“Shift Change”: Transitions in Public Art Programs Today

Posted by Kati Stegall On September - 2 - 2014

Oppenheim

Nationwide, it is no longer a question of whether or not the field of public art is going to change. It is more appropriate now to ask why the changes are happening and how can we keep up. Many of the changes observed and documented in Norie Sato’s blog from May, Is Public Art Dead?, are happening all over the country, including here in Charlotte. They are happening because we are reaching a point in the development of the field where there are some very specific “shifts” or transitions happening: in leadership, in program priorities, and also in communities themselves.

Leadership shifts are not easy to talk about, but the fact is in some cases the leaders who paved the way for public art for the last 30 – 40 years are retiring or moving on to other opportunities, leaving us with new leadership. This brings both advantages and disadvantages. There will be an experience gap, as new leaders emerging in public art have not experienced first-hand what former leaders have. But they also are approaching the challenges with an innate set of skills in technology and communication that is necessary to keep up in today’s world where information is everywhere. The biggest advantage we have at this point is the impact that these leaders and their work had on legislation, funding, and the general respect of artists and their art. They have laid a foundation that we need respect and take advantage of to move the field forward. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Vision for Arts Education

Posted by Ayanna Hudson On May - 28 - 2014
Ayanna Hudson

Ayanna Hudson

The Arts Endowment’s vision is that every student is engaged and empowered through an excellent arts education. This statement reflects a fundamental belief that all students should have the opportunity to participate in the arts, both in school and out of school. It also acknowledges the very real benefits of an arts education—students participating in the arts are engaged in life and are empowered to be fulfilled, responsible citizens who make a profound, positive impact on this world. I’d like to share with you what the NEA has learned about how to achieve this vision and steps we are taking to move this vision forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014

Posted by Randy Cohen On March - 20 - 2014
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”

This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:

“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”

With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

  • Which of these would you rank as #1?
  • Do you have a #11 to add?
  • Tell us in the comments below!

You can download this handy 1-pager here.

1. Arts promote true prosperity. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, art is salve for the ache.

2. Arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with just one-half year of arts or music. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Elsewhere: Digital storytelling and collaborative media production

Posted by Christopher Kennedy On March - 14 - 2014
Christopher Lee Kennedy

Christopher Lee Kennedy

In 2003, one woman’s 58-year collection of thrift was rediscovered by her grandson and transformed into a living museum and artist residency program called Elsewhere. Today, we invite artists from all over the world to create site-specific projects that respond to this collection, while working inside a three-story former thrift store in downtown Greensboro, NC. As the building and its contents are continually transformed into an evolving artwork, publics are invited daily to play, collaborate, and curate alongside this changing creative community.

As a teaching artist at Elsewhere, the museum and its vast collections provide a platform for learning projects, workshops, and tours that engage schools and publics across North Carolina. In 2012, we launched CoLab, a collaborative laboratory for youth-led media experiments and digital storytelling. Each CoLab session brings together a teaching artist and a group of youth to explore a theme or question, creating interactive media works that range from short films and live performances, to digital publications, websites, and sound recordings in response. Read the rest of this entry »

My Turn: For a Humane Tax Reform

Posted by John R. Killacky On August - 21 - 2013
John R. Kilacky

John R. Killacky

Vermont, like many states, is considering comprehensive tax reform. Committees in the Vermont Senate and House developed proposals last legislative session and systemic changes seem high on the agenda for the 2014 session. Key components focus on increasing the portion of personal income that is taxed by capping deductions, including charitable contributions.

If passed, this revision to the tax code would negatively affect the work of nonprofit organizations statewide.

Vermont’s robust nonprofit sector comprises nearly 4,000 human, social service, educational, religious, and cultural organizations, ranking us No. 1 per capita in the nation. The Vermont Community Foundation reported in 2010 that these agencies generate $4.1 billion in annual revenue and represent 18.7 percent of our gross state product.

Nonprofits deliver critical services that government alone cannot provide: sheltering, caring for, and feeding those less fortunate; early childhood education; and cultural enrichment are just a few examples. Nonprofits include schools, hospitals, churches, libraries, community health clinics, workforce development centers, mentoring programs, homeless shelters, food banks, theaters, and galleries.

Some focus on specific populations: providing safe spaces for women, LGBT youth, refugees, the disabled, and migrant workers. They range from small, volunteer-run groups to huge universities. Although more than 80 percent of Vermont’s nonprofits operate with budgets of less than $250,000 each year.

By delivering mission-related programs, nonprofits improve lives and transform communities. Investing in early intervention is more cost-effective than dealing with societal dysfunction later in life. Food and shelter vs. homelessness, after-school tutoring vs. illiteracy, involved children vs. disengaged teens, job skills training vs. unemployment, community vs. isolation — consider the alternatives. Read the rest of this entry »

New Cabinet Nominees Have Pro-Arts Records

Posted by Robert Lynch On June - 10 - 2013
Robert L. Lynch

Robert L. Lynch

Just a few weeks ago, President Obama nominated two talented and accomplished individuals to lead the U.S. Commerce Department and U.S. Transportation Department. Penny Pritzker of Chicago and Mayor Anthony Foxx of Charlotte were nominated to serve as Secretaries of Commerce and Transportation, respectively. I’m pleased to say that both have impressive connections to the arts and arts policy and this is encouraging because their agencies have been important to supporting the non-profit arts sector.

Americans for the Arts is working with both agencies to further an arts agenda. For example, I serve on the U.S. Travel & Tourism Advisory Board, which reports to the Commerce Secretary, on strategies to further our national, and international, travel and tourism sectors. The arts and culture are a major reason for tourists to visit the United States and through the Board’s advocacy subcommittee, which I lead, we are working on recommendations to strengthen the ease of travel; the security of our visa system; the support for our institutions, venues, and events; and the visitor experience. From a business sector perspective, our Arts & Economic Impact IV study shows that the nonprofit arts have a $135 billion a year economic impact, support 4.1 million jobs, and return almost $10 billion a year in revenue to the federal Treasury. The Commerce Department has many programs that our arts leaders and creative industries are pursuing and utilizing to support their businesses. Read the rest of this entry »

Small Enough to Succeed

Posted by Doug Borwick On December - 6 - 2012

Doug Borwick

I have, for most of my life, been suspicious of the “growth is good” assumption that we often make in this country or did as I was growing up. (Sometimes when I replay in my mind the famous Gordon Gecko speech from Wall Street, it’s not greed I hear him praise but growth.)

At the risk of appearing to trivialize something that is incredibly serious, cancer is a demonstration (an extreme one to be sure) that not all growth is beneficial. Less hyperbolically, the quest for resources to support program growth as well as the need for expanding infrastructure to sustain it often creates a situation in which the mission out of which the program sprang gets left in the dust. The attention required to amass funding and personnel gets in the way of focusing on the reason the program was created. But that is a systemic (and management theory) issue that I am sure others participating in this Blog Salon will address.

Some in the for-profit world have been questioning the merits of “bigness” for years. Right-sizing, just-in-time production, and Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept (for focus on a core) and “Stop Doing List” (one of my favorites) all address the issue that big is not necessarily better, even in financial terms. In the not-for-profit arts world, the recent University of Chicago study, Set in Stone arrives at a similar conclusion about the dangers of facilities creep.

My principal interest is in effective community engagement in the service of creating healthier communities. This work is relationship driven and relationships cannot be mass-produced. However, as I discussed in a blog post some time ago–The Magic of Small Groups–megachurches, in creating and nurturing small subsets of the whole, have discovered a volunteer-labor-intensive path around that problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Testing, 1, 2, 3: Measuring and Improving Your ROI

Posted by Katryn Geane On November - 15 - 2012

Katryn Geane

While sitting in the second row of seats looking at heat and confetti maps of sample websites, I was reminded of the number one reason I love attending the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC): all these smart people are sharing information that I get to go home and use, and everyone else will think I’m a genius.

OK, maybe not that last part, but how lucky can we get with colleagues who are willing to help us out like this? I’m as much of an internet nerd as the next new media manager, but it seems that there’s a new resource or tool every week that promises to track, update, monitor, and help you do something with your website, and I can’t be the only one who doesn’t have oodles of extra time to be cruising the internet testing new tools.

In the measuring and improving your ROI session, Caleb Custer and Dan Leatherman presented a metrics-driven and scientific method-inspired “try, learn, think” cycle for testing and implementing changes to an organization’s website.

By using tools they introduced as well as now old standards like Google Analytics, they urged us to “prove the user’s expectations right and they will feel more in control” (paraphrased from Jakob Nielson) and therefore happier with their experience with your site.

Plunk, Clue, Crazy Egg, and others were offered as options for testing user interface, and there were resources for tracking links, segmenting visitors, optimizing landing pages, and then even more about email layout and design, A/B testing…and so on, and so on…and more. 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 »

KRIS Wine ‘Art of Education’ Contest Winners Unveiled

Posted by Tim Mikulski On November - 13 - 2012

As you saw in a previous ARTSblog post, Brunswick Acres Elementary School in Kendall Park, NJ was very dedicated to winning the third annual “Art of Education” contest sponsored by KRIS Wine and Americans for the Arts.

Not only did this video help them jump out to an early lead, but it helped them score the top prize of $5,000 for their arts education programs:

Even more amazingly, they secured 16,000 of the 90,000 total votes in the contest!

Art teacher Suzanne Tiedemann plans to use the funds to support her recent “Shells for NJ Shores Program” for which students will create shell-themed art to raise money for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy late last month.

In addition, 15 other schools in 9 states will receive a total of $20,000. Read the rest of this entry »

The National Arts Marketing Project Conference Comes to Charlotte

Posted by Katherine Mooring On November - 9 - 2012

Katherine Mooring

“Charlotte in 2012” is becoming quite a theme this year, as we prepare to welcome more than 600 arts marketing and development practitioners from across the country to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC), November 9–12.

The National Arts Marketing Project is a program of Americans for the Arts that, in addition to the annual conference, hosts monthly webinars, organizes regional training programs, and provides on-site workshops on a range of arts marketing topics.

The three-and-a-half day NAMP Conference includes two full-day pre-conferences, four keynote addresses, and more than 100 presenters in more than 50 workshops and discussion groups. Attendees will gain new ideas to build audience, learn ways to stretch even the tightest budget, and discover methods to better engage donors. Past host cities include Louisville, KY, San Jose, CA, Providence, RI, Houston, TX, and Miami, FL.

Method Products Co-Founder and Chief Brand Architect Eric Ryan launches the 2012 Conference as the Opening Keynote. Nina Simon, author and executive director of the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, CA, will invigorate attendees on day two. The Conference closes with author and strategist Rohit Bhargava who will not only share his marketing expertise, but also his new book, Likeonomics, which was just named a must-read of 2012 by Forbes! (Editor’s Note: You can watch all of the keynotes live online!)

Individual session titles will tackle diverse topics like, Innovations That Pay: How Arts Organizations Are Adapting and Finding New Income Streams, Consumer Psychology: New Experiments That Use Science to Grow Your Audience, and The Win-Win: Arts Organizations and Businesses Partner to Achieve More. Read the rest of this entry »

On behalf of Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund, I wish to congratulate President Barack Obama and all of the national, state, and local elected leaders across the country who won their elections last night.

White House

President Obama will now have the opportunity to fully realize his vision for the arts and culture as he originally laid out four years ago. By successfully securing healthcare for artists, economic recovery funds that saved artists’ jobs through the National Endowment for the Arts, and ongoing support for appropriations that fund federal cultural agencies, the president has taken many steps in supporting the nonprofit arts sector.

We hope to encourage President Obama and his administration over the course of the next four years to remain focused on maintaining arts education in every classroom; allocating a larger budget for the arts as an economic generator for American jobs, products, and communities; and protecting charitable giving incentives that are the lifeblood of the nonprofit arts sector.

We are proud that the nonprofit arts sector has already played an important role in our nation’s economic recovery by generating $135 billion in economic activity, supporting 4.1 million jobs, and returning $22 billion in tax revenue back to federal, state, and local coffers.

Congress

The make up of the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate, with a few races still to be called, is poised to remain relatively the same with modest gains by Democrats in both chambers. In the House of Representatives, we are happy to report that Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) won re-election in a hard-fought campaign made difficult by New York’s congressional redistricting plan. Also, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) will continue to chair the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, ensuring a friend of the arts remains at the head of that very important panel. Read the rest of this entry »

A Moving Picture is Worth a Million Words

Posted by Katherine Mooring On October - 3 - 2012

Katherine Mooring

“Charlotte in 2012″ is becoming quite a theme this year, as we prepare to welcome our fabulous arts marketing and development peers from across the country to the National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference in November, just months after serving as the host for the recent Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Our arts community played a critical role in the DNC from day one—not only as a major player in the process that led to Charlotte’s selection as the convention site, but also as primary partners for major events like CarolinaFest 2012, delegate parties, and even The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which broadcast from the stage of our local children’s theatre.

Gearing up for this national spotlight gave our local arts marketing minds a chance to show off the myriad ways we impact and enliven our community like never before. Video emerged as the primary medium for these messages, as Charlotte artists and arts organizations told their stories to new, national audiences in creative and compelling ways. Here’s one example:

From the more formal, host-committee directed promotional pieces, to a visionary, community-side initiative known as the Charlotte Video Project. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts: Making a Difference at the DNC

Posted by Robert Lynch On September - 7 - 2012

Bob Lynch at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.

The Convention Halls are creative chaos. The streets are jammed with animated participants holding placards, engaged in heated dialogue and performing all kinds of issue-based street theater. The scent of policy is in the air. And it’s just the way I like it.

Here at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, the role of the arts is alive and well. What you see on TV is only part of what happens. Inside, actual policy is being discussed—not just broad themes, not just ideas, but approaches that will actually have an impact on lives and on communities.

I am here talking to these very political leaders about the value of the arts and arts education in American society, and I simply have to ask them to look out the window for them to get the point. My US Airways Magazine told the story clearly on my way in, ticking off dozens of cultural destinations awaiting convention delegates.

During our ArtsSpeak panel discussion in Charlotte on the future of arts and arts education in America, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright spoke about cultural diplomacy, a critical foreign policy tool. She also noted how the arts helped shape international political dialogue both formally through U.S.-sponsored jazz and dance and other art forms, and informally by every day actions.

On a personal level, Secretary Albright—famous for her collection of handcrafted brooches—told the story of how she would wear them as subtle symbols of mood or maybe a hint at national policy intent. For example, she wore a serpent pin when meeting with Saddam Hussein. It also turns out that she is a pretty good drummer—and goes by the nickname “Sticks.”

The discussion also showcased how the arts have proven to be so far-reaching. Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley discussed the need for continued focus on national education policies that would steer local and state decision-makers to enhance and support expanded art and music education in the local curriculum. The only state-level cabinet member in the country dedicated to arts and culture, Secretary Linda Carlisle of North Carolina, highlighted how cultural tourism is a huge job creator. Read the rest of this entry »

Documenting the Return On Our Investments

Posted by Robert Bush On July - 11 - 2012

Robert Bush

We love data at the Arts & Science Council (ASC).

We are fortunate to have access to resources, but we also have to make choices about how we direct them to support the sector, and research pays off every time. It allows us to connect with donors, elected officials, the chamber of commerce, and others about the impact of programs and services, as well as economic development efforts.

We are also fortunate to have the resources to commission research. For 10 years we have done a public opinion telephone survey through the Urban Institute at UNC-Charlotte. Since 2006, we have worked with WESTAF on the Creative Vitality™ Index; but, our biggest research partner has been and continues to be Americans for the Arts. Whether it is annual local arts agency surveys, past salary surveys, or United Arts Fund surveys, we fill them out.

While we love all of our partners, the most important (and requested) research we share with stakeholders is the results of our Arts & Economic Prosperity economic impact study conducted every five years.

Yes, it requires staff time to remind and nudge, coordinate audience intercept surveys, and make certain that every local cultural group had the opportunity to participate. Thanks to the vision of the North Carolina Arts Council, beginning with Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, we have statewide data and information on each of the regional economic development areas of the state.

You may think, those people in Charlotte have more money than sense to be investing in all this data, but this data gets us noticed—by donors, corporations, elected officials, chambers of commerce, and the list goes on.

I believe in art for art’s sake but I also know that numbers matter—balanced budgets, profits, and attendance figures to name a few. They help us tell our story in terms that people can understand. Read the rest of this entry »

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.