What Are the Organizing Ideas in Public Art Today?

Posted by David Schmitz On September - 2 - 2014
David Schmitz

David Schmitz

What central ideas are today’s emerging public art leaders organizing around? What accomplishments will last, and how are we working collectively to better our field?

Every field has some organizing ideas or principles, and public art is no exception. From the outset of posing these questions, however, it must be said that relative newcomers to the field, like me, have benefitted enormously from the achievements of earlier leaders. Beginning with the widespread adoption of percent for art policies and ordinances at the local, state and national levels; to the fuller integration of artists and art in the design process; and the growth of public art in transit and private development projects, these successes have made dialogues like this possible. Read the rest of this entry »

My Experience at Annual Convention and Resulting To-Do List!

Posted by Ella van Wyk On June - 27 - 2014
Ella Van Wyk

Ella Van Wyk

“There’s nowhere to go but on!” – Feist

Let this blog begin with my gratitude for the amazing experience I have had over these last few days. Receiving the Arthur Greenberg Memorial Scholarship Award is an event that has truly influenced my career, and will benefit my organization and my local arts community.  Thank you to Abe Flores, Rebecca Burrell, and Adam Fong for taking the time to have genuine conversations with me and truly contribute to the work I am doing.

Attending a conference is too passive a description for these last few days. I learned, sang, listened, laughed, digested, deliberated, rejected, reinforced, inquired, decompressed, and grew. I watched Robert L Lynch (CEO of Americans for the Arts) and Jonathan Katz (CEO National Assembly of State Arts Agencies) jam together. They spoke about leadership, their nonlinear careers, they read their own poetry, sang songs, enjoyed each other’s company, and celebrated each other’s achievements! I met fantastic people from across the country, Canada, and the UK who are all fighting for the same cause, attacking similar challenges and were open and willing to share ideas, brainstorm and listen. I sang with Ben Folds. I stayed up until midnight disseminating what I’d experienced that day making To-Do lists and resource wish-lists so that when I get home I can hit the ground running and implement all I have experienced here. I received wisdom, knowledge, empathy, and suggestions from leaders in the arts and experts with invaluable years of experience. Read the rest of this entry »

My Experience at Annual Convention

Posted by Emily Saunders On June - 24 - 2014
Emily Saunders

Emily Saunders

We are cultural ambassadors, arts advocates, civic engagers, and change agents connecting and collaborating to bring the arts into the everyday landscape. As one of many, my focus has been on how to make the arts more accessible to under-served communities. I serve Metro Arts Alliance of Des Moines as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Metro Arts of Des Moines helps make the arts more accessible through free jazz concerts preformed in city parks, and arts integration programs presented within the schools.

By engaging participants from within every neighborhood, we are able to connect the arts to all. In my work, I have seen how cultural engagement within nontraditional spaces has helped bring arts experiences to those across the spectrum. During my year of service I have coordinated 129 arts programs in 59 locations with 25 artists reaching 8,744 youth within Central Iowa. Read the rest of this entry »

Cara Scharf

Cara Scharf

The following is an interview with Americans for the Arts’ Senior Director of Arts Policy Marete Wester. Conducted by Cara Scharf, it was originally published in ArtsLine, the Drexel Arts Administration quarterly newsletter focusing on the program, the arts and culture sector, and the students’ perspective.

Marete Wester’s professional journey started in the mid-80s with a Masters in Arts Administration from Drexel University and landed her at national arts service organization Americans for the Arts in 2006. As Senior Director of Arts Policy, Wester brings the voice of the arts field to policy discussions nationwide. This means cultivating partnerships and convening meetings with a diverse group of organizations to show how the arts play a role in quality-of-life issues such as the environment and education. One recent example of her work is the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military, which works to expand access to and research on the arts as effective tools in the care of service members. I spoke with Marete about her work and experience in Drexel’s program.

Read the rest of this entry »

Charting the Future: Investing in Nashville Artists

Posted by Jaclyn Johnson Tidwell On April - 25 - 2014
Jaclyn Johnson Tidwell

Jaclyn Johnson Tidwell

My April calendar is filling up nicely with runway shows, play openings, art crawls, and artist workshops. This really shouldn’t surprise me. After all, Nashville has stepped into the spotlight in the last few years as one of the nation’s new “it” cities according to New York Times writer Kim Severson. GQ calls this burgeoning southern city “Nowville” noting that “it’s the most electric spot in the South, thanks to a cast of transplanted designers, architects, chefs, and rock ‘n’ rollers.”

For many of our local arts leaders, the national attention brings opportunity and trepidation. Our city is awake and moving towards its future as the world watches. Severson describes the threat saying that “the ingredients for Nashville’s rise are as much economic as they are cultural and, critics worry, could be as fleeting as its fame.” Currently, artists innovate outside of traditional funding opportunities. Our first artist housing development fills immediately with no new opportunities in sight, work-space prices continue to climb pushing artists to the city’s edges, and divisions still exist between genres and organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

Abe Flores

Abe Flores

The future of art administration is in good, capable, and innovative hands. This week’s Emerging Leaders Blog salon demonstrated a commitment to art as a public good, as a solution to a myriad of social problems, and as an intrinsic piece to the full development of the self and community. The blog salon also gave us a peak into the future, introduced us to new models for the arts, and a new visions for arts leaders & their development. Most importantly the blog salon introduced us to exciting leaders – new, young, emerging, experienced, mid-career, seasoned (marinated?), established, and/or just plain awesome. Read the rest of this entry »

So Let’s Actually Do Research and Development

Posted by Nick Dragga On April - 18 - 2014
Nicholas Dragga

Nicholas Dragga

Among other issues, I hear emerging leaders wanting a larger voice in their organization – a chance to use their knowledge and skills. From the “established leaders” in my area, I hear not knowing exactly how to use, or maybe engage, emerging leaders (ELs) and their ideas. Senior leaders are sometimes unsure or afraid of how to fit these new ideas into the organization’s structure or culture since there are reasons things are done they way they are, and sometimes (often) organizations are big ships to turn.Of course, finding a voice in your organization is a huge issue with lots of nuances, and this issue could certainly be articulated better or maybe even more correctly, but I think we all get that we all want a vibrant and relevant organization that is regenerative in its thinking and programing. There are systems in place that have grown and sustained the organizations to what they are today, and new ideas like [insert your brilliant idea here] in the pipeline that are exciting, engaging, and even revolutionary will keep organizations relevant. So, how do we bring out great ideas and engage leaders at all stages, all the while maybe even having some fun? Yes, this is a lofty goal. Further, is this lofty goal, or unicorn, possible without a huge culture shift or organizational overhaul? Read the rest of this entry »

Todd Eric Hawkins

Todd Eric Hawkins

When I think about the future, both my own personal future and that of the arts, my mind immediately recalls a quote by Wayne Gretzky. The quote came to me via Ben Cameron, Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. During his keynote at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University, Mr. Cameron recited the following:

“I skate to where the puck will be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky

As emerging leaders we have an opportunity to change the way current arts organizations operate, or create new ones while exploring new ideas, new values, and new models. We, as the next generation of arts leaders, will navigate through the largest generational shifts in decades. Who will our audiences be in twenty years and how will we serve them? Read the rest of this entry »

Jerome Socolof

Jerome Socolof

“It’s a bunch of people in horns singing in languages I don’t understand for longer than I want to listen.” Whose brilliant summation of opera is this? Why, that would be mine, circa 2003. It was, admittedly, an ill-informed viewpoint, one underpinned by the misperceptions of elitism and grandiosity in opera that many people hold, but I was only 17 at the time. After becoming a music major, and thanks largely to the tireless work of a few professors, I was soon sliding down the slippery slope to being in love with opera. After realizing that I lacked the voice and single-minded dedication to be a professional performer of opera, I knew that I had to be an administrator so that I could stay involved. 10 years, three college degrees, and a few shifts in the cultural landscape later, I still feel the same way. Read the rest of this entry »

Lindsay So

Lindsay So

There were times when I would mention that I was starting a new job with the City of Philadelphia and the most frequent response was a remark about the “Good Government Job”—somewhere I could stay for a long time with the implication that I could never be fired. Sure, this comment might have been a joke but even so, I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Sure, having health benefits for the first time would be a major plus for me, an arts manager early in my career, but what motivated me most was the opportunity to learn about and directly impact the arts and culture community of a major city. Citywide programs, grant making, creative development opportunities, policy changes—I pictured myself having a hand in making Philadelphia a city where artists could thrive and residents could enjoy a diverse range of arts and culture experiences. I now believe this difference in perspective is generational: my peers in City Hall share my ambition and passion to affect change and make an impact with our work. Read the rest of this entry »

USE US

Posted by George Patrick McLeer On April - 18 - 2014
George Patrick McLeer

George Patrick McLeer

As we sat down with our Congressmen this past March during National Arts Advocacy Day, one message kept coming out of my mouth, “In my community, we don’t just ‘fund’ the arts, we use the arts.” I didn’t arrive in Washington with that phrase in my mind. I didn’t even think about it until after our “advocacy sessions,” the day before we visited Capitol Hill.

What alarms me the most about our annual trek to Capitol Hill is that our ask never seems to change— “We would like our Representative/Senator to support funding the NEA/Arts Education at this specific level.” We mention the ability to leverage the arts for economic impact, improve education, and make our lives more fulfilling, but at the end of the day we ask for money—either from the federal government or private citizens via tax policy shifts.

We need to stop asking for money and instead ask for a new vantage point. Read the rest of this entry »

Inspiring College Student Engagement in the Arts

Posted by Maria Fumai Dietrich On April - 17 - 2014
Maria Fumai Dietrich

Maria Fumai Dietrich

As a university advisory to about 50 student performing and visual arts groups, I see firsthand the impact extra-curricular programs and elective coursework in the arts make on student’s professional and personal development.  The majority of the hundreds of students served through Platt Student Performing Arts House at The University of Pennsylvania will not pursue careers in the arts sector.  However, it is this population of arts appreciators who will support local theater, participate in book clubs, donate to after school arts programs, and so forth after graduation.  As a sector, we need to creatively engage the extra-curricular art lovers while they are young so as to ensure strong audiences in the future.

Institutions of higher education, arts and culture organizations, and all levels of government share the responsibility of engaging extra-curricular art lovers.  Within the last year alone, Philadelphia has seen strong development in the quantity of organizations taking this responsibility seriously with quality programming. This recent uptick in engaging programming is a sign that organizations recognize the long-lasting value of building relationships between arts and culture communities and college students (regardless of whether or not their academic pursuits are arts-related). Read the rest of this entry »

SarahBerry headshot

Sarah Berry

Artwork IS work. That is the credo many artists inherit. Artists learn not to give away their art or services, and good art lovers should know not to ask. Yet all artists have been approached to donate to a charity auction or volunteer to photograph an event, usually with the promise of great exposure and a free meal. But even an emerging, hungry, do-gooder artist like me knows the “I give it away for free” brand of exposure can be a slippery slope. A few rounds of generosity could gain me the reputation as an “artist philanthropist” and the requests for handouts—and the fear of decreased artwork values—that follow.

Even among artists, there is an expectation that certain art should be free (or at least on certain nights of the week, for students, seniors, practicing artists, friends of arts administrators, or library card holders.) Free events often come under the auspices of increasing arts access, though unfortunately busy and broke people with limited access to art (and transportation) may not have “Free Nights” on their radar, may feel uncomfortable attending, or may not be able to get there. The arts aren’t happening where they are, so making art free may not change the equation. Read the rest of this entry »

Take the Lead: Musing of a Professional Development Junkie

Posted by Whitney Roux On April - 16 - 2014
Whitney Roux

Whitney Roux

Professional development takes many forms, from hands-on workshops to panel discussions. Important opportunities for leadership and building relationships with mentors provide a robust calendar of growth options. An Emerging Leader’s plan for success needs to explore how to best combine education tracks to improve at their current job while simultaneously growing into their dream career.

As a Steering Committee member of the Rising Arts Leaders of San Diego (RALSD), I work with my committee to develop programs that fit the needs of emerging leaders in arts and culture. We build workshops, facility tours, and discussions around issues that affect our arts community, meanwhile crossing departmental bridges with networking events and social gatherings. But personally, I have found that the best professional development happens when you get your hands dirty. Read the rest of this entry »

Whole Educators: A New Model for Teacher Professional Development

Posted by Molly Uline-Olmstead On April - 16 - 2014
Molly Uline-Olmstread

Molly Uline-Olmstread

Museums go with schools like peanut butter goes with jelly. It is a beautiful symbiotic relationship built on a variety of interactions including field trips, distance learning, traveling artifact programs, and teacher professional development. While I have worked with all of these programs in the past, I have been living in the teacher professional development neighborhood of the museum world since 2009. I work with K-16 teachers and other museum educators on projects meant to support and enhance teaching in the humanities through my job with the Creative Learning Factory at the Ohio Historical Society (the Factory).

Lately in conversations with teachers and museum colleagues, we have been talking less about content and more about learning. We have been asking the question, “How do we make learning an inextricable part of life?” Educators in formal and informal learning environments are bombarded with resources, regulations, and tremendous responsibilities. We struggle to find balance and time for exploration and reflection amid testing, lesson planning, and classroom management. Peter D. John articulates this frustration well in his 2006 article about non-traditional lesson planning, “The model of planning and teaching represented in this minimalist conception develops as follows: aim > input > task > feedback > evaluation. It reflects an approach to teaching and learning wherein reflection and exploration are at worst luxuries, not to be afforded, and at best minor spin-offs, to be accommodated.”  As cultural organizations, we are in that unique “third space,” which allows us to facilitate those crucial habits-of-mind that lead to life-long learning. I think of this as looking at the “whole educator” in the same way the education field has championed the “whole child.” Read the rest of this entry »

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.