What Lyle Lovett Can Teach Us About Audience Engagement

I started doing trainings for arts advocates almost a decade ago. At that time, I gave a lot of thought to what advocates need to know in order to start being advocates. I came up with two messages. First: you already know enough to be an effective advocate. And second: carry a little water for all of us.

The Case for an “Arts Bureaucrat” in the City Government

When people ask what I do, I frequently describe myself as an “arts bureaucrat.” My boss hates that moniker and reminds me that there is plenty of visioning, policy-making, leading and communications in my role. He’s right, of course. But “arts bureaucracy,” boring though it sounds, is one of my most important roles.

A Rejuvenating Trip to GOLDEN Artist Colors, a Beating Heart of Arts & Biz

GOLDEN goes beyond supporting the arts, believing in the arts, or even investing in the arts. To them, they wouldn’t exist without the arts, without the artists who use their products, and without the innovators who challenge them to create new products that test traditional methods of painting and artmaking.

A Shaman in the Recovery Room: The Arts’ Surprising Return to the Job of Healing

For the last century, modern healthcare has been tremendously beneficial to humanity, both in extending and improving quality of life. But now many physicians and hospitals across the country and around the globe are once again recognizing a significant role for the arts in healthcare.

Day Two: Notes to a Young Arts Advocate from a Young Arts Advocate

Young(er) arts advocate, do you realize that you are powerful? Do you realize that because you took your stand with grace and strength, your community will be changed?

“Familias Separadas”

Public art can serve as a platform to educate, create awareness, and to inspire action. As an artist working in communities for more than 15 years, I believe that when we decide to write and tell our own stories and create the images that are true reflections of who we decide we are—those are revolutionary acts.

The Making of “Fault Whisper”: Patience and Partnerships

More than anything, this project has shown me the power of art. You can reach a public that spans the globe and this reach is exponential.

Covert Curatorialism: Inverting the Landscape

As public art project managers, we walk the line between nudging artists to push their vision and practice while giving them the confidence and trust to imagine and execute a groundbreaking artwork. Trusting your own expertise and instinct—paired with an understanding of an artist’s aesthetic, studio practice and process—paves the way for an authentic and successful artwork.

Public Art: Advice from a First Timer

Imagine Art Here: Tysons Tiles was an ambitious project for a public art novice. I learned some valuable lessons managing a public art project for the first time that I’d like to pass along.

Finding Community In A Place That Seemingly Had None

My brief was to make something temporary, to create a colorful distraction to the development and inspire people—but it accomplished so much more: it confirmed that culture is an essential amenity to the growth of a city. 

Wandering Sheep

I envisioned an image of the sheep straying into the park. It is as if, from somewhere far away, one day a flock of sheep wander into Chinatown Park at the Rose Kennedy Greenway for some unknown reason. But at the same time, they look natural as if they have been there all along.

From Parking Lot to Public Art

“Chroma Booster” plays on the tradition of having a fountain in large public gathering spaces. The 55-foot tall painted pipes invited visitors to the pathway to cool off in the mist or play with other features that will send water cascading on their friends. Visitors see how art can be transformational and repurpose something utilitarian like a parking lot into a vibrant public meeting space.

Public Art Works Consider Festival’s Physical Place in History

The more I looked at the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers coming together in Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River, the more I drew parallels between those waters and myself. I, and so many others like me, are the children of two genetic and cultural rivers that propelled towards each other for thousands of years. The confluence of these two rivers can be seen as the unavoidable collision of the Old World with the New World.

Creative Justice

Creative Justice is a public art program, but it is also a social justice movement. No coincidence that both art and social movements are born of imagination. They are about exploring the possibilities we create as individuals and as members of communities. About seeing where we are and where we want to go. In doing so, they articulate the power and potential of our communities.

Public Art Reveals a City’s Hidden Desires

Murmur Wall is a two-year experimental installation that offers a glimpse into the immediate future. It is an artificially intelligent, anticipatory architecture that reveals what the city is whispering, thinking, and feeling in real-time. 

Provoke laughter, surprise and contemplation with temporary public art

“My hope is that the piece will shift viewers out of their everyday space and into a sense of wonder, make them think about things in a different way."

Passing Storms Installed at the Oregon State Hospital in Junction City, Oregon

“Passing Storms” portrays the changing weather as metaphor for unpredictable and shifting states of mind. As the residents and visitors move through the hospital courtyards, they see the cloud and rain sculptures subtly change depending on the angle of the light and the color of the sky. 

A Factory Lost & Found in Pittsburgh

The “Lost & Found Factory” tapped into our personal memories of singular connections we have to special things. These objects may be small or large or abstract and unwieldy, and yet somehow they all have been etched onto our minds. They act as symbols for relationships, relics of important moments, or as souvenirs that take use back to places we have experienced. 

Engaging the Humans: Fraley’s Robot Repair Offers Airport Travelers Fun, Creative Respite

If robots are plotting to take over the world, they’re starting with Pittsburgh International Airport. And they’re succeeding.

Out of Many, One: Cultural Equity as the Foundation for a More Perfect Union

Arts organizations play a crucial role in working toward cultural equity by supporting artists and engaging people in arts-related activities. This is nothing less than a part of the foundation we need to become a more perfect union. Together, artists and arts organizations bring the transformative power of the arts to the people and help lay the groundwork for change.

Here, Once Again, the Best Ten Businesses Supporting the Arts in America!

From exhilarating live performances to extensive corporate art collections to engaging community outreach programs, businesses all around the United States enrich the lives of their employees and people in their communities by partnering with the arts. But each year, ten companies go above and beyond—the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America. 

Back To School: Getting StARTed

Teachers the world over have an opportunity to embrace the freshness—the newness—of yet another school term. It’s a time of invigoration and inspiration as students prepare to enter classrooms ready to see old friends and meet new ones. It’s in this spirit that I remind each of us of the importance of arts education, as I believe it has the opportunity to be a salve for many of our society’s wounds. 

“Not Just a Patient”: Arts and Healing in Pediatric Clinics

Access to hands-on arts experiences and creativity-boosting activities helps to positively transform the healthcare experience for children and their families. By providing educational visual art, music, and creative writing lessons to children and teens while in the hospital or clinic, Arts For Life is nurturing their minds and spirits and helping keep them active and engaged in life.

Lieutenant Governors Leading the Way for the Arts

Over the past ten years, Americans for the Arts has developed a close working relationship with many of the nation’s lieutenant governors, their staff and the staff at the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA).

Working Together, and Knowing Each Other

I think it’s important that we’re working within Americans for the Arts to be better, more connected. For me, that process has been a lot about identifying all of my privileges, and understanding that there’s always something more I can do.

On Allyship as Practice

Just as our staff retreat ended up being a valuable and necessary exercise in laying down a foundation from which we, as an organization, hopefully act, I realized taking part in this salon could be a personal exercise in acknowledgement, accountability, and commitment—a more solid foundation from which I can act.

Dismantling, Not Reinforcing, Privilege

By consciously and continuously identifying the needs of the field, exposing our blind spots, assessing our fuller diversity, and building and/or dismantling the structures that reinforce privilege, we can all take a little credit in the work of steering our society in a more equitable direction—even if we already think we are doing a good job.

Standing at the Gates

Americans for the Arts cannot grow if we all look alike, think alike, see alike, smell alike. We need the different perspectives. And it starts with helping our hiring managers buying into this idea that we’re broadening, improving.

Digging In: Cultivating Equity through Personal Responsibility

Systems don’t change themselves. Equity can’t happen without commitment from the individuals who comprise organizations, communities, and society and understanding where each other is coming from.

What Can You Do? No, What Can YOU Do?

I think there are plenty of people like me, sitting in that room at the staff retreat, who felt like they had never been asked, “What can you do? Nobody knows your job better than you, nobody knows your daily work better than you. So what can you do?” 


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