People Make Places

Posted by Carol Jones On October - 11 - 2013
Carol Jones

Carol Jones

I live and work in a small city, the capital of a small country that has four times more sheep than people. Cardiff (www.visitcardiff.com) has a population of less than 350,000 but has a growing reputation as a vibrant city where people want to live and visit. It has, as we say in Wales, ‘hwyl’ – a complex and intangible mix of passion and sense of belonging that isn’t easy to translate but has been said to sum up Welshness in a word.

The contribution of creativity to the social and economic success of cities is a hot topic. And that’s no surprise…CREATIVITY MATTERS. It can drive economic opportunity, aid social problem solving and cohesion, generate new ways of thinking or bring together established ideas in new ways to drive things forward.

But it’s not just about economic growth – creativity can make our cities a better place to live and somewhere more exciting and stimulating to be, to work and contribute. Creative cities are also often better governed and better organized places – though perhaps it’s difficult to discern if better government produces more creativity or more creativity makes better government. (Though I know what I think.)

Either way our cities can be hotbeds of creativity – full of the buzz of arts venues, bars and restaurants and awash with architect-designed buildings. But it’s about more than that, more than being a hub for enterprise and culture even. Creative cities provide countless opportunities for everything from accidental connections to formal collaborations. And it’s those opportunities, those sparks that act as a catalyst for new thinking and innovation. Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Placemaking As Continuous Exchange

Posted by Laura Ng On November - 12 - 2012

Laura Ng

Arts administrators, emerging philanthropists, cultural patrons, and arts practitioners converged at the Atwater Village Theater on October 20 for Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles‘ full-day Creative Conversation, asking again, what is “creative placemaking”? Or, in the long-form title, to explore “Sparking Inclusive Dialogue Through Creative Placemaking.”

Dan Kwong, project leader for Great Leap’s COLLABORATORY, may have put it best when he compared broaching the question to the ambivalence and trepidation felt when one is asked to measure the impact of arts on social building.

With disciplines as divergent as Anne Bray’s work in media arts, Dan Kwong in performance, and Brian Janeczko in architecture and industrial design/fabrication, one unifying outlook voiced by the panelists was that creative placemaking must happen organically with a collaborative conscientiousness responsive to a specific community.

Keynote speaker John Malpede framed the particularity of elements needed to come together by sharing his own experience at the Los Angeles Poverty Department, which he founded almost serendipitously.

The performance artist volunteered with a group of lawyers offering their services pro-bono to the residents of L.A.’s Skid Row until he became a de facto paralegal, who so galvanized the community that those same clients involved themselves into launching self-produced dramatic performances.

With no permanent headquarters, their activities attracted the attention of screenwriters from other parts of the city and instigating conversations with numerous neighborhood organizations, such as LAMP and the Skid Row Players’ drummers, materializing improvement amenities such as the “funky trash cans” provided by OG Man that would not be readily perceived as an urgent need to those outside in what they termed Normalville. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Creativity THE 21st Century Skill?

Posted by Janet Stanford On November - 6 - 2012

Janet Stanford

YES is the answer to this question judging from the enthusiastic audience response on October 10 to Imagination Stage’s Creative Conversation on the topic.

One hundred and forty parents, educators, and other stakeholders attended a panel discussion, moderated by Doug Herbert of the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Innovation & Improvement, and then enjoyed breakout sessions that included sample sessions in professional development for teachers, creative parenting classes, and an opportunity to take the Torrance Test, the only nationally recognized measure for creativity that has been in use for more than 50 years.

Each of the four panelists described their viewpoint about creativity during the forum.

Developmental Psychologist Meredith Rowe debunked the commonly held assumption that creativity is a gift which cannot be taught.

Neuropsychologist Bill Stixrud spoke about what he sees daily in his clinical practice: that kids today enjoy less free play, feel more stress, are less motivated, and have lower self-esteem than past generations. His findings parallel data from the Torrance Test, which has noted a sharp decline in children’s creativity scores over the last 20 years, especially in the elementary grades. Stixrud recognizes that children are missing the benefits of creative play and arts education.

I discussed how theatre arts classes and arts integrated into the school curriculum can help children of all abilities to find motivation for their studies. Projects that are student-led and focused on creative problem solving have been shown to engage young people in ways that traditional modes of instruction no longer can. Read the rest of this entry »

The Creative Workforce in the Post-Recession Economy (A Creative Conversation Twitter Chat)

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On October - 17 - 2012

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month and the annual Americans for the Arts tradition of Creative Conversations, my colleague Ally Yusuf (Founder & Moderator of #ArtsMgtChat) and I are co-hosting the first national Creative Conversation on Twitter!

The Creative Workforce in the Post-Recession Economy is open to everyone and takes place today (October 17) for one hour starting at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT using #NatCC12 as the hashtag.

Come share in 140 characters or less, your thoughts, resources and stories about your view on this fascinating topic. We all either know someone or are someone who has been professionally affected by the recession. Whether you are a staffer, freelancer, consultant, employer or recruiter—you probably have something to add to the dialogue.

(Editor’s Note: For a quick primer on how Twitter chats work, check out this ARTSblog post by Kristen Engebretsen.)

As an arts leadership and professional development researcher and advocate, I’ve been profoundly concerned about the effects of the recession on our nonprofit arts workforce. In response, I established the Art Career Cafe which has both a website with job listings and resources as well as a Facebook page to provide an interactive community.

Since its launch in late July, we have over 200 Facebook group members. Many members are young arts professionals with degrees in arts management looking for full time work; others are freelancers who have chosen a less traditional but equally viable path to a creative career. Read the rest of this entry »

Bill Rossi

One two three, one two three, one two three…Nate was in a groove, the ensemble was cookin’, and Miles Davis’ tune All Blues had never sounded better.

As the lead drummer, Nate stayed with that simple beat, rode it out to the end, then finished in perfect time. He beamed as the audience roared in appreciation, and if you hadn’t known him you would not have believed that one year ago he’d been unable to count rhythmically or sit still for more than five minutes.

But those who’d known him—who had seen his eyes light up at that first simple beat and watched over the year as he learned to focus, to listen, and to succeed—we knew what had happened. Nate had found himself through the arts.

The challenges Nate once faced are growing more common every day. Attention deficits, oppositional defiance, and incidents of youth violence and suicide have increased as our society has become preoccupied with materialism. As our focus has gone off taking care of our kids, the opportunities for to them to discover and express their voice have diminished. As ARTSblog readers know, the arts can fill this need.

I believe it’s also evident that any modality which can cause healing can also mitigate or even prevent illness. Unfortunately, our culture has segmented the arts, commercializing them into a “privileged” position. Perhaps we could learn from other cultures.

In many other cultures, the arts serve as a cohesive fluid in which the community operates. People get together informally through music, dance or song to relax and enjoy themselves and each other, with the performance aspect of art secondary to a self-participatory way of being together. 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 »

Can’t Stop Creative Conversations

Posted by Annelies van Vonno On October - 17 - 2011

As we enter the third week of National Arts and Humanities Month, I would just like to thank all the local community leaders who have participated in our Creative Conversations!

Already, Creative Conversations have sparked local dialogue that is helping to unify groups of individuals engaged in arts and culture. These events help spur advocacy efforts and create networking opportunities for those interested in the arts in their communities.

In a memorable moment at a Creative Conversation last week in Silver Spring, MD, State Delegate Heather Mizeur advised, “Stand out with your art to connect to your advocacy. The artist should use their unique abilities in art making itself to stand out and reach legislatures.” From this Conversation, emerging arts advocates were able to take away this and many other valuable insights.

If you were unable to attend an event last week, don’t worry! October is full of remarkable and insightful events–over 30 so far, with more being added every day.

This week’s upcoming events include:

•    Bonus Features: Thinking Outside the Talkback – Today, Oct. 17! (Pittsburgh, PA)
•    Exploring Professional Paths in the Arts – Oct. 18 (Denver, CO)
•    Witness to Preservation – Oct. 20 (Stuart, FL) Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating ‘Artober’ in Nashville

Posted by Jennifer Cole On October - 17 - 2011

With economic gloom dominating the news, it’s invigorating to focus on joy and beauty. At the end of September, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the Metro Nashville Arts Commission launched Artober Nashville, the city’s most expansive celebration of the arts and everything creative.


Mayor Karl Dean received a lesson in African Drumming from Tulip Grove second graders Jaidyn MacAdoo during his visit to the school for the launch of Artober Nashville on September 29.

Artober Nashville showcases all artistic genres through more than 250 galleries, music venues, cultural organizations, and neighborhood festivals and more than 550 activities in October. The hope is that Nashvillians will experience “Arts. Everywhere.”

During the month, the city will showcase the International Bluegrass Music Festival and the International Black Film Festival, and additionally, our Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony hosts a free day of music, the Frist Center displays Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum; and the Rep, the Opera and Ballet will stage unforgettable classics. Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Conversations Continue…

Posted by Annelies van Vonno On October - 13 - 2011

As National Arts and Humanities Month continues, amazing people around the country are hosting Creative Conversations!

This Americans for the Arts program, started in 2004, helps to unify groups of people engaged in arts and culture by sparking dialogue, spurring advocacy efforts, and creating networking opportunities.

So far this month, we have already had five great events in places as diverse as Nashville, Virginia Beach, Chicago, and Buffalo.

If you missed out on these events, never fear! October still holds over 30 more events – with more being added every day.

This week’s upcoming events include:

•    Artist Conversation with Don Seiden, artist and Jane Stevens, curator – Today, Oct 13! (Chicago, IL)
•    Champaign County ARSCONNECT: pARTner up! – Today, Oct 13! (Urbana, IL) Read the rest of this entry »

Reel Creativity

Posted by admin On October - 5 - 2011

Dr. Bill Bronston

As part of National Arts and Humanities Month, we are featuring stories about some of the events people are holding around the country. Sacramento-based nonprofit Tower of Youth, an organization dedicated to organize and promote digital literacy, education system modernization, a world class media workforce, economic and community development through its training, partnership networking and media showcase programs, will hold its 15th Annual North American All Youth Film & Education Day October 7. Dr. William Bronston, CEO of Tower of Youth, had this to say about the event and the importance of youth media art:

Youth media art is the ultimate challenge to the status quo in the education system. District and education industry leaders seem unable to guide us into a truly 21st Century 24/7 individualized and customized learning system. The digital toolbox is limitless. It is revolutionizing all our lives! It is imagination and competence, visionary leadership, school redesign courage that are desperately needed by our children who seek connection, wisdom and inspiration, by instinct, in their lives.

Our youths best movies, from across North America, show, over and over, for the 15 years we have produced these showcase events, their hunger for value, vitality, problem solving, wonder, antidotes to fear and dangers to body and soul they seriously struggle with. Their movies tell the whole story and do so with absolute creative wonder and originality. Visual media jobs and career growth rates dominate the economy but are officially uncounted. Read the rest of this entry »

President Proclaims October National Arts and Humanities Month

Posted by Tim Mikulski On October - 4 - 2011

Yesterday, President Barack Obama declared October National Arts and Humanities Month through Presidential Proclamation. Within the proclamation, President Obama states:

“Like Rockwell’s painting, art in all its forms often challenges us to consider new perspectives and to rethink how we see the world. This image still moves us with its simple poignancy, capturing a moment in American history that changed us forever. This is the power of the arts and humanities — they speak to our condition and affirm our desire for something more and something better. Great works of literature, theater, dance, fine art, and music reach us through a universal language that unites us regardless of background, gender, race, or creed.”

National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) is a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America. It is designed to encourage all Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts and humanities.

From hosting a Creative Conversation or arts center open house to securing a mayoral (or Presidential) proclamation or better newspaper coverage of the arts, people in every community across the United States can celebrate NAHM by helping recognize the contributions of cultural organizations in their region. Read the rest of this entry »

With October right around the corner, we all have the opportunity to commemorate the arts in a big way by participating in National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) – the largest annual celebration for the arts and humanities in the nation.

Designed to encourage all Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts and humanities, National Arts and Humanities Month is a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America.

Once again this year, Americans for the Arts is hosting its annual Creative Conversations program in conjunction with NAHM.

The program, started in 2004 in response to feedback from the Emerging Leaders Council, has grown to serve over 50 communities and more than 2,000 individuals each year. Read the rest of this entry »

We All Agree, But Are We Effective?

Posted by Stephanie Riven On September - 1 - 2011

Stephanie Riven

We, the arts community, agree that arts learning improves academic performance, increases lifelong learning skills and often helps students at risk of failure engage in school.

We can point to the children. We can point to classrooms and to certain districts. We see their success.

In our arsenal of facts and arguments, we have key messages, data, research, policy briefs, examples of districts that have made progress, and a very effective lobbying effort in Washington.

We know the public agrees, too. After all, 91 percent of voters indicate that the arts are essential to building capacities of imagination.

But our message continues to become lost in translation where math, reading, and science are seen as the only subjects worthy of significant support. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday, October 19th at 2:15 p.m. EDT

In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month, visual artist Chuck Close, ballet dancer Damian Woetzel, and committee co-chairs Margo Lion and George Stevens, Jr. discuss arts and humanities education and the arts.

Here are just few highlights of National Arts and Humanities Month events happening this weekend.

Charlestown’s Community Concert Series in Catonsville, MD, presents the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition today, October 2. The concert begins at 7 pm and admission is $4.00. For more information visit http://www.charlestownperformingarts.com.

Art Detroit Now is this weekend in Detroit, MI. From October 2-3, 25,000 people are expected to attend contemporary art openings, exhibitions and demonstrations at 75 galleries, museums and nonprofit organizations that will showcase metro Detroit’s great contemporary art and artists. For more information visit http://www.artdetroitnow.com/index.html.

The City of Edmonds Arts Commission presents is annual Write on the Sound writing conference, October 2-4. This well-established conference, focused on the craft of writing, offers an affordable experience for writers of all levels, with a variety of intimate high quality workshops at the Frances Anderson Center in Edmonds, WA. For more information visit http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/ArtsCommission/wots.stm.

Take a stroll through the Arts & Entertainment district of Frostburg, MD, at its last Arts Walk of the season on October 3 from 5-8 pm. The Arts Walks are self-guided walking tours that feature opening receptions and exhibitions at downtown art galleries, theater performances, live music at several downtown locations, hands-on art projects on the Arts Bus, shopping at a variety of retail destinations, and dining at some of the area’s finest restaurants. Click here for more information.

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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.