The Role of the Arts Specialist

Posted by Lauren Hess On May - 19 - 2015
Lauren Hess

Lauren Hess

Public schools are full of turmoil these days. Debate over the shift to the Common Core Standards that has taken place over the last few years is causing tension. Teachers are working overtime to figure out the new standardized tests that have been created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to assess the new standards. People are concerned about the amount of standardized testing occurring in our schools throughout the year. Most recently, parents in some communities are taking action and pulling their children from taking the standardized tests. Read the rest of this entry »

The Intersection of Public Art and Arts Education

Posted by Patricia Walsh On May - 4 - 2015
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

Patricia Walsh

Patricia Walsh

Across the country, the arts are changing: demographics are shifting, modes of artistic participation are becoming more diverse, and once segmented artistic practices are converging. These changes ring true for both public art and arts education, and over the past year these respective fields have been discussing their convergence.

The Public Art and Arts Education Programs at Americans for the Arts endeavor to explore this intersection, better understand the potential for collaborations, and create tools and resources for encouraging inter-sector cooperation.

As a first step, we have begun to research the shared space. There is an inherent connection between the intrinsic goals of both areas of artistic study and practice. Read the rest of this entry »

Sharing Transformative Histories is Everybody’s Responsibility!

Posted by Tia Harris On April - 30 - 2015
Tia Powell Harris

Tia Powell Harris

What’s a Weeksville?

Established in 1838, Weeksville became the second largest known independent African American community in pre-Civil War America, the only such community whose residents were distinctive for their urban rather than rural occupations, and the only one that merged into a neighborhood of a major American city after the Civil War. Therefore, Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC) is a nationally significant American historic site and a documented example of an intentional, independent African American community.

Amazed and Appalled!

I first arrived to WHC as a candidate for the position of Executive Director on a wet and chilly February evening in 2014. I had no idea that my ancestral memory was about to be awakened by a soul-stirring experience with the Historic Hunterfly Road Houses, the sole remaining domestic structures of the historic Weeksville Community. Read the rest of this entry »

One-Time Mentoring Has a Big Impact

Posted by Kimberli Picarillo On April - 27 - 2015
Kim Picarillo

Kim Picarillo

Free Arts NYC provides underserved children and families in New York City with a unique combination of arts education and mentoring that helps them to develop self confidence and resiliency needed to realize their fullest potential. While most Free Arts programs provide long term mentoring opportunities, our Free Arts Days are one-time “pop up art festivals” in which corporate volunteers are paired 1-on-1 with a child.

Long term mentoring has many proven benefits: increased confidence & self esteem, children more likely to attend college and grow up to give back to their communities, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as skipping school or abusing drugs, just to name a few. However, Free Arts see that even one-time pairings have positive effects on both corporate volunteers and children. Read the rest of this entry »

Art in Motion: Monmouth Arts and New Jersey Transit

Posted by Mary Fouratt On April - 23 - 2015
Mary Eileen Fouratt

Mary Eileen Fouratt

Formed in 2011 and led by Monmouth Arts, the MoCo Arts Corridor Partnership is a creative placemaking initiative that brings artists, arts groups, municipal art councils, creative businesses, local and regional tourism offices, the County Economic Development, Tourism and Planning Offices, and NJ Transit together to establish coastal Monmouth County as a cultural destination. The 41 towns from Matawan to Manasquan are rich with over 50 arts organizations both large and small and include the major arts hubs of Red Bank, Long Branch, and Asbury Park as well as smaller towns with active grassroots arts groups. Read the rest of this entry »

Doug Israel

Doug Israel

Urban school districts, such as New York and Chicago, are taking bold steps to expand the school day curriculum and once again invest in arts education. After years of budget cuts, and a narrowing of curriculum at public schools across the country, cities are taking action.

Owing largely to mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, school districts of all sizes spent recent years focusing educational goals very narrowly on improving test scores in just two subject areas—English Language and Math. This focus came at the expense of the arts, music, and other subject areas that were not being tested.

Fortunately, the tide may be turning, and arts education may be making comeback. Read the rest of this entry »

Neighbors and Strangers

Posted by Caron Atlas On February - 3 - 2015
Caron Atlas

Caron Atlas

“We fought poverty, violence and blight, and we made the Southside a better place to live. We are now strangers in our own neighborhood, and it’s painful.”

These words from longtime Brooklyn resident and community leader Evelyn Cruz at a forum about gentrification in Williamsburg have stuck with me for years. I thought of them as we created Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York (NOCD-NY), a citywide alliance of artists, cultural organizations, and community leaders coming together to revitalize New York City from the neighborhood up. And I’m thinking about them now as I write this blog about cultural districts and communities as catalysts of change. How can we make sure that our work does not make people strangers in their own neighborhoods? Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education: Ten Things to Remember from 2014

Posted by Jeff Poulin On January - 9 - 2015
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

I can now affirmatively say that I have been at Americans for the Arts for over a year! Woohoo! …And what a year it has been.

Each month the Arts Education Advisory Council of Americans for the Arts has a monthly call. In December, we sat on the call reflecting on the previous year and what we had all accomplished personally, collectively, and throughout the field. In my role as the Arts Education Program Coordinator, I am privileged to see a lot of things that happen on a national scale across the country, and the council often provides insight into the impacts of these trends or brings my attention to something that is up-and-coming before it has actually made a splash.

In our reflective state, we began compiling a list of the ten things that every arts-interested person should know about arts education from 2014 – it was an incredible year! Read the rest of this entry »

Freestyle Love Supreme Shows Some Love for Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On December - 10 - 2014
Kristen Engebretsen

Kristen Engebretsen

Freestyle Love Supreme. It sounds a bit like a funk band from the 70’s. It’s not. It’s an improv group that uses freestyle rap as its style. The group has been described as a mashup between the Wu-Tang Clan and Whose Line is it Anyway. They’re featured on a new reality show on Pivot TV, where they take their freestylin’ to the streets and schools of NYC.

As part of all new content created at Participant Media (the parent company of Pivot TV and producers of An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman, and The Help), the company uses its social platform, TakePart, to encourage readers to take action around a cause inspired by the content. In this case Freestyle Love Supreme inspired an action campaign about the importance of arts education called Love Arts Ed. Since we here at Americans for the Arts do indeed Love Arts Ed, we caught up with the leader of Freestyle Love Supreme, Anthony Veneziale, to ask him about his passion for improv, and how it connects to arts education. Answers are edited for brevity. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s volunteerism anyway? A recap of ABCNY’s Arts Volunteer Fair

Posted by Kellyn Lopes On December - 4 - 2014
Kellyn Lopes

Kellyn Lopes

The Wix Lounge, an impressive space for communal offices in Chelsea, Manhattan, is usually bustling with young tech entrepreneurs, artists, and freelance professionals. On Tuesday, November 18th, the Arts & Business Council of New York transformed the space into a new community: a networking event for arts organizations and business professionals interested in volunteerism. Almost twenty arts organizations, ranging from Carnegie Hall and the Bronx Museum, to TaDa! Youth Theater and ProjectArt, shared volunteer opportunities for professionals looking to get involved.

At the event, I was able to get the scoop about trends in arts volunteerism and the types of volunteer opportunities available. Here’s what I found:

The arts are a catalyst for volunteer work

Diane Conroy, Manager of Corporate Programming at Free Arts NYC, told me a fantastic story. Free Arts NYC provides arts educational and mentorship programs free of charge to underserved youth and families in New York City. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s time to Replace the “Broken Window” with a “Scaffold Up.”

Posted by Amy Sananman On November - 21 - 2014
Amy Sanamman

Amy Sanamman

A year ago, New York City voted in its first new mayor in 12 years. The city council election resulted in new members in almost half of the 51 seat council. It was an exciting time for the progressive communities—for all those that have fought for social change through the fields of education, immigration reform, fair wages, affordable housing or, of course, the arts. While the Mayor’s new platform addressed many of these items, it did not include an arts agenda or integrate a strategy to use arts and culture to support a more just and equitable city for all. Over the past few months, I have seen NYC—its new administration and city council—struggle with finding new frameworks. I have been thinking about how the aesthetics of language and framing influence how we understand our communities, their challenges, opportunities, the role of arts, and how policies may be considered. One example of this is how NYC is grappling with the broken windows theory and its legacy. Read the rest of this entry »

A Brute in America: Poetry and an Interrogation of Violence

Posted by Patrick Rosal On November - 19 - 2014
Patrick Rosal headshoast

Patrick Rosal

I’ve been in a bunch of fistfights. I fought many years into my adult life. After brawling, me and dudes in my crew would slip from the scene, hit a diner, order burgers or late-night breakfasts, then tell stories of what just went down. We recalled the damage. We reconstructed the fragments of how the fight started and who was where and what happened in what order.  We talked about what startled us and even what amazed us or made us laugh. Mostly, fear, sorrow, and regret went unsaid. Then, we all went home.

The inner life for people of color contains whole landscapes. Read the rest of this entry »

Rebuilding Fort Worth’s Business Volunteers for the Arts Program

Posted by Wendy Taliaferro On November - 11 - 2014
Wendy Taliaferro

Wendy Taliaferro

For those readers who may not know a ton about Fort Worth, our city has an incredibly unique and growing arts and culture scene. Approximately 40 minutes from Dallas, Fort Worth has a little bit of everything. From world-class museums, eclectic gallery spaces, and an emerging music scene, this city has a fantastic variety for arts lovers.

As an employee of the Arts Council of Fort Worth, I work in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, a public space that promotes the talents of local artists, musicians, actors, and dancers. During my time at the Arts Council, I have quickly learned that public programs and spaces are a vital piece to Fort Worth’s cultural success. With that said, I started my job at the Arts Council of Fort Worth over six months ago with an inactive Business Volunteers for the Arts® (BVA) program on my desk. In the past, our BVA program had blips of success, offering assistance to local arts organizations here and there. However, I began looking into the chapters in larger cities and noticed that this program could and should have a greater impact on our community with the amount of artists and business professionals working closely together. Read the rest of this entry »

What the Midterm Elections Mean for the Arts: Summary of 2014 Election

Posted by Nina Ozlu Tunceli On November - 6 - 2014
Nina Ozlu Tunceli

Nina Ozlu Tunceli

Narric Rome

Narric Rome

In this year’s midterm elections, Republicans took back the Senate, kept control of the House and won governorships in 31 states and counting. What does that mean for you and for us, as strong advocates of the arts and arts education? Here we break down the national, state, and local results – and their potential impact on the arts:

 

In Congress

The U.S. Senate will be Republican-led. This means all Senate committees will see new chairmen, and since those committees control and recommend federal spending, these new chairmen could have significant impact on federal arts funding. Read the rest of this entry »

A Sea Change in the Volunteer Landscape

Posted by Amy Webb On October - 24 - 2014

Adapting to a shift in the volunteer landscape is one of the exciting challenges that the Arts & Business Council of New York (ABC/NY) and many arts organizations now face. As a new team running ABC/NY, my colleague Caleb Way and I are putting our heads together to come up with innovative ideas to expand and modernize our local volunteer matching program. To give some context, the Business Volunteers for the Arts® (BVA) program was founded by ABC/NY in 1975 with the mission of serving to connect nonprofit arts organizations with pro bono volunteers. However, as web-based volunteer matching services such as VolunteerMatch and Taproot have taken off, and businesses expand their volunteer or corporate responsibility (CSR) programs to include more expansive and flexible options for employee engagement, the old model of staff-managed volunteer matchmaking is simply not enough. ABC/NY’s new strategic direction combines the idea of volunteer matching with a much broader menu of employee engagement options. Read the rest of this entry »