ArtCast: Episode 8

Posted by Graham Dunstan On September - 11 - 2008
Bob Lynch, President & CEO of Americans for the Arts, discusses the organization’s new partnership with The Aspen Institute and how it is helping leaders across the United States gain a better understanding of the arts as a tool for job creation, economic impact, education, and cultural diplomacy.


ArtCast: Episode 7

Posted by Graham Dunstan On August - 19 - 2008

Bob Lynch, President & CEO of Americans for the Arts, discusses how the nonprofit arts sector can play an important part in a sustainable future by “going green.”

ArtCast: Episode 6

Posted by Graham Dunstan On August - 1 - 2008

Bob Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, discusses the importance of building partnerships when it comes to advocating for the arts.

Arts, Inc.

Posted by Robert Lynch On July - 16 - 2008

I was really pleased to be in a talk with Bill Ivey and Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) yesterday at the Center for American Progress about the key issues that are facing our cultural industry. These issues are well articulated in Bill Ivey’s thought-provoking book arts, inc. I feel it is important for American cultural policy to fully explore the changing needs and cultural landscape that encompass today’s nonprofit arts, for-profit arts, unincorporated arts (like so many of our national choruses), and individual artists.

Watch video of the event on the Center for American Progress Web site.

ArtCast: Episode 5

Posted by Graham Dunstan On July - 9 - 2008

In this Podcast, Bob Lynch—President and CEO of Americans for the Arts—discusses the range of leadership skills that are most valued by the nonprofit arts field. His discussion moves from a meeting with former military generals to the Emerging Leaders program at Americans for the Arts.

“In his impassioned and witty keynote address, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch assessed the seemingly grim situation with optimism, pointing out that the arts are a growth economy.” Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent.

Arts Supporters Rally for the 2008 Presidential Campaign

Posted by Liz Bartolomeo On January - 4 - 2008

This week Iowa caucus goers cast their first votes for President, and primary voters in New Hampshire get their chance on January 8. And like the candidates, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund has been busy building support for the arts and arts education through the ArtsVote initiative. The initiative is dedicated to making sure that the presidential candidates make on-the-record statements in support of the arts and arts education.

On Nov. 29, the Arts Action Fund and ArtsVoteNH hosted a statewide Arts Policy Forum at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH. The event, a first of its kind, allowed New Hampshire voters who support the arts, arts education, cultural diplomacy, and the creative economy to learn about how the presidential candidates support the arts, and hear from and ask questions by campaign representatives. Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of the Arts Action Fund, welcomed the audience at the Arts Policy Forum and provided an overview of the ArtsVote initiative. His remarks are included in the video below. And check back for more video highlights from the Arts Policy Forum.

ArtCast: Episode 4

Posted by admin On December - 17 - 2007

In this month’s ArtCast, Bob Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, discusses the organization’s work toward the 2008 presidential primaries and election. Find out how Americans for the Arts is focusing its efforts to impact the dialogue of the presidential primaries, including the creation of a new arts position issue brief for all the presidential candidates.

ArtCast #3: National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Graham Dunstan On October - 11 - 2007

Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, takes a look at the arts and news across the country. He discusses a variety of programs and events that occur this October in celebration of National Arts & Humanities Month. For more information visit:

Arts Education in the New York Times

Posted by John Abodeely On August - 13 - 2007

A letter-to-the-editor from Bob Lynch was recently published on the New York Times website.

The letter calls for a reunification in the debate among arts education professionals about which benefits of arts education should be researched by scientists, designed for by providers, and touted by advocates.

The letter is online.

Guest blogger Nick Rabkin has also offered his thoughts.

Thoughts from Bob: Arts in a Global Context and Mayor Brainard

Posted by Chad Bauman On August - 8 - 2007

An item about Iraq in the last Sunday’s Washington Post caught my attention regarding our ongoing discussion about the arts in a global context. Megan Greenwell says, “Baghdad’s once flourishing community of artists has all but evaporated. Streets formerly lined with galleries are now deserted and the artists who remain say they have not sold a piece since the U.S.-led invasion. Samarrai (a ceramicist) estimates that 90 percent of artists who were working in the capital in early 2003 have been killed or have fled the country.” There is not enough electricity to fire the ceramicists kiln so he will probably leave too.

We talk about and see evidence so often of the community development value of the arts. You have to start by addressing the joy, pain, beauty, ugliness, and questioning that music or painting or theater or dance bring, whether to kids in a school or people living in a neighborhood. We have all seen the arts’ presence become community energy that makes a better neighborhood, a more productive school, a kid with more options in life. And yes, we often get an economic benefit and a social problem-solving benefit as well. We don’t actually need research to see it all around us. But sometimes we don’t think about the opposite situation where the arts are dramatically stripped away, and the unraveling of those very same benefits that occurs, like what the remaining artists in Baghdad see and fear. Shayma Ahmed, a professor at Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts said in the same Post article “The threat to the culture is at least as devastating for Iraq’s future as the political problems. If the artists and the writers leave, who will be here to show what is happening and change the situation?”

When leaders and elected officials recognize the importance of the arts, the very value that the artists in Iraq see eroding, these leaders need to be recognized. The August 3 issue of the Indianapolis Star has a story about such a leader, Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel, Indiana whom I have had the pleasure of meeting at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meetings. The mayor is fighting City Hall so to speak, insisting on a $700,000 arts appropriation in the 2008 budget. He says “it is very important to economic development that we have art and cultural life in the city.” The article indicates that some city council members disagree and actually voted against the entire city budget in opposition to any arts funding. Mayor Brainard is not backing down even as the dispute shapes up to be a possible fall election issue. Hats off to Mayor Brainard.

-Bob Lynch, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts

Art: Beauty but so much more…

Posted by Chad Bauman On August - 6 - 2007

In Thursday’s Washington Post, a column by John Kelly tells the story of a DC artist, Harold MacDonald, who rose to great prominence in the 1890s, but ultimately was institutionalized because of ‘mental illness’ and died there in 1923. Rudolphe de Zapp, the arts patron and journalist who tried to help him, said at the time, “The popularity of artists is a fragile thing. Anyone who sells beauty will tell you that the market rises and falls over night, and there is no forecasting the change in stocks.” How very true then and now.

An article this Thursday in Bloomberg News features our Americans for the Arts Policy Roundtable with Robert Redford at Sundance last fall, and talks about the increasing challenges facing private support for the arts. Noted in the article is the increasing trend among private funders to target dollars for solving social problems and away from the arts which they erroneously perceive as merely entertainment or about ‘beauty’ as de Zapp noted. There is nothing wrong with beauty, but ironically we all know that the arts deliver that and a whole lot more. Multiple stories in Thursday’s papers agree. 

Our Cultural Policy Listserv cites telling the story of how Tacoma, WA is enlisting music the power of symphonies to help combat street gangs and violence. There are literally hundreds of stories in the last month about the economic and jobs impact of the arts. Also on the Listserv, the Orlando Sentinel tells the story of the Davenport School in Polk County, FL, once rated as an extremely low performing D grade school. It enlisted a rigorous arts curriculum in 1999 and vaulted to a high performing A status by 2003 and stays there. We all know hundreds of such stories, yet seeing them in print today was ironic as the Center on Education Policy reported that 62 percent of school districts nationwide increased the amount of time in elementary schools spent on English language and math causing 44 percent to cut science, social studies, the arts and music, and even lunch. Somehow, the lessons of the multiple values of the arts continue to be lost in a quest for practical skills in a world where creativity in developing and using those practical skills will be the competitive edge.

This is not lost on China as I said in an earlier post, nor in the United Arab Emirates where, as pointed out in a Washington Post story Thursday by Hassan Fattah, the arts are being employed to change images and create new avenues of communication. “In nearby Abu Dhabi, which produces Poet of the Millions, (similar to American reality arts star programs) as part of an initiative to preserve historic heritage, the oil-rich emirate has begun a $10 billion plan to build and operate branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums on a sprawling arts and culture development meant to preserve Persian Gulf culture even as it embraces the arts and culture of the West.” $10 billion dollars!

On the good-news front, our ArtsVote 2008 project is noting that some presidential candidates are paying attention to the arts. USA Today quotes Governor Bill Richardson as calling for a massive federal program for the arts. Richardson made similar remarks last week in the debate among Democrat candidates. Governor Mike Huckabee, Republican candidate, misses no chance to talk about the value of arts and arts education and even talked about the importance of music and the arts as his closing statement announcing his candidacy on Meet the Press. Other candidates are welcome to chime in.

-Bob Lynch, President & CEO, Americans for the Arts

More Thoughts from Bob…

Posted by Chad Bauman On August - 3 - 2007

The Chronicle of Higher Education carried a story about a Carnegie Mellon professor complaining that a film, Smart People with Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker, was being filmed on the Carnegie Mellon campus. He questions whether colleges and nonprofits are getting too commercial. Too late and wrong question. Too late because films have used college campuses and cultural and nonprofit facilities since the beginning of filmmaking. Then the question should be: are they getting commercial enough to stay in the competition? Our Americans for the Arts research shows that some 50 percent of the budgets of most arts organizations comes from earned revenue sources. This means sales and revenue come from something-tickets, coffee shops, bookstores, space rental, or perhaps even film shooting fees. All this is very commercial and necessary in today’s market. In a world where daily life is a blur of sectors and competing influences, this consideration is probably a fairly valuable one if taken as part of an overall learning opportunity. And all this commerce going on in the nonprofit sector today creates the need for commerce skills like branding and marketing. This is why our National Arts Marketing Project Conference and training programs are in such high demand. The for-profit and the nonprofit increasingly blur in creative ways. Ball State University in Indiana plans to name their $21 million communication and media building after television icon (commercial side icon) David Letterman who has been a $20k annual contributor to his alma mater since 1985, according to the Indianapolis Star and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The New York Times also quotes business superstar (and friend of the arts and Americans for the Arts) Sidney Harman of Harman International as saying “get me poets as managers”—a succinct understanding of the value of the arts in 21st century workforce readiness and the value that an arts education can bring to someone whether they are entering the nonprofit or for-profit career worlds. In Business Week, the presence of the arts in airports is celebrated as being both good for airports and the cities they serve, as well as good for the arts. “You’ve got a captive audience,” says Greg Mamary of the American Association of Airport Executives.

And of course in our country, it all comes together in politics, as the Southbend Tribune reports that country music performer Sammy Kershaw announced to run for Lt. Governor of Louisiana. Why not Sammy Kershaw as a candidate, or Clint Eastwood as a mayor, or Arnold Schwartzenneger as governor, or Ronald Reagan as president, or Alec Baldwin, Issac Stern, E.G.Marshall, Uma Thurman and all the other non profit or for-profit artists I have had the pleasure to work with in advocating for the arts and arts education for all Americans. I am for more arts experiences, more arts involvement, more arts presence whether from the nonprofit, the for-profit, or the unincorporated sectors of America. The mix makes working, playing, and just living all the richer.

— Bob Lynch, President & CEO, Americans for the Arts

Thoughts from Bob…

Posted by Chad Bauman On July - 30 - 2007

Direct arts coverage in newspapers is often seen as sparse but I always like to look for where arts issues seep in unexpectedly in articles in the business section or front page. On July 29, in The Washington Post’s Opinion Page,  art is at the center of an editorial about whether three statues of Former Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, author of the 1857 Dred Scott decision declaring that blacks had no rights, should be removed from public land in Maryland. The Post says no and a reason they cite references why public art or memorials are important in the first place: “Memorials are meant to cause reflection and not always celebration or even respect. The Taney statues should remain but be supplemented with signs explaining the significance of Taney’s contributions to American law, warts and all.”  The Post is pointing out the power of art as a teaching tool.

The power of art is increasingly understood internationally. A China Daily article this week references improving China’s “soft power” through increased cultural exports. This is exactly what I saw happening last month when I visited Shanghai and Beijing.  In my podcast this month, Artcast II, I point out that the main reason I was in China was to speak at a conference on building audiences and marketing the arts. The article quotes senior Chinese government officials calling for “a clear national cultural development strategy” and saying “some forms of cultural development have not been fulfilled and lack strong government support.” Recently China has established 15 cultural centers outside the country. More cultural investment, supporting cultural exchange, understanding the “soft power’ of the arts. In America the reduced investment in international arts exchange has been a severe mistake for which we are now paying. Our government and all of us might need to pay attention.

And apparently it is now okay to admit, and I assume, make mistakes. Thursday’s New York Times talks about the new trend among foundations to admit and examine failures. Actually I see this as very healthy, in both the recognition that not every foundation investment or every program that gets the money can or will be a complete success, and secondly that we can learn something from the effort. “Foundations are supposed to take risks,” says Paul Brest president and CEO of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  He is right and I would say it is equally healthy for arts organizations and arts enabling organizations to understand this for themselves, for the projects that they produce and for the programs that they support.

Finally in Sunday’s New York Times a great article explores a potential problem in the art museum community. Twenty-four of the two hundred members of the Art Museum Directors Association are looking for new directors. All twenty-four are highly significant institutions. On the other hand the vacancies are only about 12 percent of the whole and so it is not at a disaster level yet, although it certainly bears watching.  My observation of the arts industry as a whole is that this need for new leaders is an industry-wide issue.  And I assume it is going to get worse as more leaders approach retirement.  I am pleased that at Americans for the Arts several years ago, we began our Emerging Leaders Program to help identify and nurture young or new leaders. I was equally pleased to see that the young arts administrators who sought out the program were not only leaders from arts-enabling organizations like arts commissions, united arts funds, and arts and business councils but professionals from dance, theater, music, the visual arts, and more. I am excited about the passion and the ability of the young leaders I have met through this Emerging Leaders Program and if the New York Times is right it is an area that all arts organizations need to develop more thoroughly and perhaps a bit more quickly.

– Bob Lynch, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts

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ArtCast #2: To China and Back

Posted by Chad Bauman On July - 20 - 2007

The second edition of ArtCast, the monthly podcast of Americans for the Arts featuring President and CEO Robert L. Lynch, focuses on a recent trip that Bob took to China.  Bob traveled to China to speak about arts marketing at a conference held in Shanghai.  In this episode, Bob discusses the tremendous changes that China is going through and future plans for international collaborations.  While in China, Bob had the opportunity to interview several arts administrators and excerpts from the following interviews are included:

  • Sun-man Tseng, Chair and Professor, Department of Arts Administration, Shanghai Conservatory of Music
  • Pan Yong, Assistant Director, National Grand Theatre, Beijing
  • Juliet Yang, student in the Arts Administration Department at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music

To listen to the podcast, please click on the play button below.


National Grand Theatre of Beijing