Welcome to Our Local Arts Agency Blog Salon

Posted by Theresa Cameron On July - 9 - 2012

Theresa Cameron

“It’s the Economy, Stupid” was a great start for President Bill Clinton’s first campaign and it’s a great start for this Local Arts Agency Blog Salon.

As we look for permanent and lasting solutions to the nation’s economic woes, we don’t have to look any further than the arts (especially the arts at the local level), the people that make the art, and how it drives the economy.

During this week of blog posts you will have the opportunity to learn about communities and their economic development strategies using the arts. You will also learn how these “rock stars” are using economic impact studies and research to demonstrate the power that the arts have on the local economy.

Speaking of the rock stars, here are this week’s guest bloggers:

  • Ben Davidson, Americans for the Arts
  • Beth Flowers, Beet Street
  • Buddy Palmer, Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham
  • Camille Russell Love, City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs
  • Cathy Malloy, Greater Hartford Arts Council
  • Janet Langsam, ArtsWestchester
  • Jennifer Cover Payne, Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington
  • Jeff Hawthorne, Regional Arts & Culture Council
  • Jennifer Post Tyler, Thrive
  • Jessica Johnson, Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance
  • Julie Muraco, Praeditis Group LLC
  • Kerry Adams-Hapner, San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs
  • Lydia Black, Lee County Alliance for the Arts
  • Maria Munoz-Blanco, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs
  • Marjorie Maas, Nebraskans for the Arts
  • Olga Garay, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Paul Tyler, Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City
  • Robert Bush, Arts & Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg
  • Terri Aldrich, Minot Area Council of the Arts
  • Terri Schorzman, City of Boise Department of Arts & History
  • Tom Bensen, Missoula Cultural Council

I hope you enjoy reading these posts and check back throughout the week via this link, which collects all of the posts from the Salon in one place.

Also, please be sure to comment and share them via email and social media!

Local Arts Index: Museums, Zoos, Libraries, and More

Posted by Randy Cohen On July - 9 - 2012
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

This post is one in a series highlighting the Local Arts Index (LAI) by Americans for the Arts. The LAI provides a set of measures to help understand the breadth, depth, and character of the cultural life of a community. It provides county-level data about arts participation, funding, fiscal health, competitiveness, and more. Check out your county and compare it to any of the nation’s 3,143 counties at ArtsIndexUSA.org.

One approach to the Local Arts Index is through examining groups of indicators that address related subjects, such as museums and collections.

If you look around your community or your region, you’ll probably see that there are various museums to see—museums of art, science, history, and more. And there are other kinds of collections on display, living collections of animals and plants. Perhaps you have visited one of these museums in your community in the past few months. Or a zoo, arboretum, or botanical garden with your family and/friends to enjoy the outdoors but to appreciate how the items are presented and displayed. Perhaps these are some of the places you think of as a routine part of the life in your community or places to go when you are a local guide to family or friends in from out of town.

We think of these collections-based organizations as contributing to a community’s arts in culture in two ways. One is as resources for culture and learning, a second is in their roles as destinations for visitors.

Earlier this year, we released an indicator on the adult population visiting art museums. More recently, we released four additional indicators that measure collections-based organizations where you live. These organizations and institutions that are based on a collection—historical, canonic, living—are deeply rooted in our communities and provide places for reflection, learning, observing, and enjoyment.

Here’s some info on those four: Read the rest of this entry »

What Do We Really Know About People Who Get Arts Degrees?

Posted by Sally Gaskill On July - 2 - 2012

Sally Gaskill

As it turns out, quite a bit.

Since 2008, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) has surveyed graduates of arts training programs—people who received undergraduate and/or graduate arts degrees from colleges and universities as well as diplomas from arts high schools…people who majored in architecture, arts education, creative writing, dance, design, film, fine arts, media arts, music, theater, and more.

To date, SNAAP has collected data from over 50,000 arts graduates of all ages and nationalities. These respondents, as we call them in the survey world, graduated from nearly 250 different educational institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

In a few short years, SNAAP has become what is believed to be the largest database ever assembled about the arts and arts education, as well as the most comprehensive alumni survey conducted in any field.

Recently, we published our latest findings: A Diverse Palette: What Arts Graduates Say About Their Education and Careers. The report provides findings from over 33,000 arts graduates who responded to the online survey last fall.

Our report has attracted media coverage from the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Inside Higher Ed and—we were gawked on gawker.com! My favorite may be Forbes, which compares getting an arts degree with getting a law degree—and recommends that prospective law students consider an arts career instead.

Here are some of the big questions that SNAAP data begin to answer.

1.      Where do arts graduates go?

  • First, they are largely employed. Only 4% of SNAAP respondents are unemployed and looking for work, as opposed to the national average of 8.9%.

Randy Cohen Talks Arts & Economic Prosperity IV on San Diego TV

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 27 - 2012

Americans for the Arts Vice President of Research & Policy Randy Cohen is in the middle of a cross-country tour unveiling the results of our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study alongside many of our local partners.

Yesterday, he spent time in San Diego and had the pleasure of joining Seema Sueko, artistic director of the city’s Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, on KPBS-TV’s Evening Edition Culture Desk:

Find out more about AEP IV and local study results for a county near you by visiting our comprehensive website.

Measuring Access to Arts Education, or Not Another Survey!

Posted by Deborah Vaughn On June - 22 - 2012

Deb Vaughn

Since I started my job 4 ½ years ago, I have been looking for a way to quantify arts education. There are an overwhelming number of models circulating:

Washington State did an invited, online, school principal survey, leveraging the partnership of their Arts Education Research Initiative to elicit responses.

Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming worked with the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) to develop a shared survey instrument, administered in collaboration with the four state offices of education and public instruction.

Communities involved in The Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child initiative have created extensive school-based survey instruments, drawing on the expertise of locally-formed partnerships to create the best instrument and guarantee response rates.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

With over 1,300 public schools in the state, the cost to hire a research firm to design and administer a survey instrument was prohibitive, and every existing survey instrument we looked at needed substantial adaptation to satisfy our stakeholders.

Luckily, two years ago, a graduate student in public policy at University of Oregon, Sarah K. Collins, mentioned to me that her thesis project involved pulling data from the Department of Education to examine access to arts education. The Oregon Arts Commission hired Sarah to produce a state-level summary report of her thesis, which we then published.

While the summary data was useful in tracking overall trends, it wasn’t applicable to most citizens, who wanted to know what the numbers meant for their local school. This demand evolved into what is now the Oregon Arts Commission’s newly launched online arts education databaseRead the rest of this entry »

Interpreting the Arts & Prosperity IV Study

Posted by Marisa Muller On June - 21 - 2012

Marisa Muller

During the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV (AEP IV)launch at the Annual Convention, Randy Cohen announced the findings of American’s for the Arts fourth economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences.

As the most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted, AEP IV documents the quantifiable economic impact of 9,721 nonprofit arts and culture organizations and 151,802 of their attendees in 182 study regions, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In revealing the results of this extremely thorough study, Randy stated, “The arts mean business,” and he could not have been more on target.

According to the study, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $135.2 billion of economic activity, which breaks down to $61.1 billion in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations, plus an additional $74.1 billion in event related spending. In addition to generating economic activity, the arts and culture industry also supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.

AEP IV also showed that arts audience members spent on average $24.60 per person, per event (beyond the cost of admission) in 2010. Additionally, the data revealed that arts tourists stay longer and spend more than the average traveler. Among those audience members surveyed, 32 percent live outside the county in which the art event took place and their event-related spending is more than twice that of their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42).

Even in the face of the recession, the arts have remained resilient. The 2010 expenditures by arts organizations were just three percent behind their 2005 levels ($61.1 billion vs. $63.1 billion). Although there was an 11 percent drop in spending by the typical arts patron from 2005–2010, it is still evident that communities that draw cultural tourists experience an additional boost of economic activity that continues to fuel local economic engines. Read the rest of this entry »

A Healthy Mix of “Arts And…” & Collaboration

Posted by Gregory Burbidge On June - 14 - 2012

Gregory Burbidge

Last year at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention, I remember two comments specifically from the town hall session. The first comment was from an emerging leader who thought that it was time for established leaders to move out of the way. It was, at best, nonsense.

Intrinsic Impact?

The second comment, the one that actually bothered me more throughout the full year, was a comment that the person was tired of hearing about the economic impact of arts and culture. They wanted a return to a focus on the intrinsic impact of arts and culture. I didn’t see that person this year, though with the focus of the conference being the release of the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV report, that person may have chosen to skip a year. I myself am data hungry and the report will give me much to chew on.

This year, more than most, the thing I noted was a pleasant drift from intrinsic impact. The subtle drift in a direction I am happy to paddle towards is into the territory of collaboration and a healthy mix of “arts and.” When we listen closely to the needs of our community the arts can help provide answers to many issues. It does require a willingness to be flexible that a focus on intrinsic impact does not necessarily provide.

Arts and…healthcare

Two of the most interesting sessions to me this year explore the intersections of arts and health. Both the intersection of the arts and healing (Art of Healing) and what the arts can do to ease the transition home for our veterans (Boots to Brushes: The Arts Serving Veterans’ Needs) are ways that the arts are meeting at the cross sections of arts and healthcare. Read the rest of this entry »

Hurry Up…and Wait: Trying to Keep a Lid on AEP IV

Posted by Catherine Brandt On June - 9 - 2012

Catherine Brandt & Graham Dunstan are frazzled after trying to keep a lid on the AEP IV story for so long before Convention.

As everyone who reads ARTSblog should know by now, the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study (AEP IV) was released yesterday at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio.

With 182 participating communities and more than 150,000 audience-intercept surveys, this economic impact study of the arts is the largest and most comprehensive ever conducted. As the study launched before 800 attendees and countless others who saw the announcement live on the web, there was a collective sigh of relief at Americans for Arts.

The story we had held on to for more than six weeks was finally able to fly free.

Embargoed press releases. Pre-written tweets and Facebook updates. Scripted talking points. There were a dozen different ways that the big story of the $135 billion impact of the arts in our country could have been “spoiled” early.

Multiply those communications tools by the number of participating organizations and other partners and members of the press who had this information for the last few weeks and it’s nearly a miracle that barely anyone spilled the beans.

When we released the previous study (AEP III) at the 2007 Annual Convention, social media wasn’t the cultural and communication force it is now. Twitter wasn’t even a year old. And while Facebook was a staple at universities and colleges, its use by nonprofits wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous as today. Very simply: in 2007 it was easier to keep a secret.  Read the rest of this entry »

Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

This post is one in a series highlighting the Local Arts Index (LAI) by Americans for the Arts. The LAI provides a set of measures to help understand the breadth, depth, and character of the cultural life of a community. It provides county-level data about arts participation, funding, fiscal health, competitiveness, and more. Check out your county and compare it to any of the nation’s 3,143 counties at ArtsIndexUSA.org.

I unpack my suitcase in about 30 cities per year. Every community I visit has its own unique cultural character. You can see it in the landscape of the built environment, the distinctive mix of organizations—old and new, large and small—when walking the cultural districts and among the public art, sampling local culinary delights, and seeing evidence of the artists at work. So, how to capture that character using the numbers? This is one of the primary objectives of the Local Arts Index.

Last time we released an indicator about the number of artist-entrepreneurs that the Department of Commerce counts at the county level. This week, we share county-level findings about the competitive environment for old-and-new and large-and-small nonprofit arts organizations.

The “millennial” share—the old and the new

It is well known that the number of arts nonprofits grew substantially between 2000–2010 (76,249 to 113,188, according to the Urban Institute).

To explore the relative impact of “old vs. new” arts organizations, we created an indicator that measures the share organizations that are “millennial”—that is, established January 2000 or later. A larger or smaller share of new arts organizations is one element of the character of a community, showing the entrepreneurial vigor in the nonprofit sector. Read the rest of this entry »

Unveiling Our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Study

Posted by Amanda Alef On May - 31 - 2012

After two years of hard work, our research team is pleased to present the findings from our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study on June 8 at our 2012 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio. Even better, you can watch live as we roll out our new study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and their audiences.

Arts & Economic Prosperity IV demonstrates that the nonprofit arts and culture industry is an economic driver in communities—supporting jobs, generating government revenue, and securing tourism.

Improving upon our 2005 study, with the help of over 180 research partners, we have collected 150,000 audience intercept surveys from cultural event attendees, as well as detailed budget and attendance information from 8,000 nonprofit arts and culture organizations across the country. This will be the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted!

Tune in to this link on Friday, June 8 at 1:00 p.m. EDT/Noon CDT to watch Vice President of Research & Policy Randy Cohen present the new findings. (The AEPIV presentation is expected to begin at 1:20 p.m. EDT/12:20 p.m. CDT, so you may see our attendees enjoying their lunch when you first go to the site.)

In addition to Randy, you’ll also hear from panelists Michelle Boone, Julie Muraco, and Michael Spring about how to effectively use this study to make the case for the arts across various sectors.

For more information on Arts & Economic Prosperity IV visit our updated website or contact our research staff.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Innovate or Bust (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On May - 22 - 2012
Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson

(Author’s Note: The ArtsFwd team invited me to respond to their NextGen Quick Poll because of my knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing young leaders today gleaned in my role at Americans for the Arts.)

Pretend you have two job offers in front of you (I know, we’re just pretending here, okay?!)

  • Organization A is a respected organization that has been producing high-quality artistic work for the past 50 years. You get the sense that your role in the marketing department will be to continue business as usual to an audience who can afford the organization’s $150 per seat tickets. There is no social media campaign, something that you are very interested in starting. However, it’s unclear whether the organization’s leadership understands social media, or if they think it’s a good use of time or energy.
  • Organization B is a start-up organization that is three-years-old. The social impact is clear—Organization B is providing a safe space for children from dual income families to go after work. The children are exposed to art, music, and dance classes at an affordable rate. Your job would be to launch a social media presence, but you’d also be tasked with finding new untapped sources of revenue and creative partnerships to help sustain and grow the important work this organization is doing for the community.

So, which position would you choose? (By the way—we’re also pretending the pay scale, benefits, and title level of both positions is the same, although we know that in reality, this would not be the case).

If you choose Organization B (which we’re defining as the highly-innovative organization), then according to ArtsFwd and EmcArts recent NextGen QuickPoll, you may find yourself feeling 80 percent more likely to want to “move up” in the organization. Granted, this is not a scientific study, nor was it intended to be. Also, I made up those above case organizations. But, the survey and exercise itself brings up some very interesting questions and illuminates some issues in our field that I believe need addressing. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Arts Index: How Many Artists are Working in Your County?

Posted by Randy Cohen On May - 18 - 2012
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

This post is one in a series highlighting the Local Arts Index (LAI) by Americans for the Arts. The LAI provides a set of measures to help understand the breadth, depth, and character of the cultural life of a community. It provides county-level data about arts participation, funding, fiscal health, competitiveness, and more. Check out your county and compare it to any of the nation’s 3,143 counties at ArtsIndexUSA.org.

Today we release Local Arts Index indicators #7 and #8 (out of 50).

Solo artists are the spark!

Independent artists are one of the most vivid pieces of evidence that the arts are thriving in a place. Solo artists, regardless of artistic medium or discipline, are very often both the fuel and the spark of a local arts scene. Many artists are also entrepreneurs, launching their work into the world through their own studios, performance spaces, and readings. Overall, we think of the presence of solo artists as a marker of the capacity of a community to deliver the arts.

The Census Bureau provides data on the number of “non-employer” businesses (a business with only a proprietor and no staff) for many industries, including some arts ones. This indicator measures the number of solo artists per 100,000 residents of a county.

Nationally, there were 678,000 of these “artist entrepreneurs” in 2009. While this is almost certainly an “undercount,” it is an interesting measure that can be tracked at a county level over time, so we include it in our national and local arts indexes.

In the typical county, 148 solo artist businesses can be found.  Read the rest of this entry »

Talking Points: Public Art and the Challenge of Evaluation

Posted by Katherine Gressel On May - 17 - 2012

Katherine Gressel

The Challenge of Evaluation

In the Fall/Winter 2011 issue of Public Art Review, Jack Becker writes, “There is a dearth of research efforts focusing on public art and its impact. The evidence is mostly anecdotal. Some attempts have focused specifically on economic impact, but this doesn’t tell the whole story, or even the most important stories.”

Becker’s statement gets at some of the main challenges in measuring the impact of a work of public art—a task which more often than not provokes grumbling from public art administrators. Unlike museums or performance spaces, public art traditionally doesn’t sell tickets, or attract “audiences” who can easily be counted, surveyed, or educated.

A public artwork’s role in economic revitalization is difficult to separate from that of its overall surroundings. And as Becker suggests, economic indicators of success may leave out important factors like the intrinsic benefits of experiencing art in one’s everyday life.

However, public art administrators generally agree that some type of evaluation is key in not only making a case for support from funders, but in building a successful program.

Is there a reliable framework that can be the basis of all good public art evaluation? And what are some simple yet effective evaluation methods that most organizations can implement? Read the rest of this entry »

Public Art & Community Attachment

Posted by Penny Balkin Bach On May - 16 - 2012

Penny Balkin Bach

Working in the field of public art automatically puts us in touch with the public, art, and its social context.

In fact, public art may be one of a community’s most overlooked and underappreciated cultural assets; it’s accessible “on the street”, any time, free to all, without a ticket, and diverse in content. It can be enjoyed spontaneously, alone, or in groups, and by culture seekers as well as new audiences.

There is data out there that supports the benefits of public art to the community.

The Knight Foundation and Gallup Corporation’s Soul of the Community study, for example, indicates that community attachment creates an emotional connection to place (which also correlates to local economic growth). They determined that the key drivers of attachment are social offerings, openness, and the aesthetics of place–all potential attributes of public art.

It’s fascinating that these drivers scored higher than education, basic services and safety, and the economy. Also, a local summer visitors survey conducted by the Greater Philadelphia Marketing & Tourism Corporation (GPTMC) found that of the city’s ten most popular outdoor activities, outdoor art ranked second–above hiking, jogging, and biking.

Public art can create community attachment, if we overcome perceived barriers and open pathways for engagement. With this in mind, the Fairmount Park Art Association developed Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO (MWW:AUDIO)—a multi-platform interactive audio experience, available for free on the street by cell phone, audio download, Android and iPhone mobile app, QR code, or online as streaming audio and audio slideshows. Read the rest of this entry »

Nina Ozlu Tunceli

Culture equals jobs. This was the theme of the 2012 World Cultural Economic Forum hosted by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is one of the most enlightened and empowered elected leaders that this nation has ever seen regarding strategically investing in his city’s cultural economy in order to move it forward.

As chief counsel of government and public affairs at Americans for the Arts, I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it was to be at a two-day conference filled with elected officials and diplomats from around the world, focused exclusively on how these leaders are incorporating public policies to showcase the arts and culture for both its social and economic powers.

Mayor Landrieu did an amazing job of showcasing New Orleans’ investment in arts education to develop the next generation of culture workers; its investment in building local film and recording studios, performance centers, and clubs to attract current culture workers; its investment in tax credits for both film production and post-production editing, marketing, gaming, and software to attract culture businesses; and its investment in tourism marketing and branding initiatives, such as JazzFest, to attract out-of-town visitors, especially from abroad, in order to grower larger audiences for its cultural industries. You can catch up on more news about the forum on Twitter by searching #WCEF.

Below is an excerpt of Mayor Landrieu’s opening address at the 2012 World Cultural Economic Forum:

“Recently, the world has seen dramatic changes in political, social, and cultural landscapes. These changes have been fueled not only by political and economic factors, but also by social and cultural issues. Read the rest of this entry »

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.