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 »

Jordan Shue

Jordan Shue

Nearly 40 years after its founding by the Arts & Business Council in 1975, the Business Volunteers for the Arts® network is holding strong, according to the 2014 BVA survey results.

Business Volunteers for the Arts® (BVA) is a national skills-based management consulting program operated by a network of organizations across the country under the leadership and coordination of Americans for the Arts. It pairs nonprofit arts groups with specially trained business executives who volunteer their time and skills to assist with distinct management projects. Though the number of active BVAs has fallen slightly in the past year, those still operating them are running robust programs that seek to fill an active need in the communities in which they operate, both for the arts organizations receiving pro bono support and the businesses that encourage their employees to give their time and skills to the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s volunteerism anyway? A recap of ABCNY’s Arts Volunteer Fair

Posted by Kellyn Lopes On December - 4 - 2014
Kellyn Lopes

Kellyn Lopes

The Wix Lounge, an impressive space for communal offices in Chelsea, Manhattan, is usually bustling with young tech entrepreneurs, artists, and freelance professionals. On Tuesday, November 18th, the Arts & Business Council of New York transformed the space into a new community: a networking event for arts organizations and business professionals interested in volunteerism. Almost twenty arts organizations, ranging from Carnegie Hall and the Bronx Museum, to TaDa! Youth Theater and ProjectArt, shared volunteer opportunities for professionals looking to get involved.

At the event, I was able to get the scoop about trends in arts volunteerism and the types of volunteer opportunities available. Here’s what I found:

The arts are a catalyst for volunteer work

Diane Conroy, Manager of Corporate Programming at Free Arts NYC, told me a fantastic story. Free Arts NYC provides arts educational and mentorship programs free of charge to underserved youth and families in New York City. Read the rest of this entry »

The results are in. The arts are good for society (and business)

Posted by Kellyn Lopes On October - 30 - 2014
Kellyn Lopes

Kellyn Lopes

A guest speaker in one of my graduate courses recently said, “94% of people don’t care about the arts.” While it may be true that a portion of people don’t actively seek out and participate in the arts, or consider themselves to be “artsy,” there is a significant relevance in understanding and “caring” about the role of the arts in society.

Instead, maybe 94% of people haven’t fully recognized the transformative power and intrinsic value of the arts in their communities…and their businesses.

So how do we measure the value of the arts?

Read the rest of this entry »

“Mrs. Murphy! I never knew there was so much art!”

Posted by Amanda Murphy On October - 24 - 2014
Amanda Murphy

Amanda Murphy

My two after school art clubs, six parent chaperones, and I were walking back from our enormously successful field trip when one of my students beamed: “Mrs. Murphy! I never knew there was so much art!” We’d spent the day elbow deep in art processes at The Shirt Factory in Glens Falls–a historic shirt factory turned haven for artists, crafters, and healers. If you find yourself in upstate New York, do yourself the favor of checking it out.

My students had the incredible opportunity to participate in hour long workshops in pottery, digital photography, felt making, flower pressing, and ‘plarn’ bracelet making–crocheted bracelets made from reused plastic shopping bags. My “art clubbers” were deeply engaged during each workshop, all of which were led by working artists. I excitedly traipsed through the stairwells trying to be in all the workshops simultaneously.

I loved watching them dive into the art making they’d only heard of in our pre-field trip meetings.

I loved watching students who weren’t typically friends bond without reservation over the processes they were sharing.

I loved watching them realize the arts are a viable career option, not only an activity to complete in the art room. Read the rest of this entry »

Workplace Giving as Employee Engagement

Posted by Lydia Zacharias On October - 24 - 2014
Lydia Zacharias

Lydia Zacharias

Many of the companies we work with at ArtsKC are engaged in a variety of programs, including our Now Showing program for emerging artists and businesses, Advocacy efforts, and workplace giving for the ArtsKC Fund. These corporate partners are not only passionate about supporting the arts in the Kansas City region, but are also achieving true employee engagement. Through their partnerships with ArtsKC, companies are able to provide unique engagement opportunities that encourage people to stay with the company longer, report higher levels of job satisfaction, and increase productivity through teamwork and a sense of personal investment from management. Many people are now more interested in working for companies in which they feel valued, and in which a certain level of work/life balance is encouraged, than ones that simply provide a paycheck. So, support of the arts is not only good for your corporate philanthropic efforts, it’s also good for your talent recruitment and retention efforts!

Read the rest of this entry »

A Sea Change in the Volunteer Landscape

Posted by Amy Webb On October - 24 - 2014

Adapting to a shift in the volunteer landscape is one of the exciting challenges that the Arts & Business Council of New York (ABC/NY) and many arts organizations now face. As a new team running ABC/NY, my colleague Caleb Way and I are putting our heads together to come up with innovative ideas to expand and modernize our local volunteer matching program. To give some context, the Business Volunteers for the Arts® (BVA) program was founded by ABC/NY in 1975 with the mission of serving to connect nonprofit arts organizations with pro bono volunteers. However, as web-based volunteer matching services such as VolunteerMatch and Taproot have taken off, and businesses expand their volunteer or corporate responsibility (CSR) programs to include more expansive and flexible options for employee engagement, the old model of staff-managed volunteer matchmaking is simply not enough. ABC/NY’s new strategic direction combines the idea of volunteer matching with a much broader menu of employee engagement options. Read the rest of this entry »

Employee Engagement at the Greater Hartford Arts Council

Posted by Ali Fernandez On October - 24 - 2014
Ali Fernandez Headshot

Ali Fernandez

One of the challenges facing employers today is attracting and retaining a talented workforce while concurrently asking employees to do more with less. Employee satisfaction is increasingly linked to the employers’ commitment to providing opportunities for employees to engage with one another and the broader community.

We all know that the arts encourage creativity and innovation, but they are also an amazing vehicle for team building and collaboration. As a United Arts Fund that conducts employee giving campaigns, the Greater Hartford Arts Council is uniquely positioned to facilitate employee engagement, while raising funds and awareness for our arts community. Read the rest of this entry »

Many Hats, Giving Back

Posted by Julia Harman Cain On October - 23 - 2014
Julia Harman Cain headshot

Julia Harman Cain

I remember little about my first time on stage: a ballet recital at age three. We danced to “Winter” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and I had no idea what I was doing. Happily, the VHS evidence shows that I did not fall down.

In first grade, I made my theatrical debut. My class produced a short skit about caring for the environment, and I played the crucial role of Super Recycling Kid (who recycled to save the planet). My favorite part was wearing my superhero cape for the rest of the school day.

Ever since, the arts have been a constant in my life. As a kid, I loved the transformation inherent in theater: we created a world together onstage and, for a few hours at a time, it was just as a real as anything else. Read the rest of this entry »

4 Reasons for Volunteering with Emerging Arts Leaders

Posted by Ethan Clark On October - 21 - 2014
Ethan Clark

Ethan Clark

As a fellow emerging professional in the field of arts management, we may often think of ways to emerge or advance our careers.  I believe that we can do this by learning about current issues/trends, practicing/exploring new skill sets, networking with a purpose and gathering insights from experienced professionals. I’ve found all these opportunities for career development in one place, the Emerging Arts Leaders DC (EALDC).

EALDC is a volunteer-led initiative that provides professional development, networking, and information relevant to emerging arts professionals in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. EALDC is part of the national Emerging Leaders Network, a program developed by Americans for the Arts. Read the rest of this entry »

A four step plan to engage younger patrons

Posted by Elaine Maslamani On October - 21 - 2014
Elaine Maslamani

Elaine Maslamani

Every organization needs a plan for their board members and major donors of the future. If engaging young professionals ages 25 to 35 is integral to your organization’s objectives, here are four tips that other young professional groups for arts organizations that I have worked with have found helpful.

  1. Project a inviting welcome

From the outside looking in, arts organizations can sometimes appear to have a “clique-y”-culture that would ignore new members unless they have the proper pedigree. Often, the ideal candidates for young professional art groups are shy to come forward thinking that they won’t “belong” if they can’t name the artist, converse in a detail about the composer’s work, quote Shakespeare, or be able to contribute more than $1,000. Read the rest of this entry »

All The Places You’ll Go (Once You Get Out of the Gate)

Posted by Ann-Laura Parks On October - 10 - 2014
Ann-Laura Parks

Ann-Laura Parks

Ever come back from a conference inspired, energized, and ready to unleash your brilliant ideas on your colleagues? You’re cruising along on a creative high until you hear, “That’s a good idea BUT…” followed by the reasons why it can’t be done.

When yours truly was a young worker bee, I heard some reasons that made head/desk contact a regular occurrence:

“We don’t need a blog. Nobody reads those. They are just vanity projects for people with big egos.” – executive director of a large nonprofit

“Why on earth would we ever want to post anything on YouTube?” - marketing director at a federal agency

More likely, though, you’ll hear something like, “I’d love to but we just can’t spare the money/time/staff for that.”

If you want to avoid the quick, early death of your idea, getting the go ahead from the authorizers in your organization will be your first challenge. Read the rest of this entry »