis Horton and Julie Tooker–applied for the Vans Custom Culture grant in November of 2013 in order to serve the art students of the area in a manner that would enrich their arts experience and education. Read the rest of this entry »

Muraling through Time and Space: A Steampunk Journey

Posted by Jess Perry Martin On August - 1 - 2014
Jess Perry-Martin

Jess Perry-Martin

“Gearing Up for the Future” is a high school mural project exploring innovation from a Steam Punk perspective. Valley Academy of Arts & Sciences art students embraced the design aesthetic of the Industrial Age in their mural.  This piece envisions a world where idea and innovation run free of the constraints of the past. They created a work laden with symbolic imagery (see video for slide-show of mural project) that explores the endless potential for innovation in technology, science and beyond.

VAAS students are educated to value the integration of art, science, and global collaborative thinking.  VAAS is a unique school because our students choose to enroll here and have many opportunities to learn a variety of arts and sciences that go beyond their required courses for graduation and university admission. Read the rest of this entry »

VADA/Artist Collab to hit the streets of the Funk Zone

Posted by Calico Brown On July - 28 - 2014
Calico Brown

Calico Brown

VADA, the Visual Arts & Design Academy at Santa Barbara High School, is thrilled to announce a very special mural collaboration project with artists Joe Shea and Yoskay Yamamato. The artists will work with VADA students on a series of mural paintings, which will then be installed on the Anacapa Project building in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

Visual Arts & Design Academy

Visual Arts & Design Academy

VADA is a “school‐within‐a‐school” that integrates rigorous academic coursework with project‐based, career‐focused, and art & design instruction in a supportive and creative environment. VADA serves 175 students in grades 10 through 12 at a culturally and economically diverse urban high school in downtown Santa Barbara. VADA teachers collaborate to create a thematically and conceptually integrated curriculum. Field trips to major Southern California museums and design firms, artist residencies, guest speakers, mentorships, and internships give students exposure to and experience in the creative sector. Read the rest of this entry »

The Value of Community-Based Arts Education

Posted by Matt D'Arrigo On July - 22 - 2014
Matt D'Arrigo

Matt D’Arrigo

Say the words “arts education” and most likely you think of K-12, classroom-based, standards-based arts instruction tied to the school curriculum. (You may also think that there’s an extreme lack of this happening in the current school system, and you would be right.)

When I attended my first National Arts Education Council meeting for Americans for the Arts this past January, the question was posed: “What is arts education”? After some awkward silence and darting eyes, council members began expressing their perspectives on what arts education meant to them. What emerged was a kaleidoscope of approaches and contexts: classroom-based and community based, during school and after school, arts integration and arts education, K-12/higher education/life-long learning, arts as education and arts as social service, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating Dangerously: My Week at VONA

Posted by Eric Nguyen On July - 9 - 2014
Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

On June 22nd I visited Berkeley to attend the Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA) Writers’ Workshop. This workshop is a week-long conference for writers of color with workshops led by award-winning writers in a variety of genres, including fiction writer M. Evelina Galang, poet Patricia Smith, memorist Andrew X. Pham, and novelist Junot Diaz, among many others.

The organization was founded in 1999 by Junot Díaz, Elmaz Abinader, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones. Each envisioned an arts organization that could change the landscape for writers of color by supporting individual writer growth, creating a platform for community engagement, and providing a workshop and mentor focus to expand writing opportunities. Fifteen years after its founding, it has become one of the most esteemed writers’ conferences in the US. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Artists Help a School District Restore Arts Education

Posted by Erika Boardman Kraft On June - 18 - 2014
Laura Norman

Laura Norman

Erika Boardman Kraft

Erika Boardman Kraft

Can the work teaching artists do in school districts impact a district’s long-term arts programming?  Absolutely!, as illustrated by the Twin Rivers Unified School District in northern Sacramento, California.

Founded in 2008 when four districts merged, Twin Rivers Unified School District saw more than $100 million in state cuts during its first three years of existence. This exacerbated an already difficult situation for arts education in the district composed of primarily Title I schools.  Most elementary schools had no credentialed arts specialists in any of the disciplines. Middle schools had a few arts education offerings, often available only as electives, and the arts programming in the high schools varied by school, but did not come close to matching what more affluent districts in the region could offer or what the state mandates.

In spite of this, the district’s arts education leadership was determined to provide what arts education programming they could, using resources from the local arts community. They brought in programming from the region’s arts organizations, found grants to take students to arts events, and contracted with regional teaching artists for residencies and workshops. Read the rest of this entry »