The two clips below capture more of Alec Baldwin’s Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy given as part of Arts Advocacy Day on April 16 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

During this clip, Baldwin makes the case for the the support of arts funding:

And for the coda of his lecture, Baldwin summarizes the main points of his journey through the arts during his life and utters the most memorable quote of the speech (besides the gang dancing line much earlier…): Read the rest of this entry »

10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2012 (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Randy Cohen On April - 11 - 2012

Randy Cohen

Almost one year ago, I posted The Top Ten Reasons to Support the Arts in response to a business leader who wanted to make a compelling case for government and corporate contributions to the arts.

Being a busy guy, he didn’t want a lot to read: “Keep it to one page, please.”

With the arts advocacy season once again upon us…(who am I kidding, it’s always upon us!)…here is my updated list for 2012 which now includes new stats from our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Study.

10 Reasons to Support the Arts

1. True prosperity. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. They help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, the arts are salve for the ache.

2. Improved academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, lower drop-out rates, and even better attitudes about community service—benefits reaped by students regardless of socioeconomic status. Students with four years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with one-half year or less.

3. Arts are an industry. Arts organizations are responsible businesses, employers, and consumers. Nonprofit arts organizations generate $135 billion in economic activity annually, supporting 4.1 million jobs and generating nearly $22.3 billion in government revenue. Investment in the arts supports jobs, generates tax revenues, and advances our creativity-based economy.

4. Arts are good for local merchants. The typical arts attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, not including the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Non-local arts audiences (who live outside the county) spend nearly twice as much as local arts attendees ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community. Read the rest of this entry »

Without the Data, You’re Just Another Person with an Opinion

Posted by Randy Cohen On April - 11 - 2012

Three years before writing Future Shock in 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler first wrote The Art of Measuring the Arts, and noted, “A cultural data system is needed to provide information for rational policy-making in the cultural field and to assist those outside the field in understanding their impact on it.”

This week, Americans for the Arts released the 2012 National Arts Index report, which delivers a 2010 score of the health and vitality of the arts in the U.S.

From its low point in 2009, the Index rose slightly from 96.3 to 96.7 in 2010.

This year’s report bears witness to how the arts sector fared during the Great Recession—and the losses were swift and measurable.

In 2010, half of the 83 indicators measured increased, which is equivalent to pre-recession, 2007 levels. In comparison, only one-third of the indicators were up in 2008 and in 2009, just one-quarter increased.

Here are just a few top-level findings from the 2012 National Arts Index:

1. There has been significant growth in the number of nonprofit arts organizations: In the past decade, the number of nonprofit arts organizations grew 49 percent (76,000 to 113,000), a greater rate than all nonprofit organizations (32 percent). Or to look at it another way, from 2003-2010, a new nonprofit arts organization was created every three hours in the U.S. 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 »

The Subversive Tack: Arts + Economy

Posted by Tara Aesquivel On April - 6 - 2012

Tara Aesquivel

Thinking about the economy can be rather depressing. For many people, it can seem like a volatile god: a mysterious force that affects everything and we mere mortals have no control over its whims.

Let’s start with a basic idea of what I mean when I write about “the economy.”

Economic analysis is often an attempt to make the complex world of interconnectedness more comprehensible by quantifying everything, usually through monetization. In other words, the world is complicated so we make charts.

The “economy” is everything that happens. Economics is a (left-brained) method of analyzing everything that happens, and it’s mostly focused on measuring everything in dollars and euros.

This focus on monetization is problematic for the arts because the value of artistic products is not always calculable by how much it cost to make them or by how much people are willing to pay for them. In fact, we often strive for the opposite—to give away the arts for free and know that they are priceless.

The subversive tack accepts economics for the way it is and uses the system to our advantage. In order to do that, we need to know the basic principles and be able to speak the lingo: quantification.

The arts sector is getting much better at quantifying the value and impact of the arts. Here are three great examples:

I took my first economics class in graduate school. I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, the heart of economics can be summed up in a phrase: “supply and demand.” This is something we already understand in the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

The Subversive Tack: Arts + Education

Posted by Tara Aesquivel On April - 5 - 2012

Tara Aesquivel

The realm of combining arts and education is vast. I do not intend to address this vast landscape in a modest 600 words. However, I will highlight two of my favorite approaches to arts + education in the Los Angeles area.

Inner-City Arts (ICA) offers a variety of programs—school field trips, afterschool and weekend workshops, teacher training, programs for parents—to give children in one of the nation’s poorest areas opportunities for skill-building, artistic expression, and a safe environment.

ICA backs up its work with phenomenal statistics and partners with UCLA, Harvard, and the Department of Education to publish research that others can leverage. In addition to their excellent work and partnerships, the stories from Inner-City Arts are a never-ending source of inspiration.

Arts for All is the mothership for organizing sequential K–12 arts education in Los Angeles County and our 81 school districts. (Yes, eighty-one.) More than half of these districts have signed on since 2003. In addition to providing half a million students with arts education, the organizations backing Arts for All actually agreed on a definition of “quality arts education”.

Despite amazing organizations like Inner-City Arts and herculean efforts like Arts for All, we’re still fighting for the arts’ righteous place in society and education. We do have reason for cautious optimism, though. The #1 most-watched TED talk is Sir Ken Robinson talking about the faults of linear-based education, a product of the industrial revolution. He illustrates his point with the story of a dancer, which gets us artsy types all atwitter. Read the rest of this entry »

Supporting Art or Inhibiting It?

Posted by Elizabeth McCloskey Miller On April - 4 - 2012
Liz Miller

Elizabeth McCloskey Miller

In my last post, I wrote about a “leading vs. following” conversation that happened at an Emerging Arts Leaders DC event with Liz Lerman in January.

Lerman’s most recent book, Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, sparked another interesting topic of conversation at that same event.

In her book, she dedicates a section to “Structures and Underpinnings.” In the introduction to that section, Liz acknowledges that her dance company is always in transition, and attributes this frequent shape-shifting to the improvisational structuring that informs choreography.

At the event, Liz emphasized the importance of building flexible structures in our art and our arts organizations. This idea resonated deeply for me. Too frequently we identify a process, idea, or concept as successful, then proceed to build walls around it. That marketing strategy worked for one show, so now we need to do it for every show. Creating inflexible structures not only inhibits our success as emerging leaders, but also inhibits our ability to create and support art in our community.

The conversation about flexible structures immediately made me think of a survey I was creating at work to assess interest in a project. We had filled the questionnaire with “select one” answers designed for quick and easy analysis of the results. Read the rest of this entry »

DREAM & TELL!: Arts Integration Models at Work (Part One)

Posted by Merryl Goldberg On March - 15 - 2012

Merryl Goldberg

In considering quality, engagement, and partnerships, I’m really thrilled to be writing about DREAM and TELL!

Developing Reading Education through Arts Methods (DREAM) is a four-year arts integration program funded through the United States Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement: Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant Program.

Theater for English Language Learners (TELL!) is a multi-year project with funding this year from the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts in Education category.

Both programs are partnership programs involving school districts, a university, and professional artists. In this post and my next one, I will describe each of these projects. This one introduces DREAM.

“Some schools don’t have what kids need to enjoy school,” said Jordan Zavala, 9. “I used to have a hard time reading, but since I’ve been in Mr. DeLeon’s class I’ve done better because we act out what we learn. It’s really been fun.” (San Diego Union Tribune 2/10/12)

The DREAM program is a partnership of the San Diego County Office of Education via the North County Professional Development Federation, and Center ARTES at California State University San Marcos.

The program’s goal is to train third and fourth grade teachers to use visual arts and theater activities to improve students’ reading and language arts skills. Read the rest of this entry »

Clayton Lord

For the next few weeks, I have the good fortune to be traveling with researcher Alan Brown to eight cities across the country as we present the findings from Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art, the two year study and resulting book just published by my organization, Theatre Bay Area.

This week, we visited Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul and spoke to nearly 200 artists, arts administrators, and funders about the work. It was energizing, exciting work—as a field, it is clear that we are, many of us, anxious to learn how to talk more effectively and accurately about the power of the art we make, and this research, which attempts to quantify the intellectual and emotional impact of art, was provocative for many in the audiences.

In Chicago, I met an acoustic consultant named Evelyn May who believes that impact assessment (surveying your audiences about how impacted they were by your work) might be an extremely useful way to understand small but important changes you make in the physical space.

While May was particularly talking about things like rattling vents, squeaky floors, etc, I was caught up in thinking about whether you could survey audiences before and after, say, configuring your space in various ways to see what configuration was most impactful. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts Ripple Effect Inspires Cincinnati Filmmakers

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 7 - 2012

A poster for "Radius: A Short Film."

A fascinating new project out of Cincinnati just recently caught my attention.

Filmmakers were inspired by The Arts Ripple Effect: A Research-Based Strategy to Build Shared Responsibility for the Arts, a study conducted by local arts agency ArtsWave in 2008.

The study and report were “designed to develop an inclusive
 community dialogue leading to broadly shared public responsibility 
for arts and culture in the region” and “concluded that [their] work with the community through arts and
 culture must be based on a foundation that incorporates a deeper 
understanding of the best way to communicate with the public in
 order to achieve that shared sense of responsibility.”

Calling it “the world’s first game-sourced movie,” Radius: A Short Film, created by Possible Worldwide, a WPP Digital company, with multiple Cincinnati-based partners, “the film was shot in and around Cincinnati during MidPoint Music Festival and other arts events.”

What makes it especially unique is that the film was created by editing “from more than 2,000 unique pieces of crowd-sourced content” gathered using a smartphone app called SCVNGR. Read the rest of this entry »

Enrichment, Recollection, Fulfillment—What Else is Necessary in Life?

Posted by Melissa Lineburg On March - 5 - 2012

Seniors benefit from ballroom dance. (Photo from The Payson Roundup)

I recently received my alma mater’s College of Visual and Performing Arts newsletter and was blown away by the enriching work of a former classmate.

It is becoming common knowledge, thank goodness, that the arts are vital to the proper mental and physical development of our youth as well as the maintenance of a high quality of life for our aging population.

My classmate Emily McKinney, a junior at Radford University, took advantage of the university’s class and degree offerings to combine two of her loves: dance and teaching children with disabilities.

Specifically, she teaches private and/or small group dance classes to autistic children in the community around Radford. Her work has given children who have difficulties communicating and expressing themselves an instrument to “be their true selves.”

Despite the challenges she faces working with them, Emily knows patience and careful guidance help her dance students discover immense amounts of joy that would seem otherwise impossible.

In addition to these findings and personal accounts, I found it interesting that the same is applied for the elderly, namely patients being treated for dementia and Alzheimer’s. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

TalkingPointsMemo.com’s IdeaLab recently posted an article that included an interview with Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler.

In the piece, Strickler is quoted as stating,”It is probable Kickstarter will distribute more money this year than the [National Endowment for the Arts]. We view that number and our relationship to it in both a good and bad way.” (Editor’s Note: Strickler has published this post in reaction to the published interview.)

He went on to explain that it is good because it could, in theory, double the amount of art in the country, but also bad in that there is room for more federal support for the arts.

While Kickstarter, and other sites like it, have the ability to take all types of art—from comics to operas—to the next level at a time when it is hard for an artist to get funding for a small project, it’s $150 million contribution to the arts is only one quarter of one percent of what is needed annually to fund the nonprofit arts sector’s $60 billion in expenditures according to Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy here at Americans for the Arts.

But, as Randy added, “This is a great illustration of how individuals are looking for a more personal connection and relationship when deciding where to donate, participate, and volunteer.”

The same principle applies with me as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Rebel with a Cause

Posted by Richard Stein On December - 6 - 2011

Richard Stein

My first full-time job after finishing grad school was as executive director of the Oswego County Council on the Arts in upstate New York.

Three and a half years ago, I returned to arts council management after more than 25 years as a theatre producer and director, when I was appointed executive director of Arts Orange County.

I don’t know which is worse, running an arts council or running a theatre in times like these, but one thing I’m sure of: I owe my success to breaking the rules.

There are plenty of people who’ve attempted to dissuade me from that path or criticized me for failing to adhere to the conventional wisdom of the field. Conventional wisdom may have contributed to the growth of America’s arts organizations in decades past, but it sure isn’t helping them much today.

I see this every day—and not just in the reforms I’ve been instituting at Arts Orange County, but among the many constituent organizations we serve. Read the rest of this entry »

Reader Content Survey for Americans for the Arts

Posted by admin On November - 22 - 2011

Dear Readers,

Look over to the right side of this page and check out the tag cloud. (You might have to scroll a little. It’s under the “featured video”.)  Are your favorite topics there?

We want to match the content of our publications with what you need to be successful artists, arts administrators, advocates, and educators. That means tailoring the articles, blog posts, and news stories in our print and electronic communications based on your feedback. What topics do you want to read about more (or less)?

Take our short, six question survey and let us know how we’re doing: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZZWVFBB

Architects: Why are they in the NEA Jobs Report?

Posted by Mandee Ferrier Roberts On November - 3 - 2011
Mandee Ferrier Roberts

Mandee Ferrier Roberts

They’re skewing the data. They make the most ($63,111 median income); they are the highest educated (88.5% of architects have Bachelor’s degrees or higher) and 70%  actually majored in their discipline; they’re the most likely to be foreign-born; 75%  are men (and are paid on average $12,000 more per year than the women in their field).

And I don’t think they’re necessarily artists.

Alright, alright, I take that back. Let me put it this way: they’re not just artists.

There’s more to architecture than what—literally—meets the eye. Of course, mating great design with practicality is an architect’s goal, but last time I checked, I didn’t have to concern myself with public safety or meeting codes when I created that painting or wrote that song.

I am of the opinion that the primary goal of architecture is not purely in the design, but in the usability of the space (with the best architects being those who can successfully balance aesthetics with pragmatics). The most “haute” of architecture (think David Fisher’s forthcoming rotating skyscraper) still must be able to be inhabited. If a building can’t be, it’s a sculpture. It’s an interesting fine line. 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.