Jessica Wilt

Jessica Wilt

In January 2012 I started the New Year with an ARTSblog entitled So Many Resources, So Little Time. I wrote, “With endless emails, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds, I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed.” For the most part, that statement was true – except for one thing. I wasn’t using Twitter!

Of course after mentioning Twitter in the resources ARTSblog someone would reach out to me in an email requesting my Twitter handle. Uh oh. Once upon a time I had set up an account, but when I tried to remember what the original handle was and how to login? Forget about it. I had been caught red-handed!

Just what I needed, one more thing to add to what already felt like an overflowing plate. I couldn’t respond back with, “sorry, I don’t do Twitter” after mentioning it in my blog so I decided it was time to officially throw myself into the #Twitterverse. Hence, @JessicaLWilt was born.

Over the past year I’ve been teaching myself how to navigate and speak the language that is Twitter while building a truly authentic and genuine community. I don’t have thousands of followers – yet – but I do regularly interact and connect with a diverse group of people. Never could I have imagined how vast the information, people, ideas and life-changing events I’ve experienced through Twitter would enhance my personal and professional circles. Read the rest of this entry »

Katie Kurcz

Katie Kurcz

At last month’s Arts & Business Council of Chicago’s workshop, we learned that the secret to building cultural corporate partnerships is that there are no secrets. In fact, the core strategy is as basic as building a strong, healthy relationship.

Although this revelation is rather anti-climatic and fairly intuitive, the case studies and advice shared by the workshop panelists provided instructive takeaways about who to target, how to approach prospective partners, and what to expect in making asks.

The panel was comprised of two sets of partnership pairs representing both the corporate and the arts perspective.

Ruth Stine, director of special projects at the Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) and Business Volunteer for the Arts (BVA) consultant, presented alongside Beth Gallagher, director of community engagement at Aon.

Beth acknowledged that the best way to get support from Aon is having an internal advocate(s) already involved with the organization as a board member or volunteer. The more Aon employees involved with the organization, the more likely Aon will consider a request for support. The status and tenure of the advocates are factors that are considerations as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Over the Fear of Networking (an EALS Post)

Posted by Raynel Frazier On February - 15 - 2013
Raynel Frazier

Raynel Frazier

Networking. It’s a word that excites some, but if you’re anything like me, then it’s a word that ignites nervous butterflies. Throughout my young career I have heard countless times phrases like “It’s all about who you know” or “You should really be doing more networking.”

Last fall, I had the opportunity to attend the Thelonious Monk Competition at the Kennedy Center here in Washington, D.C. There were tons of people from the jazz community (both musicians and presenters). As a jazz trombonist and an aspiring jazz presenter it was amazing to be there.

After the competition and concert, I received a ticket to the an “exclusive” after party. The person who gave me the ticket said, “Now you should really go to this; there will be lots of important people there for you to meet.”

Immediately I heard networking and the butterflies started. “How do I meet ‘important people’ who I’ve never met before with no introduction? What do I say?”

I still do not really know the answer to my questions and I still get nervous in networking situations, but what I learned so far is to:  Read the rest of this entry »

My Sweet Tooth for Public Art

Posted by Liesel Fenner On February - 15 - 2013
Liesel Fenner

Liesel Fenner

We had a variety of best practices covered during our annual Public Art Network (PAN) Blog Salon this week.

Let’s wrap it all up with a major thanks to our ‘lucky’ 13 bloggers who shared their experience and lessons-learned of best practices from across the country.

According to Jimmy LeFlore’s post, we can have cake and eat it, too. If only public art were so easy to produce: mix ingredients, stir, set timer for one hour, ding, it’s done!

And cake baking requires partners as Jessica Cusick espoused, for the creation of all public art ‘Takes a Village!’ However, as Jimmy also said, we can’t eat our cake if we don’t if we go to the (best practices) gym.

Other lessons covered this week included:

Olympic-Sized Collaboration Leads to Regional Public Art Network

Posted by Eric Fiss On February - 13 - 2013
Eric Fiss

Eric Fiss

It was late 2008, and I had recently taken up the position as Public Art Planner for the City of Richmond, British Columbia, when I was invited to two meetings in early 2009, discussing regional collaborative projects. These discussions took place during the run up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games when international media attention would be focussed on our region.

The first meeting was for the Necklace Project, ten communities surrounding the City of Vancouver, working together to develop best practices and creating a series of public art projects on a unified theme. The ten participating communities were Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Richmond, and Surrey.

The goal of the Necklace Project was to commission public art installations in all ten host municipalities and connect them through the theme of Illuminations, as well as encourage visitors to visit and experience each of the project sites.

For several of the communities this was their first public art project, and the support of more experienced communities, including administrative support from the Alliance for Arts and Culture and cultural planner, Oksana Dexter, were vital in realization of the projects.

As mutual support and best practices were crucial to the success of the Necklace Project (be sure to check out the Necklace Project website for a final report and critical essay coming soon!), one of the more experienced public art coordinators, Lori Phillips, serving both the City and District of North Vancouver, suggested we might want to formalize our collaboration to extend after the Necklace projects were complete and to and welcome other municipalities into our public art networking group. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan Soroko

Probably the best part of producing BizSmART for Arlington (Virginia)’s supported arts organizations was the pleasant surprise of unintended outcomes. Nothing salacious (sorry!), no misbehaving, but something that was an indirect benefit of having thought provoking speakers, interactive sessions, and opportunities to step outside daily challenges all in the same space at the same time.

As simple as it sounds, there was little way to plan, direct, or script a day that helped build our arts community.

On November 13, 2012, Arlington’s first BizSmART conference at Artisphere surpassed ‘symposium’ in both content and connectivity and drew on smart growth strategies for the arts. With the Arlington Commission for the Arts sponsorship of BizSmART, which began as a suggestion to create a symposium for arts organizations and Arlington Cultural Affairs’ recent move to Arlington Economic Development, a new direction in meeting the challenges facing arts organizations took root. The arts in our area may be extensive, but as public and private funding dwindle, organizations still struggle.

Arlington is no stranger to breaking new ground on many fronts and the arts are no exception. In 1996, Arlington Cultural Affairs was the winner of the Ford Foundation and Harvard University’s Innovations In American Government Award, the first time the award was given to an arts program in a local government. Leveraging resources, materials and facilities of the county government and applying them to the arts made way for an incubator program that was soon to be replicated throughout the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Connecting with My Regional Public Art Network

Posted by Karen Bubb On December - 12 - 2012

Attendees listen to one of the excellent speakers during our NowPAC meeting in early November 2012.

One of five regional networks of public art administrators, NowPAC (Northwest Public Art Council) had their annual meeting in Portland, OR, on November 2. Nearly 70 people from four states and two countries attended the one-day session.

We met in an old, renovated building that now serves as headquarters for the hip landscape architecture firm Place Studio. Architectural models, flying brooms (Halloween had just past), and material samples surrounded us as we settled in to look at images, hear from our peers, and re-connect with the tribe.

Kudos to the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) for organizing a great line-up of speakers and for hosting a great after-party at RACC Executive Director Eloise Damrosch’s “tree-house” home.

Presenters shared with us final designs for public art projects, stories of de-accessioning challenges, and new ideas on commissioning best practices.

In roundtable discussions, we covered:

  • the fine lines between being an administrator and a curator
  • changing demographics and how that affects what we commission
  • how to recover from a public art project gone bad  Read the rest of this entry »

Go Deep to Go Wide

Posted by Jeanette Lee and Mike Medow On December - 6 - 2012

Attendees enjoy an Allied Media Conference session.

Organizers often believe we have to choose between breadth and depth. Do we prioritize meaningful relationships or strive to “reach” the greatest number of people?

At Allied Media Projects we see this is a false dichotomy. Over the past 15 years of organizing the annual Allied Media Conference (AMC), we have learned that we can achieve broad engagement while also prioritizing deep relationships.

Relationships are key

The AMC has a unique conference organizing model that fosters relationships at the internal and interpersonal, community, and inter-community levels. Small-scale relationships fostered through the AMC have ripple effects that create large-scale impact. Founded as a zine conference in 1999 around the independent press mantra of “become the media,”  the AMC has since evolved a theory of change that says:

Creating our own media is a process of speaking and listening that allows us to investigate the problems that shape our realities, imagine other realities and then organize our communities to make them real. When we use media in this way, we transform ourselves from consumers of information to producers, from objects within narratives of exploitation and violence to active subjects in the transformation of the world.

Our definition of “media” has grown over the years to include everything from breakdancing to broadcasting community radio and building web applications. The conference features more than 140 hands-on workshops, strategy conversations, caucus meetings, and art and music events. Read the rest of this entry »

#NAMPC Takeaways

Posted by Shoshana Fanizza On November - 15 - 2012

Shoshana Fanizza

I wanted to start out by giving you the link to my Storify—My #NAMPC experience via Twitter. I ended up winning the Most Tweets Award [at the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC)] and I received a fun t-shirt!

I also won by connecting with more people on Twitter and getting to meet some of these people during the conference. It has been a fun and educational experience for me. If you had to miss the conference they promised to archive the keynote presentations soon.

NAMPC had its ups and downs, but mostly ups. However, through the entire conference, this year, like last year, there were some common themes running through most of the presentations.

Instead of a complete play-by-play like I did last year, I would like to leave you with the my most impressionable takeaways and some of my own thoughts (in no particular order):

  • You gotta have passion—if you don’t, people will not be attracted to your mission, cause, project, program…Without passion, what is the point?
  • Be weird and silly—or in other terms, be true to your own particular self. It’s not about being similar—it’s about standing out.
  • Adding your own personality will increase your likeability.
  • Have fun! What makes people want to join? Fun! If it is not enjoyable to you, it probably won’t be to your audiences.
  • Everyone is diverse in one way or another. These are my personal thoughts: We can learn to reach out to others after we discover our own sense of diversity and understand personally what it feels like to be stereotyped and discounted.
  • Keep ego out of the organization.
  • Visual impact is necessary! There is so much blah, blah, blah, and not enough “language” of our arts. If you are a music organization, it would be good to have clips and videos of performances and music. If you are an artist, make viewing your art an experience. If you are theater and dance, videos are a must. How can people figure out if your art is for them if they can’t “see” it and feel it? 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.

Join Our Common Core Twitter Chat

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On September - 12 - 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

Based on a survey Americans for the Arts completed last year, 46% of respondents said that they would be interested in arts education programming that related to broader education reform issues, such Common Core State Standards, No Child Left Behind, the achievement gap, student engagement, and state or federal policy.

This week, we have 15-20 arts and education leaders from across the country discussing the intersection of the arts and common core here on ARTSblog.

To accompany our blog salon, we will also be hosting a Twitter chat today (Wednesday, September 12) from 6:00– 7:00 p.m. ET. All you need to participate is a Twitter account (or simply follow along without one). Don’t have one? Sign up for free! If you’ve never participated in a chat on Twitter before, here are some tips on how to participate:

Twitter Basics

Here are some of the basic Twitter functions to get you started, adapted from Allison Boyer’s article on Blog World:

  • @ Reply: If you see an @ symbol followed by someone’s screen name (or their “handle”), it’s a way to hold a public conversation with that person.
  • DM: DM stands for direct message. It’s a way to hold a private conversation with another Twitter user, but you can only DM people who are already following you.
  • RT: RT stands for retweet. If you like what someone says on twitter, you can retweet it to spread the message to your followers as well.
  • MT: MT stand for modified tweet. It’s just like an RT, but you might have had to change a piece of it in order to RT something and still fit it in under 140 characters
  • Hashtag (#): If you see the pound symbol (#) before a word or phrase, it is essentially a keyword tag for the tweet so that others can find it more easily. On Twitter, this is called a hashtag, and they can help people search for your tweet. Basically, it’s a way to follow the stream of everyone talking about a specific subject.
  • Twitter Chat: A Twitter chat happens when several people get on Twitter at once to share ideas with one another. They do this by using a specific hashtag. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re Going to Pittsburgh and We Need Your Help!

Posted by Tim Mikulski On August - 20 - 2012

The August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble
(photo courtesy of Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council)

Join us June 14–16, 2013 in Pittsburgh, PA to continue the national conversation on the “new normal” as the 2013 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention draws attention to how the arts are meeting the needs of communities as demographic shifts continue to take place

The Annual Convention program will explore community strategies to adapt, transform, and revitalize in a changing landscape to build the 21st century American community.

We are seeking proposals for two types of presentations:

  1. Convention Sessions: sessions are 90 minutes and should be complete learning experiences with specific outcomes and learning objectives. Sessions can include multiple speakers, but are limited to no more than four speakers per session.
  2. Roundtable Discussions for Career, Organization, and Community 360. Roundtable Discussions are a great networking and issue-based discussion opportunity. Roundtables offer a variety of topics related to promoting sustainable careers in the arts and tackling difficult capacity-building issues in arts organizations and your greater community. Roundtables should only include one discussion leader per table.

Proposals should focus on innovative strategies, tested tools, and best practices that relate to the frames of the Annual Convention, including diversity, equity, and access; placemaking; education; social impact; technology; demographic shifts; and building business partnerships and new business models.

Beyond these frames, we welcome sessions addressing fundamental concepts in fundraising, advocacy, marketing, and board development and engagement.

Americans for the Arts is also accepting sessions for the Emerging Leaders Preconference and the Public Art Network Preconference. Both will take place June 13–14 and end by the start of the Annual Convention. The opportunity to designate your session proposal for one of these two preconferences can be found on the Convention Session proposal form.

Submissions are only accepted online at convention.artsusa.org/proposals, but hurry and submit as our deadline is September 19!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson

A couple of weeks ago, Barry Hessenius of Barry’s Blog posted a question and concern that caught my attention. He wondered “whether or not we are isolating [emerging leaders] 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 [meaning the field]—at least in part—a disservice.”

I was pleased to see Barry post this concern, because at least a couple of times a year, arts administrators approach me with the same issues. In my role as leadership development program manager at Americans for the Arts, our Emerging Leaders program and national network is a large part of my work portfolio.

I want to thank Barry for sharing his thoughts on emerging leaders and bringing this issue, which has been bubbling under the surface for quite some time now, to wider attention. Barry also deserves quite a bit of credit for all the great work he has done on behalf of emerging leaders in California. The networks in California—thanks in large part to the James Irvine Foundation’s and the Hewlett Foundation’s leadership—are some of the most robust networks we have nationally and are consistently looked to as model programs.

I appreciate Barry’s concerns regarding sub-sectors of our field, and wanting to create an environment where those new to the field can be seen as fellow leaders by their peers. Transition and succession planning is a large issue that our field needs to address head on in a unified way. As an emerging leader myself, I personally want to avoid the existence of “artificial walls” between emerging and experienced leaders.

In my mind, one of the discerning qualities of the Emerging Leaders Network is that it is an opportunity for those new to the field to practice and workshop their leadership skills, learn fundamentals, and network with peers. Oftentimes, a new arts administrator can feel isolated in their work, and one of the largest benefits of the network to me is that it allows an individual to connect to something larger than themselves and remember that they are a part of a movement. Read the rest of this entry »

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

Posted by Jessica Wilt On May - 22 - 2012

Jessica Wilt

Another school year draws to a close and I feel like I’m out of control spinning all over the boroughs of New York City from one commitment to the other with “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” playing in my head. Is anyone else out there spinning round like a record, baby? Okay, that makes me sound old.

Next month I’ll be leading a Career360 Roundtable session at the 2012 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio. The topic: Community Involvement: Taking the “I Shoulds” Out of Your Life.

I chuckled upon my realization at how perfect the topic of overcommitment is for me; hence, the spinning-out-of-control vertigo I’m now experiencing.

Many arts administrators are expected to serve on panels, boards, and committees in addition to joining advocacy-related campaigns and other volunteer activities outside of the day-to-day full time job.

I’d like to explore this “I should or I shouldn’t” conversation a bit. Are arts administrators volunteer-driven because of their love for the field? Because there seems to be unspoken expectations? Out of necessity? Or a combination of all three?

I volunteer my time and energy mainly because I am passionate about arts education. I enjoy being connected to networks outside of my job, learning new things, traveling, and meeting some really interesting people…but sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Arts Agency Tweetup: A New Approach to Networking

Posted by Megan Pagado On April - 11 - 2012

Megan Pagado

In late February, we at the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County hosted our first-ever #CreativeMoCo Tweetup for creatives in and around Montgomery County, MD.

Why did we, a local arts council, host a tweetup?

  1. Our constituents asked for it. They wanted the opportunity meet others in a casual, laidback, unstructured setting. (We’re fans of speed networking, but had to put those impulses aside for this particular event.)
  2. While we’re active on social media, we‘ve never had the chance to meet most of our followers and fans face to face. And isn’t eventually creating real, genuine interactions the whole point of social media?
  3. We saw this as an amazing opportunity to not only meet and introduce creatives to each other, but to mobilize them and take them to the next step of becoming self-identified arts advocates.

The tweetup was first announced on Facebook and Twitter, which generated over 40 registrations in two days. As I saw the number climb, I was amazed at the number of people registering that we didn’t know.

Since we used the term “creative community” instead of “cultural community” in marketing the tweetup, we had everyone from magazine editors to restaurant owners to DJs in attendance.

Based on our experience hosting our tweetup, here are some tips I can share with you on hosting your own, especially one that is advocacy-based: Read the rest of this entry »