We’ve Got a Hotbed to Harness Here

Posted by Letitia Fernandez Ivins On April - 13 - 2011

Leticia Fernandez Ivins

Southern California is dense with MFA programs – so dense that these artists are a cornerstone of the creative economy and help define the creative capitol that is Los Angeles.

Then, why am I not working with more (any, frankly) of this fresh post-grad crop of creative thinkers?

This is not out of ageism (and I adore the artists that I work with today), but yesterday I started to wonder how the 50+ public art programs in the region might better harness this concentration of creative talent in our own backyard?

Though graduate-level curriculum tends to be concept-based, some art professors have cleverly inserted the “art of business” into the MFA formula.

Yesterday, I lectured for an MFA course called, Graduate Professional Development.

This is the second course that I have instructed on the topic of public art history and practice to fine arts students.

To start the class, I asked everyone to state their name, current media, and either talk about a public artwork that they created or to relay a powerful public art encounter.   Read the rest of this entry »

Sending the Elevator Back Down (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On April - 6 - 2011
Stephanie Evans

Stephanie Evans

On Sunday, April 3, I was excited to participate in the 4th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium hosted by American University.

This event is timed each year to correspond with Arts Advocacy Day, and it’s a fantastic way for emerging arts leaders across the country to come together, network, and participate in professional development prior to the advocacy activities taking place.

This year, I spoke on the What Makes a Good Arts Leader panel, along with Ian David Moss (Fractured Atlas and Createquity.com), Jamie Bennett (National Endowment for the Arts), and Michael Bobbitt (Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD), and moderated by Michael Wilkerson (American University).

As a 2008 graduate of American University’s Arts Management program, and the staff liaison at Americans for the Arts to the national Emerging Leaders Network and Council, I was excited to be part of this conversation.

At the beginning of the panel, I spoke very briefly on what I’ve learned about leadership since I graduated from American University, and I wanted to expand a bit on those ideas in this blog post.   Read the rest of this entry »

EALS Blog Salon Wrap-Up

Posted by Zack Hayhurst On April - 1 - 2011

Back on February 11th, I posted a “Call to Bloggers” as a way to drum up discussion around the topics being discussed at the 4th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS) at American University.  Every week since then, we have heard from unique and varied perspectives on issues concerning leadership in the arts, global arts management, and how exactly one bridges the gap between academia and the “real world” of arts management.

Throughout this series of posts we learned quite a few things.  Brieahn DeMeo pointed out that U.S. arts managers don’t always have all the answers, and reminded us of the importance of being open to learning from other culture’s styles of management.  Laura Patterson explored the challenges of presenting foreign artists and foreign cultures in a globalized world.  Michael Wilkerson asked the question, “What is Leadership?”, and gave an insightful explanation reminding us that leadership is not something that simply blooms forth out of someone, as a butterfly would from a cocoon, but is something that everyone must continually learn it as they go.  Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Management Grads: Let Your Unique Skills Shine Through

Posted by Abbie Kopf On April - 1 - 2011

For almost a decade, I smelled bad. After years in the food service industry, there was no amount of scrubbing that could erase the stench of grease and questionable meat product from my clothing. Maybe it was the fear that I’d die stinky and alone that led me to seek employment elsewhere.  The problem was, I had a college degree and the passion to be creative in my profession, but no practical knowledge in the big-girl office world. How could I trick an arts organization into employing an expert burger flipper?

Let me let you in on a little secret. There’s no secret knock for getting into arts management. It’s as simple as this: All industries, especially the arts, are downright thirsty – nay, parched – for the right kind of employee. If you’re considering an occupation shift into the arts, the first step is discarding the belief that the “right” kind of employee necessarily means someone with extensive knowledge in the arts or arts administration. Quite the contrary, successful arts organizations employ diverse candidates who bring different – and critically important – experiences or viewpoints. Read the rest of this entry »

Managing in a Global Arts World (An EALS post)

Posted by Laura Patterson On March - 25 - 2011

Every country, society, and culture places a different value on the arts.

It’s no secret that Americans love pop culture.  Meanwhile, our symphonies, orchestras, and ballets are struggling to stay in business.

In Holland, social workers are trained in the arts for the purpose of improving communities and everyday quality of life through arts learning and participation.

Meanwhile, in Bali, gamelan concerts can last for hours and sometimes days.

In Lima, Peru, concerts often start two hours later than scheduled.

No matter where you go, there may be subtle or obvious cultural differences from the way we do things in the United States.

Working in the realm of international arts management means learning to understand and work with those cultural differences.   Read the rest of this entry »

21st Century Skills – Not Just for Students Anymore

Posted by Lynne Kingsley On March - 17 - 2011
Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley

Though it’s a generally accepted concept that infusing 21st Century Skills into education for our nation’s students is vital for creating and maintaining a strong, globally competitive society, we, as a professional arts education field, are having a tough time letting go of 20th century habits.

What follows are three skills that come directly from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Arts Map. I ask that we, as arts education professionals and managers, consider, “are we practicing what we teach?”


Which one of us has not felt the pangs of anxiety (especially in such harsh budget times) in hearing news of project serving audiences similar to ours being funded or winning awards? Territorialism takes over and the tendency to work in silos to achieve more than our colleagues (or, cruder, competitors) lingers over us like a dark cloud of doom. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s the Best of Times, It’s the Worst of Times…

Posted by Marete Wester On March - 14 - 2011
Marete Wester

Marete Wester

When it comes to advocating for arts education, I think we are in the “best of the best”—and the “worst of the worst”—of times.

I’ll start with the “worst of the worst.”

The political environment for education is more hostile and corrosive than ever before.

The economy has not rebounded enough to help stave off what the loss of federal education funds to the states through the 2010 stimulus package will mean to local districts. Loss of teachers and programs are not just happening in the arts—they will happen system and subject-wide.

One recent example is the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide funds for FY 2011 (current year) for two weeks to avoid a federal government shutdown. The two weeks is up on Friday.

The CR actually makes a $4 billion cut in domestic spending, including a number of federal education programs—such as Teach for America.  Not surprisingly, among these programs designated for cuts is the $40 million Arts in Education program for which we advocate every year.
Read the rest of this entry »

Standing Out Amidst the Fray (An EALS Post)

Posted by Abby Olson On March - 11 - 2011

“You must remember, when I was in college, there was no such thing as an arts management major. You’re lucky…”

In the past two years as an arts management masters student, I have heard this phrase come from more arts leaders in my community than I can count.

If it keeps up, this phrase will soon oust the old saying, “When I was your age, I had to walk to school in five feet of snow. Uphill, both ways!”

Needless to say, I hear it a lot.

I say this with a slight amount of tongue in cheek, but I honestly have heard this sentence come from the mouths of many substantial lecturers the past two years. Read the rest of this entry »

Making a Career Change to Arts Management (An EALS Post)

Posted by Ethan Clark On March - 4 - 2011

During my career as Director of Bands for a high school, the need for advocacy and awareness for arts education became ever more prevalent as state-initiatives focused on standardized testing.

Wanting to do more on a larger level, I discovered there were opportunities in arts management beyond the classroom for preserving quality arts programming in our public schools.

Upon much self-reflection and consultation with friends and family, I moved to Washington to further my education in arts management. I knew that this career change would provide an opportunity where I could fulfill these new ambitions.

Career shifts are a difficult process for most people, and the ability to improve and expand upon one’s knowledge of a new field, on the fly, is imperative to maintain a competitive edge in the new industry one works for.

I hope by sharing my experiences in changing career paths from music education to arts management that you will gain some insight on how you too can survive your own career transitions. Read the rest of this entry »

What is Leadership? (An EALS Blog)

Posted by Michael Wilkerson On February - 25 - 2011

Leadership. As someone who loves to lecture (sorry, students), even my own eyes glaze over at the word. Go to any business section of any bookstore and you can find hundreds of tomes that boil down to one extended metaphor in the form of a book length advice column:  “The fiction writer’s way of leadership,” The housewife’s way of leadership,” “Leadership:  the Mad Men Method,” “How Would Jesus Lead (HWJL)?”

Okay, I made those up, but among this blizzard of works on leadership, what actually helps? We’ll try to find some answers at the symposium. My views are too complex to reduce to sound bites or slick metaphors, probably because I believe leadership is not solely about the leader as much as it is his or her interaction with co-workers, or followers.

We make too many assumptions that the CEO is The Leader. But one can lead from the middle (director of marketing) or even below (program associate). The weird irony of organizations seems to be that those who hold leadership positions are not necessarily any good at leading. Yet spectacular feats of leadership can occur at any level. Followers influence leaders with their ideas and their ways of working, and more importantly, they influence each other.  Read the rest of this entry »

Tearing Down Higher Education Towers

Posted by Ron Jones On February - 22 - 2011

Ron Jones

The phrase, “Town and Gown,” is a shorthand way to saying there is a tension or disconnect between institutions of higher learning and the communities in which they reside. Some of us know this to be extreme; others only experience this disconnect in minor ways. It is real.

We all know that and it’s real for good reason since the purposes and aspirations of community and institution are rarely compatible and aligned. For those of us in the arts, this disconnect has and continues to be even more amplified with communities sometimes, perhaps often, seeing university arts programs, arts conservatories, and art schools as isolated towers that stand aloof to and indifferent to the needs and sensibilities of the very community in which they reside.

Those days, in my opinion, must come to an end if the arts are to survive and realize a healthier existence in the tomorrows to come!
Read the rest of this entry »

My First Emerging Leaders Council Meeting

Posted by Camille Schenkkan On February - 22 - 2011

You know those surreal professional moments where you’re overwhelmed with the coolness of the situation but have to act like you travel to Washington, DC, for conferences all the time? You have to focus extra hard to avoid doing a happy dance, and say things like “I love your city’s public art policy” instead of “THIS. IS. AWESOME.”

I had one of those moments on January 13. After being elected to the Emerging Leaders Council (ELC) in December, I’d traveled to Americans for the Arts’ offices for my first council meeting.

The Emerging Leaders Council Overview

The Council represents emerging leaders (ELs) in the field of arts management nationwide. The term “emerging arts leader” gained popularity in the 1990s, as the field identified a need to foster the next generation of high-level arts leadership. Americans for the Arts defines ELs as arts administrators under the age of 35 or with fewer than five years of experience. Many ELs also facilitate the creation and guidance of local Emerging Leader Networks.

Since 1999, the Emerging Leader Council has served as a bridge between Americans for the Arts and emerging leaders throughout the country, using local networks to disseminate information and resources.  Although the missions of the 30+ networks nationwide vary, most focus on professional development and networking activities. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Managers in a Globalized World (An EALS Blog)

Posted by Brieahn DeMeo On February - 18 - 2011

The second panel of the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University will discuss the issues arts managers face in a globalized world. For example, what do foreign arts organizations/arts managers seek to learn from the U.S. arts manager’s experience?

When I first read this topic, I was struck by how one-sided it appears to be. What can foreign arts organizations learn from the United States? Why not the other way around? The strategies of arts organizations in the United States are in need of reevaluation and conversations that have surfaced of late only make that fact more clear. But we won’t develop new strategies without first taking a good look at the methods we  currently use. So, by evaluating our practices from the perspective of our counterparts abroad we can develop a better picture of how arts organizations function in this country, and how they differ from others.

For better or worse, we live in a globalized world (I, for one, lean towards the side of better) and the arts continue to be an indicator of this. For centuries the art of civilizations have traveled the world (sometimes in a less than ideal manner) but a constant reminder that it’s not just us, our society is not the only one; there are others in the world, with different views, ideas, customs, ways of living. Art does that for us; it allows us to see humanity in variety of different lights. The arts travel across boundaries, linking communities that might never have come together otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »

4th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium: A Call to Bloggers

Posted by Zack Hayhurst On February - 11 - 2011

On April 3, the Sunday before National Arts Advocacy Day, the Arts Management Program at American University’s will host the 4th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS). My name is Zack Hayhurst, and I am the Chair of the Executive Committee for the event.

This year, in an effort to continue a more robust discussion within the emerging leaders community, I would like to start an online discussion around the symposium topics. This is why I am proposing this call to bloggers, and asking you to contribute to the conversation by submitting posts related to the three main areas being discussed on April 3.

Here is how it will work. Every Friday will be considered “EALS Day” on ARTSblog. Consequentially, we will post one submitted entry once a week on each Friday leading up to the day of the Symposium.

On the day of the Symposium, your posts will be used to spur conversation in the scheduled sessions and each registrant will receive copies of what you posted. The entries will be chosen based on quality of writing and relevancy to the topic. Read the rest of this entry »

Moving from Arts Leadership to Community Leadership (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On February - 2 - 2011
Stephanie Evans

Stephanie Evans

In January, most of the Americans for the Arts network councils gathered in Washington, DC, to participate in their annual Winter Meetings to share information and develop work plans for the year.

During the two-day Emerging Leaders Council meeting, we had a valuable discussion around connecting more deeply to the 32 Local Emerging Leader Networks that are currently in existence, while also providing resources and services to the individual emerging arts leader who does not have access to regular professional development or a local network.

In my two years of working with the Emerging Leaders Council, I have been excited about the evolution of their conversations as they develop strategies and ideas to reach out to the field, providing resources for growth and professional development.

Meanwhile, back at our offices in DC, one of our focuses within the Local Arts Advancement department at Americans for the Arts is the idea of moving from arts leadership to community leadership.  How does your job as the marketing associate at a local theater change when you begin to think of yourself as a community leader, now in the position of being able to connect with your community, and invite them to participate in an art performances that are relevant to them?
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


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.