John Eger

The International Council of Fine Arts Deans‘ (ICFAD) meeting in Minneapolis (October 24–27) for their annual conference talked about “Art as a Public Good”—meeting the demands for creativity and innovation, and serving the communities they represent, socially and economically.

Nurturing the talented performer, musician, or sculptor is of utmost importance to the fine arts deans and their universities. However, knowing that the arts, broadly defined, are being called on to shape the larger economic discussion—a national discussion, really—to change the way the whole country thinks about education, economic prowess in the global economy, and preparing our students for the new innovation sector, cries out for their leadership.

Lucinda Lavelli, dean of University of Florida and incoming President of ICFAD, kicked off the conference by talking about the concept of “the creative campus,” now adopted by several universities, “to establish educational settings that infuse the academy with the arts, foster creativity in all disciplines, promote interdisciplinary projects and encourage new ways of solving problems and expressing ideas.”

She asked several deans to talk about their university and how their college was collaborating with other colleges in business, engineering or the sciences, but more, she asked perhaps the biggest question of the conference: “What could—or should—the deans and their universities be doing” with their students, their alumni living in the area and through the town/gown relationships that exist, and how can others be engaged to help everyone in our community to think differently about the arts?

Quite simply, as Harvey White, co-founder and former president of Qualcomm, has been known to say, this is a “national emergency.” The clock is ticking, and when the dust settles after years of budgetary and fiscal malaise, the nation will desperately need young graduates with the new thinking skills for an economy that demands the most creative workforce. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Imagination Takes You Everywhere’ (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Janet Langsam On November - 5 - 2012

Janet Langsam

The presidential election is just one day away and American entrepreneurship is on the line.

We are told by the candidates that 60% of all jobs come from small businesses. So, I thought I’d check in with Chris Wedge, who is the brains, the heart and the innovator of Blue Sky, an animation studio that produced “Ice Age,” “Robots,” and the soon-to-come “Epic.”

Blue Sky, once a very small business, started out in Elmsford (NY), then located in White Plains, and now has expanded, moving its artists, writers, producers, designers, modelers, riggers, filmmakers, cameramen, photographers, sculptors, composers, lighting and costume designers, editors and other creators to new studios in Greenwich, CT.

With roots still in Westchester, however, (Chris and family reside in Katonah) Wedge has collaborated with the Katonah Museum and Jacob Burns Film Center on a joint exhibition, film and education program about the art of animation. This unique program introduces observers to Blue Sky’s creative process, from initial concept to finished frame through original drawings, storyboards, props, movie clips, and hands-on technology.

Though Blue Sky is a small business, in comparison, say to Twentieth Century Fox Animation, with whom they work, it is also a creative business of which there are some 3,988 in Westchester alone, employing 15,279 people, according to a study by Americans for the Arts.

So, as one left brain person to another, I asked Chris Wedge what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur like himself.

“You just can’t put a limit on possibilities,” he says. ‘You must be open to discovery and surprise. Don’t think too hard. Fun is important. Get out of your own way. Do the work that feels right. The more one investigates, the clearer the potential becomes.” Read the rest of this entry »

Buddy Palmer

I’m a fortunate community arts executive. I direct an organization, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham, which supports a vibrant ecosystem in the largest city, and cultural capital, of Alabama. Just a few years ago, in a public gathering, our former governor recognized Birmingham’s cultural sector as the region’s second greatest asset, just behind the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the state’s largest employer with a giant, nationally-recognized network of hospital and healthcare resources.

Birmingham lost one nonprofit contemporary art gallery in the recession; however, I am proud to say most of our organizations are being extremely resourceful at doing more with less. As nonprofits, we’re used to it, right?

And I’ve just received great news: the results of our local Arts and Economic Prosperity IV study show a more than 50 percent increase in annual economic impact from the data collected five years ago. We had an 80 percent survey-return rate from our organizations as compared with the national average of 43 percent. So, our cultural leaders are enthusiastic, capable, and determined to demonstrate our value.

We also have some important and encouraging signs as we move forward. The City of Birmingham is in the process of creating its first comprehensive plan in 50 years, and arts and entertainment tactics have been included in the area of “Prosperity and Opportunity” as well as “Housing, Neighborhoods, and Community Renewal.”

Perhaps even more significant, “Blueprint Birmingham,” a recently published economic-growth-strategy document commissioned by the Birmingham Business Alliance, our regional economic development authority, identifies “Arts, Entertainment, and Tourism” as one of only seven target sectors with the greatest potential for new job creation, retention of existing jobs, and overall wealth creation in the region. This recognition of the cultural sector as an engine for both community and economic development, when coming from unusual suspects, is a sure sign of progress. Read the rest of this entry »

Hartford: City/Arts Council Partnership Creates Jobs

Posted by Cathy Malloy On July - 10 - 2012

Cathy Malloy

One of our favorite catchphrases is “the arts are the backbone of our region.” And that is especially true of the City of Hartford, where arts, heritage, and cultural organizations are so ingrained in the local economy.

They are a primary driver of tourism, welcome millions of visitors each year, and support hundreds and hundreds of jobs; the arts have a huge impact on the service sectors—like restaurants, parking lots and small businesses—that depend on an influx of patrons from the surrounding suburbs.

Without the arts, Hartford would be just another commuter town, a nine to five destination for state and city employees.

The best illustration of the importance of the arts to the city’s economy is the Hartford Arts and Heritage Jobs Grant Program, one of the many grants initiatives managed and administered by the Greater Hartford Arts Council. These grants are a partnership between the City of Hartford and the Arts Council, and are specifically designed to really quantify and measure the impact of arts, heritage, and cultural programming on the city’s “bottom line,” and to show how a vibrant arts community can generate jobs and play a vital role in redefining the urban environment.

Since 2009, the city has invested over $2 million in arts programming, events, and micro-enterprise businesses in the arts—everyone from graphic designers to local vendors providing much-needed services to artists living and working in Hartford.

The program has seen tremendous success, generating almost $4.5 million in economic activity and, most importantly, supporting dozens of full and part-time jobs. “Job creation” initiatives have certainly become the latest national craze, and this program has a three-year track record of creating and supporting jobs through the arts—a testament to the impact of the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Randy Cohen Talks Arts & Economic Prosperity IV on San Diego TV

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 27 - 2012

Americans for the Arts Vice President of Research & Policy Randy Cohen is in the middle of a cross-country tour unveiling the results of our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study alongside many of our local partners.

Yesterday, he spent time in San Diego and had the pleasure of joining Seema Sueko, artistic director of the city’s Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, on KPBS-TV’s Evening Edition Culture Desk:

Find out more about AEP IV and local study results for a county near you by visiting our comprehensive website.

U.S. House Subcommittee Proposes Reduced Federal Arts Funding

Posted by Natalie Shoop On June - 21 - 2012

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Interior Subcommittee passed its initial Fiscal Year 2013 funding legislation, proposing a $14 million cut for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

While the arts community recognizes the challenges our elected leaders face in prioritizing federal resources, this budget proposal is disappointing as funding for the NEA has already been cut by more than $20 million over the past two years. This additional reduction is counter intuitive to the national call to help increase jobs and fuel the country’s recovery.

Americans for the Arts recently released the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV study, which provides overwhelming proof that the nonprofit arts industry generates $135.2 billion in economic activity every year and supports 4.13 million full-time equivalent jobs annually.

Earlier this year, President Obama proposed an increase of $8 million over the current NEA appropriation to $154.3 million for FY 2013 in contrast with the House Subcommittee mark of $132 million.

As the House proposal advances, it is our hope that you will not only call on your U.S. Representative to reject the funding cuts, but also help us build support for the president’s higher level request by contacting your U.S. Senator. A comparison breakdown of the appropriations status follows:

Final FY 2012 Enacted

FY 2013 President’s
Request

FY 2013 House Subcommittee
Proposal

National Endowment for the Arts

$146.3 million

$154.3 million

$132 million

National Endowment for the Humanities

$146.3 million

$154.3 million

$132 million

This is just the first step in the process. In the coming weeks, it is expected that the larger House Appropriations Committee will consider this legislation followed by the full House of Representatives. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Your LinkedIn Profile More Marketable

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 6 - 2012

Tim Mikulski

In another of my “spring cleaning” posts (where I’ve collected a great resource, but haven’t had time to share it on ARTSblog yet) INC.com blogger Jeff Haden gives six steps toward making your LinkedIn profile more marketable.

Unlike Klout, which I haven’t figured out what to do with so far, for me LinkedIn is more about my professional side, so I don’t have it connected to my Twitter account and I certainly do not post the same inane things I tend to share or write about on Facebook. I only accept invites from people with whom I have already worked or would like to in the future and are in the same field/field I’d like to eventually join.

But how do you use LinkedIn to help you network and create better connections to the people who use it? Here are Jeff’s steps:

Step 1. Revisit your goals. At its most basic level LinkedIn is about marketing: marketing your company or marketing yourself. But that focus probably got lost as you worked through the mechanics of completing your profile, and what started as a marketing effort turned into a resume completion task. Who you are isn’t as important as what you hope to accomplish, so think about your goals and convert your goals into keywords, because keywords are how people find you on LinkedIn. Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Convergence Highlights Benefits of Arts Education

Posted by Max Donner On February - 1 - 2012

Max Donner

Los Angeles took a cue from the success of Art Miami and scheduled six art shows in the space of one week last month. These six shows featured the most popular collecting categories–fine art, photography, prints and posters, modern art, contemporary art, and “affordable art.”

A fortunate coincidence put these excellent art exhibitions directly next to two large commercial trade shows that demonstrated the value of artistic talent in America’s economy. These were the California Gift Show and the Insignia Sportswear Show.

These shows provided hundreds of examples of the economic value of art by showing how quality art and design can transform a five dollar piece of canvas into a fifty dollar giclee print or a five hundred dollar oilskin for elite yacht racing syndicates.

The commercial trade shows also demonstrated the important role that applied art plays in supporting the development of leading edge technology and the creation of good jobs that support local economies.

An overview of the exhibitions at the California Gift Show and the Insignia Sportswear Show quickly showed that commodity-like, undecorated consumer goods like umbrellas, picture frames, sports team uniforms, and caps do not cost much to make and do not generate much quality employment. The same products converted into upscale or luxury consumer products with original art and sophisticated artistic customization command attention of trade show visitors and quickly fill order books. Read the rest of this entry »

Only Artists Can Make the Difference

Posted by John Eger On December - 2 - 2011

John Eger

Declaring October as National Art and Humanities Month, President Obama made the observation:

“Educators across our country are opening young minds, fostering innovation, and developing imaginations through arts education. Through their work, they are empowering our Nation’s students with the ability to meet the challenges of a global marketplace. It is a well-rounded education for our children that will fuel our efforts to lead in a new economy where critical and creative thinking will be the keys to success.”

More and more people in high places seem to be saying the right thing. Last April, Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, said: “The Arts can no longer be treated as a frill. Arts education is essential to stimulating the creativity and innovation that will prove critical for young Americans competing in a global economy.”

But we have seen too little in the way of action.

Is this because the administration really doesn’t believe what they say about the arts? Because Washington, D.C. can’t get anything done? Or because the benefits are still not obvious to most politicians. Read the rest of this entry »

Helping Students Find Their Own Voices in the Arts

Posted by Mark Slavkin On September - 12 - 2011

Mark Slavkin

As advocates for arts education, we try to stay flexible and timely in our rationale and arguments. We want to be current and relevant about the latest studies and trends.

If “21st century skills” are in vogue, we can show the relevance of arts learning. If the talk is about the primacy of science, technology, engineering, and math, we are quick to suggest we add the arts and make STEM become STEAM. And if the focus is on the economy and jobs, we stand ready to make the case for how learning in the arts prepares young people for a wealth of future job opportunities.

I worry that our advocacy and rhetoric may get ahead of the reality of our practice. Are we really delivering on all the benefits we promise?

While advocacy is essential, I wish we devoted as much time to sharing with each other about the nuts and bolts of classroom practice. Perhaps we could even display some humility about what we can deliver and what is not quite ready for prime time.

This brings me to the topic of careers in the arts. Our advocacy often refers to an economic imperative for arts education. Here in California we talk about the direct application of skills learned in arts education to jobs in the arts and the broader creative economy.

We also suggest that arts education cultivates a range of skills that will be valuable across all economic sectors, such as creativity, collaboration, and innovation. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education Skills Vital for a Successful Economy

Posted by Robert Lynch On September - 12 - 2011

Robert L. Lynch

When I chose creative writing focusing on poetry as my college major, my parents slipped into a mild depression. On the other hand, they were buoyed up by the fact that I chose to stay in school rather than devote myself full-time to my rock and roll band. It all worked out, and both skills, poetry and music, have stood me in good stead.

At Americans for the Arts, we believe that these skills learned through arts education develop well-rounded children who are prepared for employment in both the creative economy AND in the 21st century workforce.

For instance, if your friend’s child wants a job in the arts, her parents may panic (like mine did) from reading current media articles about the arts sector dwindling in size. But, I have good news. Today, if someone is looking for a job in the creative economy, they have a lot of options.

No niche industry, arts are a big business in this country. Our 2011 analysis of Dun and Bradstreet data reveals that 756,007 arts businesses exist across the nation and employ 2.99 million individuals. These are businesses that we participate in for enjoyment (such as seeing a movie, attending a concert, or reading a novel); engage in for business (architecture, design, and musical instrument manufacturing companies); and invest in to enrich community livability (such as museums, public art, performing arts centers). Read the rest of this entry »

Careers in the Arts – A Plug for Enlightenment

Posted by Rob Schultz On September - 12 - 2011

Rob Schultz

I have this sneaking suspicion that if you ask a typical high school student to tell you what career choices exist in the arts, they would give “artist,” and “art teacher” as their two, and possibly only two, examples. Unfortunately, I think that too many young people are unaware of the myriad career options that center on the arts.

So, here’s a plug for enlightenment.

In my own experience, I’d never considered such a career until my bachelor’s degree days. A full-time student in need of multiple part-time jobs, I found a “student assistant” position in the office of my university’s art department helping professors and the dean, answering phones, handling routine administrative tasks, and doing word processing on a primitive, mid-1980s computer platform.

This initial foray led to a lengthy and satisfying career in arts administration.

This career has benefitted me in many ways, not the least of which comes from wonderful opportunities to work and interact with a wide variety of arts professionals. Many of these jobs I never dreamed existed back in my school days.

Take government work, for starters. Read the rest of this entry »

How Creatively Pragmatic Do You Want to Be?

Posted by Mary-Helen Rossi On September - 8 - 2011

Mary-Helen Rossi

There’s no doubt about it: when budgets are cut the arts are the first to go. Those of us who’ve been at this for a while have always found ways to adapt, and this time my company’s gotten pragmatic…creatively pragmatic.

Creative pragmatism is a timely take on an old topic–using the arts to enhance seemingly disparate fields. Some of us, myself included, have been resistant: why should the arts play maidservant to fields in which most professionals view them as a distraction from the ‘real work’?

Mental health, education, and workforce development are good examples, and in this post I’ll explore the field of workforce development.

Workforce Development
Workforce Development is worth considering for at least two reasons: it’s still relatively well-funded and it’s precisely what’s needed to revitalize our youth and communities. Read the rest of this entry »

America at a Cultural Crossroads

Posted by Tim Mikulski On August - 12 - 2011

On July 22, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch spoke as part of the Chautauqua Institution’s lecture series, discussing the arts and arts education in a speech titled “America at a Cultural Crossroads.”

You can view a portion of the speech below and the full speech at FORA.tv:

Kansas Makes a Fashion Statement

Posted by Harlan Brownlee On June - 7 - 2011

Harlan Brownlee

Once again, Kansas has distinguished itself as a “trendsetter.”

Yes, those are the words of Kansas Governor Brownback when he refers to his action to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission and put in place a private foundation to fund the arts in Kansas.

Sorry to break the news governor, but those of us who live and breathe the arts on a daily basis, those of us who are in the trenches and have witnessed firsthand the economic and community building benefits of the arts, particularly in rural Kansas, think your approach is misguided.

Both the Kansas House and Senate understood why your plan was not in the best interest of Kansas citizens. In fact, both unilaterally approved funding for the arts and a Republican-led effort in the Senate overrode your executive order to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission. 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.