Tim Storhoff

Tim Storhoff

For this Blog Salon, I really had to stop and think about what would make Tallahassee a better place in general and for the arts.

While Tallahassee has been the butt of many jokes in films and television, it’s actually a very vibrant place with a lot going on. In addition to being the state capital, it is the home to Florida State University and Florida A&M University, both of which have accomplished performing and visual arts programs, and annual events like the Seven Days of Opening Nights Festival regularly bring in world-class artists that otherwise would not be found in cities of this size.

After talking with a coworker and comparing Tallahassee to similarly sized cities, however, it all made sense. We’re missing a river.

A natural landmark like a river or a lake near the center of a city creates an important focus point for developers and provides key elements to that city’s sense of place. Tallahassee is very spread out with a few different pockets of activity, but it lacks a centralized, pedestrian-friendly area to define it.

I’ve previously lived in Fargo and Iowa City. While smaller than Tallahassee, they both have pedestrian-friendly downtown areas near a river where businesses, restaurants, and the arts are thriving. Digging a river in Tallahassee would probably be a poor choice. Thankfully efforts are already underway to create a centralized destination district that can bring together the city’s various communities through arts and culture.  Read the rest of this entry »

Does Your Community Know Its Story?

Posted by Michele Anderson On April - 16 - 2013
Michele Anderson

Michele Anderson

What is the one issue in your community that causes the most uncertainty, disagreement, or fear? The one thing that turns everyday citizens into mad-genius poets in their desire to cut through the noise and be heard?

Chances are that this issue might also be the very thing that could bring your community to the next level. But only if some time is taken right now for all community members to be invited to step back, interact, and express themselves about the issue.

Oh, and somehow, to have fun doing it. That’s important.

This is not the job of your city council, or your newspaper’s online forum. This work of imagining the possibilities, making the hard questions beautiful (and even fun), looking at the story from a distance, and then examining it in microscopic detail, is the work of artists. And the good news is that every community has them if you look for them.

For the last two years of managing Springboard for the Arts’ first satellite office in Fergus Falls, MN, I have been increasingly interested in the unique role that our region’s artists can offer to the important process of framing key issues in their communities.

While the rural communities in West Central Minnesota are grappling with many challenges, none have embodied the potential role of transformative leadership from artists more than the controversial fate of the Fergus Falls State Hospital, or “The Kirkbride Building.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Susan Mendenhall

Susan Mendenhall

The terms “triple-win” and “triple bottom line” are tossed around in nonprofit publications fairly regularly, especially when it comes to espousing the benefits of corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.

At times, it can seem like forging triple-win partnerships are like cranking the philanthropic slot machine hoping for a three liner of cherries. A win for the nonprofit? Ding! A win for the corporate donor? Ding! A win for the community? Ding!

But authentic corporate-nonprofit partnerships that have real community impact are no simple gamble. They’re built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect, and a shared commitment to serving real people.

A great example of a successful triple-win partnership is the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative. With support from the Lincoln Financial Foundation, Arts United has placed more than 70 paid interns at northeast Indiana’s largest nonprofit arts organizations since 2007. Arts organizations gain assistance and expertise from local college students while providing interns with beneficial career experience in arts administration and nonprofit management. Read the rest of this entry »

Yo-Yo Ma Spins an Emotional Tale of “Art for Life’s Sake”

Posted by Tim Mikulski On April - 9 - 2013
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As I have been sitting back at my desk at Americans for the Arts this afternoon, I’ve had a hard time coming up with a way to describe what I experienced last night at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

It could be the lack of sleep, the lack of coffee, or the abundance of Twizzlers and Clif Bars I’ve eaten during and before Arts Advocacy Day 2013; but, I’m not convinced of that.

Watching Yo-Yo Ma’s combined lecture and performance of a speech called “Art for Life’s Sake: A Roadmap from One Citizen Musician” as our 26th annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy last night was priceless.

Not only did it feature eloquent points about the power of arts education and being a citizen musician, but it also featured memorable performances by jooker Lil’ Buck, bagpiper Cristina Pato, MusiCorps, and teaching artist Greg Loman and founder Arthur Bloom—two of which brought tears to the eyes of those around me in the Concert Hall.

Before I get too involved in describing it, I guess I should provide you with a chance to watch the entire event below or you can continue reading and click on the links to see the specific parts I point out as I attempt to capture the night to the best of my ability.

I’ll wait here while you watch…

Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Advocacy: It’s Worth More Than Dollars & Cents

Posted by Julie Hawkins On April - 8 - 2013
Julie Hawkins

Julie Hawkins

Why advocate for public funding of the arts?

It’s a question I’ve never really asked myself, because it’s always been valuable to me.

I grew up in North Carolina during the height of the “Culture Wars.” The summer after my junior year of college I interned in the budget office of the National Endowment for the Arts. One of the highlights of the internship program was a meeting with your U.S. Senators.

Thus it was that in 1993, at the ripe old age of 21 and full of piss* and vinegar, I got to meet the Hon. Jesse Helms and his staff to make my case for government support of the arts. I learned a lot about government and the arts that summer, and some of that piss and vinegar still fuels my passion for arts advocacy today.

I know that answering the question of why we should advocate for public funding is not easy, though, because if it were we’d see many more people engaging in it every hour of every day.

And to be perfectly honest, though arts advocacy and public funding are deeply held values of mine, I’ve still encountered moments where I wonder if it’s working and if it’s worth it, particularly in a period of time when we’ve experienced some substantial reductions to public funding for the arts.   Read the rest of this entry »

10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2013

Posted by Randy Cohen On April - 8 - 2013
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”

This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:

“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”

With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

  • Which of these would you rank as #1?
  • Do you have a #11 to add?
  • Tell us in the comments below!

You can download this handy 1-pager here.

1. Arts promote true prosperity.   The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, art is salve for the ache.

2. Arts improve academic performance.  Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with just one-half year of arts or music. Read the rest of this entry »

Join Arts Advocacy Day from Your Desk (or Couch)

Posted by Tim Mikulski On April - 8 - 2013
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As Congress returns to work in Washington, DC, this week they will face more than just angry tourists who came to see the not-quite-in-bloom cherry blossoms.

Today, advocates are receiving training from experts and tomorrow 500 arts advocates from across the country (and even Japan!) will take to the Hill on behalf of their local arts and arts education programs.

The good news is that you don’t have to be here to participate (although we’d love you to come next year!). In fact, you can pick and choose your ways to support the arts over the next two days.

1. Send a letter to your member of Congress! Head over to our Action Center and send an email stating your case for funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, arts education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, and encouraging their participation in the House Arts and STEAM Caucuses.

2. Watch the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy live online! At 6:30 p.m. EDT join us live as we stream Yo-Yo Ma’s lecture and performance tonight via our YouTube channel. You won’t want to miss his inspiring story!   Read the rest of this entry »

Doubling Down on What Works

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On April - 5 - 2013
Kristen Engebretsen

Kristen Engebretsen

During the Friday, March 29 meeting of the National Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) revealed their new four-point plan for arts education, under the leadership of new Director of Education Ayanna Hudson.

Ayanna is my former boss from when we both lived in Los Angeles and worked on the Arts for All initiative at the LA County Arts Commission. So I wasn’t surprised by this new direction for arts education at the NEA—it is great to see Ayanna have a national platform to spread her expertise on issues like collective impact.

At the beginning of the council meeting, Ayanna stated that the NEA wants to weave arts education into the very fabric of every school so that ALL students have access to the arts. And given the scope of the NEA, they want to focus on the following four key areas to achieve this:

Point 1 – Leverage Investments: The NEA is looking to invest its grant dollars for arts education in a way that can really spur change in the field. Their new investment strategy is what former NEA chairman Rocco Landesman called “doubling down on what works.”

Ayanna mentioned that new guidelines for arts education grants are currently under review and they MIGHT start allowing larger, multiyear grants to models based on best practice and collaboration. She mentioned several examples, such as Arts for All, A+ Schools, Ingenuity Incorporated, etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

Richard Jaffe

Richard Jaffe

April is National Poetry Month, inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets to celebrate poetry and its vital role in American culture. The academy sponsors events such as the star-studded Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala (April 17 at Lincoln Center in New York City) and mass-appeal activities like Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 18), when everyone is encouraged to carry a poem.

I love April, and not just because of my birthday and all those Final Four games!

We would be wise to celebrate America’s poetry because it’s an art form that does as much—sometimes even more—for the writer as the reader. Poems inspire, educate, and cleanse. And now that writing has become more abbreviated with blogs, text messages, tweets and the like, the time is perfect for poetry to make a big comeback.

The process of exploring my thoughts and feelings and expressing them in symbolic word images exercises my creativity in a fun way. I think it makes me sharper and, the more I explore the well of my imagination, the faster it fills again.

Everyone can benefit from writing poetry, whether they want to share it or not, because it:

1. Improves cognitive function. Learning new words (I’m never without a Thesaurus), working out meter (math!), and finding new ways to articulate our thoughts and feelings (communication) are all good for the brain. Want to get smarter? Write poetry!  Read the rest of this entry »

Getting to Know Our Staff: Ten Questions with…Nora Halpern

Posted by Tim Mikulski On April - 3 - 2013
I was asked to include one of my favorite Americans for the Arts photos so I chose this shot from the 2010 National Arts Awards as it is proof that it really does take a village! It also shows that we all spruce up pretty nicely!

Nora (fifth from the right) was asked to include a favorite Americans for the Arts photo so she chose this shot from the 2010 National Arts Awards as it is proof that it really does take a village! It also shows that we all spruce up pretty nicely!

We recently launched a new series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff at Americans for the Arts that I call “Ten Questions with…”, in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.

So far, I’ve conducted a self-interview and one with Hannah Jacobson.

This time I have turned to Nora Halpern who currently serves as Vice President of Leadership Alliances for Americans for the Arts.

1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less.

Grasstops wrangler: find the person who can move issues forward.

2. What do the arts mean to you?

I find this a very difficult question to answer because the arts are infused in everything I do and everything I am. Therefore, trying to define or identify the arts as something “other,” runs counter to the way I think.

I was lucky to have been raised in a home where the arts were central. Film, music, performance, and the visual arts were vital members of the family and often the glue that got all six of us talking about one topic at a time. Long before the days of remixing and mash-ups, dinner at our house was a cornucopia of art conversations: whether debating likes and dislikes or passions and poisons.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ask Yo-Yo Ma About Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On April - 3 - 2013
Yo-Yo Ma (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Yo-Yo Ma (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Have you ever chatted with someone about the importance of the arts in our schools? Would you like the chance to discuss it with Yo-Yo Ma?

Yo-Yo Ma will deliver the 26th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy on April 8 at 6:30 p.m. EDT and, for the first time, Americans for the Arts will stream the event live from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (courtesy of Google), so you can watch regardless of whether or not you made it to National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC.

Drawing on his training as a musician and what he has learned traveling the world for more than 30 years as a touring performer, Ma will discuss where in nature, society, and human interactions we can find the greatest creativity, and what we can all do to help students grow up to be contributing and committed citizens.

And, if you have a burning question that arises during the lecture, you can ask Yo-Yo the next day. On April 9, Yo-Yo will take a break from his Arts Advocacy Day visits with members of Congress to participate in a Google Hangout video chat about arts education with Matt Sorum (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer for Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, Co-Founder of Adopt the Arts in California); Damian Woetzel (Former Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet and the director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program); Lisa Phillips (Author of The Artistic Edge and CEO of Canada’s Academy of Stage and Studio Arts); and, Bob Lynch (President & CEO of Americans for the Arts).

We’ll be collecting questions before the Hangout via Twitter and email. You can either tweet using #AskYoYo or send an email to artseducation@artsusa.org with #AskYoYo in the subject line and your question in the body. We’ll take questions anytime from now until the Hangout.  Read the rest of this entry »

Assessing Cultural Infrastructure

Posted by G. Martin Moeller, Jr. & Scott Kratz On April - 2 - 2013
Scott Kratz

Scott Kratz

Most of the world’s great cultural capitals emerged organically through a virtuous cycle in which creative people flocked to prosperous cities, where they helped to create or expand prominent cultural institutions, which in turn attracted more creative people, and so on.

During the modern era, however, the historically strong correlation between economic vitality and cultural resources diminished somewhat. In some cases, new centers of economic activity developed with unprecedented speed, making it difficult for cultural institutions—which tend to have long gestation periods—to keep up. In the U.S. in particular, the migration of substantial wealth to the suburbs often left venerable urban institutions impoverished, while depriving nascent cultural organizations of the critical mass necessary for success.

The past couple of decades have been marked by a revival of interest in cultural infrastructure and a growing belief that museums, performing arts centers, libraries, programmed civic spaces and other cultural facilities can themselves foster social and economic progress.

The poster child of this trend is the Guggenheim Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, which has been credited with the revival of a small, rather run-down industrial city in Spain. Careful analysis of economic and other data suggests that the influence of this one project is often overstated, but there can be no doubt that it was a significant catalyst for urban revival, not only because of the museum’s mission and content, but also because of its exhilarating architectural form.  Read the rest of this entry »

Masters Degree? Depends…

Posted by George Patrick McLeer On April - 1 - 2013
George Patrick McLeer

George Patrick McLeer

“Are you thinking about getting your Masters?”

Every time I’m asked that question, my brain has a dilemma. On one hand, I love learning as much information as I can about my field and anything that relates to it. I take what Malcolm Gladwell told Charlie Rose about the key to great journalism to heart—“It’s about teaching yourself that everything is interesting.”

And I love the classroom setting—well I should say the right classroom setting, but that’s another story. I would much rather write a 20-page paper on charitable tax policy or how to engage young people, than attend another City Council meeting or board meeting some days.

But on the other hand, why would I go back to school? I’m a young professional with the world at my fingertips; I’ve got a pretty great job and on top of all that, my undergraduate degree was in Arts Management—so unless I wanted to specialize in something very specific like Arts Policy or Arts Education, I don’t need to sit in a classroom and learn about mission statements, 990s, grants, marketing, etc, from the beginning all over again.

Sure I’d love to learn more about those things—I haven’t found the magic potion to make a perfect arts organization (yet…maybe a Chemistry class?)—but as it stands right now, I have a better chance of making an impact by staying out of the classroom than going back into it.

The other question I used to get when I was in college was, “Where are you looking to work?” No doubt, most folks hear “the arts” and think NYC, DC, Chicago, LA, Atlanta, Seattle and other locations. But for me, my answer was, “I’m staying here in South Carolina.”  Read the rest of this entry »

A local host committee has been working for months to organize tours and special events to show off public art in Pittsburgh during the 2013 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention to the most discerning public art audience: Public Art Network (PAN) Preconference attendees. No pressure!

The photo for our album cover –  Public Art n’At  by the Office of Public Art and Morton Brown Live From Agnes Katz Plaza

The photo for our album cover – Public Art n’At by the Office of Public Art and Morton Brown: Live From Agnes Katz Plaza

On Wednesday, June 12, all of the preconference attendees are invited to our Welcome to Pittsburgh event. Meet up in the lobby of the Westin to get your registration and Dine-Around location organized.

A guide will walk with you a few blocks down to Agnes Katz Plaza in the heart of the Cultural District. The photo was taken at the end of March. We promise you won’t need a winter coat in June! But you might need an umbrella, so please pack one.  Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

Last week, I left snowy New York City to spend some time in sunny Ft. Lauderdale at the invitation of the Broward Cultural Division to talk with arts organizations about the many ways they can partner with local businesses.

We discussed how to build a successful and meaningful partnership by thinking of the needs of business first, and how to look beyond the usual suspects when thinking about potential business partners.

We were joined by local business leaders from Florida Power and Light and Merrimac Ventures who spoke about how partnering with the arts helped their business engage new customers, reach new audiences, and enhance the quality of life for their communities. For more tips on creating partnerships check out our Building pARTnerships on Your Own toolkit.

This type of training session is just one way you can use the resources of The pARTnership Movement in your community. Here are some other ideas:

  • Tell your story: Promote great arts and business partnerships on twitter (#artsandbiz), Facebook, and YouTube. Don’t forget to let us know, too!

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.