Looking Forward: A View to Seattle

Posted by Randy Engstrom On June - 23 - 2008

I can’t help but view this whole conference experience through the lens of its arrival in my hometown next year. What will we do differently? What worked and what didn’t? What does ‘Metro Natural’ mean? I really want to be able to show off the ‘Authentic Seattle’ character, but also be realistic about what we will be able to do…I didn’t even make all of the sessions I wanted to this year, and I had far less responsibility than I will next time around.

I really enjoyed the presentation I just saw about uwishunu, and am totally blown away by how smart, savvy, and authentic that project seems to be. I hope they come to Seattle next year. I also really enjoyed the panel that Ra and Lisa from Illinois Arts Alliance hosted on succession planning; I did manage to step on a small land mine during that discussion when I suggested that hiring young, capable staff and training them up through the organization was a way to protect yourself from succession crisis…apparently it sounded like I was saying don’t hire people over 35 (I wasn’t). It made me think about a few things for next year:

-Multigenerational Leadership dialogue: It gets a little too ‘us vs. them’ for me…I think we would all be served by being able to hear and learn from each others stories, regardless of age or institution.

-Combined panels with Economic Development and Leadership: In both tracks it was sometimes hard to tell which was which. I think these two areas are closely linked (uwishunu is a good example).

-I have 3 staff under the age of 25, all running different aspects of our program…I’d like to put them on a panel next year and explore what works/doesn’t work about distributed leadership, and what their view of organizational structure is. A lot of people wonder aloud what young people think/want; I suggest we ask them.

-Youth Voice: There is so much dialogue about arts education, but I haven’t seen any youth as presenters. I think that would be really informative

-Sustainability: It appears that this is out theme, and I hope we can explore a wholistic view of the idea of sustainablility…Organizational, environmental, career, operating structure. I have some great ArtVenture ideas for the conference that adress this idea. I also think that susatainability naturally lends itself to crossover between tracks.

I’m just sayin’

I love the people from Tuscon!!!

See you next time…


Who Says that National Arts Education Policy is not Fun?

Posted by Laura Reeder On June - 20 - 2008

Lively hoots and hollers accompanied the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) panel introduction when Lynn Tuttle, Director of Arts Education with the Arizona Department of Education, led 120+ national arts education professionals in a 20-minute overview of everything you ever wanted to know about NCLB and the arts.

She offered “NCLB BINGO” as the framework for sharing the plain-language facts about this legislation and the controversies that surround it. The dubious prizes included tomes on navigating titled programs, and other stimulating education legislation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Personal Evolution

Posted by Amy Kweskin On June - 20 - 2008

Yesterday Dewey Schott and I co-presented the advance workshop “Personal Evolution: Peer Coaching Circles” attended by 12 inspirational arts managers from across the country. Dawn Ellis, one of the attendees, noted that Personal Evolution was a nice parallel to American Evolution, the theme of this year’s convention. For the workshop attendees we witnessed many personal evolutions. It was an excellent way to launch the convention—getting in touch with our own development—both personal and professional.

Coaching is a fantastic resource for the arts. Learn more by stopping by the Career 360 on Saturday.

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Philly On My Mind

Posted by John Arroyo On June - 20 - 2008

I always look forward to Convention, but this is especially interesting because of the host city—Philadelphia. Last year I applied to a several graduate programs in urban planning, urban design, and historic preservation. Among my primary criteria was the opportunity to live in a city that could serve as an interesting urban lab, one that was experiencing a great cultural renaissance and recognized the value of art and culture within their urban infrastructure. It’s no surprise that I spent a good portion of the year highly considering life in Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry »

A Must-See for Public Art Lovers!

Posted by Kendal Henry On June - 19 - 2008

I arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon to be sure that I was well rested for the 8:30 Council meetings on Thursday morning. I wanted to see as much of the city as I can so when I arrived at the train station I decided to walk to the hotel, all the while scoping out the public art along the way. As I rounded the corner of 17th Street and JFK Boulevard, a Jonathan Borofsky in the Comcast building lobby caught my eye so I went to investigate. While admiring the sculptures overhead, the wood-paneled wall behind me came alive with images and sounds. What I thought was wood is actually “the world’s largest 4mm LED wall.” For the next few minutes I, and about 20 other people, were entertained by video, poetry, and 3D animation in what I considered to be a beautiful marriage of art, architecture, and technology. It is indeed a fitting start to a conference about “Art in the New Civic Life.”

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On my way to Americans for the Arts Conference!!

Posted by Ruby Harper On June - 18 - 2008

Tuesday, June 16: I leave on Thursday for the conference and I am so excited.

Lots of interesting and exciting activites going on and I’m volunteering at the conference so my schedule is NUTS!

I’ve been checking and double checking my schedule to make sure everything is accounted for. One thing we have done is to tag team the conference (my co-workers are also attending, Alicia Oddi and Bryan Knicely) so we get to bring back the most we can from the presentations.

I’m super excited about the Career 360 session I’ll be hosting with Jennifer Wijangco on Saturday—Resume Review/Interview tips from the for-profit perspective. Having spent some time in corporate community relations and human resources, then migrating to the nonprofit arts sector has given me a unique perspective on the dynamics between the two. It’s been culture shock to say the least.

Has anyone else come to the arts by way of the for-profit world? How have you coped with the differences?

Would love to have folks say HI, so make sure to sign up for the dine-around on Friday night—I’ll be hosting Nodding Head Brew Pub. The Eemerging Leaders Council are a friendly and dynamic bunch, so make sure to introduce yourself. Mitch Menchaca and I are hosting a dialogue on Creative Conversations and networking at the local level on Saturday morning for you early birds.

See you at conference!! Safe Travels!!

Ruby Classen

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Survey Savvy: Monkeying Around with Arts Data

Posted by Laura Reeder On June - 18 - 2008

Arts professionals are using survey software to traverse distances and harvest data to validate the work of art in our left-brain society. As a result, we are now able to make a few claims about what the arts provide, what the arts need, and what the arts can do next.

I am looking for answers and connections when I come to a conference, and this year I am heading into the Americans for the Arts Arts Education sessions with some very specific questions based on a bundle of surveys that have been completed this past year about teaching artistry.

A comprehensive table of these surveys will be shared in the next few days, so we will circulate it after the conference. But, a sneak preview of the questions that are bubbling up is offered here. I reference ideas from Judith Tannenbaum in 2007 when she left the Anericans for the Arts conference and wrote “What Have We Got to Lose? Preserving the Important Qualities of the Teaching Artist Profession, While Still Moving Ahead with Its Professionalism.”

  • How will we preserve vision and cultural democracy as we urge leaders to centralize and institute regular support for our work? The surveys do share a vision for pooling resources and distributing power.
  • What will we do to prevent social justice from fading into service for the underprivileged? Many artists are being employed to tackle No Child Left Behind mandates instead of addressing causes and issues that generated the justification for NCLB.
  • Who will champion community arts work that is done in places other than formal institutions? Most of the surveys have a significant participation from organization administration.
  • What will happen to individual values and style? The surveys that address individuality require long narrative responses, and are more time-consuming to analyze.
  • How will we preserve the kind of learning that can only happen through trial and error? Most surveys reveal an abundance of methods embracing trial and error, yet a desire to move forward more effectively.
  • How will we be able to nurture and capture opportunities? Perhaps this conference will be one way.
  • Who will champion the understanding that teaching artists are artists? If this is a conference of arts-centered vision, we hope to find these answers in the outcomes.
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    getting ready for Philadelphia

    Posted by Anne Katz On June - 16 - 2008

    I’ve just spent a few minutes recalling the NALAA/Americans for the Arts conferences I have attended, and I think the grand total is—good heavens—15! I’m having a bit of trouble with putting together the correct places and dates, though—I’ll have to check around the website and see if there’s a list so I can refresh my memory.

    You’d think that after all these conferences, I might be less than enthusiastic about attending yet another one, but that’s not at all true. The convention is one of the highlights of my professional year. I reconnect with the friends I have made over my 20+ year career in community arts, I absorb great information and ideas from other places, and I get to be right in the thick of the national “conversation” about the essential importance of the arts in our society. Those contacts, that information, and that participation are invaluable tools for me to use every day in my work. I look forward to the annual convention with great anticipation and gusto, and always want to stay just a little longer so I can soak it all in.

    I recently talked with a colleague here in Madison who is new to the community arts world and about to attend her first convention. She wanted to get some idea about how to get the most out of the convention—who the leaders were, what aspects of the conference were most important, what kinds of sessions to attend. Talking with her, I remembered my excitement and nervousness when I arrived at my first NALAA conference (Washington, 1986), and the thrill I felt as I began to realize that here were people I could talk to and learn from.

    I still feel that thrill, and it’s why I’m so looking forward to Philadelphia. See you there!

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    Guest Bloggers at Convention

    Posted by admin On June - 11 - 2008

    Convention is right around the corner and I can taste the anticipation in the air! I am hearing from so many people about how excited they are to see each other, to attend sessions and just be in the same room together. Yes, I oversee two program tracks (Leadership and Career360) and I will be working throughout the three+ days. But my convention experience is more than my job. It reconnects me with why I do the work that I do. Sometimes I attend other national convenings and it takes energy away from me. The people at our convention fill me with energy; they feed my soul. I can’t wait.

    We have invited some attendees to blog their convention experience and I’d like to take a moment to introduce them now. Read the rest of this entry »

    Career 360 Clinics

    Posted by admin On June - 5 - 2008

    Career 360 is a new, innovative dimension of our Annual Convention. So far,
    the feedback we have been receiving confirms that lots of people are really
    excited about participating in a full menu of discussions, appointments
    and sessions.

    At Career 360 Clinics, we have the best consultants in the country at your feet.
    Looking for advice on your organization’s strategic, fundraising or marketing
    plan? What about your community’s cultural policy plan or your local creative
    economy initiative? Ask questions about public art master plans. Meet with
    some coaches. Talk to arts administration faculty.

    To make the most
    of this opportunity, come prepared with specific questions, issues and topics.
    You will only have 30-minutes – !use it wisely! – but you will get pointed
    in the right direction for next steps.

    The consultants
    listed below will be available for 30-minute appointments. Sign up will be
    available at CenterStage on first come, first serve basis. Read the rest of this entry »

    Career 360 is a new dimension of convention this year. It is happening on Saturday afternoon, June 21 and runs concurrently to ArtVenures and Walk&Talks. Looking for some career advice or ways to lead a sustainable career in the arts? This program is for you!

    Career 360 begins over lunch with Talk Turkey (or Tofu) and a facilitated roundtable on various career development topics. Grab a sandwich from the buffet in CenterStage and head over to the Philadelphia Ballroom for the following discussions: Read the rest of this entry »

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    This week, Americans for the Arts features another in a series of audio conversations with practitioners and professionals presenting at the 2008 Convention in Philadelphia, June 19–22. The Art of Community: Creativity at the Crossroads of Immigrant Cultures and Social Services is a recent study published by the Institute for Cultural Partnership (ICP), based in Harrisburg, PA. Through the conversation, Amy Skillman, ICP’s vice president and director of arts and heritage programs, and Laura Marcus, independent consultant and folklorist explore ways that arts and cultural professionals can partner with social service agencies to assist recent immigrants in the resettlement process towards building local community, while maintaining connections to their countries of origin. With a solid case-based example, some nuts-and-bolts style ideas found in the study (and more to come in the session), and an opportunity for listeners to engage in the dialogue, Amy and Laura offer some advice to organizations looking to partner in this way in their own communities: identify partners you might like to work with and find ways to support your individual and mutual goals. Powerful interaction can happen when the arts and social services come together in this way—so leave your expectations at the door, and be open to what you might be able to learn from another organization’s agenda.

    To download a copy of The Art of Community: Creativity at the Crossroads of Immigrant Cultures and Social Services, visit the ICP website at www.culturalpartnerships.org. To purchase the printed publication along with the accompanying Newcomer Arts Manual, click on Marketplace and download the order form. Explore additional case studies by visiting ICP’s Newcomer Arts and Culture Directory at: http://www.culturalpartnerships.org/immigrant-services/building-cultural-bridges.asp

    To learn more about the program and other tracks at the Convention, visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/Convention.

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    Philadelphia Story – movie style

    Posted by admin On May - 20 - 2008

    We are one month out to Annual Convention and, like I did for Vegas last year, I thought it would be fun to collect a list of “must see Philadelphia movies.” Below are some suggestions. Which one are you going to watch first? Did I miss any good ones (or bad)?

    • The Philadelphia Story (1940) Of course, this one has to be listed first.
    • Philadelphia (1993) Tom Hanks as a lawyer fighting AIDS.
    • Sixth Sense (1999) A whole new way to see dead people.
    • Unbreakable (2000). M. Night Shyamalan’s follow up to Sixth Sense.
    • Rocky Series I-V (1976-2000). You know the theme song.
    • My Architect (2003) A son’s documentary of Louis Kahn. Great buildings.
    • Witness (1985) A glimpse into Amish culture with a young Viggo Mortensen in the sidelines.
    • Trading Places (1983). An 80’s classic. Eddie Murphy & Dan Aykroyd.

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    Facilitative Leadership in a Networked World

    Posted by admin On May - 15 - 2008

    Leaders throughout the world are grappling with the implications of moving from the post-industrial era to the information age…an age where design, innovation, and creativity are essential to our ability to lead effectively. This period of radically accelerated change is demanding each of us to make a profound internal shift in our behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs.  And – perhaps most daunting of all – to acquire the new skills, tools, and frameworks that we need to lead in a networked world. A facilitative leader is a “servant leader” – one who respects the value and diversity of each person and freely shares power and decision-making.  A facilitative leader in a networked world must step further into her/his leadership.  A facilitative leader in a networked world is strategic, receptive, flexible, collaborative, humble, persevering, and rooted in the value of unlimited love. Marianne Hughes, executive director of the Interaction Institute for Social Chage, is the Leadershp Innovator at Annual Convention from 4:00p.m. – 5:30p.m. on June 20th. She will explore these new dimensions of leadership that will enable us to bring our change efforts to scale and root them deeply in “the love that does justice.”  

    Suggested Reading:

    • The Starfish And the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations  by Ori Brafman, Rod A. Beckstrom
    • Net Work: A Practical Guide to Creating and Sustaining Networks at Work and in the World by Patti Anklam
    • Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges by C. Otto Scharmer
    • The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson

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    Living News at the National Constitution Center

    Posted by Michael del Vecchio On April - 14 - 2008

    The Civic Engagement Track at the Americans for the Arts Convention invites arts administrators, activists, artists, and others to discuss the role that arts and culture can play in fostering civic participation and building healthy communities. Through case based sessions, experiential activity, and research updates, sessions will illuminate the many ways the arts are providing platforms for civic engagement and build participant skills for designing and delivering arts-based civic engagement opportunities in their own communities.

    Engage Now! We are offering a series of audio conversations with practitioners and professionals who will present at the event. The first in our series explores the National Constitution Center’s  Living News project and features Nora Berger Green, Theater Programs Producer at the National Constitution Center and David Bradley, Living News Director. Through innovative use of theater, the project engages local youth around questions of citizenship and civic participation through the lens of the constitution. Listen, as Nora and David describe the project – and stay tuned to the end of the conversation for cues from David and Nora as we start some conversation and reflection in the comments below.

    To learn more about the program and other tracks at the Convention, visit the Convention section of the website.

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