STEM to STEAM with Drexel’s ExCITe Center

Posted by Sahar Javedani On November - 12 - 2012

When I began working at Drexel University earlier this year, one of the most interesting developments that fell on my radar was hearing of College of Engineering’s Professor Youngmoo Kim’s directorship of the Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center:

Professor Kim’s background in music includes performing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Boston Symphony Orchestra coupled with his Ph.D. degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering and Music (Vocal Performance Practice) from Stanford University.

The mission of the ExCITe Center focuses on harnessing the talents of professionals working in the fields of research, education, civic engagement, and entrepreneurship as interdependent ingredients for creating transformative regional development. Read the rest of this entry »

John Eger

The International Council of Fine Arts Deans‘ (ICFAD) meeting in Minneapolis (October 24–27) for their annual conference talked about “Art as a Public Good”—meeting the demands for creativity and innovation, and serving the communities they represent, socially and economically.

Nurturing the talented performer, musician, or sculptor is of utmost importance to the fine arts deans and their universities. However, knowing that the arts, broadly defined, are being called on to shape the larger economic discussion—a national discussion, really—to change the way the whole country thinks about education, economic prowess in the global economy, and preparing our students for the new innovation sector, cries out for their leadership.

Lucinda Lavelli, dean of University of Florida and incoming President of ICFAD, kicked off the conference by talking about the concept of “the creative campus,” now adopted by several universities, “to establish educational settings that infuse the academy with the arts, foster creativity in all disciplines, promote interdisciplinary projects and encourage new ways of solving problems and expressing ideas.”

She asked several deans to talk about their university and how their college was collaborating with other colleges in business, engineering or the sciences, but more, she asked perhaps the biggest question of the conference: “What could—or should—the deans and their universities be doing” with their students, their alumni living in the area and through the town/gown relationships that exist, and how can others be engaged to help everyone in our community to think differently about the arts?

Quite simply, as Harvey White, co-founder and former president of Qualcomm, has been known to say, this is a “national emergency.” The clock is ticking, and when the dust settles after years of budgetary and fiscal malaise, the nation will desperately need young graduates with the new thinking skills for an economy that demands the most creative workforce. 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 »

The Arts Aren’t Red or Blue

Posted by Robert Lynch On November - 7 - 2012

Robert L. Lynch

Every four years America gets another chance to make its voice heard. And every four years the American arts community, in a way, gets a bit of a fiscal makeover.

How is that? Well, it has to do with how the nonprofit arts in America are funded and how policy affects those funding sources. And every four years, no matter who wins elections across our country, there are new policymakers in town.

Roughly 10 percent of the $61 billion aggregate budgets of the nonprofit arts in America comes from government—mostly local and then state government and finally federal sources. Yes, this is a tiny portion of the whole, and it is actually a lot smaller than many people, including many politicians, think. This 10 percent is indeed a small amount compared to the 30 percent the private sector—(mostly) individuals—chips in and the 60 percent that comes from earned and investment income.

But that 10 percent is critical in what is a very conservative funding model for arts in our country. I call this model conservative because a very modest government investment leverages more than 60 times as much private and earned revenue to create a whole industry and support millions of jobs. How?

A $146 million investment from the federal government directly leverages close to $5 billion more in local and state government investment, which in turn helps leverage another $50 billion to create the $61 billion nonprofit arts industry in America.

This model has helped grow an industry from a handful of organizations in 1965—when the federal cultural funding agencies like National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) came into being—to more than 110,000 arts businesses today. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Creativity THE 21st Century Skill?

Posted by Janet Stanford On November - 6 - 2012

Janet Stanford

YES is the answer to this question judging from the enthusiastic audience response on October 10 to Imagination Stage’s Creative Conversation on the topic.

One hundred and forty parents, educators, and other stakeholders attended a panel discussion, moderated by Doug Herbert of the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Innovation & Improvement, and then enjoyed breakout sessions that included sample sessions in professional development for teachers, creative parenting classes, and an opportunity to take the Torrance Test, the only nationally recognized measure for creativity that has been in use for more than 50 years.

Each of the four panelists described their viewpoint about creativity during the forum.

Developmental Psychologist Meredith Rowe debunked the commonly held assumption that creativity is a gift which cannot be taught.

Neuropsychologist Bill Stixrud spoke about what he sees daily in his clinical practice: that kids today enjoy less free play, feel more stress, are less motivated, and have lower self-esteem than past generations. His findings parallel data from the Torrance Test, which has noted a sharp decline in children’s creativity scores over the last 20 years, especially in the elementary grades. Stixrud recognizes that children are missing the benefits of creative play and arts education.

I discussed how theatre arts classes and arts integrated into the school curriculum can help children of all abilities to find motivation for their studies. Projects that are student-led and focused on creative problem solving have been shown to engage young people in ways that traditional modes of instruction no longer can. Read the rest of this entry »

Did You Know It’s Actually Legal to Vote Twice Today?

Posted by Anette Shirinian On November - 6 - 2012

After you cast your vote for the next President, we wanted to remind Americans for the Arts members to be sure to vote in this year’s Advisory Council Elections.

Our councils advise staff on programs and services that will build a deeper connection to the field and to our networks, giving them the opportunity to be seen as national leaders and providing an opportunity to “give back to the field” by connecting the national work of Americans for the Arts to the local level.

As members of our organization, this is your opportunity to elect the nominees you want to lead your network(s)! We have been collecting nominations from the field for the past month, and thanks to our members we have outstanding nominees across the board.

Voting for Council Elections will officially close on November 21, but why not add a second chance vote to your day today?

To view our current nominees and cast your vote, please click on any and/or all of the following council voting pages:

You will need to enter your Member ID to view the nominees and proceed with voting, so if you are unsure of your Member ID, please log into your account here and click “my account information.”

If you have any questions please email membership@artsusa.org or call 202.371.2830.

‘Imagination Takes You Everywhere’ (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Janet Langsam On November - 5 - 2012

Janet Langsam

The presidential election is just one day away and American entrepreneurship is on the line.

We are told by the candidates that 60% of all jobs come from small businesses. So, I thought I’d check in with Chris Wedge, who is the brains, the heart and the innovator of Blue Sky, an animation studio that produced “Ice Age,” “Robots,” and the soon-to-come “Epic.”

Blue Sky, once a very small business, started out in Elmsford (NY), then located in White Plains, and now has expanded, moving its artists, writers, producers, designers, modelers, riggers, filmmakers, cameramen, photographers, sculptors, composers, lighting and costume designers, editors and other creators to new studios in Greenwich, CT.

With roots still in Westchester, however, (Chris and family reside in Katonah) Wedge has collaborated with the Katonah Museum and Jacob Burns Film Center on a joint exhibition, film and education program about the art of animation. This unique program introduces observers to Blue Sky’s creative process, from initial concept to finished frame through original drawings, storyboards, props, movie clips, and hands-on technology.

Though Blue Sky is a small business, in comparison, say to Twentieth Century Fox Animation, with whom they work, it is also a creative business of which there are some 3,988 in Westchester alone, employing 15,279 people, according to a study by Americans for the Arts.

So, as one left brain person to another, I asked Chris Wedge what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur like himself.

“You just can’t put a limit on possibilities,” he says. ‘You must be open to discovery and surprise. Don’t think too hard. Fun is important. Get out of your own way. Do the work that feels right. The more one investigates, the clearer the potential becomes.” Read the rest of this entry »

Vans: Committed to Helping Visual Art in Schools

Posted by Adriane Fink On November - 5 - 2012

Generating $50,000 for the winning school’s art program while simultaneously drawing attention to the importance of art as an integral part of a well-rounded education, Vans Custom Culture comes back in its fourth iteration with registration opening on January 2, 2013:

The Vans Custom Culture Competition sparks the creativity and teamwork of art students across the country as they work together to design blank pairs of canvas shoes into wearable pieces of art.

Shoes are sent out in the month of February to the first 1,500 U.S.-based public or private high schools that register and students have until April 5 to complete the shoes and submit their images online.

Each registered school receives four blank canvas shoes they must design using the following themes: art, music, action sports, and local flavor—a design inspired by the surrounding community, city, or state.

An internal selection narrows the field down to 50 participants and the external online public vote whittles those 50 schools down to a group of five finalists who will be flown to New York City for the final judging in June 2013.

The winning school receives a $50,000 prize for their art program and the opportunity for the shoes to be produced and sold in Vans’ retail stores. The remaining schools won’t go home empty handed—the four runners-up will receive a cash prize of $4,000 towards their art program. Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

The latest CECP (Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy) Giving in Numbers study, conducted in association with The Conference Board, shows that giving to the arts continues to receive 5% of the allocations from corporations. This number held steady from the 2010 study. Overall corporate giving has started to rebound as 60% of the companies surveyed gave more in 2011 than in 2009.

Companies gave larger grants to fewer organizations and often focused on a single issue area like education. Health, education, and community and economic development were top priorities for companies. Companies also focused more on employee engagement and matching gifts. 83% of companies offered a matching gift program and 85% had a volunteer program. According to Charles Moore the Executive Director of CECP, “Our analysis this year shows that companies are becoming more focused about their giving: from larger grants to a smaller number of organizations; to giving where they have community connections; to using the skills and expertise of the business to build their community engagement.”

It is great to see support for the arts holding steady but as businesses continue to look at decreasing their areas of focus and 47% of respondents expect their company’s giving to remain unchanged we need to continue making the case for the value of the arts to business. During this past year, we have compiled a number of lists to provide arts organizations and businesses with reasons on how and why to partner.

What’s better than a list? A list of lists! Here are the top 4 lists of lists (AKA the top 33 reasons/ideas/ways) to create meaningful relationships between arts and business. These sources should help you start, build and strengthen your partnerships with business.

1.    8 Reasons to pARTner with the Arts: On our pARTnership Movement website we provide 8 reasons why partnering with the arts makes business sense.
2.    10 Ideas to Create a Moment with Business: Margot Knight offers 10 suggestions for arts organizations to connect with the business community.
3.    10 Reasons to Support the Arts: In his popular blog post, Randy Cohen provides 10 reasons for businesses to support the arts.
4.    5 Ways the Arts Can Combat Flat Corporate Giving: Marisa Muller updates the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of tips for fundraisers to focus on the arts.

Which reasons resonate in your community? What are we missing?

(This post is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

 

The Next Iconic Partnerships? (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Jonathan Tuchner On October - 18 - 2012

Jonathan Tuchner

If you visit Tate Modern during the next few days, go down the ramp and turn right into The Tanks. On the opposite wall you will find images and notes celebrating thirteen years of the Unilever Series at the Turbine Hall.

It is a quiet celebration; a gentle place to reflect on what has arguably been the most significant arts and business partnership over the past decade or so. Many will forever recall the glow of Ólafur Elíasson’s The Weather Project, the thrill of Test Site by Carsten Höller, or the structure of Rachel Whiteread’s 2005 Embankment. Unilever’s money made all this happen.

Tino Sehgal’s These Association is the final work in the Unilever-sponsored series, which has attracted almost 30 million visitors over the past dozen years. Unilever says “It was planning a change of direction in its sponsorship programme, which is more focused on sustainability and the environment.” Where does that leave the arts?

Between 2000 and 2012, Unilever provided £4.4 million sponsorship in total, including a renewal deal of £2.2 million for a period of five years which was agreed in 2008. This is big money for arts partnerships and it created huge public interest and media profile for Unilever.

Unilever has had a long and important relationship with the arts over many years. This has ranged from the creation of the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight through to in-house amateur dramatics in the 1960s and an astonishing programme called Catalyst which ran over much of the last decade using the arts to inspire and engage their staff.

Their relationship with Tate began when Niall Ferguson was in charge and I recall him early on saying it was his passion for art that drove the investment. Clearly there was passion but what was the business case? Read the rest of this entry »

Nuit Blanche: One Night of Art in Toronto

Posted by Renee Piechocki On October - 18 - 2012

Two years ago I went on my first trip to Toronto and fell in love with the city and their all-night arts event Nuit Blanche. Projects like Kim Adams’ Auto Lamp made me vow to come back again:

It was a good resolution!

This year, I made my way up on September 28, driving 5.5 hours from Pittsburgh with my bike on the back of my car. Toronto is a bike-friendly city, with dedicated bike lanes, bike racks, and bike shops. Once I parked my car on Friday night, I did not see it again until it was time to drive home on Sunday afternoon.

Many of my trips tend to be a bit of a busman’s holiday, and this one was no exception. I had a list of Nuit Blanche projects to see as well as some permanent pieces commissioned by Jane Perdue through the Percent for Public Art Program. Biking gave me the chance to avoid traffic, explore more of the city than I could have on foot, and enjoy the fantastic fall weather.

Nuit Blanche started at 7:03 pm on September 29 and lasted until sunrise on September 30. This is a sleepless night of a diverse crowd of tens of thousands of people. There were over 150 projects to explore in three zones. Read the rest of this entry »

The Creative Workforce in the Post-Recession Economy (A Creative Conversation Twitter Chat)

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On October - 17 - 2012

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month and the annual Americans for the Arts tradition of Creative Conversations, my colleague Ally Yusuf (Founder & Moderator of #ArtsMgtChat) and I are co-hosting the first national Creative Conversation on Twitter!

The Creative Workforce in the Post-Recession Economy is open to everyone and takes place today (October 17) for one hour starting at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT using #NatCC12 as the hashtag.

Come share in 140 characters or less, your thoughts, resources and stories about your view on this fascinating topic. We all either know someone or are someone who has been professionally affected by the recession. Whether you are a staffer, freelancer, consultant, employer or recruiter—you probably have something to add to the dialogue.

(Editor’s Note: For a quick primer on how Twitter chats work, check out this ARTSblog post by Kristen Engebretsen.)

As an arts leadership and professional development researcher and advocate, I’ve been profoundly concerned about the effects of the recession on our nonprofit arts workforce. In response, I established the Art Career Cafe which has both a website with job listings and resources as well as a Facebook page to provide an interactive community.

Since its launch in late July, we have over 200 Facebook group members. Many members are young arts professionals with degrees in arts management looking for full time work; others are freelancers who have chosen a less traditional but equally viable path to a creative career. Read the rest of this entry »

You Know More Than You Realize and It’s Time to Share

Posted by Andrew Witt On October - 12 - 2012

Andrew Witt

We are often so busy with our organization’s day-to-day programming, administration, fundraising, advocacy, and the need to establish some sense of work life balance, we forget or just don’t think about what we have to offer and learn with our peers.

Serving on one of the Americans for the Arts Advisory Councils is both a blessing and a curse (or a challenge or opportunity in biz speak).

There are 5,000 local arts agencies in the Americans for the Arts universe, or as Bob Lynch refers to them/us—arts enabling organizations. I never really thought about being an arts enabler but we are just that. Our job as administrators is to help the field grow and prosper, in our communities, our state, and our country.

And as we help the field, we also help ourselves by learning and sharing from the grassroots to the grass tops. Stop for just a minute and reflect on how you learn and how you have put that into practice.

What did you pick up at the Annual Convention, National Arts Marketing Project Conference, or a statewide or regional arts meeting? What came out of a one or two hour session in a breakout or at the bar or restaurant? Pretty valuable, eh?

Now just think what if that one or two hour session turned into a day and a half or longer and not just once a year but almost every month. And now what if those conversations were not scattered among 50 plus colleagues, but among a smaller group of 12-15.

Then there is time for to you share best practices—yours and others, address those tough personnel (hey we all have them don’t kid yourself) issues, political issues, fundraising tips, and even talk about real arts and culture policy development. Wow, when was the last time that happened!

Do yourself and your organization and your community a favor and serve on an advisory council. It’s worth every minute and every dollar you spend. But do it for the other 4,999 organizations and colleagues as well as for you.

Nominations close October 17. Nominate yourself or a colleague. You won’t ever regret it—personally and professionally.

(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 25, 2012 as part of Michael Granberry’s regular Dallas Morning News column.)

The Business Council for the Arts has been around for 25 years, building “corporate investment and opportunities in the arts.” It became apparent [September 25] that its new partner, Mayor Mike Rawlings, shares that mandate.

In his state-of-the-city address, Rawlings touted his “business/arts initiative” as “an opportunity to forge ‘friendships’ between small, medium and large business and local arts organizations.”

The mayor called the arts “one of the most powerful economic generators for the community,” noting that during the 2009 fiscal year, arts and cultural organizations contributed more than $1.06 billion “in economic impact to the North Texas economy.”

Katherine Wagner, the CEO of the Business Council for the Arts, calls it “a win-win situation,” applauding the mayor for believing “that every business that makes its home here and makes its money here also has a responsibility to foster the city’s culture.”

Gold Metal Recyclers, she says, is an example of a local business already committed to the partnership. It’s teaming up with Creative Arts Center of Dallas, Wagner says, to merge the materials sold by the business with the talents of those at the center. Read the rest of this entry »

Stephanie Smith

Last week, we packed out a partially restored 1930s single-screen movie house in our town’s up-and-coming downtown area. How did we do it? Three simple words: Arts Mean Business.

We, being East End Arts, a nonprofit community arts organization out in eastern Long Island, operating a School of the Arts, an art gallery, and presenting a variety of events and programs to promote the arts year-round.

“Arts Mean Business” was a forum that we presented for the region’s arts and business leaders: we invited business owners, artists, local government, arts organizations, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and community members to the seminar with keynote presentation and panel discussion by notable arts and business leaders demonstrating the value of partnering with the arts to strengthen the economic vitality of Long Island.

We weren’t so sure how the community would respond to this sort of forum, but the immediate responses to our first marketing efforts proved that it would be a successful venture and indeed it was.

“Arts Mean Business” completely sold out—we were thrilled to learn that our local community wanted to know what we had to say about a very important topic: partnership between the arts and business communities of all shapes and sizes.

The group of 150 attendees represented a great sample of the people we were hoping to reach. It was really a 50/50 crowd of arts people and business people, with a few government officials in the mix.

We are so grateful that our friends at the Suffolk Theater agreed to host us in their space. The 1930s art deco-style theater has been closed since the 1980s, but is in the process of being restored with the goal to open by the end of 2012.

Guests were excited to see the majestic and historic space and meeting there really spoke to the creative process—and the endless possibilities for the future of our downtown area on the rise, and for the economic strength of all of Long Island.  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.