Nicholas Dragga

Nicholas Dragga

Lubbock, Texas has a metropolitan area of about 300,000. Lubbock is also about a six-hour drive in any direction from the next major city. The isolation of Lubbock could be considered a disadvantage – limiting collaboration, diversity, and ideas. Graduates from the local university often leave the city seeking jobs and more money in bigger markets.

However, the isolation may also be one of Lubbock’s greatest assets. Lubbock has a mentality of – “if we want it, we are going to have to build it – ourselves.”

The Charles Adams Studio Project (CASP) embodies that sentiment. CASP wants some things, and they are building them.

The following is an interview with CASP project manager, Chad Plunket. Read the rest of this entry »

Artist Advocacy – An essential part of Arts Administration

Posted by JR Russ On April - 15 - 2015
JR "Nexus" Russ

JR “Nexus” Russ

In December of 2013, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies released a fact sheet about support for individual artists. They began the report with the following:

“Artists form the foundation of a state’s creative environment. They act as creators and individual entrepreneurs who provide many of the products and designs that drive innovation and shape a state’s cultural character. Many artists also work as educators, providing training in creative skills and passing on cultural traditions from one generation to the next.”

This is a descriptive, not a prescriptive statement. This is something that many, if not most, if not ALL of us, can probably agree with to some degree. And it is important to keep this in mind, as arts administrators, when it comes to artist advocacy. Because artist advocacy is a matter of culture and values. Read the rest of this entry »

Cards Against Humanity: Arts Management Expansion Pack

Posted by Brea Heidelberg On April - 15 - 2015
Brea Heidelberg

Brea Heidelberg

Cards Against Humanity is marketed as a party game for horrible people. It is essentially a politically incorrect, dark humored game of mad libs. Gameplay with Cards Against Humanity is very simple. Each round someone asks a question from a black card and each player responds with his or her funniest white card. There are holiday, 90’s nostalgia, and science expansion packs available. While there is currently no official arts management expansion pack, arts management education is preparing an increasingly diverse student population to handle the smorgasbord of circumstances, from hilarious to heartbreaking, that arts administrators tackle every day.

Arts management education is in the midst of a few revolutions that speak to various elements of one main question: how do we become better as a field? There are a variety of opinions about what better actually means and how we will know it when we see it. Does it mean that we become more specialized? Read the rest of this entry »

Candace Kita

Candace Kita

When was the last time that you were told to “play harder”? Unless you happen to work at an extremely progressive workplace such as this one—where employees can mentally recharge in a gallery-turned-ball pit—the possibilities for play tend to disappear as we grow older. While arts nonprofits tend to acknowledge that creative thinking and experimentation propel innovation, resources are rarely allocated towards opportunities for staff to regularly weave play with work. Read the rest of this entry »

Abe Flores

Abe Flores

Arts administration needs a bit of revolutionary thinking for the continued health of the sector. The future of the arts is already here, being ushered in by arts leaders who test norms, continuously evolve, and keenly anticipate tomorrow.

New audiences, technologies, and competition require successful arts leaders to implement new models, develop cross-sector partnerships and allies, and stay focused on their vision. The revolutions in our field do not appear to be complete departures from what we are doing. That is to say most of the fundamental work functions of arts administration remain (e.g. production, marketing, and fundraising). What is in flux are how these functions are carried-out. These new methods and considerations require some revolutionary minds. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tulsa Take on Fellowship – Listen Up Artists!

Posted by Ken Busby On March - 6 - 2015
Ken Busby

Ken Busby

Those of you who read my periodic blogs know that I have a real passion for Tulsa.  As I’ve described the Brady Arts District where the Hardesty Arts Center, Guthrie Green, Philbrook Downtown, and Woody Guthrie Center reside along with a growing number of arts-related venues, restaurants, and boutiques, I’ve received comments from a number of readers that they had no idea Tulsa had so much going on in the arts.

Today, I’m sharing with you a tremendous opportunity for early and mid-career artists – the Tulsa Artist Fellowship.  This new fellowship will cultivate Tulsa’s art scene by both supporting local artists and attracting national artists. The Tulsa Artist Fellowship provides an unrestricted stipend of between $15,000 and $40,000, free housing, and workspace. Artists will live and work in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, participating in the local arts community. Fellowships are merit-based with a one-year term with the option to renew for a second year. In this inaugural class of fellows, the fellowship will focus on Public and/or Gallery-Oriented Visual Arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Inspiration Needs to be the Starting Line for Professional Development

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On February - 20 - 2015
Kristen Engebretsen

Kristen Engebretsen

Dear Educators,

How many times have you been in this situation?

A classroom full of students sits arms crossed, slouched, or fiddling with their phones. Their thoughts are elsewhere. You can tell because of their daydreaming absent gazes.

Is this a typical High School classroom? Perhaps, but today I’m talking about one of the many professional development courses I’ve attended over the years. You see, these students are also educators. And ideally they are being taught new ways to teach.

Most of them have seen this kind of thing before. Fads and trends in education policy are nothing new to them. So it makes sense that they’re not connected to the material in front of them. Read the rest of this entry »

Barbara Whitney

Barbara Whitney

I will be forever grateful to Americans for the Arts (AFTA) for the timely research and training they provided for our region’s arts education advocacy efforts in the spring of 2013. Americans for the Arts’ Narric Rome reached out to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing after hearing headlines regarding the Lansing School District’s decision to disproportionately eliminate arts, music, physical education, and media teachers. As we were later to discover, news had quickly traveled to multiple national conferences, delivering fear of similar situations to follow in communities across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Remaining True to the Deep Inner Conviction in Your Art

Posted by Andrew Moses On February - 18 - 2015
Andrew Moses

Andrew Moses

Andrew Moses (age 14) is a home-schooled, Tae Kwon Do black belt, with a composer fellowship at the LA Philharmonic. In the 90 second video below, Andrew and other students describe their experience with the arts in a colorful, rich, and beautiful description of the impact of arts education. Below, the director of the film interviews Andrew about his experience shooting this video.

Editor’s note: This blog is part of a miniseries about Americans for the Arts new suite of tools for Arts Education Advocates, Encourage Creativity videos. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Major Asks to Private Donors

Posted by John Bryan On February - 18 - 2015
John Bryan

John Bryan

There is a gigantic, come-and-have-some, boatload of private sector money available to all arts organizations. New research from Richmond, Virginia confirms that most don’t ask for it.

What’s the pot of money? It is the money in personal pocketbooks of the arts organizations’ most loyal constituents: pocketbooks that already make ongoing donations in response to grassroots solicitations such as direct mail, special events, and crowd-source platforms. But new research shows that most arts organizations rarely have personal, look-you-in-the-eye meetings with their best donors to ask for major amounts of money. The donor who loyally and happily writes an annual $1,000 check never experiences a personal meeting to ask for $25,000. Read the rest of this entry »

Cultural Districts and Communities: Catalysts for Change

Posted by Theresa Cameron On February - 6 - 2015
Theresa Cameron

Theresa Cameron

This week’s blog salon on Cultural Districts and Communities:  Catalysts for Change explored how cultural districts are improving, engaging, and sometimes changing their communities. Kicking off the salon, I introduced our new tool – the National Cultural Districts Exchange, which is a suite of online tools and resources to provide research and information about cultural districts. This new resource is meant to be an exchange of ideas, information, and resources – and this blog salon supplemented this new tool with great viewpoints and unique perspectives on cultural districts. Read the rest of this entry »

Branding and Marketing a Cultural District

Posted by Jessica Ferey On February - 3 - 2015
Jessica Ferey

Jessica Ferey

My fascination with cultural districts first started while living in Richmond, Virginia when the city announced the creation of an Arts District within the Broad Street Corridor. As an avid “culture vulture,” I had strolled through many First Fridays Arts Walks and attended a variety of performances at the newly built CenterStage performing arts center. I was thrilled to know the city recognized the potential impact culture could have on this area. Even after leaving Richmond for Washington, D.C. to attend graduate school, I continued to stay updated on the project and would bring it up in conversation whenever I returned to visit. Read the rest of this entry »

Cultural Districts and Communities: Catalysts for Change

Posted by Theresa Cameron On February - 2 - 2015
Theresa Cameron

Theresa Cameron

Welcome to our newest blog salon on Cultural Districts and Communities:  Catalysts for Change - our first blog salon of 2015!

Americans for the Arts defines cultural districts as well-recognized, labeled areas of a city in which a high concentration of cultural facilities and programs serve as the main anchor of attraction. They help strengthen local economies, create an enhanced sense of place, and deepen local cultural capacity.

In 1998, there were less than 100 cultural districts in the United States. Today, there are over 500 cultural districts and 14 states have enacted legislation for the development of cultural districts.  There has been growing interest in using cultural districts as a tool for community development and as an economic development strategy. How are communities doing this work?  What are the steps to creating a successful cultural district? Read the rest of this entry »

Building Capacity–The Silicon Valley Way

Posted by Joshua Russell On January - 22 - 2015
Josh Russell Headshot

Joshua Russell

As a long-time re-granting organization, Silicon Valley Creates knows how critically important money is to our arts and culture ecosystem. Organizations will also prioritize funding before any other form of support.

But when Arts Council Silicon Valley, a 30-year old United Arts Fund, merged with 1stACT Silicon Valley, a community catalyst, to form Silicon Valley Creates just over a year ago, we opted to take a new approach to how we strengthen our creative ecosystem–which was one of four main goals in our strategic plan.

So we developed a framework (pdf) of what we believe to be the key elements to a sustainable artist or arts organization in Silicon Valley. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve Got My Data, Now What?

Posted by Deborah Vaughn On January - 14 - 2015
Deb Vaughn

Deb Vaughn

True confession: I am not a strategic evaluator. Anyone else want to come clean? Try this easy quiz:

  • Do you churn out Survey monkey questionnaires the day before your workshops begin?
  • Do you frantically google “student evaluation rubric” as the touring van pulls out of the theatre loading dock?
  • Do you regularly practice post-event justification, working backwards through your program as you rush to complete a final report for a funder the night before it’s due?

If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, you might need an evaluation intervention. Read the rest of this entry »