Americans for the Arts Seeks New Council Members

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On September - 15 - 2009

Americans for the Arts Network Councils are volunteer, working bodies that augment and inform the work of Americans for the Arts. The Network Councils for Arts Education, Emerging Leaders, and Public Art are all seeking nominations for a three-year term from January 1, 2010–December 30, 2012.

Candidates must be professional members of Americans for the Arts and you may nominate yourself or a colleague. The deadline for nominations is October 2, 2009. To find out more about eligibility, guidelines, and nominating yourself or a colleague, visit our website.

Questions about getting involved in the networks?  E-mail

Conditions Worsen for Recent College Graduates

Posted by John Abodeely On September - 4 - 2009

A blog post on the Education Policy Blog offers a slice of a new report. It’s concerning both for students and for new professionals:

  • 31% of young workers report being uninsured, up from 24% 10 years ago, and 79% of the uninsured say they don’t have coverage because they can’t afford it or their employer does not offer it.
  • Strikingly, one in three young workers are currently living at home with their parents.
  • Only 31% say they make enough money to cover their bills and put some money aside—22% points fewer than in 1999—while 24% cannot even pay their monthly bills.
  • A third cannot pay their bills and seven in 10 do not have enough saved to cover two months of living expenses.
  • 37% have put off education or professional development because they can’t afford it. Read the rest of this entry »

ArtCast: Arts and Philanthropy Leaders Gather at Aspen Institute

Posted by Robert Lynch On September - 4 - 2009

In this podcast Bob Lynch, President & CEO of Americans for the Arts, discusses a recent Americans for the Arts convening of leaders in the arts and philanthropy at the Aspen Institute. The topic of this second annual convening, a partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Harman-Eisner Arts Program, was the state of private sector giving to the arts.

Join us here every Friday, where you’ll find a new ArtCast audio blog featuring the leaders of Americans for the Arts as they focus on important and timely topics that affect you and your arts community.

Tagged with: | |

Host a Creative Conversation in Your Community

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On August - 28 - 2009

It’s that time of year again!  Creative Conversations and National Arts and Humanities Month are right around the corner.  Every October, in honor of National Arts & Humanities Month, Americans for the Arts partners with emerging leaders from across the country to host Creative Conversations—local gatherings and discussions that focus on pertinent topics from arts leadership to arts advocacy.  Last year, more than 1,500 emerging arts leaders participated in 43 locally hosted Creative Conversations throughout the country, and those leaders continue to be engaged at the national level.  In celebration of 2009 being the 5th Anniversary of Creative Conversations, the 10th Anniversary of the Emerging Leader Network and the 50th Anniversary of Americans for the Arts, our goal is to support communities in hosting at least 50 Creative Conversations this year.

Is someone in your community planning to host a Creative Conversation?  Are you considering it?  If so, there are a few easy steps to follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Found Your Voice Today?

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On August - 24 - 2009

I’m writing this blog post immediately after reading Edward Clapp’s Open Letter to Young Arts Professionals, titled This is Our Emergency.  Edward is the editor and project director for 20UNDER40, “an anthology of critical discourse that aims to collect twenty essays about the future of the arts and arts education – each written by a young arts professional under the age of forty.”

While the 20UNDER40 project has received strong support and praise, there has also been an undercurrent of criticism (as Edward references in his letter).  However, what is more surprising – are the number of letters Edward has received from young arts professionals who have something to say and contribute – but do not feel they have the authority or courage to do so.  Is it possible that so many members of the Gen X and Gen Y generation are afraid to speak out?  What is it that we are worried about – Failure?  Criticism and judgment from our peers?  Losing our jobs?  Engaging in a debate?  Read the rest of this entry »

Gen Y Workers Disappoint? Really?

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On August - 21 - 2009

Lets face it:  Young leaders in the arts are not always considered valuable by senior managers at arts organizations.  Sound like a generalization?  Well, it is.  There are some opinions to help back that statement up, but not enough to make a wide assumption about a manager’s level of appreciation for his or her younger employees.

That’s why I (and many other Emerging Leaders) were surprised when we read this article published by The New York Enterprise Report – scroll down to the section Gen Y Workers Disappoint.  (Courtesy of Emily Peck, Program Manager – Business Committee for the Arts).  The article is reporting survey results of small business owners, and referencing in part the level of satisfaction that business owners have with their Generation Y employees.  In my opinion (and take this for what it’s worth), reports such as this are incredibly misleading and damaging.  Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Solutions in Challenging Times

Posted by Liz Bartolomeo On August - 18 - 2009

Marty Ronish, producer of the BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra broadcasts and blogger for Scanning the Dial, joined us in Seattle for the 2009 Annual Convention.

In this segment, Marty speaks with arts leaders on the topic of how the arts can provide creative solutions in challenging economic times. Interviewed participants include: Bill Ivey, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts and member of the Obama transition team; Bill O’Brien, Deputy Chairman for Grants and Awards at the National Endowment for the Arts; and Robert Lynch, President & CEO of Americans for the Arts.

To request a transcript of this interview, please contact Marty at

Tagged with: |

Voices from the 2009 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Seattle

Posted by Liz Bartolomeo On August - 12 - 2009

Marty Ronish, producer of the BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra broadcasts and blogger for Scanning the Dial, joined us in Seattle for the 2009 Annual Convention. In this segment, she speaks with attendees who are among the many voices representing the arts in America.

Just a number of the interviewed participants include: Randy Engstrom, founding director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in West Seattle and 2009 recipient of the Emerging Leader Award; Erin Hoppe, Director of Operations and Development at VSA Arts of Ohio; Laura Zucker, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Michael Killoren, Executive Director of the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs; and Terre Jones, President & CEO of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

To request a transcript of this interview, please contact Marty at Browse our overview of the 2009 Annual Convention in Seattle.

Tagged with: | |

Senate Confirms NEA and NEH Chairs

Posted by Liz Bartolomeo On August - 7 - 2009

This afternoon, the U.S. Senate confirmed Broadway producer Rocco Landesman to serve as the next National Endowment for the Arts chair and former Congressman Jim Leach to serve as National Endowment for the Humanities chair. Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch issued the following statement:

“Today’s Senate confirmation of Rocco Landesman to serve as the next National Endowment for the Arts chair and Congressman Jim Leach to serve as National Endowment for the Humanities chair marks a moment of great opportunity for our nation’s cultural agencies. Landesman embarks as Chair of the nation’s arts agency with a robust agenda, an upward trajectory of funding, broad Congressional approval, and a White House committed to attracting national attention to the value of the arts and integrating them into broader domestic policies.

“Through his service in Congress, Jim Leach proved himself to be a strong leader and strategist on behalf of both the arts and the humanities. I am certain he will lead the NEH to support the innovative and critical work of the nation’s humanities groups.”

The New York Times has more.

Newcomers’ Orientation at Convention

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On July - 14 - 2009

Take a listen to an adapted version of Lex Leifheit’s recent speech from the Newcomers’ Orientation at the 2009 Seattle Convention.  She gives networking tips that relate to emerging, mid-level, and seasoned leaders.

Lex Leifheit is the Executive Director of SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco, and is Immediate Past Vice Chair of the Emerging Leader Council.

Imagined Motivation

Posted by Adam Thurman On July - 9 - 2009

Whenever I get tired or frustrated . . . or just need a reason to keep going . . . I close my eyes and imagine something: I see this person. She’s a bit younger then me, maybe 28 or 29. And she’s figuring it out.

She’s determined to find a way to make live performance relevant and viable (both economically and otherwise). She’s trying stuff.  She’s failing.  She’s modifying her approach and trying again.

Try. Fail. Modify. That’s how the breakthrough is always discovered right?

This person . . . she’s smart.  And, more importantly, she isn’t burdened by the same low grade cynicism we see in our field. She knows that theatre, dance, performance isn’t dead. In a world where all of us see the downward trends, she is quietly and diligently trying to find a path that flows upstream.

I imagine that one day, I’ll be reading some online magazine and see her smiling face. She found her path. She found a model that allowed her to create art that enriched the soul, thrilled the audience and caused a dollar or two to flow her way. Read the rest of this entry »

Tagged with: |

An Open Letter to Arts Administrators

Posted by Adam Thurman On May - 27 - 2009

I’ve gotten your emails and your phone calls, expressing your frustrations and wondering why a life as an arts professional has to be so damn hard.

I’ve heard you talk about how the stress imposed upon you by a collective of self centered artists, lack of executive leadership and limited resources have hurt your health and impacted your relationships.

You have pulled me aside after workshops and presentations and whispered “I love your ideas, but my boss will never let me do it.”

I’ve seen your passion for the job get swallowed up in a swamp of rules that make no sense.

Here are some things I want you to consider:

1. It doesn’t have to be like that. I know you’ve probably convinced yourself that all the garbage you deal with is just the cost of being in the field.

It isn’t. If the group you work for is being run poorly it is because people are ACTIVELY making choices that allow that to happen. It isn’t just a matter of circumstance. It’s an outcome of choice.

You deserve better then that. You deserve to work at an organization that produces great art, treats people with respect and pays fairly. No matter how much people may tell you otherwise those three goals are NOT mutual exclusive. Read the rest of this entry »

Mitch Menchaca, Senior Director of Programs at the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and Chair of the Emerging Leader Council, and Teniqua Broughton, Program Director at Free Arts Arizona, and Vice-Chair of the Emerging Leader Council both discuss the past ten years of the Emerging Leader Council, their own personal career trajectories, and offer advice to Emerging Leaders navigating this tough economy.

Take a listen, and please comment!  What advice do you have for young arts leaders working in this economy?

People Problems

Posted by Adam Thurman On March - 9 - 2009

I spend of a lot of time thinking about the structural challenges arts organizations have, i.e. whether or not the traditional nonprofit model is the best way to present non-commercial art, whether having a Board of Directors is a good or bad thing . . . you get the idea.

The irony is that when I work with troubled arts organizations most of their problems have one of three causes: Read the rest of this entry »

ARTS North Carolina – Ambitious and Transformative

Posted by Shane Hudson On February - 3 - 2009

ARTS North Carolina, founded in 1974 as the North Carolina Association of Arts Councils, is an extraordinary statewide arts advocacy organization. ARTS NC’s ambitious mission includes fostering arts leadership, unifying and connecting the State’s arts communities and advocating for equal access to the arts for all NC residents. Read the rest of this entry »