Degree of Entry?

Posted by Todd Eric Hawkins On March - 20 - 2013
Todd Eric Hawkins

Todd Eric Hawkins

During the last Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio, I had the privilege of facilitating a roundtable on how to navigate a mid-career shift to the arts. The remarkable individuals I met during that discussion reinforced one of the things I love about arts administration and the arts in general, their entry points were varied and all are vital to the field.

Since entering arts administration a few years ago, I have had numerous conversations with arts leaders of all ages regarding the question of getting a Masters Degree. Part of the reason for this is that I did get a Masters Degree in Arts Administration in 2010 and I am often called on to tout the benefits of my alma mater to prospective students, which I do enthusiastically.

When I graduated three years ago, I would have told you that a Masters Degree is absolutely necessary, which was completely true in my case. I would never have the opportunities I now have without my graduate program. In the past three years, however, I have discovered an additional inescapable path to leadership, the road.

The road is paved with obstacles and pitfalls that every leader must face and that no Masters Degree program could possibly teach. They only thing the very best ones can do, is prepare you for the journey.  Read the rest of this entry »

Leadership and Identity Equity

Posted by Charles Jensen On June - 19 - 2012

Charles Jensen

One of the most important sessions I attended at this year’s Annual Convention was Salvador Acevedo’s talk on “How Changing Demographics Are Shifting Your Community.”

One of Salvador’s main points asked us to change our thinking from embracing “multiculturalism”—discrete ethnic identities that fit into neat census boxes—to “interculturalism,” a more broadly defined approach that invites people to define their identities contextually—and, to some degree, interchangeably.

Salvador cited research indicating the demographic landscape in America is rapidly changing. California is poised to become the first “minority majority” state, while several others already have collective non-white populations that outnumber the white population. Since half of all current births are non-white (or perhaps non-solely white), it’s clear a sea change is inevitable.

Salvador asked the audience in his “reverse Q&A” at the end of the session to talk about a time when we realized diversity was important to our organization. I talked about my participation on the Emerging Leaders Council (ELC) and how, just a few years ago, we released a slate of nominees for ELC election only to be criticized by our arts colleagues for releasing a slate of exclusively white candidates.

It wasn’t like we didn’t realize “diversity is important.” Of course we do. But the criticism pointed out a valid flaw in both our process of choosing nominees and the process inherent in populating the ELC.

Since then, the ELC has engaged in difficult, uncomfortable, and oftentimes unresolveable conversations about how we ensure our elected body is representative of the future of the field. Salvador’s talk provided a helpful context for thinking about the challenges we face in doing this. Read the rest of this entry »

Emerging Leaders Networks: Leveraging Impact for the Future

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On April - 2 - 2012
Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson

Coming up with the theme for a blog salon is always a challenge.

For the past few years that I’ve been working with our Emerging Leaders Council committee to develop our blog salons, we usually have a kernel of an idea for what to focus on. It’s ideal when the initial inspiration comes from the council, because then it’s truly coming from the field. After all, the point of our blog is to facilitate online discussion about big picture issues in the arts that we feel need to be addressed.

When thinking about this year’s salon, the council knew they wanted to feature the Local Emerging Leaders Networks around the country. Great. Love it. Easy. Done.

But what should we have them talk about?

We already talked about emerging ideas in the field last year. What’s next?

We began to think about HOW those emerging ideas get implemented. In many cases, in order for a new idea to thrive, we as individuals, organizations, the community, and the field as a whole may need to change at a very fundamental level.

Perhaps we need to change our definition of success; how our organizations are structured; how we interact with our communities; and how we make art.

Then, we read Diane Ragsdale’s February 14 blog post; If Our Goal is Simply to Preserve Our Current Reality, Why Pursue It?, where she writes about innovation and arts sector reform.  Diane’s thesis can be summed up in these sentences: Read the rest of this entry »

Emerging Ideas: Pop-Ups for the Populi

Posted by Letitia Fernandez Ivins On December - 16 - 2011

Letitia F. Ivins

This post is part of a series on emerging trends and notable lessons from the field, as reported by members of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Council.

In the midst of the recession, the “pop-up” has emerged widespread among visual artists as a vehicle for aesthetic and social engagement.

From the intimate and homemade to the mobile and socially ambitious, we have come to love artwork that “pops–up” in unexpected places. Whether an endearing artist crafted paper box cottage from which bear cub-sized tarts are doled or an urban planning mobile that functions as community organizer, the pop-up’s inherent temporality is creatively freeing.

What else makes the contemporary pop-up, with its entrepreneurial yet modest, if any, commercial interest so enchanting?

I write this post on my return from my first Art Basel Miami Beach. While I relished the fair art experience (a pop-up in all its garish glory) one of the most memorable artworks was the offbeat public art pop-up Transformer: Display of Community Information And Activation led by LA-based artists Olga Kouramoros and Andrea Bowers. Read the rest of this entry »

Conversation and Innovation

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On July - 25 - 2011
Stephanie Evans Hanson

Stephanie Evans Hanson

Innovation, change, and new ideas start with a conversation. Your new idea may come from a conversation you overhear in a coffee shop, from a television interview you watch, or from a panel discussion or keynote you listen to at a conference.

Or, it may come from a discussion you are actively taking part in. Innovation can also come from a conversation you first have with yourself, which you reflect on over time, and possibly discuss with family, friends, or colleagues.

It can be easy to overlook the value of a conversation when brainstorming an innovative idea. It’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time to go to the next meeting, or listen to that podcast, or read blogs, or…the list goes on and on.

But in actuality, we can no longer afford to continue the status quo in our field. The organizations that are innovative with business models, marketing, fundraising, programming, and reaching new audiences are the ones that will survive in this economy. If innovation starts with a conversation, we must allow ourselves the time for discussing, listening, reading, and reflecting.  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.