Shared Outcomes and Collective Impact for Scaling Up

Posted by Victor Kuo On December - 5 - 2012

Victor Kuo

What are funders interested in scale and results talking about these days? A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Grantmakers in Arts 2012 Conference in Miami.

This year’s conference theme was “Forging Connections,” and I found the notion of connections incredibly relevant for scaling impact. Creating vibrant, livable communities is the responsibility of not just one project or organization, but rather partners across a sector and the entire community working together for change.

We explored an example of a community aspiring to build connections involving entire sectors, such as the arts, education, and workforce development.

The Greater Cincinnati area has a strong history of collaboration. Leading funders, such as the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, are considering ways to take a collective approach to achieving social impact.

Specifically, they are talking about a collective impact approach described in “Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work” that identifies five key factors to facilitate change:

1) a common agenda,  2) shared measurement, 3) mutually reinforcing activity, 4) continuous communication, and 5) backbone support. Read the rest of this entry »

Steal This Blog: 5 Ramblings on Arts and the Common Core Standards

Posted by Richard Kessler On September - 14 - 2012

Richard Kessler

1. For those looking for the obligatory introductory substantiations for the arts in education, search Google and insert your own here: ___________. At the same time, you might want to search on research by Ellen Winner.

2. For those who need to read that the arts are a core subject, you just did.

3. For those frustrated about the state of the arts in K–12, persevere.

Here are my five ramblings. Don’t be confused by the three above. Congratulations, you’ve just passed your first math test for today!

1. Don’t bet too much on the promise of Common Core-aligned new arts standards.

A lot of people I know are amped up about the prospect of new arts standards inspired by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts (ELA) and math. The idea is that the new arts standards, if positioned to reinforce CCSS, will benefit from the monumental machine behind CCSS. Unfortunately, the volume on this amp does not go to eleven.

Yes, we do need new arts standards desperately, particularly considering how stale most of the state arts standards have become. New standards done right will go a long way to align standards with current practice, recognizing the changed world of the arts, rather than establishing standards based upon a wish, like certified arts teachers in every classroom (or school). The arts have changed in so very many ways since the bulk of the arts standards were last written, so let’s make sure the new standards reflect the 21st century. (Hint: think hybrids.)

That being said, the Common Core State Standards are in ELA and math, while veering into some other domains (history/social studies) like shoots from a tree. The CCSS in ELA and math have been cemented into a newly poured foundation of the educational industrial complex and are wired through the White House, state departments of education, the philanthropic sector, school districts, higher education, corporations, and teacher and administrator unions, while being on the tip of the tongues of millions of educators around the nation. Read the rest of this entry »

Rewarding Sustained Attention (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Barbara Schaffer Bacon On December - 14 - 2011

Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical by Marcia Muelder Eaton

“Great art rewards sustained attention.” This simple theory comes from philosopher Marcia Muelder Eaton, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota.

In my personal experience, it is true. Eaton has been considering art and writing about aesthetics for a few decades. Her early publications get to the heart of this definition but a later book, Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical (Oxford Press 2001) offers an inclusive concept of art, aesthetics, and value that is very relevant to the themes of Fusing Arts Culture and Social Change.

In that book, Eaton suggests that “formalists in the world of aesthetics ignore the roles that artworks play in the life of community and conversely, ignore the ways in which communities determine the very nature of what counts as artistic or aesthetic experiences that exist within them.” I recommend her writings in general and this book specifically.

I share Eaton’s work here because my enthusiasm for the conversation raised by Fusing Arts Culture and Social Change is not to call out the major institutions and question whether they deserve support, but rather to encourage sustained attention for small, mid-size, and community-based arts groups that are rooted in communities, neighborhoods, ethnic, and tribal traditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Embracing the Velocity of Change (Part 5)

Posted by Barbara Schaffer Bacon On November - 1 - 2011

Barbara Schaffer Bacon

Our Paradox, Now Available on YouTube!

With bold headlines generated by the release of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy report Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change, the appetite was high at the Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) Conference for an opportunity to address the charge of being elite so often leveled at the arts. Do we want to own it or change it? And, what about the progressive label? Don’t artists generally lean left?

The session “Too Progressive, Too Elite: Public Value and the Paradox of the Arts” turned out to be that opportunity. Marete Wester, my colleague and director of arts policy at Americans for the Arts, and I organized the session based on our own interests in exploring the truths and challenges inherent in these labels–but we wanted a fresh conversation. So, why not start with art!? After all, connecting art and dialogue has been Animating Democracy’s cause and mantra for over ten years. GIA’s own Tommer Peterson signed on and spent the summer conducting 45 interviews on the theme.

A Night at the Opera, a short play by Tommer and KJ Sanchez of American Records Theater Company, was performed to open the salon session held at Emerald Tablet, a community arts center in San Francisco’s historic North Beach neighborhood.

Read the rest of this entry »

Embracing the Velocity of Change (Part 3) (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Emily Peck On October - 26 - 2011
Emily Peck

Emily Peck

The theme of this year’s Grantmakers in the Arts Conference reflected the big challenges facing arts funders and also arts organizations. The changes in demographics and changes in technology are issues that are being confronted across the country.

It seemed appropriate to gather for these conversations in San Francisco, a city in close proximity to the technological advances coming out of Silicon Valley and a state which became a majority minority state in 1999, about 42 years before we will become a majority minority country.

That last fact came from the keynote speech by Dr. Manuel Pastor, professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Dr. Pastor successfully managed to make census data entertaining and relevant as he addressed how California and the rest of the country will need to address shifting demographics in order to stay relevant. The ideas presented in his speech resonated throughout the conference as funders reflected on how to address these changes in their grantmaking.

The James Irvine Foundation has been keeping close watch on these changes and the impact of these changes on the arts organizations they fund. In a breakout session, Arts Program Director Josephine Ramirez provided an inside look into how the Irvine Foundation evolved their arts funding guidelines to better address the needs of arts organizations and the community. Here is a video that does a great job illustrating the foundation’s arts funding priorities:

Read the rest of this entry »

Embracing the Velocity of Change (Part 2)

Posted by Pam Korza On October - 25 - 2011

Pam Korza

“Sing the song so you can stick here with gravity.” ~ L. Frank Manriquez

The marriage of two now staple Grantmakers in the Arts preconferences—Individual Artists and Art & Social Justice—was a perfect energizing union of kindred artist-activists, field movers, and supporters as well as a highlight of the Bay Area as a perpetual vanguard of arts and social change.

Starting with the grey bay morning right, we shared breakfast in the funky garden alleyway alongside SOMArts—comforting, hot, fruity oatmeal and other treats from Nick’s Wheely Good Breakfast truck!

Rhodessa Jones, our creative through line for the day, embodied arts for change. With opening creative verse and video, Jones conjured the power of her enduring Medea Project which engages incarcerated women and women with HIV and AIDS.

Jones’ partner at the University of California, San Francisco HIV/AIDS clinic, Dr. Eddie Machtinger, underscored the unique role that her work plays in the evolution toward wellness of these women. Most striking was his deep and declared commitment to the project and to proving “with scientific evidence” the role of arts in their transformation. A model of sustained and effective cross-sector partnership! Read the rest of this entry »

Embracing the Velocity of Change (Part 1)

Posted by Marete Wester On October - 24 - 2011
Marete Wester

Marete Wester

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA)—a national association serving arts and culture funders—recently held its 2011 conference, Embracing the Velocity of Change, October 9-12 in San Francisco—and Americans for the Arts was there.

For close to twenty years, Americans for the Arts has been pleased to represent the 3,000-plus field of local arts grantmaking agencies in communities both large and small at GIA.

Our history of support of GIA is part of our ongoing commitment to sharing information and deepening the understanding between local arts agency grantmakers and their natural partners in the private funding community.

Collectively, local arts agencies fund more than $1 billion annually in public funding and more than $100 million annually in private funding, providing support for the arts and arts education in communities across the country. The GIA conference is an annual opportunity for us (along with arts funders across the country) to present session ideas for juried selection. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts-Based Solutions for a Stronger America

Posted by Marete Wester On October - 20 - 2011

A word cloud generated by the discussion at the National Arts Policy Roundtable.

On September 22-24, over 40 top-level private and public sector leaders along with renowned as well as emerging artists, converged at the Sundance Resort and Preserve for the sixth annual Americans for the Arts National Arts Policy Roundtable, “Innovating for Impact: Arts-Based Solutions for a Stronger America.” The Roundtable is convened in partnership with the Sundance Institute.

The questions put forth were as big as the brilliant blue sky above the reddening autumn leaves dotting the Wasatch Mountain range—“how do the arts bring innovation to social problem-solving?” and “how, as leaders from foundations, business, government and the social sector, can we encourage and support the arts as agents of change?”

Presentations by participants informed the discussion. Artists were at the core both demonstrating and explaining how their work is leading to change on the ground.

Poignant stories told through film, theater, and visual art highlighted the value the arts have in leading to change. Arts projects magnified through the lens of television and social networking revealed how the artistic process and products can be transformed into larger movements and calls to action.

The issues the arts addressed ranged from alleviating poverty to overcoming intolerance, and trying to understand the emotional complexities and personal devastation buried underneath the economic downturn. 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.