Achievement Gap Exposed in New Arts Education Report (An EALS Post)

Posted by Jennifer Glinzak On April - 6 - 2012

Two major arts education studies were released this past week, the FRSS 10-year comparison and the Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth, a 12-year longitudinal study. When these studies are married, their effectiveness as a tool for advocacy becomes undeniably clear.

While the FRSS will get much of the press because U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan presented it, the study is of little consequence to the progression of arts education other then outright stating of significant declines in the amount of offerings across the board.

On the other hand, move over Charlie Bucket, the longitudinal study is the golden ticket arts education advocators have been praying for.

The longitudinal study gives the data for students of Low Socioeconomic Status (low SES) with both high and low arts exposure, and their counterparts in the High Socioeconomic Status (high SES).

The matrixes measured for each of the four categories include high school graduation rates, civic involvement, recorded grade point average, college graduation rates, average test scores, volunteer rates, other extracurricular activities, and labor market outcomes.

The results are startling, not because they affirm what advocates have said for years, but because of the achievement gap between low SES/low arts and low SES/high arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Group Therapy in the Arts: The Mega Church Model

Posted by Gregory Burbidge On April - 6 - 2012

Gregory Burbidge

The Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL has an annual weekly attendance of 24,000 people. It’s what is referred to as a “mega church.”

I remember details about this church opaquely from a history of modern Christianity class. It’s the organizational model they created I remember most.

Obviously 24,000 people don’t smoothly pull together into a tightly knit community, so the church creates small groups of people, hundreds of these small groups, around shared interests and age. The small groups are what keep things from unraveling at the seams.

The model of the small group is broadly used. I am fortunate enough to be a part of someone’s small group. Hesitant to commit to reading and discussing a book, a group of us art administrators participate in an article club.

Every five or six weeks, the small group of us get together for lunch to discuss an article that’s creating a splash in the arts world that we wouldn’t otherwise take the time to read in detail.

Because of this group, I get to read great articles like Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change and Irvine’s report on participatory arts and audience involvement.

This version of a small group provides a busy group of colleagues a chance to catch up with what are our peers are doing, and to talk about how changes in the field can impact our own work. Read the rest of this entry »

What Every Junior Board Should Know

Posted by Jess Kaswiner On April - 4 - 2012
Jess Kaswiner

Jess Kaswiner

On February 28, Emerging Leaders Network Chicago hosted a wildly successful panel conversation and networking event simply titled “Junior Board Mega-Mixer.”

Weeks before the event, we had over 50 RSVPs and 7 local sponsors, including Changing Worlds, Steppenwolf Theatre, Urban Gateways, Snow City Arts, Auditorium Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, and Links Hall.

Our dedicated ELN team worked swiftly to spread the word, sharing the event announcement via email, Facebook,, and word of mouth. Participating panelists—including junior board chairs, general-body members, and representatives from sponsor organizations—weighed in on what it takes to incubate and sustain a successful junior board.

Below are seven key takeaways from this event, in addition to a few additional creative suggestions and how to host your own junior board mixer.

1) Efficiency is key – Young professionals are very busy between work, play, and volunteering. When planning your meetings, always send an agenda ahead of time.

2) Be nimble – Although your organization may have a very clear idea of what you want the organizational structure to look like or what type of events you want your junior board to plan, it’s important to first evaluate your capacity. As Dana Adams of Urban Gateways mentioned, “Think about the type of event YOU enjoy attending, and go from there!” Read the rest of this entry »

Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us at 25

Posted by Katherine Mooring On April - 4 - 2012

Katherine Mooring

As the chief architect for the Arts & Science Council’s capacity building, professional, and leadership development offerings, I spend a lot of time thinking about the skills and expertise our next generation of arts and cultural leaders will need to be successful, particularly in an environment where change and complexity are the rule, not the exception.

As emerging leaders, we participate in leadership development seminars, attend conferences, enroll in graduate degree programs…you name it…in pursuit of formal training to enhance our professional growth and marketability.

Sometimes, however, we can find just as much value in learning from our peers and listening to those who have paved a path ahead of our own. Hearing authentic, often humbling, human experiences truly resonate and teach us that as much as we try to shepherd our career paths in thoughtful, logical, and strategic ways, sometimes reality (or insanity) takes hold.

When that happens, having a strong informal support network can be the difference between rising to the challenge or allowing the craziness to overwhelm us.

To reinforce the importance of this approach, last spring, ASC’s Emerging Leader’s program hosted a special panel discussion for emerging women leaders in Charlotte’s cultural community.

“For Women by Women: No Really…Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us at 25” was an empowering event led by executive leaders from several major cultural institutions. Each woman shared success stories and stories of failure, and most importantly gave encouraging advice on how each of us—male or female, at whatever career stage—can think big and get out of our own way. Read the rest of this entry »

Multiplying Presence: 3 Lessons from red, black and GREEN: a blues

Posted by Eboni Senai Hawkins On April - 3 - 2012

Eboni Senai Hawkins

Over several months, I have witnessed a small part of the national unfolding of red, black, and GREEN: a blues (rbGb), a performative collaboration between Marc Bamuthi Joseph/The Living Word Project and Theaster Gates.

I am stunned at the synergy in practices between Bamuthi (artist/educator and director of performing arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) and Theaster (artist/urban planner and director of arts and public life at the University of Chicago).

For both Bamuthi and Theaster, the “relationship economy” is intrinsic to their work. As I become immersed in Emerging Leaders Network – Chicago (ELN) and the city as a whole, I’ve observed three areas highlighted by rbGb, activated in ELN and others, and rich with opportunities for greater impact in the arts.

1 – Flatten hierarchy. Stay in community online and off.

In a “Green Paper” about the future of arts leadership, Jennifer Armstrong describes the “amazing Technicolor dream” that could be achieved if emerging leaders “poke[d]” at established managers until a “genuine exchange” came around. This move to level existing hierarchies is possible from both sides. Jennifer, for example, is a champion for the field and subscribing to her feed on Facebook allows me, an aspiring curator, a vehicle for quick questions and insight into cultural initiatives. Read the rest of this entry »

Mixing It Up with Other Emerging Arts Leaders (An EALS Post)

Posted by Raynel Frazier On March - 30 - 2012

Spending too much time alone in a cramped costume closet? Tired from all those long nights backstage? Sick of only seeing art in a textbook?

Well, you should have been at the first Arts Management Mixer sponsored by the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS) last week.

On Saturday, March 24, 2012 students and professionals gathered at American University in DC to meet, mingle, and network with other emerging arts leaders. Not only was there great conversation, but there were also tons of sweet treats and coffee.

In addition to the food and drinks, everyone at the Mixer was able to go on a guided tour of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. The exhibitions featured were Anil Revri: Faith and Liberation through Abstraction and Gabarrón’s Roots.

Being a part of the Arts Management Mixer was a great experience. As busy graduate students it is sometimes hard to get together with your classmates let alone students from other programs. But I believe that interaction with other emerging arts leaders is vital. As we continue to grow and learn it is nice to have people to bounce ideas off of. This event made that interaction possible.  Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve made a decision, and perhaps a leap of faith, to go to graduate school. You do your research, visit some schools, talk to faculty and current students, apply, and get accepted into your dream program. Voila.

You are now a student in an arts management program (in my case, at American University in Washington, D.C.)!

Now what?

There is no perfect recipe for success that works for everyone, but here are a few more tips (get the others here) and advice from some brilliant and passionate arts professionals as well as from my personal (well, professional) experience:


Are you more of a listener and need a little warming up before you feel like networking? You have got plenty of options as well!

Look for conferences, symposiums, webinars, and colloquia online and ask around for recommendations. Good places to start looking are the websites of Americans for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, and other graduate programs in your area. Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve made a decision, and perhaps a leap of faith, to go to graduate school. You do your research, visit some schools, talk to faculty and current students, apply, and get accepted into your dream program. Voila.

You are now a student in an arts management program (in my case, at American University in Washington, D.C.)!

Now what?

There is no perfect recipe for success that works for everyone, but here are a few tips (more to come next week) and advice from some brilliant and passionate arts professionals as well as from my personal (well, professional) experience:


You are likely to meet people from various and very interesting professional backgrounds in your graduate program. Start with this inner circle.

For example, my classmates include a database manager for a nonprofit, a development associate at a museum, an orchestra manager, a stage manager, a music teacher, and an actor/director of a theatre group. Read the rest of this entry »

Margot H. Knight

Those of us in the mission-driven arts resource business (this means YOU), all have stories about the moment you connected to a donor from the business community—an authentic, real MOMENT when you and your organization connect either professionally or personally with the businessman/woman on the other side of the desk, cocktail, or dinner table.

Sometimes it happens right away. Sometimes a relationship takes months, even years, to develop.

And sometimes, that moment of truth reveals a dead-end future, or more painfully, spells the end to an existing relationship. Here is some of my best advice based on my own experiences—I hope it’s helpful:

1. Always bear in mind that money is the means to an end, not an end to itself. This premise has ripples—it means you won’t compromise your mission for money. It means you won’t get ahead of yourself in a conversation and talk about money before you talk about mission. And it means you MUST understand what your potential business partner values. For him or her, money is the means to an end as well.

2. You have to do your homework. Just like you, the person sitting across from you woke up with a notion of what a successful day looks like. Before you walk into any business, large or small, do a little research. What does the business do? How and where do they do it? How are they doing? What are the external pressures bearing on THEM? Most businesses have vision and mission statements of their own. Look them up. The old adage of “seek to understand before being understood,” comes to mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Your LinkedIn Profile More Marketable

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 6 - 2012

Tim Mikulski

In another of my “spring cleaning” posts (where I’ve collected a great resource, but haven’t had time to share it on ARTSblog yet) blogger Jeff Haden gives six steps toward making your LinkedIn profile more marketable.

Unlike Klout, which I haven’t figured out what to do with so far, for me LinkedIn is more about my professional side, so I don’t have it connected to my Twitter account and I certainly do not post the same inane things I tend to share or write about on Facebook. I only accept invites from people with whom I have already worked or would like to in the future and are in the same field/field I’d like to eventually join.

But how do you use LinkedIn to help you network and create better connections to the people who use it? Here are Jeff’s steps:

Step 1. Revisit your goals. At its most basic level LinkedIn is about marketing: marketing your company or marketing yourself. But that focus probably got lost as you worked through the mechanics of completing your profile, and what started as a marketing effort turned into a resume completion task. Who you are isn’t as important as what you hope to accomplish, so think about your goals and convert your goals into keywords, because keywords are how people find you on LinkedIn. Read the rest of this entry »

Connecting the Past with the Future

Posted by Roger Vacovsky On January - 18 - 2012

Roger Vacovsky

Last week, I renewed my membership for my alma mater’s alumni association. I understand now, more than ever, that my participation in the program contributes to not only the future success of my university, but also to my own past experiences.

Since my graduation, I have enjoyed watching the University of Houston (UH) flourish, albeit from afar, receiving periodic email updates regarding the upgrades to the campus. This includes the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, a tremendous effort by the university to combine five arts-based departments into one collaborative arts force. Although I am just one alumnus contributing to my university’s growth, I feel as though I played a part in making these improvements possible.

I was even eager to experience the progress of the Houston Cougar football team in 2011—which I had absolutely no part in during my time in school—as it set records for a fierce offense and toppled another, much more storied (and recently infamous) football program in a bowl appearance this year in Dallas.

There are many good reasons why we become members of our graduating university’s alumni association. As I had mentioned before, we begin giving back to the institution that helped us prepare for a successful career. We want to enhance the experience of the future generation of students so that they can go on to achieve greatness.

Believe it or not, the continued success of your alma mater retroactively increases the worth of your degree. By becoming a member of your alumni association, your membership dues help your university realize the success it consistently fights to achieve. Read the rest of this entry »

The Collaboration Question (Do You Have Some Answers?)

Posted by Jill McGuire On December - 7 - 2011

Jill McGuire

Choosing what to write about is as hard for me as choosing what I should be working on — which new opportunity(s) should I pursue this week, which projects can I put on the back burner and even what phone calls do I have to return.

I don’t think I have ever been busier or more energized about the new exciting opportunities, the level of community engagement possibilities, the new partnership offers, and the vast array of community processes that the arts are now being asked to be involved with.

And, everyone I talk to feels the same way which, for me, confirms what we always knew and what we have been working for — the arts are HOT…the arts are in demand…the arts offer real and creative solutions….the arts produce results! (And, they can even be entertaining and fun.)

So, now what?

We are still working with diminished resources but we want to do it all — I do! And yet I know that it’s probably not possible to do it all and do it well! Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of Collaboration

Posted by Maggie Guggenheimer On December - 6 - 2011

Maggie Guggenheimer

At Piedmont Council for the Arts (PCA), we often find ourselves in conversations about collaboration.

The Charlottesville (VA) area has a high number of arts and cultural organizations for its relatively small size.

Don’t let the quaint college town aesthetic fool you – with organizations like Monticello, The Paramount Theater, Live Arts, The Pavilion, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, and three amazing festivals, we’re busting at the seams with high-quality cultural experiences. It’s exciting, but it’s also competitive. For many of the smaller nonprofit arts organizations in the area, collaboration is necessary for getting big projects done with a small staff and budget.

PCA participates in collaborative projects and gathers arts representatives together for networking events and roundtable discussions to address collaboration strategies. I’m amazed at how much even the busiest directors seem to appreciate the opportunity to connect face-to-face and think “big picture.” In today’s funding environment, no one doubts the importance of effective partnerships, and we all need to unplug and brainstorm together every now and then.

But beyond this necessity, lately I’ve been thinking about collaboration in a new way. Read the rest of this entry »

A Network Changes Everything

Posted by Jennifer Armstrong On December - 5 - 2011
Jennifer Armstrong

Jennifer Armstrong

At our statewide arts conference this year, held un-ironically in Normal, IL, our theme was The Creative Breakthrough. We wanted to acknowledge that there is no ‘normal’ to pinpoint right now, but that it will be the creative who will break through to sketch out a new normal.

The gathering was a unique opportunity for arts leaders from across the state to come together and break through old ways of thinking, spark new ideas and connections, and to leave with the affirmation that we have the power and resources to break through if we use the force within ourselves, our communities, our sector, and the creative collective.

Our keynote speaker Bruce Mau of Bruce Mau Design and Massive Change Network, posed a theory that the only way to break through the noise is to come together. His key takeaway was – a network changes everything.

According to our post-conference survey, what leaders need most in order to have more breakthroughs is a sounding board, mixing open-mindedness, and institutional knowledge. Our Illinois Local Arts Network (LAN) provides for this and more for local arts agency leaders, and it wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration of two statewide institutions and a core team of Local Arts Agency (LAA) leaders. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Incubators: Creating a Roadmap for Resilience

Posted by Ebony McKinney On November - 30 - 2011

Ebony McKinney

This post is part of a series on emerging trends and notable lessons from the field, as reported by members of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Council.

Increased creative freedom, autonomy, and flexibility have come with a more precarious work style. This is becoming the new normal, even outside of the creative realm.

Does this make artists and creatives “new economy pioneers” prototyping the workstyle of the ‘conceptual age’? If so, what advice can we offer? Can we create a roadmap for resilience?

In this post I’d like to consider how arts incubators play an important role in not only supporting innovation and risk taking, but also by cultivating our most important assets — social and human capital.


In 2007, Bay Area Video Coalition’s (BAVC) Producers Institute for New Media, began in San Francisco. The institute was developed because BAVC recognized that traditional cinema didn’t inspire people to take action. Also, new media was becoming more prolific and gradually more accessible. Read the rest of this entry »