Emerging Ideas: Mobilizing Your Community through Innovation

Posted by Gabriela Jirasek On November - 22 - 2011

Gabriela Jirasek

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.

It’s not just the Angelina Jolies and Brad Pitts of the world who fall victim to the ruthless 24-hour news cycle. The public’s hunger for uncomplicated, easily digestible news can slander celebrities and entire cities alike.

On January 11, 2011, Newsweek magazine published a now infamous article titled “America’s Dying Cities.” It crunched U..S census data to list the top-10 cities with 100,000 residents or more that experienced the steepest population decline in the country.

Number 10 on that list was Grand Rapids, MI. But the residents of Grand Rapids were about to prove that the reports of their city’s death were greatly exaggerated.

In answer to the article, lifelong Grand Rapids residents and filmmakers Rob Bliss and Scott Erickson created perhaps the greatest letter to the editor of all time,  a 10-minute lip dub music video of Don McClean’s “American Pie” featuring a cast of thousands and a full tour of downtown Grand Rapids.

Responding to the city’s premature death knell, director and executive producer explained, “We disagreed strongly, and wanted to create a video that encompasses the passion and energy we all feel is growing exponentially, in this great city. We felt Don McLean’s ‘American Pie,’ a song about death, was in the end, triumphant and filled to the brim with life and hope.

Read the rest of this entry »

Grand Rapids Fights Back…With Music

Posted by Theresa Cameron On June - 9 - 2011

Theresa Cameron

“I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore” was a famous line from the 1976 movie Network, but it could also be the theme for the folks in Grand Rapids, MI.

Newsweek’s website published an article declaring Grand Rapids a dying city on January 21, 2011 (along withfellow Michigan cities Flint, Detroit, and 7 others).

The mayor, citizens, and most importantly an artist decided to fight back.

Artist Rob Bliss (a college-aged musician, social media expert, and event planner) and a friend, raised nearly $40,000 to make a LipDub video of DonMcLean’s classic “American Pie” as a way to demonstrate the vibrant community that GrandRapids is.  Read the rest of this entry »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

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.