NEA Supports Creative Youth Development

Posted by Terry Liu On September - 19 - 2014
Terry Liu

Terry Liu

As an Arts Education Specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts, I am fortunate to see new blooms in the field of education.  Earlier this year, I was honored to join more than 200 national, state, local, and community-based youth arts leaders for the National Summit on Creative Youth Development in Boston, sponsored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the National Guild for Community Arts Education.

It’s exciting to have a quorum of leaders who are committed to taking creative youth development to the next level.  We came with decades of experience in this field, and we left with a clear policy and advocacy agenda that our respective organizations could implement at the local, state, and national levels. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Arts Education Count

Posted by Adarsh Alphons On September - 17 - 2014
Adarsh Alphons

Adarsh Alphons

The key to building support for arts education lies in the unlikeliest of places: numbers. 

There is beauty in numbers. One under-emphasized aspect of arts education that holds tremendous influence in conveying its invaluable and irreplaceable role is numbers. The power of digits to specify impact (however myopic we consider that point of view) is formidable and surely, not to be underestimated. The statistics that substantiate the holistic impact of arts education are staggering. Sometimes, so much so, that even arts professionals are genuinely surprised. As an education reformer who has been advocating for arts education for over a decade, this post discusses two approaches arts organizations are using to create measurable and tangible support for arts education from funders, policy-makers and everyone else. Read the rest of this entry »

Caleb Way

Caleb Way

This summer, eleven students descended upon New York City from all over the country with an arts administration gleam in their eyes. Different backgrounds, interests, schools, majors, and futures all converged at Con Edison’s headquarters in Union Square to kick off what would prove to be a very rewarding shared experience.

The Arts and Business Council of New York’s Multicultural Arts Management Internship Program places students and recent graduates at host arts organizations throughout the city. Participants find themselves thrust into a bustling and fast-paced city while working in various departments of institutions that are doing great work to enhance every discipline of the arts. As the students settle into their various organizations and departments, from development to programming to marketing, they not only rely on the support of their fellow peers but also on support from a volunteer mentor from the New York business community. This relationship is another avenue of development and investment–one that provides guidance as each intern navigates a new role, a new city, and their future plans. Read the rest of this entry »

Alex White-Mazzarella

Alex White-Mazzarella

 

It was about six years ago, in 2007, sitting in my small Hong Kong apartment, that I put down ideas for a work practice that would use public art and modern culture as means of developing community and habitat. A practice where the arts would be used not just as an aesthetic to beautify or to activate space, but as productions of communality with the residents of a place and through a process that would open a space for community members to develop and connect. It came from contact with arts in public spaces. Read the rest of this entry »

158 Years: An NYC Public Art Journey

Posted by Jennifer Lantzas On September - 5 - 2014
Jennifer Lantzas

Jennifer Lantzas

I am a firm believer that you have to understand where you have been to know where you are going—and public art in NYC has changed drastically over the past century and a half. The first sculpture in a New York City park was George Washington by Henry Kirk Brown, which was unveiled in Union Square in 1856. For the next 100 years public artworks were predominantly commemorative or memorial in nature—realistic representations of notable politicians, soldiers, and leaders.

By the 1960s, new ideas about what constituted artwork freed artists to explore new forms of materials and exhibitions. Sculpture grew beyond the constraints of studio and gallery spaces, and people embraced the social and political impact of art. With big sculptures, big ideas, and performance artists’ impromptu “happenings” in the City’s public spaces, it was only natural that visual artists wanted to bring their artwork outdoors. Read the rest of this entry »

Forming a Workers Public Art Practice….

Posted by Barrie Cline On September - 4 - 2014
Barrie Cline

Barrie Cline

Some years back, I was fortunate enough to be asked to develop an arts course for the mainly rank and file construction workers that are required by their union to attend our Labor College. I chose to develop a class on public art seeing it as a vehicle to take up issues around working class studies by initially focusing on the built environment of New York City, thinking that engagement might be sought as my (sometimes reluctant) students were builders of that environment.

The emphasis on NYC’s built environment in Tom Finkelpearl’s text Dialogues in Public Art proved one way to introduce this study, as well as to take up issues of representation and to open up what art can be and whom it can be for. At some point, it became obvious that the class actually should allow for making art, particularly after incorporatingreadings from Larry Shiner’s The Invention of Art which helped us look at the possible re-elevation of the construction tradesperson’s own artisanship, given Shiner’s argument that Fine Art is a relatively recent construct of the west in the eighteenth century. We began to think about work as art, and about making their labor—and the worker—more visible. Read the rest of this entry »

Public Art: A Personal Journey of Discovery

Posted by Todd Eric Hawkins On September - 2 - 2014
Todd Eric Hawkins

Todd Eric Hawkins

My path to a career in public art was not by personal design. I moved to New York City to get discovered as a performer and live the dream I had cultivated since birth (or at least since seeing Jennifer Holliday sing on the Tony Awards.) There were a few steps in that strategic plan that I had not taken into account, like surviving in New York City. I needed a survival job.

As an actor, I found a home with a children’s theater company, and paid my bills as an Executive Assistant. During the week I worked for the Dean of Columbia Business School, where I studied how he dealt with a Board and a staff, while on the weekends I was a beast, a mermaid king, a rocking horse, or a giant.

As the years and survival jobs passed, I began to realize that the arts field was much broader than I had realized. It offered many meaningful opportunities to engage with all types of audiences beyond the stage. Read the rest of this entry »

Are We Okay?

Posted by Jessica Wilt On August - 21 - 2014
Jessica Wilt

Jessica Wilt

With all the not so good news happening in the world lately – war along the Gaza Strip, new tensions flaring in Iraq, the aftermath in Afghanistan, and nationally; the racial chaos unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri along with the devastating passing of comedian and actor Robin Williams to depression and suicide – I find myself asking the question, “Are we okay?” The world could use a giant hug right now. I know I could use one.

If we’re not okay, what are some things we can do to make ourselves and our kids feel better? The combination of Arts Education with Social Service or Creative Youth Development are not necessarily partnerships we think of when it comes to the arts, but really, they are critical. We can talk all day until we’re blue in the face about the value of arts education in K-12 and higher education, arts integration, the new arts standards and common core, arts advocacy and many other reasons why we support arts education, but how often do we actually talk about the arts being a critical part of our daily physical, emotional and mental health? Read the rest of this entry »

Wearing MoMA, By UNIQLO

Posted by Caleb Way On July - 17 - 2014
Caleb Way

Caleb Way

As the Arts & Business Council of New York Program Coordinator for Americans for the Arts, I’m always on the lookout for great examples of partnerships between the arts and business. If you have found yourself on Fifth Avenue recently, you may not have had to look very far. You probably noticed a large “SPRZ NY” advertisement accenting the window of UNIQLO’s flagship store on the corner of 53rd Street. You may have also turned that corner and continued on to the Museum of Modern Art. This close proximity is just the start of a dynamic partnership between the two. SPRZ NY, UNIQLO’s latest collaboration with MoMA, its midtown neighbor, merges the worlds of visual art and fashion. The now global project, unveiled this past spring, celebrates innovative artists like Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock. The result is a line of clothing and accessories featuring art work from MoMA-approved artists originally and exclusively produced and sold in New York. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Only Make Believe…or is it?

Posted by Megan Stewart On July - 15 - 2014
Megan Stewart

Megan Stewart

Only Make Believe (OMB) is a non-profit that creates and performs interactive theatre for children in hospitals and care facilities in New York and Washington DC. OMB is dedicated to the principle that freeing the imagination is a valuable part of the healing process. We send a team of three professional actors into a hospital once a week for six weeks and the actors engage the children in a performance where each child becomes an integral part of each show. The children get to dress in a costume, take on different roles, and really just take an hour to laugh, play, and enjoy being a child rather than thinking about their treatment or being a patient. We want them to just have fun with “laughter being the best medicine” through the joy and escape that the theatre can provide.

My role at OMB is to manage our corporate relations efforts through volunteerism and sponsorship, and to coordinate OMB events including the annual gala on Broadway, young professionals and networking events, cocktail parties, and other various events. The majority of my job is spent running our corporate volunteer program which has grown steadily over the past six years. Read the rest of this entry »

Intro to the Arts Programs Enhanced by Vans Custom Culture Grants

Posted by Jeff Poulin On July - 14 - 2014
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

Earlier this summer, you may have read Kristen Engerbretsen’s, Americans for the Arts’ Education Program Manager, blog post about the final event of the 2013-14 Vans Custom Culture program in NYC. It was an exciting, inspiring and high-octane event honoring some of the most innovative shoe designs I have ever seen. Being able to spend time with Vans employees – a company that values the arts as a vital part of education, community and life as told by their Brand Manager in this blog – and the students whom they work with as part of this program, was definitely one for the books!

However, did you know that the Custom Culture program doesn’t end with a big party in NYC? Read the rest of this entry »

Andrew Horwitz

Andrew Horwitz

I have come to view human history as an epic tragedy of inadequate knowledge management. While I am dubious that we will ever finally solve the problem of knowledge lost across generations and cultures, much less the greater problem of recognizing wisdom when we see it, I’m hopeful that we can change our society’s perception of how history is constructed, and encourage a collaborative, peer-driven model of cultural discourse and documentation.

As Jamie Haft has inferred, it would be difficult to overstate the urgency around building new practices for discourse and documentation, not just in the field of community-based arts, but for society as a whole. We inhabit a moment of both great crisis as legacy systems fail and even greater opportunity to create new systems to supersede the old. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Brookfield Presents an Egg-cellent Performance

Posted by Nicole Glotzer On May - 2 - 2014
Nicole Glotzer

Nicole Glotzer

As part of Americans for the Arts’ Internship Program, my fellow interns and staff recently took an office field trip to see a unique public dance performance entitled Yolk by dance company Third Rail Projects. The performance was part of a series of events presented this spring at locations throughout Manhattan by Arts Brookfield, the cultural arm of Brookfield Office Properties. Yolk ran from April 8-10 at the plaza of the Grace Building, a Brookfield property located in Midtown Manhattan.

The piece featured two performers, one dressed in silver, the other in gold, dancing in and around large open eggshells accompanied by electronic music. Third Rail Projects is a multi-disciplinary performance company, and Yolk showcased Third Rail Projects’ explorations fusing dance, installation art, and performance in the public sphere. I watched as a crowd, made up of passersby and employees from nearby businesses (particularly the Grace Building), gathered to view the performance during their lunch hour and was able to see, firsthand, how such a performance could engage employees of the Grace Building and surrounding businesses. It was then that I realized that the performance was less about two girls dancing in fiberglass eggs, but rather the experience it was creating for those in attendance. Read the rest of this entry »

SarahBerry headshot

Sarah Berry

Artwork IS work. That is the credo many artists inherit. Artists learn not to give away their art or services, and good art lovers should know not to ask. Yet all artists have been approached to donate to a charity auction or volunteer to photograph an event, usually with the promise of great exposure and a free meal. But even an emerging, hungry, do-gooder artist like me knows the “I give it away for free” brand of exposure can be a slippery slope. A few rounds of generosity could gain me the reputation as an “artist philanthropist” and the requests for handouts—and the fear of decreased artwork values—that follow.

Even among artists, there is an expectation that certain art should be free (or at least on certain nights of the week, for students, seniors, practicing artists, friends of arts administrators, or library card holders.) Free events often come under the auspices of increasing arts access, though unfortunately busy and broke people with limited access to art (and transportation) may not have “Free Nights” on their radar, may feel uncomfortable attending, or may not be able to get there. The arts aren’t happening where they are, so making art free may not change the equation. Read the rest of this entry »

Funding Arts Education One Vans Custom Culture Sneaker at a Time

Posted by Jessica Wilt On April - 11 - 2014
Jessica Wilt

Jessica Wilt

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Vans Custom Culture Brand Marketing Manager Scott Byrer on a cold day in New York City to enthusiastically talk about the exciting ways Vans Custom Culture supports arts education in addition to the company’s thriving partnership with Americans for the Arts.  I loved the excitement in which Scott spoke about his passion for arts education.  Here is an excerpt of our conversation.

JW: I’d like to know more about the history of Vans and how the founders were inspired to launch a sneaker company.

SB: Vans was founded in 1966 by Paul and James Van Doren, Serge Delia and Gordon Lee. The company started small, with one store originally selling shoes directly to the public. In those days, customers were able to walk into a store and select their own custom shoe colors! This originality and creativity has remained an integral part of the Vans brand DNA to this day. The company grew quickly, being the first shoe brand to create a product specifically for skateboarding and as such, we’re known today as the original action sports footwear and apparel company, with collections including authentic footwear, apparel, accessories and snowboard boots that are sold globally in more than 170 countries. If you’re curious to see a visual story about the history of Vans, you can check out a video our production team created on our Off the Wall TV site.

4th Annual VANS Custom Culture, Hosted at THE WHITNEYJW: Can you tell me a little about how Van Custom Culture decided to start supporting high school arts education programs throughout the U.S.?

SB: Vans Custom Culture began as a much smaller project lead by a high school art teacher in Colorado, Franky Scaglione, and his best friend, Shawn Gruenhagen, who is a sales rep for Vans. The competition was originally held between classmates at Wheat Ridge High School in Denver who customized blank Vans shoes that Shawn brought them. It morphed into a larger, national high school art competition once Shawn brought the idea back to the Vans marketing team at our headquarters in Southern California. Using Franky and Shawn’s original concept of a competition around custom shoes, we launched the first national edition of Custom Culture in 2010. The goals of the program were the same then as they are now.  First, give high school students a chance to express themselves creatively. Second, put some much needed funds back into the hands of high school art programs. Third, create a platform to raise awareness for the importance of art education in our schools.

JW: And to think the inspiration came from an art teacher – I love that story! How does the competition work today?

SB: The competition structure is fairly simple. The first 2,000 U.S. based public or private high schools to register for Custom Culture receive four pairs of Vans shoes (106, Sk8-Hi, Slip On and Authentic) to customize completely free of charge. Each pair is then customized by students to represent one of four themes: Action Sports, Music, Art, and Local Flavor. Photo submissions are made online via the Vans Custom Culture website (Due April 7, 2014) after which an internal selection and external public vote whittles the entries down to a group of five finalists who travel to New York City for the Final Event. At this event, a panel of judges selects a grand prize winning school, which receives a $50,000 prize donation to its art program. Each of the four runners up also receive donations, along with two additional $10,000 donations awarded on behalf of our program partners, Journeys and truth, to two other finalist schools.

JW: How has your partnership with Americans for the Arts enhanced this Vans Custom Culture arts education funding program?

SB: Americans for the Arts established itself long ago as a leader in the effort to drive awareness for the importance of the arts and particularly art education in our schools. Since we began Custom Culture with the goal of raising awareness for the importance of art education, we knew that guidance from experts was necessary, leading us to partner with AFTA nearly two years ago. Their guidance has a allowed us to make an even greater impact via a $50,000 donation that AFTA then distributes amongst high schools via grants. Additionally, AFTA uses part of this donation to create educational materials distributed to various schools and community organizations.Vans Custom Culture Contest Final Event

JW: How does technology play a role in the work you do as well as how your colleagues at Vans collaborate?

SB: Technology is vital to nearly everything we do at Vans, from design to production to distribution and marketing. For Custom Culture in particular, members of a large cross functional team from various departments devote their time and energy to plan and execute this huge competition yearly, each of them relying on tech in one capacity or another. For instance, our in-house video production team uses state of the art technology to shoot, edit and produce video content that tells the story of Custom Culture. These videos are uploaded and shared to multiple interactive platforms online which are created and maintained by a team of web developers and interactive/digital managers that literally build our sites and social presences from scratch. Another great example is our visual team, who’s tasked with creating an incredible experience for students at our final event in June. This experience is planned via sophisticated 3D models which allow our team to visually transform the interior of our venue and throw an amazing party that the students remember forever. Lastly, our footwear design team works directly with the winning school’s students to take their shoe design and turn it into an actual production model that is then sold in Vans retail stores and online. Our entire employee base, regardless of whether or not they work on Custom Culture, is tasked with thinking creatively and many of us have an art education background or were inspired by an art teacher or class at some point. Custom Culture is meant to be a way for us to give that experience to students who may not be able to experience quality art education themselves.

JW: How does this work environment translate into inspiring young people to explore creative careers?

SB: Our work environment is incredibly creative. The mantra we live by daily at Vans is “Off The Wall” which directly translates to thinking and living creatively. Through programs like Custom Culture, we try to expose young people to the fact that creative careers exist and one need only look as far as the halls of Vans HQ to prove that.

JW: What’s your favorite pair of Vans shoes that you own?

SB: I’ve been wearing Authentics and Old Skools for years. There’s no substitute for a pair of original canvas Authentics!