While Brunswick Acres has taken a significant lead in the KRIS Wine “Art of Education” competition thanks to a creative student-made music parody, it’s not too late for your favorite school to jump into the top 16 schools by using the following tips…

1. Get the press involved: Write a persuasive letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Or invite a journalist to your school to showcase the financial need, meet the principal and art teachers, and see first-hand the energy of the students.

2. Go digital: Create a website, blog, or YouTube video about the contest—be sure to include the reasons why you need their vote! Collaborate with other students, families, and community members, and assign every person a specific role (ex. videographer, writer, editor, designer).

3. Break out the art supplies: Make posters or fliers to distribute around your town. Drop them off at your local library, beauty salons, and supermarkets.

4. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP: What’s that sound? Your daily reminder to vote! Set a daily alarm clock on your watch or cell phone to remind yourself to vote and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Just be sure to set the alarm for a time of day you won’t distract others—and when you’ll be near a computer to vote! Read the rest of this entry »

Audience Development, Venn Diagram Edition

Posted by Nina Simon On October - 4 - 2012

Nina Simon

A lot of conversations I have about audience development with organizational leaders go something like this:

“We want to find ways to make our institution more participatory and lively.”
“Great!”
“We want to cultivate a more diverse audience, especially younger people, and we want to do it authentically.”
“Fabulous!”
“But our traditional audience doesn’t come for that, and we have to find a way to do this without making them uncomfortable.”
“Hm.”

Audience development is not an exercise in concentric circles. You can’t just start with who you already have in the middle and build infinitely outward. In most cases, growth means shifting, and shifting means that some people leave as others come.

This is incredibly scary. It requires trading a certain history for an uncertain future—a nerve-wracking prospect no matter the situation. It’s particularly scary if your institution relies primarily on private donors, members, and gate sales to cover operating costs. When funding is tied to a specific subset of your audience, you get protective of them, even if they are not the people most likely to ensure viability and sustainability in the future.

When I took on the director role at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, we were in a dangerous situation. We had a small cohort of members and donors who loved and supported us. Outside of that, our bench was very thin—no brand recognition, no up-and-coming audience, no big funders with an eye on the future of the organization.

Now, a year later, we’ve more than doubled our attendance, increased membership by 30%, attracted national foundation funders, and gotten great ink locally. Our audience has gotten younger and they come more frequently. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Arts Agency Fills in the Arts Education Gap for School District

Posted by Rob Schultz On August - 21 - 2012

Rob Schultz

One of the more disturbing trends in our local public schools is the reduction of classroom time devoted to non-tested subjects. Despite the arts being labeled as “core,” tested areas of the curriculum are among the few things receiving adequate time and resources from strapped school districts.

Going the way of the horse-drawn carriage are things like music, chorus, theater, and visual arts, as well as formerly routine components of a well-rounded education such as recess, and field trips.

For those of us who work outside of public school systems but are determined to provide children with quality arts opportunities, one answer lies in building effective partnerships with our schools.

For many years (decades, actually) the Mesa Arts Center has worked with our local public school system as a partner in delivering accessible programs. For several years, grant funding allowed us to bring fifth graders from a 100 percent at-risk school to our arts center for targeted, afterschool activities in both visual and performing arts, taught by our full-time arts instructors. While the school didn’t have resources for transportation, our grant provided it—from school to the arts center, and we took them home.

More recently, for the last six years the arts center has used funding from our own Foundation to present our “Basic Arts” program at another elementary school. This program focuses on literature, with the school hosting our teaching artists and kids learning about a literary story. As a finale, the students are brought to the arts center to see the story performed live on the stage of one of our theaters, followed by talk-back and Q&A with the actors and director.

As we saw the results of these two programs and the benefits they bring to underserved children, we committed to hiring a full-time Arts Education Outreach Coordinator to really move things into high gear and create other partnerships.

Under her direction, we began a Creative Aging Program that brings a visual artist and a dance artist to assisted living facilities to work with ambulatory seniors, as well as a group of seniors afflicted with dementia; the Culture Connect Program, which provides free theater tickets to area schools so their students can attend performances, participatory activities, workshops, literature, and live artist demonstrations; and a comprehensive Jazz A to Z Program that uses the National Endowment for the Arts’s Jazz Curriculum as a guide to provide students opportunities to improvise, analyze, synthesize, engage in group collaborations, develop an individual voice, and broaden cultural perspectives—all through the uniquely American medium of jazz. Read the rest of this entry »

Chad Barger

Just like most small to medium-sized metro areas around the country, Harrisburg, PA has not always fully capitalized on the power of its local arts scene. About eighteen months ago the Cultural Enrichment Fund (CEF), the region’s united arts fund, sought to change this.

When looking for a community partner, the organization first thought of the local chamber of commerce. As its name states, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corporation is a blended organization—part chamber of commerce and part economic development corporation. Knowing this fact, CEF had high hopes that they would understand the power of the arts—especially regarding its workforce development benefits.

After an initial meeting it was clear that the chamber leadership did understand the value of the arts, but it was not from local advocacy efforts. They knew about the value of the arts from national conferences where topics such as Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class, had been discussed. From these sessions they fully understood that attracting and retaining high-quality talent, versus a singular focus on infrastructure projects such as sports stadiums, iconic buildings, and shopping centers, is a better use of a city’s resources to spur long-term prosperity.

From this starting point it was easy for the Cultural Enrichment Fund staff to explain how the arts fit into that picture. Showing how the arts make Central Pennsylvania a better place in which to live, work, and play and explaining that a strong arts community is a key workforce development tool is something that they do every day.

The chamber executives were on board, but it was pretty clear that there was a disconnect. While it seemed that most business executives knew about the region’s thriving arts scene, it was not always being used as a tool for employee recruitment and retention by corporate human resources directors. So, CEF proposed partnering with the chamber to co-sponsor an Arts Impact Committee aimed at addressing this disconnect and the chamber quickly signed on. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Joelle Lien

Like in many other states, arts and education leaders in Utah are concerned that children in elementary schools are not receiving high-quality, regular instruction in the arts. As a result of these concerns, a unique and comprehensive set of arts education collaborations is taking shape in the state.

Due in large part to the visionary leadership and financial support of philanthropist Beverley Taylor Sorenson, partnerships between colleges of fine arts and colleges of education, as well as with the state office of education, school districts, and various arts organizations are thriving and growing at an amazing pace.

As a result of these collaborations, people whose paths may otherwise never have crossed are instead working closely together to ensure that Utah children receive an education that includes high-quality arts learning and art-making experiences.

Building Relationships

Faculty and administrators within and across universities throughout Utah are working together as never before, collaborating in planning, teaching, researching, community engagement, and advocacy. In March, deans of Utah’s colleges of fine arts and university arts educators met for a statewide “Arts Education Summit” to share successes at their respective institutions and to develop strategic goals for expanding and improving elementary arts education.

Out of that meeting came action items that included the development of a “wiki” for comparing arts education curricular requirements across universities, as well as a plan to expand the reach of the summit to include stakeholders in colleges of education. Then, in July, deans of colleges of fine arts and education met to discuss topics based the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools report.

Topics of discussion included how university arts and education programs can: build collaborations, expand teaching opportunities for the arts in K-12 schools, influence policymakers to reinforce the place of the arts in schools, widen our research focus to include evidence gathering on K-12 arts education, and prepare pre-service teachers to provide high-quality arts instruction in their future classrooms. Read the rest of this entry »

Joan Goshgarian

“It’s easy for me to be passionate about producing beautiful photography. It’s a lot harder to get excited about the mundane details of running my photography business. This conference was an excellent source of information on legal details that are an important part of any artist’s business. Although it would be impossible to get all the answers in one day, I now have a better idea of the questions to ask. I also made connections with other artists and organizations that can help me strengthen my business.”  ~ Becky Field, Photographer, Concord, NH

So begins the feedback from the attendees at the Arts, Culture, and Law Conference that the New Hampshire Business Committee for the Arts (NHBCA) sponsored in June along with the New Hampshire Departments Cultural Resources and Justice, the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) School of Law. The conference was designed for members of the arts and cultural industry, artists and organizations and board members, as well as legal professionals interested in cultural issues.

I was involved with this conference because the NHBCA started the Lawyers for the Arts/New Hampshire program in 1991 with our member law firms to offer arts-related legal assistance on a no-fee basis to artists and organizations.

In 2002, the NHBCA established a relationship with the UNH School of Law (then known as the Franklin Pierce Law Center) in Concord to refer these artists and arts organizations to the on-site clinic at their school.

The clinic is student-staffed and faculty-supervised, and in general assists people in civil matters who are unable to pay. In addition, UNH School of Law is a specialist in intellectual property matters and has a history of assisting those with issues in a variety of creative fields. Since the inception of the Lawyers for the Arts hundreds of artists and arts organizations have used this service.

In conjunction with the beginnings of the Lawyers for the Arts program, the NHBCA member law firms also created a booklet “Incorporation and Tax Exemption for New Hampshire Arts and Other Nonprofit Organizations: An Introductory Guide.” They responded to our request for this publication because we all have a demonstrated belief in and commitment to the importance of the arts and entire nonprofit community in New Hampshire. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating Six Months of The pARTnership Movement!

Posted by Marisa Muller On July - 19 - 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, put on your party hats as July marks six months since the official launch of The pARTnership Movement!

Introduced in January, The pARTnership Movement is an initiative from Americans for the Arts to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can boost their competitive advantage.

To commemorate this momentous occasion, we are celebrating in a BIG way on a BIG screen in the BIG city. This week (July 16–July 22) this pARTnership Movement video is being  featured on MTV’s 44 ½ HD video screen, located in the heart of New York City’s Times Square:

So, what we have accomplished over the past six months?

Well…a LOT! We have launched our website which includes a list of the eight reasons to partner with the arts (también en español!) and examples of successful pARTnerships across the country.

If you are interested forming a pARTnership locally, we have provided you with tool kits such as the pARTnership Starter Kit, Building a pARTnership on Your Own, pARTnering with Small or Midsized Businesses, and Bringing the Arts into the Workplace. These resources provide you with all the necessary information to successfully engage in a pARTnership. Read the rest of this entry »

A quartet plays as part of Beet Street’s Streetmosphere summer program.

It seems like the arts are finally gaining some traction—the whole country is paying attention to arts as an economic driver.

The National Governors Association just released a great new study that identifies five tactics for using arts, culture, and the creative industry as economic development tools.

They are actually encouraging state governments to include the arts and creative businesses in their economic development strategies, providing new incentives and programs that can help our industry grow and finally be counted for the incredible impact we have on the economy.

Here in Fort Collins, our community has embraced the notion that our community is better because of its arts for years. We have won numerous nationwide awards including Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live.” The awards are due the incredible quality of life we enjoy—thanks in large part to the many artists and arts organizations who make our whole town buzz with activity and creativity.

Last year, Fort Collins was also awarded the 2011 Governor’s Arts Award by Colorado Creative Industries and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade that recognizes a Colorado community for their collective efforts to enhance their community and their economy through strategic use of the arts.

What helped set the stage for the Governor’s Award included the Downtown Development Authority’s formulation of Beet Street in 2007 and the adoption of the City of Fort Collins Cultural Plan by the Fort Collins City Council in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Tracy Graziani

At the recent Americans for the Arts Annual Convention the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV research was released to the public and the media. One of the trends noted in the presentation is the increasing urbanization of America. More and more people are moving to cities. This reality is posing unique challenges for small and medium-sized cities and towns.

In the 90s the big box stores descended upon Middle America with pervasive force, edging out “mom and pop shops” left and right. Some bemoaned the change, others viewed it as progress, and ultimately the “boxes” took over.

In the recent economic downturn many of those big box stores have left small towns, or significantly reduced their inventory. Now the residents can’t buy what they need at the big box or the “mom and pop,” so they turn to the internet or drive to a larger town. Of course the problem with this is that the commerce is then benefiting another community either where the online business resides or simply a bigger city in another county nearby.

The decreased tax revenue as well as the loss of commerce has a direct negative impact on the livability of these communities. Either the taxes have to go up or public services like nonprofits, schools, police, fire, and roads suffer. At least in our small town, the latter is what we have faced.

This leads us back to where we started—the research. When the livability of a community is subpar, educated and affluent people are more likely to leave, hence the migration to larger cities and towns. Some people even refer to this migration as “brain drain.”

Mansfield, OH, is a town that typifies this scenario. The arts organizations, nonprofits, and public services are all struggling to find their way in an economy that is increasingly unfriendly to small towns. The people of Mansfield, like the people in countless small towns across America, love their community and have high hopes for reviving their hometown. They have come together in some interesting ways as we adapt to the tougher times. Read the rest of this entry »

Economic Data Provides the Base for Public and Private Sector Advocacy

Posted by Jennifer Cover Payne On July - 12 - 2012

Jennifer Cover Payne

Eighteen years ago there was little research documenting the economic impact of arts and culture in the Greater Washington DC metropolitan region. The key advocacy message focused primarily on the intrinsic value of arts and its ability to transform communities.

Most of the information conveyed was subjective or limited to research conducted by specific arts organizations for their marketing purposes. The organizations, all part of the DC metropolitan region, did not cross jurisdictional boundaries to collaborate as research partners. The Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP) studies eliminated the regional jurisdictional research barriers.

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington connects the six leaders of the arts councils and commissions representing: the District of Columbia; the City of Alexandria in Virginia; Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia; and, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland. The arts council and commission leaders meet several times a year under the umbrella of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington to discuss their arts projects, regional arts challenges, and successes.

Before the economic downturn, when local governments had more money, the AEP studies were part of the rationale that the city and council members used to grant millions of dollars to arts organizations that were building new or renovating old venues. Now the data supports the budget decision-making process for the arts and is essential to the vitality of arts programs throughout the region. Read the rest of this entry »

San Jose: The Arts at the Heart of Economic and Cultural Development

Posted by Kerry Adams-Hapner On July - 12 - 2012

Kerry Adams-Hapner

Let me begin by saying this: art is at the heart of everything we do. Preserving, advancing, and celebrating culture and expression is our fundamental mission here in San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA).

We strategically position that mission to align with economic development goals, which is authentic to our city’s culture and climate, benefits the sector and enables us to advance our core mission. I don’t have that “intrinsic” versus “instrumental” debate; intrinsic impact is a foregone conclusion for me and the economic benefits enable strategic alignment, a.k.a. partnerships and resources.

In San Jose, the OCA is a division of the Office on Economic Development. I am both the Director of Cultural Affairs and a Deputy Director of Economic Development. Recognizing that a vibrant community attracts talent, and talent attracts companies, our economic development strategy fosters the vital cycle between cultural development (the arts), workforce development (the people), and business development (the companies).

We fulfill our cultural development goals through three primary strategies: attracting and retaining destination quality events; promoting high quality public art and placemaking; and providing arts industry support.

We foster the arts industry through nonprofit grants and support, cultural facility management, and support for creative entrepreneurs—comprised of artists and the commercial creative sector. Each function has its inherent, intrinsic cultural value—celebrating heritage, creativity, and the arts. And yet, we celebrate and amplify the economic side of these functions—culture as a catalyst for business through the nonprofit and commercial industries.It is also a means of building a sense and brand of place, a magnet to attract other industries. Read the rest of this entry »

Olga Garay

With a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative received in 2009, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA/LA) launched the planning stages for the “Broadway Arts Center” (BAC).

Envisioned as a mixed-use affordable artists’ housing, performance/exhibition space, educational facility, and creative commercial center, and located in the Historic Broadway Theater District in downtown Los Angeles, the birthplace of vaudeville and cinema in the city, the BAC has been embraced by city government and the arts community alike.

In spite of its rich history and tremendous future potential, Broadway is currently viewed as not meeting its potential in a number of different ways. Broadway bustles during the day, but merchants are struggling with a 15–20 percent ground floor vacancy rate. This ground floor struggle is made worse when viewed in the context of more than a million square feet of vacant space in the upper floors along Broadway.

And while some theatres have been reactivated, most of the glorious historic theaters do not offer regular entertainment programming, and Broadway doesn’t serve the needs of the diverse downtown community—especially at night. DCA/LA strongly believes that this situation will quickly turn around when a cadre of artists, professors, and college students, living and working in the area, make Downtown their home.

Led by DCA/LA, the core project team includes the City Planning Department’s Urban Design Studio and Bringing Back Broadway, a 10-year initiative to revitalize the historic Broadway corridor.

Nonprofit partners include The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, a service organization dedicated to creating affordable housing for performing arts professionals; Artspace, the country’s premier organization dedicated to developing affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations; Local Initiative Support Corporation, an organization dedicated to helping nonprofit community development organizations transform neighborhoods; and the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts), an award-winning higher education institution dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Boise: “The Athens of the Desert” Continues to Prosper

Posted by Terri Schorzman On July - 11 - 2012

Terri Schorzman

Boise is the most geographically isolated urban area in the lower 48. Despite this remote location, Boise residents have built a cultural infrastructure through forming community, regional, and national alliances. In turn, this infrastructure has helped shape Boise.

From Boise’s earliest days, the logistics of the city’s geographic isolation made it difficult to travel elsewhere for cultural amenities, which encouraged residents to develop local opera, ballet, orchestra, theater, and dance companies. By 1907, the city’s cultural life inspired attorney Clarence Darrow, here for a trial, to name Boise the “Athens of the Desert.”

In the past decade city leaders have encouraged Boise to “become the most livable city in the country” and in 2008 formed the Department of Arts & History from its predecessor the Boise City Arts Commission. This initiative illustrates that Boise’s leaders recognize the relationship between culture, economy, and livability.

Boise is fortunate that city leaders include arts and culture in discussion of the local economy, acknowledging that a robust creative economy is essential to the economic health of Boise. The city participated in Arts & Economic Prosperity II, III, and IV. The data from the earlier studies (II and III) provided the basis for the mayor and city council to award the Mayor’s Cultural Economic Development grants to several organizations in 2010 and 2011, a significant effort given the economic recession nationwide.

City leaders identified funding—generated by the rental of city rail property for two years—to cultural organizations that have an on-going positive impact on Boise’s economy. The funds made a big difference to these organizations, and helped at least two of them meet their budget for the year. In addition, one organization was designated the city’s first-ever Cultural Ambassador. Read the rest of this entry »

Hartford: City/Arts Council Partnership Creates Jobs

Posted by Cathy Malloy On July - 10 - 2012

Cathy Malloy

One of our favorite catchphrases is “the arts are the backbone of our region.” And that is especially true of the City of Hartford, where arts, heritage, and cultural organizations are so ingrained in the local economy.

They are a primary driver of tourism, welcome millions of visitors each year, and support hundreds and hundreds of jobs; the arts have a huge impact on the service sectors—like restaurants, parking lots and small businesses—that depend on an influx of patrons from the surrounding suburbs.

Without the arts, Hartford would be just another commuter town, a nine to five destination for state and city employees.

The best illustration of the importance of the arts to the city’s economy is the Hartford Arts and Heritage Jobs Grant Program, one of the many grants initiatives managed and administered by the Greater Hartford Arts Council. These grants are a partnership between the City of Hartford and the Arts Council, and are specifically designed to really quantify and measure the impact of arts, heritage, and cultural programming on the city’s “bottom line,” and to show how a vibrant arts community can generate jobs and play a vital role in redefining the urban environment.

Since 2009, the city has invested over $2 million in arts programming, events, and micro-enterprise businesses in the arts—everyone from graphic designers to local vendors providing much-needed services to artists living and working in Hartford.

The program has seen tremendous success, generating almost $4.5 million in economic activity and, most importantly, supporting dozens of full and part-time jobs. “Job creation” initiatives have certainly become the latest national craze, and this program has a three-year track record of creating and supporting jobs through the arts—a testament to the impact of the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Omaha: The Arts Make Our City a Masterpiece

Posted by Marjorie Maas On July - 10 - 2012

The Mona Lisa’s face in the middle of a dollar bill teased the story, and the headline read, “Arts groups create beautiful economic music together.”

The Omaha World-Herald story was Nebraskans for the Arts’ first one out there regarding the release of Nebraska and City of Omaha Arts and Economic Prosperity IV (AEP IV) data. A success!

Nebraskans for the Arts, the state’s advocacy organization for public arts funding and arts education, is based out of Omaha, the city drawing half of the state’s arts and culture economic impact according to AEP IV. It felt only fitting to make the initial announcement of the study findings here.

The impact of the arts has changed the face of Omaha: from the Holland Center’s masterful concert hall, to the mural projects of Kent Bellows Studio and Center for the Visual Arts and the burgeoning theater scene epitomized by BLUE BARN Theatre and Omaha Community Playhouse—the latter boasting as the largest community theater in the nation. These organizations are some of those who proudly took part in the economic impact survey and are eager to use the findings in their board rooms, grant applications, and business sponsorships.

We’re a community who invests in the arts—and the AEP IV launch spoke to this. Nebraskans for the Arts was honored at the quick acceptance of both Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle and Greater Omaha Chamber President and CEO David Brown to speak at the press conference. We were also bolstered by Todd Simon, senior vice president and family owner of Omaha Steaks, a long time supporter of the arts community, agreeing to share remarks. It showed the civic and business interests of the city can be paired with its philanthropic community—that these entities and individuals value the arts as an industry as well as their fundamental value to individuals. Read the rest of this entry »