Offline at AFTACON

Posted by Lara Davis On June - 26 - 2015
Lara Davis

Lara Davis

Americans for the Arts Annual Convention (AFTACON) regularly draws thousands of members of the arts world to one location for a whirlwind four days of workshops, recognition, plenaries, and arts excursions in some of the most incredible and dynamic cities in the country. There is never enough time to attend all the sessions I’m interested in. They all offer an insight into how art influences our economy, education, and communities – and how we visualize and interpret our world.

But, just as important as attending these sessions are the conversations, connections, and friendships that are built offline and in-between “official” conference business. Read the rest of this entry »

So, What Do You Do?

Posted by Ashley McDonald On June - 26 - 2015
Ashley McDonald

Ashley McDonald

Felicia Shaw Headshot

Felicia Shaw

Editor’s Note: Ashley McDonald, Membership Associate at Americans for the Arts, interviewed our member Felicia Shaw about her work in the arts field. At the time of this interview Felicia was in the process of transitioning from her role as interim executive director of Young Audiences of San Diego to her new role as executive director of the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) in her hometown of St. Louis, MO.

AM: Can you describe your role at St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC)?

FS: My job at RAC will be to assume the leadership role of a local arts agency that has had an impressive 30-year history of growing the arts and culture community throughout the St. Louis region. I’ll be working to preserve the vitality of a successful organization that is ready to grow to the next level, particularly at a time when St. Louis is turning the corner and looking to the future. I am charged with establishing a vision for RAC and strategically moving the organization forward in a new and impactful way for the next decade and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »

Some Expressions about the Arts and Creative Expression

Posted by Charles Jensen On June - 23 - 2015
Charlie Jensen

Charlie Jensen

I was thrilled to sit in on the “Vocabulary for Arts and Arts Education” session at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention this year. All three presenters—Christopher Audain, Kevin Kirkpatrick, and Margy Waller, along with moderator Margie Reese—were all on point for the session and I perhaps overtweeted in my enthusiasm over what they shared. Read the rest of this entry »

Justice in Education

Posted by Lara Davis On June - 5 - 2015
Lara Davis

Lara Davis

Across the country, communities are calling for justice in education. High stakes testing, disproportionate discipline by race, and the mass closing of public schools in certain regions profoundly impact the lives of young people. In an environment where education reform, vouchers, charter schools, and increased accountability dominate the landscape, what does it mean to impact the very heart and bureaucratic structure of public school districts and build trust, equity, and meaningful change? Read the rest of this entry »

Five Fundamentals to Creating a District Arts Plan

Posted by Una McAlinden On May - 21 - 2015

Una McAlinden

Although each of us can probably recall a time when success could be defined as not losing (too much) ground, we all want to feel like our efforts have been worth the commitment and have made a lasting difference in some way.

During my ten years at ArtsEd Washington, we saw these rewards when we worked with school principals implementing the Principals Arts Leadership program to help them be effective instructional leaders for the arts. This program confirmed the importance of the principals’ role in the day-to-day provision of arts learning and also illuminated for us how difficult that role is to sustain without the context of a supportive school district publicly committed to the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Soul Got To Do With It?

Posted by Donna Collins On May - 28 - 2014
Donna Collins

Donna Collins

For many individuals outside the circle of arts advocacy and arts policy there seems to be a recurring question: What is the role of the arts in job creation, economic sustainability, and the quality of life of our citizenry? The dollar, and not the soul, seems to be at the core of the discussion. I dare say you can’t have one without the other.

My knee jerk response to such queries is to shout from the rafters that by investing in the arts and incorporating arts and culture into every economic development plan, the yield will be abundant benefits to our economic, social, civic, and cultural vibrancy. The significance of the arts allows a community to generate an increasingly stable and creative workforce, new and increased tourism, fiscal infusion, and more sustainable neighborhoods. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Leadership and the Changing Social Contract

Posted by Emiko Ono On April - 15 - 2014
Emiko Ono

Emiko Ono

Since I began working in the arts in 2001, there has been a subtle but constant pressure on the sector to transform that can be both distressing and motivating. I will never forget the time in 2003 when Mark O’Neill, then the Head of Museums and Galleries for the city of Glasgow (Scotland), described how a population of shipyard workers reported that they did not attend a nearby museum because the price of admission was too expensive. The nauseating twist was that the museum did not have an admission fee. Last week, this story came to mind again as I spoke with Susie Medak, managing director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre and an arts leader with more than 25 years of experience. Susie’s hypothesis—that the tacit social contract between society and arts organizations is changing—is one I have found to be incredibly useful. The premise of her theory is that it is no longer sufficient for arts organizations to provide distinctive work, attract an audience, and secure financial support—it needs to include wider swaths of people who are largely not involved.  Read the rest of this entry »

Five Tips for Applying to Internships & Entry-Level Positions in Arts Management

Posted by Camille Schenkkan On February - 20 - 2013
Camille Schenkkan

Camille Schenkkan

Rambling ten-page resumes. Headshots submitted for management positions. Cover letters written in one big, messy paragraph in the body of an email. And one resume that was somehow, inexplicably, saved as a series of stream-of-consciousness bullet points in an .RTF file.

I coordinate the internship program at Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group (CTG), one of the largest—and most prestigious—theatres in the country. These are just a few of the bizarre, sad, and shockingly common application faux pas I saw in our last application cycle.

Most undergraduates aren’t introduced to career options in arts administration within an academic context. An internship can provide an excellent introduction to the field. Many of the applicants I see are undergraduate theatre or acting majors, curious about career options in the discipline they love.

And many of them are woefully unequipped to apply for any job.

It’s tempting to fault schools for this lack of preparation. However, nearly every two-year and four-year college or university has a career center with free services. I’m also a big fan of personal responsibility.

So hey, arts major. Here are five tips for applying to internships or entry-level jobs in arts management.  Read the rest of this entry »

John Legend speaks while receiving a Citizen Artist Award from The United States Conference of Mayors and Americans for the Arts. Also picture are Philadelphia Mayor Micheal Nutter (left), New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

John Legend received a Citizen Artist Award from The United States Conference of Mayors and Americans for the Arts. Also pictured are Philadelphia Mayor Micheal Nutter (left), New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. (Photo via USCM)

Each year, Americans for the Arts presents a series of Public Leadership in the Arts Awards to elected officials at all levels of government and artists who speak out in favor of the arts and arts education.

We just recently presented the first of the 2013 awards at The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) Winter Meeting in Washington, DC. The USCM is Americans for the Arts’ oldest public partnership going back more than two decades.

Each year, we also sponsor the “Mayor’s Arts Breakfast” were we present awards to two mayors, a governor, and one or more nationally-acclaimed artists. This event is very important as more than 350 of the country’s most powerful mayors gather to hear about how the arts are important to their cities.

I am happy to report that over the years, our nation’s mayors have become vocal advocates for arts funding as we provide them with a front row seat to learn the importance of arts and culture and the economic value the sector provides.

At this year’s breakfast, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Santa Fe Mayor David Coss were recognized for their support of the arts and culture in their cities. Both of these mayors, one from a fairly large city and the other of a fairly modest size, understand the importance and value of supporting their local nonprofit arts community and how that support generates substantial economic impact. Read the rest of this entry »

John Bryan

John Bryan

Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class is now 11 years old, and the notion that left-brained corporate types can benefit from right-brained creative types is acknowledged as gospel.

Although Florida’s work has resulted in blue-chip value for “creative thinkers,” there is no empirical evidence to show whether business executives claim any workplace value for their own personal artistic pursuits.

Indeed, do the personal artistic pursuits of business workers add value to the corporate workplace? The exploration of this question is one line of research that has been spawned by a recent gathering in Virginia.

On November 27 in Richmond President and CEO of The Conference Board Jonathan Spector and Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch convened 16 corporate executives and 16 artists for an eight-hour “Creative Conversation”—a day of envisioning a new transaction model between business and arts. The forever-held model is straightforward: businesses give money to the arts so that the arts can enrich their communities.

Richmond’s event explored the possibility of an opposite transaction model. Can corporations benefit by reaching out to and engaging practicing artists? Participants included executives from Fortune 500 companies such as Altria, Dominion, and MeadWestvaco; leaders from service organizations such as J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College and Leadership Metro Richmond; and CEOs from specialty companies such as The Martin Agency and Richmond Times-Dispatch. Read the rest of this entry »

The How-and-Whys of Our Top 10 Most Viewed Posts of 2012

Posted by Tim Mikulski On December - 19 - 2012

Tim Mikulski

Everyone loves a top 10 list. Sure, it seems the lists are everywhere this time of year—to the point that you’d think that we’ve over-saturated the market for them, right? Wrong.

The best evidence that I can give you to prove that top 10 lists bring people to your site is that four of our top 10 most viewed posts this year contain the number 10 and, as you will see below, our top 3 new posts published in 2012 contain the number, too.

Thankfully, though, that’s not all we’re about here on ARTSblog.

So, the Top 10 Most Viewed ARTSblog Posts created in 2012 are:

1. The Top 10 Skills Children Learn From the Arts

2. Ten Years Later: A Puzzling Picture of Arts Education in America

3. 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2012

4. Former President Clinton Supports Arkansas Arts Education Program

5. Overcommitment: Taking the ‘I Shoulds’ Out of Your Life?

6. What Do We Really Know About People Who Get Arts Degrees?

7. What’s Actually Keeping Your Audience Away?

8. President Obama’s Budget Request for the NEA: The Fine Print  Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Salon Recap: So, Does Size Matter?

Posted by Joanna Chin On December - 7 - 2012

Joanna Chin

As the newest staff member on the Animating Democracy team, reflecting on how our past has informed present work has been illuminating.

By placing individual artists and organizations such as those that made up our original Animating Democracy Lab cohort into a national or field-wide context, we hope we have helped to magnify their impact over time and on a national scale.

Although the initial Animating Democracy grant cohort was a relatively small group (36 organizations), we continue to see the connections and ripples from relationships formed through many deep learning exchanges. As time progresses, the connections made within a small group of artists and arts organizations continues to “scale out” (a phrase borrowed from Roberto Bedoya’s post) in the form of collaborations and cross sector work such as that of Sojourn Theatre.

We have always been a national initiative; but, we accomplish our goals by creating opportunities to capture and translate the practitioner’s voice to a broader field and across sectors. This is still essentially true in our current work exploring the social impact of the arts as well as mapping art and social change trends.

We are national in scope, but scale has been achieved primarily through promoting human connections and ripples over time. In this vein, I’d like to take a crack at summarizing and connecting our bloggers under some major themes/approaches that emerged during the Salon: Read the rest of this entry »

No One Calls Himself a Hipster and Other Emerging Fallacies

Posted by Charles Jensen On December - 3 - 2012

Charles Jensen

In a recent edition of Thomas Cott’s “You’ve Cott Mail,” readers encountered a series of blogs and articles exploring the utility—and, in one case, the aftermath—of embracing a term like “emerging” in its application to artists.

It was earlier this year when Barry Hessenius, too, addressed in his blog the importance of identifying emerging leaders. “I wonder whether or not we are isolating these people by relegating them to their own niche as ‘emerging,’ and whether or not by confining them to their own ‘silo’, we might be doing them, and ourselves – at least in part – a disservice,” he wrote.

By identifying emerging leaders, the early impulse was to provide support and resources. But it was the majority group who defined this difference. The term does not apply to them, only to a separate group. A discrete category. Others.

Or, to put it another way, by creating “emerging leaders,” the term separated the field into two groups: “emerging leaders” and “leaders.”

Before continuing, three illustrations:

1. The term “hipster,” like its predecessor “yuppie” in the 1980s, has become inextricably linked to this cultural moment. Yet, who is a hipster? Read the rest of this entry »

You Know More Than You Realize and It’s Time to Share

Posted by Andrew Witt On October - 12 - 2012

Andrew Witt

We are often so busy with our organization’s day-to-day programming, administration, fundraising, advocacy, and the need to establish some sense of work life balance, we forget or just don’t think about what we have to offer and learn with our peers.

Serving on one of the Americans for the Arts Advisory Councils is both a blessing and a curse (or a challenge or opportunity in biz speak).

There are 5,000 local arts agencies in the Americans for the Arts universe, or as Bob Lynch refers to them/us—arts enabling organizations. I never really thought about being an arts enabler but we are just that. Our job as administrators is to help the field grow and prosper, in our communities, our state, and our country.

And as we help the field, we also help ourselves by learning and sharing from the grassroots to the grass tops. Stop for just a minute and reflect on how you learn and how you have put that into practice.

What did you pick up at the Annual Convention, National Arts Marketing Project Conference, or a statewide or regional arts meeting? What came out of a one or two hour session in a breakout or at the bar or restaurant? Pretty valuable, eh?

Now just think what if that one or two hour session turned into a day and a half or longer and not just once a year but almost every month. And now what if those conversations were not scattered among 50 plus colleagues, but among a smaller group of 12-15.

Then there is time for to you share best practices—yours and others, address those tough personnel (hey we all have them don’t kid yourself) issues, political issues, fundraising tips, and even talk about real arts and culture policy development. Wow, when was the last time that happened!

Do yourself and your organization and your community a favor and serve on an advisory council. It’s worth every minute and every dollar you spend. But do it for the other 4,999 organizations and colleagues as well as for you.

Nominations close October 17. Nominate yourself or a colleague. You won’t ever regret it—personally and professionally.

It’s All About Choices: Women (and Men) Can Have It All

Posted by Mara Walker On July - 10 - 2012
Mara Walker

Mara Walker

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” in the current edition of The Atlantic got me thinking.

I do believe a woman can have it all. Life is all about choices—this is just as true for men as it is for women.

I have a theatre degree and had seen women with their children playing hide and seek in rows of seating or with their Barbies in the aisles during rehearsals, one eye on their napping baby and the other on the actors they were directing and made a different choice for myself.

I so admired these mothers, but wanted something different and opted to try to impact theatres by being an attendee and board member and make my living advancing the arts in other ways.

I got lucky in working for Americans for the Arts, and its predecessor organization. I love this work. It is hard and important. That said, I was honestly relieved when my husband came home miserable from a job he hated and we agreed it would be best for him to stay home for a while. I wanted him to be happy and thought it would be great for him to be available to take my daughter to doctor visits and soccer practices.

It meant major financial sacrifices for sure, but it enabled me to do this job and at the same time rarely miss a soccer game, crew match, helping her study for exams, or walking her through a difficult social situation at school. I made an agreement with Bob Lynch (our President and CEO) that I would get in the office early and start running, but I would be out of here each night in time for dinner (with obvious exceptions for events and conferences).

There are great role models all around me. I have never looked for society to tell me who I am supposed to be, how I am supposed to spend my time, or what I am supposed to do with my life. I have gone with gut and drive. I never worried about whether a man was climbing higher or getting paid more. Read the rest of this entry »