Youth Arts – Pathways to Mastery

Posted by Myran Parker Brass On February - 25 - 2015
Myran Parker-Brass

Myran Parker-Brass

In 2009, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) committed to building and deepening arts education for all students K-12. They created the Arts Expansion Initiative (AEI). This commitment of the district, local funders and partners has resulted in:

  • increased numbers of certified arts teachers in our schools;
  • increased percentage of K-8 students receiving weekly arts instruction from 67% to 87%;
  • an increase of high school students receiving any arts instruction from 24% to 56%;
  • increased capacity for arts partners supporting arts education in schools.

We have made significant and steady progress in building back arts education as evidenced by the quality of our programs, the changing culture in our buildings, and the broad parent and community advocacy for arts education. 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 »

Where Does Corporate Giving to the Arts Go?

Posted by Lane Harwell On February - 12 - 2015
Lane Harwell

Lane Harwell

Recent studies by Americans for the Arts, Giving USA, and others have drawn welcome public attention to the role of corporate giving in the creative ecology–some sounding alarms and others offering rays of hope.

Now, the organization I run, Dance/NYC, is weighing in with State of NYC Dance and Corporate Giving, which segments available Cultural Data Project data on dance group budget size, type and geography to address equity in the distribution of resources. No matter how we segment the data, the findings are bleak for most dance groups and invite collective action to enlarge and stabilize business support. Read the rest of this entry »

Using Art for Data Collection

Posted by Crystal Benavides On January - 13 - 2015
Crystal Benavides

Crystal Benavides

Inspired by the shift toward outcome-driven art projects, I was struck by arts potential to be used as a technique for data collection. When we look at art, we tend to focus primarily on its aesthetic and emotive qualities. We think about art as the result of an action and not as a conduit or vehicle leading up to a result. For example, the creation of a painting begins by gathering materials (canvas, brushes, and paint) and using these materials to create a painting. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education: Ten Things to Remember from 2014

Posted by Jeff Poulin On January - 9 - 2015
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

I can now affirmatively say that I have been at Americans for the Arts for over a year! Woohoo! …And what a year it has been.

Each month the Arts Education Advisory Council of Americans for the Arts has a monthly call. In December, we sat on the call reflecting on the previous year and what we had all accomplished personally, collectively, and throughout the field. In my role as the Arts Education Program Coordinator, I am privileged to see a lot of things that happen on a national scale across the country, and the council often provides insight into the impacts of these trends or brings my attention to something that is up-and-coming before it has actually made a splash.

In our reflective state, we began compiling a list of the ten things that every arts-interested person should know about arts education from 2014 – it was an incredible year! 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 »

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 »

The Shared Space of Arts Marketing & Education

Posted by Jeff Poulin On October - 8 - 2014
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

In my last job, I worked to develop audiences. Today, I work in arts education. Many people curiously ask me why and how the two are connected. To which, I respond: “To develop audiences in the long run, a venue must work to ensure that future audience members receive a quality arts education.” This is exactly how I ended up in my previous position, before uncovering a chicken-and-egg style conundrum.

The Task-At-Hand

My work was with a large (2,111 seat) theatre in a European country capitol city. The venue was the first of its kind to bring blockbuster musical theatre to its audiences and capitalized on the new-found economic stability in a post-2008 economy. The time was ripe to be developing robust theatrical calendars, and audiences were justly on board.  However, the question became: how is this sustainable in the long run?  I began my work in the Marketing Department to understand the audience and devise strategies which would deliver on long term audience development goals. Read the rest of this entry »

Engaging Audiences in the Mobile Moment

Posted by David Dombrosky On October - 7 - 2014
David Dombrosky

David Dombrosky

Mobile device adoption and usage is a global phenomenon with over 4.5 billion mobile users worldwide. In the United States, smartphone adoption has exceeded standard cell phone ownership by nearly 2-to-1. We no longer use our phones to simply make calls and send text messages.  We use them to explore our world. Anything we experience can be recorded, researched, and shared from the palms of our hands – anytime, anywhere.

As our adoption and usage of mobile technology has grown, so have our expectations for engaging with the world around us at a moment’s notice. Researchers at Forrester define this as the mobile mind shift “the expectation that [we] can get what we want in our immediate context and moments of need.” Read the rest of this entry »

86+ Actions to Take and Growing: Carrying Our Collective Agenda Forward

Posted by Heather Ikemire On September - 19 - 2014
Heather Ikemire

Heather Ikemire

March 29, 2014, was the final day of the first-ever National Summit on Creative Youth Development in Boston—a national convening of more than 200 youth arts practitioners, funders, policymakers, and students designed to bring new energy and focus to creative youth development. On that day 86 individuals stood up at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and declared personal commitments to advancing creative youth development. I was proud to be one of them. Read the rest of this entry »

Connecting Creative Youth Development and In-School Arts Education

Posted by Laura Perille On September - 18 - 2014
Laura Perille

Laura Perille

Is it possible to rapidly increase the level of arts education offered in an urban district? Based on the example of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Arts Expansion Initiative launched in 2009 by EdVestors, the BPS Superintendent, and local foundations, the resounding answer to that question is yes. This effort was rooted in the belief that arts opportunities play a powerful role in the life and learning of students in urban schools, and that a fundamental part of creating these opportunities was increasing access to quality arts education in order to create equity for all students.

One of the main challenges initially faced by BPS Arts Expansion was increasing the amount of in-school arts education offered in Boston Public Schools. Read the rest of this entry »

Young Artists and Learning Connections

Posted by Allison Ball On September - 17 - 2014
Allison Ball

Allison Ball

The National YoungArts Foundation was established in 1980 with the mission to identify and recognize outstanding young artists at critical junctures in their lives—the high school to college transition. Since its founding, YoungArts (  has recognized over 20,000 young people through their awards programs and has provided life-changing experiences,  fostered connections with colleges, professional training programs, and most importantly, provided life-long connections between young artists  who go on to build artistic communities and inspire each other to imagine new artistic possibilities. YoungArts supports the development of arts and the education thereof in schools, at homes and in communities. For many alumni, their artistic possibilities have been realized with careers on the Broadway stage, Hollywood and television, opera houses and symphonies, being represented in internationally known museum collections, listings as NY Times bestsellers, and receiving Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards. The best part of these stories is that they stem out of programs consistent with CYD principles. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Arts Education Count

Posted by Adarsh Alphons On September - 17 - 2014
Adarsh Alphons

Adarsh Alphons

The key to building support for arts education lies in the unlikeliest of places: numbers. 

There is beauty in numbers. One under-emphasized aspect of arts education that holds tremendous influence in conveying its invaluable and irreplaceable role is numbers. The power of digits to specify impact (however myopic we consider that point of view) is formidable and surely, not to be underestimated. The statistics that substantiate the holistic impact of arts education are staggering. Sometimes, so much so, that even arts professionals are genuinely surprised. As an education reformer who has been advocating for arts education for over a decade, this post discusses two approaches arts organizations are using to create measurable and tangible support for arts education from funders, policy-makers and everyone else. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Organized

Posted by Jonathan Herman On September - 15 - 2014

Jonathan Herman

Young people have immense energy and a unique capacity to imagine, experiment, and take positive risks. But opportunities for them to develop their creativity and exercise these valuable qualities are in many cases limited.

Without opportunities to realize their own creative capacities, and thereby engage in the social and civic processes that directly affect their lives, young people are “at risk” of not realizing their own potential. And as a result our communities forgo the benefit of young people’s creativity, commitment, and leadership.

In an age of rapidly changing economic, social, technological, and environmental challenges (just to name a few), we need the talents of young people to help us innovate, renew, and build a brighter future. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts + Youth Development = Influence

Posted by Denise Montgomery On September - 15 - 2014
Denise Montgomery

Denise Montgomery

We know what quality creative youth development (CYD) programs look like through our own work, thanks to model programs, and through publications such as Engaging Adolescents, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs From Urban Youth and Other Experts, and The Mosaic Model for Youth Development through the Arts. So let’s just implement the principles and increase the number of young people who are benefiting from such programs.

If only it were that simple. Read the rest of this entry »