Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson

A couple of weeks ago, Barry Hessenius of Barry’s Blog posted a question and concern that caught my attention. He wondered “whether or not we are isolating [emerging leaders] by relegating them to their own niche as ‘emerging’, and whether or not by confining them to their own ‘silo’, we might be doing them, and ourselves [meaning the field]—at least in part—a disservice.”

I was pleased to see Barry post this concern, because at least a couple of times a year, arts administrators approach me with the same issues. In my role as leadership development program manager at Americans for the Arts, our Emerging Leaders program and national network is a large part of my work portfolio.

I want to thank Barry for sharing his thoughts on emerging leaders and bringing this issue, which has been bubbling under the surface for quite some time now, to wider attention. Barry also deserves quite a bit of credit for all the great work he has done on behalf of emerging leaders in California. The networks in California—thanks in large part to the James Irvine Foundation’s and the Hewlett Foundation’s leadership—are some of the most robust networks we have nationally and are consistently looked to as model programs.

I appreciate Barry’s concerns regarding sub-sectors of our field, and wanting to create an environment where those new to the field can be seen as fellow leaders by their peers. Transition and succession planning is a large issue that our field needs to address head on in a unified way. As an emerging leader myself, I personally want to avoid the existence of “artificial walls” between emerging and experienced leaders.

In my mind, one of the discerning qualities of the Emerging Leaders Network is that it is an opportunity for those new to the field to practice and workshop their leadership skills, learn fundamentals, and network with peers. Oftentimes, a new arts administrator can feel isolated in their work, and one of the largest benefits of the network to me is that it allows an individual to connect to something larger than themselves and remember that they are a part of a movement. Read the rest of this entry »

PAN-OUT — A Broad View of the 2012 Public Art Network Preconference

Posted by Liesel Fenner On June - 14 - 2012

Liesel Fenner

2012 marks my tenth Americans for the Arts Public Art Preconference, six of which I have planned and orchestrated over the years with the help of Public Art Network (PAN) Council members and local hosts.

This year proved to be another shining star, aptly-hosted in the Lone Star state of Texas and San Antonio, a sparkling gem of creative community that rolled out the red carpet for us.

Held at Pearl, Preconference attendees were greeted to hearty breakfast tacos (localvore favorite) and iced coffee, in preparation for the 90 degree-plus predicted temperatures. Newcomers were welcomed to an orientation in Pearl’s Center for Architecture, the American Institute of Architects local chapter office with crisp-geometric interiors offering flexible meeting space (everything on casters) for PAN’s breakout sessions throughout the day.

Attendees trekked across the Pearl campus to the nearby historic Stable, an oval-shaped plan once housing up to 70 horses, today hosting 270 Preconference attendees! Texas hosts, Martha Peters of the Ft. Worth Public Art Program and PAN Council member and Jimmy LeFlore of Public Art San Antonio, led everyone in a rousing welcome.

Representatives of the PAN Council presented a state-of-the-field report highlighting critical issues the Council is addressing including: public art and quality of life, evaluation, and social practices and community engagement. Read the rest of this entry »

Your Personal Mission Statement: Who Are You? Why Are You Here?

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 7 - 2012

Tim Mikulski

Earlier today at the Emerging Leaders Preconference, Rosetta Thurman held the full attention of her audience as she walked them through an exercise to help participants develop their own personal mission statement. This paragraph, page, or even piece of  artwork reminds you who you are and helps you make decisions related to how you spend your time in your life. It’s a concise statement that reminds you of what’s important. Thurman tapes hers to her computer screen for those moments when she needs to be reminded to walk away from it.

From the beginning of the session, she asked the ballroom full of emerging leaders to ask themselves “Who are you?” and “Why are you here?” as a guide  in both your professional and personal lives. She also challenged the audience to get away from the paradigm of the “work/life balance” and move closer toward being whole—just include everything that you care about in your life in some way.

Then, taking a lead from author Stewart Friedman, she asked the crowd to think about the four domains of one’s life and determine how much time you spend on them: work, home, community, and your private self.

All of the domains are determined by the individual so work can only include the time you spend at your desk at work or it could include volunteer time, board member time, etc. Home encompasses time spent with family, your spouse/partner, children, chores, shopping, cooking, etc. Community includes whenever you are out “doing good” in your neighborhood. Private self is self-explanatory—taking the time to sleep, exercise, improve your mental health, or getting that mani/pedi as Thurman said.

She asked attendees to then assign a percentage (out of 100) for time spent on each of those four domains. The room fell silent for several minutes.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Curtain Rises on 2012 Annual Convention

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 7 - 2012

A nice welcome sign at the San Antonio airport.

Although some of our staff members were delayed due to weather on route to San Antonio, everyone made it from out our New York and D.C. offices yesterday in preparation for the beginning of our 2012 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention this morning.

Today’s lineup includes the start of our preconferences—Public Art and Emerging Leaders—as well as several meetings of our peer network leadership councils and partners from our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Study (which will be unveiled live in-person and via webcast on Friday, June 8 at 1:00 p.m. EDT/Noon CDT).

Registration for the main convention officially opens this evening (5:00 p.m. CDT) at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio before we move into the full slate of peer networking, professional development, innovator, and discussion sessions tomorrow morning.

We look forward to the opportunities that our annual meetings bring for our staff and attendees and we hope you’ll join us even if you aren’t in San Antonio via our webcast on Friday and Convention On-Demand (featuring over 30 hours of recorded sessions) which will be available after we depart Texas.

If you are joining us in person, thank you for making the trip and make sure you share your experience with us via comments on new blog posts throughout the weekend (and into next week), tweets (#AFTA12 is our hashtag), Facebook posts, and photos on Flickr.

Searching for Inspiration in the New Normal

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On June - 1 - 2012

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

As an arts education advocate who is leading an effort in San Diego to ensure that arts education is not lost in the midst of budget cuts at San Diego Unified School District, I must confess I am a little lost these days.

In the past, it’s been easy. District administration red lines the visual and performing arts department to save money, we advocate to the school board, and the school board approves funding for another year. It’s been this way for at least the last three years. But this year is different.

This year, the pink slips to more than 1,600 teachers were not rescinded in the final hour as they had been every year before. This year, the May revise shows the state budget gap is not $9 billion but almost $16 billion—definitely not what the governor anticipated. In 2009 they projected that the district budget would turn around by 2013. But that’s nowhere near what’s happening. This year it’s a very different ball game.

As a strategist, I take pride in knowing just what tools to use and what angle to take when going to bat for the arts in San Diego City Schools. But I’m at a loss this year. How do we continue to demand that the arts education budget remains intact when 1 in 5 teachers district-wide will be without a job come June unless the board can work with the teachers union and agree to contract concessions?

How do we continue to have faith that it will all work out when California voters refuse to support the taxes needed to ensure that education budgets aren’t decimated and fiscal conservatives in the state legislature think that the only answer is more cuts. And even if the governor’s tax increase proposal is approved by the voters in November, the result the district projects is a flat budget, not an increase, in school funding. Read the rest of this entry »

Overcommitment: Taking the ‘I Shoulds’ Out of Your Life?

Posted by Jessica Wilt On May - 22 - 2012

Jessica Wilt

Another school year draws to a close and I feel like I’m out of control spinning all over the boroughs of New York City from one commitment to the other with “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” playing in my head. Is anyone else out there spinning round like a record, baby? Okay, that makes me sound old.

Next month I’ll be leading a Career360 Roundtable session at the 2012 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio. The topic: Community Involvement: Taking the “I Shoulds” Out of Your Life.

I chuckled upon my realization at how perfect the topic of overcommitment is for me; hence, the spinning-out-of-control vertigo I’m now experiencing.

Many arts administrators are expected to serve on panels, boards, and committees in addition to joining advocacy-related campaigns and other volunteer activities outside of the day-to-day full time job.

I’d like to explore this “I should or I shouldn’t” conversation a bit. Are arts administrators volunteer-driven because of their love for the field? Because there seems to be unspoken expectations? Out of necessity? Or a combination of all three?

I volunteer my time and energy mainly because I am passionate about arts education. I enjoy being connected to networks outside of my job, learning new things, traveling, and meeting some really interesting people…but sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Read the rest of this entry »

Educating for Entrepreneurial Arts Education Leadership

Posted by Stephanie Riven On May - 2 - 2012

Stephanie Riven

I recently spent a semester at Harvard as a visiting practitioner in the Arts in Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

While working directly with the Arts in Education Program, I was also able to audit classes at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and attend special lectures and programs sponsored by the Harvard Business School. Needless to say, the entire experience was fascinating on many levels.

As one might expect, the differences between the course offerings and student culture in the above mentioned schools were striking—yet many of the future challenges students in these different institutions will face are the same.

Based on my experience, the talented students in the Arts in Education Program tended to orient themselves towards issues related to process—the process of learning and the integration of concepts in advocacy, education, research, and policy. Though each of these students expressed a deep commitment to their work, many also expressed trepidation about entering an uncertain job market that is famously under-resourced and socially marginalized.

By comparison, the students I encountered at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Business School were excited about their potential to begin something new. They were learning how to become entrepreneurs by developing skills related to organizing, team-building, and risk-taking while they were also growing in their understanding of how to garner financial, cultural, and social capital for their future ventures. Read the rest of this entry »

The Early Bird Finds Opportunities in the Current Arts Landscape

Posted by Graham Dunstan On April - 27 - 2012

The plug first—Today is the early bird registration deadline for the 2012 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention.

Register today to save up to $175 and join us in San Antonio from June 8-10.

As if the video wasn’t enough, here are some more reasons why you should attend:

This year’s Americans for the Arts Annual Convention focuses squarely on how arts organizations can change and thrive in The New Normal—a landscape of economic uncertainty and shifting demographics. And for me, the key word is “change.”

There are so many opportunities for nonprofit organizations of all shapes and sizes to rethink how they do what they do, how they could do it all better, and what needs they are really interested in serving.

It’s the new ideas and innovations coupled with best practices that always makes the Annual Convention exciting for me, whether it’s attending as a staff member of Americans for the Arts or as an Emerging Leader 13 years ago for the first time in Atlanta.

Sessions on arts in healing, programming for culturally specific populations, and serving veterans through the arts will present what the discoveries of arts groups on the cutting edge. And speakers such as Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation, and Naomi Shihab Nye, inspiring poet, will remind all of us why we chose the nonprofit arts field in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Achievement Gap Exposed in New Arts Education Report (An EALS Post)

Posted by Jennifer Glinzak On April - 6 - 2012

Two major arts education studies were released this past week, the FRSS 10-year comparison and the Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth, a 12-year longitudinal study. When these studies are married, their effectiveness as a tool for advocacy becomes undeniably clear.

While the FRSS will get much of the press because U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan presented it, the study is of little consequence to the progression of arts education other then outright stating of significant declines in the amount of offerings across the board.

On the other hand, move over Charlie Bucket, the longitudinal study is the golden ticket arts education advocators have been praying for.

The longitudinal study gives the data for students of Low Socioeconomic Status (low SES) with both high and low arts exposure, and their counterparts in the High Socioeconomic Status (high SES).

The matrixes measured for each of the four categories include high school graduation rates, civic involvement, recorded grade point average, college graduation rates, average test scores, volunteer rates, other extracurricular activities, and labor market outcomes.

The results are startling, not because they affirm what advocates have said for years, but because of the achievement gap between low SES/low arts and low SES/high arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Capturing the World of an Emerging Arts Leader

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On April - 6 - 2012
Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson

I am consistently inspired by the innovation that comes out of the Emerging Leaders Network, and this week’s blog salon was no exception.

We heard from representatives of 11 Emerging Leaders Networks, and gained some insight into what was happening in their communities. This week, bloggers have questioned and affirmed why they continue to dedicate their careers to the arts; wrote about examples of artists and arts organizations leading authentic community engagement; questioned the social inequity of unpaid interns; and shared a list of Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us at 25.

We gave ourselves permission to fail, permission to have multiple interests outside of the arts that may or may not intersect with the field, and reminded ourselves not to get stuck in a structure that no longer works for us as individuals or organizations.

It’s clear that emerging arts leaders are looking at their careers, organizations, and neighborhoods in a different way than arts administrators who have come before them. I believe it’s important that we honor the hard work of those who started in the field before us. Without them, we wouldn’t have the National Endowment for the Arts, the structure of public funding support, or the diversity of arts, cultural, and community engagement organizations that exist today.

There are four generations currently working and leading in the workforce, and we must find ways to work with one another, share our strengths, and support each other’s weaknesses at all levels of the generation spectrum.

To me, this blog salon demonstrated how many mini ripple effects of change are taking place in communities across the country at the same time. This is change at a very fundamental level that has the potential to reform our field in the way that Diane Ragsdale envisions in her post (and is our muse for this salon). Read the rest of this entry »

Sara Bateman

In my first post for the Emerging Leaders Blog Salon, I discussed the need for producing collaborations and partnerships in order to elevate ourselves from arts leaders to community leaders.

If the arts are to become a cultural zeitgeist, where we can leverage our work to address the social inequities of our time, we must be open to partnerships, collaborative environments, and shared leadership.

In searching for this combination as an emerging leader, I feel it is important to not only to leverage our new perspectives and fresh energy, but also to learn from the examples of those who have already been pushing the field forth.

Throughout the past two decades, the arts have been recognized as a way to revitalize communities across the nation. We’ve seen that programs celebrating an individual community’s character, history, people, and values through art have the potential to communicate and empower a neighborhood’s voice in a manner that can create powerful place making and important systemic change.

But who is best placed to initiate and leverage this type of work? Is it a local artist, a small community center, an arts council, or a major institution?

While all mentioned above are capable and have already initiated successful community and civic engagement projects, local arts agencies in particular are in a unique place to spearhead revitalization, change, and engagement through the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Adjustments: The Art of Decision Making

Posted by Hillary Anaya On April - 6 - 2012
Hillary Anaya

Hillary Anaya

Recently, the Emerging Leaders of Mobile were given the task to receive a performance critique. The goal was to find a skill that needs improvement and to gain motivation to strengthen it.

I consider myself lucky, because I couldn’t have better bosses. While for some, asking for a performance critique can be intimidating, I have a welcoming work environment for this sort of thing. This is great because this activity was my idea, and if anyone HAD to do it, it was me.

One of my character traits is that I tend to get annoyed when I have to make adjustments. For example, when I receive incomplete submissions on a deadline day, I get a little irritated. I don’t mean I throw a full-blown temper tantrum, but I do tend to complain. I have always been aware that I do this, but I never really considered changing.

Recently, I was on the receiving end. I missed a deadline and had to get an extension. With the combination of advice from my bosses and being on the other side, the resolution was clear as day.

Mistakenly, I assumed my job as an administrator was to make sure the guidelines are ALWAYS followed. But I have been wisely advised that when working with people, especially in the nonprofit realm, rules sometimes need to bend so we can better serve our community. Read the rest of this entry »

Group Therapy in the Arts: The Mega Church Model

Posted by Gregory Burbidge On April - 6 - 2012

Gregory Burbidge

The Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL has an annual weekly attendance of 24,000 people. It’s what is referred to as a “mega church.”

I remember details about this church opaquely from a history of modern Christianity class. It’s the organizational model they created I remember most.

Obviously 24,000 people don’t smoothly pull together into a tightly knit community, so the church creates small groups of people, hundreds of these small groups, around shared interests and age. The small groups are what keep things from unraveling at the seams.

The model of the small group is broadly used. I am fortunate enough to be a part of someone’s small group. Hesitant to commit to reading and discussing a book, a group of us art administrators participate in an article club.

Every five or six weeks, the small group of us get together for lunch to discuss an article that’s creating a splash in the arts world that we wouldn’t otherwise take the time to read in detail.

Because of this group, I get to read great articles like Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change and Irvine’s report on participatory arts and audience involvement.

This version of a small group provides a busy group of colleagues a chance to catch up with what are our peers are doing, and to talk about how changes in the field can impact our own work. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts as a Management Tool (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Giovanni Schiuma On April - 5 - 2012

Giovanni Schiuma

When we think about creativity, we need to think of it as something we do every day—like thinking. We cannot avoid thinking and creativity is the same. We cannot avoid being creative. So when we ask the question: How does the corporate world value creativity? (and vice versa), our focus should not be creativity but something else. Culture.

Organizations need the arts. They need culture in their business. We are living in a transition time and this time calls for new models, a new management mindset, and new management tools. 21st century organizations are managed and organized for the 20th century business landscape.

But we are in a completely new landscape.

Today’s organizations need new competencies because they are dealing with new challenges, and these challenges I summarize in what I call the five e’s:

1) Experience. More and more, we are living in an experience-based economy. When we buy a suit, when we buy a product, when we buy a service, what we are basically buying are experiences. And so an organization needs to know how to build and how to shape those experiences. Read the rest of this entry »

Leadership Arts: Working Together to Create Change

Posted by Molly O'Connor On April - 4 - 2012

Molly O'Connor

Spring is in the air…which means that in Oklahoma the redbuds are in full bloom and one can look forward to the regular chorus of tornado sirens.

For me and my colleagues at the Oklahoma Arts Council, springtime also brings new promise and excitement for the arts as we coordinate and present our Leadership Arts Program.

Founded in 2008, Leadership Arts, is a professional development program open to 30 class members from across the state of Oklahoma. Now in its fifth year, this program continues to build up a growing statewide network of arts advocates.

Leadership Arts class members represent a diverse and talented mix of individuals from communities both small and large and every corner of the state. The class is generally made up of arts administrators, civic/community leaders, educators, artists, tribal, and cultural representatives.

Each class meets for two days over the course of four months in a different community in Oklahoma. Class curriculum specifically addresses how the arts play a crucial role in the economic impact, education, and quality of life throughout Oklahoma.

Recently I met with Georgia Williams, co-founder of Leadership Arts and former cultural development director for the state arts council, to learn more about how the concept for this program originated. 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.