Am I What You’re Looking For?

Since its inception, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has celebrated more than 65 years of milestones. Throughout the decades, we have provided proactive leadership, sparked cultural growth, and granted financial support to create a flourishing cultural environment. In recent years, we have embraced that our mission has broadened from serving the arts to serving the greater community through the arts. To that end, one of our primary objectives is promoting diversity and inclusion through our work and that of our partners.

10 Steps to Build a Localized Movement for the Arts

Allow me to set the scene: while attending the 2016 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Boston, I received a text from a friend in my hometown stating that in a late-night meeting the day prior, the local Board of Education unexpectedly introduced and approved an unreasonably high new fee for all students wishing to participate in extracurricular drama programs. Today, after eight months of coordinating an aggressive advocacy campaign that succeeded in eliminating that same fee with the near-unanimous support of the same board members who introduced it, I aim to identify and share the 10 crucial steps and considerations that made this victory for the arts in Harford County, Maryland possible.

A Win-Win Culture: How Inclusivity Drives Innovation in the Business World

In light of recent events, corporate America has an opportunity to embrace the inclusivity that their customers crave. However, companies need to be thinking and acting on diversity and inclusion all of the time, not only because of customer values, but because it makes good business sense.

The heart of your personal brand as an artist? Specificity.

Artists, we know you work hard, but are not always the most extroverted or business-savvy people. Yet you are expected to do it all.

Invigorate Your Practice and Advocate Through Exhibitions

How do we speak to people who have never taken part in art education? If someone has not experienced the arts personally or effectively, words may not be able to explain their value. In order to speak constructively with opponents, we must provide an environment that cultivates the sharing of ideas. It just so happens that art exhibitions are the perfect venue for advocacy discussions. Art communicates in unique and non-literal ways, which facilitates an openness that allows people to form their own conclusions. Exhibitions provide opportunities to talk about curricular impacts through the work on display. Audiences can connect artwork with student educational experiences in direct and empathetic ways. And most importantly, exhibitions easily unite advocacy for art programs with advocacy for the most powerful evidence we have: the students themselves.

Artists For The Arts: How One Voice Became a Movement

It was January 19, 2017, and news had just broken that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Humanities (NEH) could soon be at risk of elimination. As an opera singer and creative entrepreneur, I knew how crucial arts funding was for society at large. Inaction was not an option, so that night I turned to change.org and created a petition to save the NEA. I’m not sure what I hoped would come of it, but I knew that this was an issue near and dear to my heart, and perhaps, if enough everyday Americans realized what was at stake, the community could have a fighting chance.

ART + the Verb TO BE

In many tribal cultures, there is no word for ART. The creative act is in the shape of a context, the texture of relationships, the sounds of inquiry. It is how people are, not just what they make or do...creativity and connection, ceremony and ritual, the magic of the marketplace. ART is how we ARE.

I have written a book about arts-based community development that aspires to start conversation and support listening and learning from/about each other.  At that point, we bring in the action verbs: to think, fund, make, show, see, sell. Together, we consider the challenges of: reflection, documentation, and, finally, the evaluation of who and how WE are.

Empowering and Inspiring Student Voices

As a senior in high school, I will be attending my third National Arts Advocacy Day this year. For many students, the words “arts advocacy” make us feel small. Upon hearing that phrase three years ago, it sounded like something I was not old enough to know about. How can my voice matter in changing things so far above my power as a teenager? In school, we are taught to get the best education possible to become someone who can affect change, but often we aren’t told that, as kids, our opinions matter. When policy makers shape decisions about arts education, they are making decisions about us, the students. Yet for some reason, it is the students who feel as though they are out of place in a Senator’s office.

Walk It Out: The Other Side of Brand No One Talks About

Whether you’re working in a swanky downtown office with 100 employees or if you’re an independent artist working out of your momma’s kitchen—Brand. Matters.

Diversity + Inclusion = A Winning Strategy

If we’re going to talk about diversity, we also have to talk about inclusion. Diversity acknowledges and celebrates the differences we all bring to the world. Inclusion is about picking up all of those differences and putting them to work together, and using them to drive designed and desired outcomes. Diversity and inclusion are critical at Aetna, particularly when we think about our consumers—they don’t all look and think the same way. Our employees must be diverse so that our strategies and services are diverse, leading to a practice of inclusion that allows our customers to receive the support that best suits them individually.

College and Career Ready—Are We Building Vertical Pathways for Arts Students?

Preparing students who are “college and career” ready is a common goal for success for high school students across the nation’s school districts; “post-secondary readiness” is included as an indicator for school quality or student success in the Every Student Succeeds Act legislation. Our state education departments and local school districts all have working definitions and metrics for this readiness. So, how prepared are we, the arts education community, to engage in this discussion? Are we building solid college and career pathways in the arts with our higher education partners, institutions and employers? Are we engaging and supporting our families and students in understanding that the arts provide viable college and career opportunities?

Action Both Today AND Tomorrow

There are a lot of bases to cover when preparing people to be effective arts advocates—especially when those aspiring arts advocates are undergrads. This isn’t work to be done alone. We have the distinct pleasure of working together, a boomer and a member of the Oregon Trail generation preparing arts advocates of the future. We met through ArtPride New Jersey, the state arts advocacy organization and member of Americans for the Arts State Arts Action Network. It was kismet. One had suffered through too many save-the-state-arts-council and save-the-NEA crises, the other through the inherent trials and tribulations of strategically navigating academia.

There’s No “I” in “Arts Advocacy”

While a presidential election season is the most intense time of political engagement for most citizens, advocates who dedicate themselves to a particular issue or set of issues know that there is seldom a defined starting or stopping point to our work. This is especially true for the arts, which encompass a wide range of policies in addition to federal funding (for example, improving the visa process for foreign guest artists to perform in the U.S., or protecting the ability of musicians to travel across international borders with instruments that contain protected species material). Happily, speaking up for the arts and our many policy concerns is easier to manage thanks to the work of coalitions such as the ad hoc Cultural Advocacy Group, which my organization—the League of American Orchestras—has been a part of for decades.

Making Space for the Arts: A Law Firm's Story of 5,475 (Nonbillable) Hours

Let’s be frank: when it comes to creativity, innovation, and the arts, the first thing that comes to mind is not a law firm. I’ve had clients half-jokingly say that law firms are where creativity goes to die. Ouch! My rejoinder is that “we are different! We work worldwide assisting our creativity and innovation clients through patent, trademark, copyright, entertainment, and technology law. We are the cool lawyers!” In 2011, we chose to honor our true selves by converting a century-old warehouse in the Film Exchange District of Oklahoma City—an area previously known as “skid row”—into our offices. Most of our colleagues blanched, but we bet that the area had the potential to be reborn.

The Curious City Challenge

I was fortunate enough to be awarded Urban Gateways’ 2017 PROPS Award for my proposal “Claire’s Curious City Challenge.” Influenced by a phrase our organization often uses, “The City as a Classroom,” I am using the funds to embark on a yearlong mission to explore the exciting and diverse programming that makes Chicago a vibrant city. I see this challenge as an opportunity to learn more about the interesting work happening in the city, for both my own interest as an active member of the Chicago arts community and for the potential it has to inform future programming and partnerships at Urban Gateways.

A State Captain’s Final Log: The Future is in Our Very Creative Hands

One of my first trips as Director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) was to the small, western Maryland industrial-town of Cumberland. Known as “Queen City,” Cumberland was Maryland’s second largest city in the 19th century thanks to the three R’s: roads, rails, and rivers. Arriving, one might expect to see a typical forgotten rust-belt town. Well, not this town! Cumberland became an Arts & Entertainment District in 2002, one of Maryland’s first. The management team targeted artists looking for affordable space and great proximity to major markets. The downtown felt as vibrant as any I’d seen, and there was a provincial feeling in the air—in the best sense of the word.

The Significance of Arts Advocacy: A Graduate Student Perspective

W.E.B. DuBois once said that we should “begin with art, because art tries to take us outside ourselves. It is a matter of trying to create an atmosphere and context, so conversation can flow black and forth and we can be influenced by each other.” As I read this quote during the final stretch of my undergrad years at Saint Louis University, I had just became an art history minor. Though I held a deep admiration for visual arts as well as the critical analysis of the work, I had absolutely no idea where I would end up with a liberal arts degree. It was not until I was perusing the internet that I was drawn to American University’s Arts Management program. Now, a little over a year later, I have been fortunate enough to not only be a full-time student of the Arts Management program but also the Government and Public Affairs intern at Americans for the Arts. 

8 Times the Arts Saved the Day at Work

Whether focusing on employee engagement, customer appreciation, recruiting talent, or fostering community, these eight case studies, taken from a series of essays produced by the pARTnership Movement, showcase how today’s most innovative businesses are using the arts to help meet some of their most difficult and vital objectives. 

The Time for Action is NOW

When the Arts Education Advisory Council met in Washington, one week before Inauguration Day, there was a feeling of uncertainty in the air. In our meetings we speculated on how this new presidency might impact the world of arts and education. The threat to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts hadn’t been voiced yet. The furor over Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary was just beginning. There was a sense of urgency in our conversation this year. What should we be doing in our communities to help be pro-active? At the end of our three days together, we were committed to advocacy work as never before.

Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2017

As a young theater artist, I could always be counted on to step up and make a passionate plea when arts funding was on the line. I shared stories about myself and my colleagues with my legislators about how the arts are fundamental to our humanity. I wrote about how the arts ennoble and inspire us, fostering goodness and beauty. While I have never abandoned these arts-for-arts-sake messages in my advocacy, I have learned that they are rarely stand-alone winners. Today, I augment these fundamental benefits of the arts with pragmatic ones—stories and research that connect the arts to what keeps our community leaders awake at night: jobs, economy, education, healthcare, and community development. The change in my approach has made me a more effective advocate.

Arts, Humanities, and Public Broadcasting Funding Again at Risk

Seems like national funding for the arts, humanities, and public broadcast media may once again on the chopping block in Washington. Enflamed debates highlight fundamental disagreement over federal government funding priorities, and we can expect vituperative arguments again this spring as Congress determines budget appropriations. At the appropriate time, it will be incumbent on each of us to claim our cultural agency and let Congress know how essential the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting are.

Our voice is strong and vital—let’s use it!

Arts marketers, this is our call to stand up and to use our powers for good. If there’s not a higher purpose to communicating about the arts, what's the point in filling up a building with people?

The Origins of the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Program: Try, try again...

This is the story of how the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Program came into being. It’s a story created through patience, persistence, and opportunity. It began as the mid-1990s approached, as a result of a constituent request for state assistance by the founder of the Yiddish Book Center, a nationally known cultural resource located on the campus of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Robert Lynch Responds to Wall Street Journal Commentary Calling for an End to the NEA

Thank you to Patrick Courrielche (“Save the Arts by Ending the Endowment,” Jan. 25), who made an excellent case for protecting the National Endowment for the Arts and even increasing its appropriations. However, his letter needs to be read from the bottom up. Mr. Courrielche’s summary called for Congress and President Trump to create a robust, expanded national arts council, but that is in fact what the NEA is. 

ArtWORKS PHX—Spotlighting Phoenix as a Creative Urban City

Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) surveyed its business membership and found more than 80 percent believe that a city’s creative culture—including arts and public spaces—is vital to recruiting and retaining a talented workforce.

While this is no surprise, we were shocked when this group of business leaders rated Phoenix as a “5” on a 10-point scale with respect to arts and creative vibrancy. We, the leaders of PCA’s “Arts, Culture & Public Life Committee” knew better.

Two years later, taking this dismal community self-assessment to heart, PCA launched ArtWORKS PHX, a novel arts and business advocacy campaign shaped to increase community awareness about, and advocate for, the economic impact of Phoenix businesses partnering with the arts.

Goals Worth Fighting For

We now know that some of President Trump’s transition team advisors are recommending elimination of federal arts and humanities funding along with many other non-arts related cuts. The arguments are old and tired and fly in the face of some of the very things our new President wants like building new infrastructure, jobs, a stronger economy—all areas where the arts are proven allies. As we wait for more clarity, Americans for the Arts will continue to celebrate those who are making a difference, and work with arts advocates across the country toward goals that could strengthen our country through the arts.

Announcing the Launch of the new National Arts Marketing Project Website!

We listened to your needs and built a website that is simple to navigate, while providing the educational tools you need to market the arts in today’s competitive landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions about California’s New Dance Credential Law

We are truly in a new era in California Dance Education. With the passage of SB916, the Theatre & Dance Act of 2016, also known as TADA!, we as a community of educators and advocates have so much to celebrate. As I wrote here on ARTSblog last September, Dance Credentials had not been obtainable in the state of California since 1970—and now they’ve been reinstated again. Yet this hard-earned victory leaves our profession with a new set of questions. Here are answers to our most frequently received questions in the first month after the passage of the standalone credentials in dance and in theatre.

Artists and Communities: John Malpede & Christina Sanchez Juarez in Conversation

In 2016, the Los Angeles Poverty Department—a performance group now in its 30th year made up of members and former members of the city’s Skid Row community—created and performed multiple new works, put on an annual parade and festival, secured awards from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and continued to run the Skid Row History Museum and Archive. LAPD founder and director John Malpede and L.A.-based social practice artist Christina Sanchez Juarez recently sat down together to connect over their tireless work using art to empower L.A.’s homeless and working poor.

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