Artists + Mini-Golf + Baseball = Successful Arts/Business Partnership

In Nashville, baseball season just opened at First Tennessee Park, home of the Nashville Sounds. But baseball won’t be the only attraction at the park. The stadium is also home to a one-of-a-kind mini golf course that was designed entirely by artists. “Going to a gallery or museum can be intimidating especially for those that haven’t grown up with access to great art. This project was a great way to provide that access for people to experience outside of those parameters in their daily life.”

Sometimes the Budget Pie is Big Enough for Everyone

It’s the late 70s and I’m standing in the rotunda of the Massachusetts State House with a 10-foot-wide Boston cream pie. A pencil-thin line of white frosting drawn from the center outward like the minute hand of a watch is punctuated by a tall cardboard flag that says, “A piece of the pie for the arts.” This might get us some curious onlookers, maybe some pictures, I think. But before I know it, every elected official and staff member in the entire statehouse is drawn to the spectacle and descends into the rotunda not only to view it, but to get a piece. My fellow advocates and I served a lot of pie that day … and we also got an increase to our arts budget. 

Under Siege and Thriving

As artists and arts educators, we are keenly aware of what it feels like to be under siege. Our arts programs are interwoven into the fabric of our communities, and even in the face of challenges continue to thrive. We can’t imagine our communities without our arts programs, and thus we have become masters at articulating their profound reach. It’s ingrained in our role as arts educators to fight for the importance, continued relevance, and impact of what we do. And what makes me particularly proud is seeing the inherent drive that emerges in my students when they’re tasked with defending the powerful influence of the arts in their lives.

Time to Celebrate—and fight for—the Arts and Culture!

Did you know that NACo (the National Association of Counties), along with Americans for the Arts, recognize counties for their arts and culture achievements? Beginning in 1999, Americans for the Arts, in partnership with NACo, began presenting its Public Leadership in the Arts Award to a county or county official who has worked to advance the arts and arts education within their county. Further, NACo presents its own award, the NACo Arts and Culture Award, designed to recognize county governments for their efforts to enrich American cultural and intellectual life, promote lifelong learning, and protect our national heritage. Nominations for both awards are currently open.

Robert Lynch Responds to Hill Commentary Calling to End Funding for the NEA

In his op-ed (“The case for cutting National Endowment of the Arts funding,” April 2), David D’Amato states that “Government-funded art is publicly-funded art only once government is lazily conflated with the public. It is not the public (whatever indeed that may mean) that decides which art projects are to be supported with taxpayer dollars.” That statement is simply inaccurate. Mr. D’Amato must be unaware that the public is embedded in the entire grantmaking process at the NEA. This in part is why the NEA has received wide support from both Republicans and Democrats for half a century. 

Strategies for Change Leaders

Sometimes I feel like I’m not making a difference as an arts administrator because I’m not actually creating art. Making change, however, is my time to get creative at work. It’s exciting to examine procedures from a new perspective, find ways to push limits with policy, create sincere relationships with my coworkers, be confident in my administrative choices, and feel like an agent of change in my work. Change isn’t easy, but these strategies can be. 

Leading with the Pack

Whatever the reason for the change, the nature of leadership is changing. We don’t need harsher, more selfish delegators. We need influential social mobilizers capable of harnessing our collective intention and elevating each voice in the chorus. I argue it is Emerging Arts Leaders who understand this more than any and are best poised to make a lasting difference.

Over 50 percent of Americans live and work in suburbs. Are 50 percent of them arts leaders?

If equity and inclusion are of concern to you, then the suburbs should demand your full attention. Almost one-third of the nation’s poor live in suburbs; by 2008, the suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country.  And while minorities only represent 35 percent of suburban residents, more than half of all minority groups in large metro areas live in suburbs. To be clear, the absence of suburban arts leaders isn’t the problem. It’s a symptom. The problem is a set of assumptions that occlude the arts and arts leaders not only in the suburbs, but everywhere.

Women’s Leadership in the Non-Profit Theatre: Continuing Actions to Shift the Perception

Women have never held more than 27% of leadership positions in American non-profit theatre. Why? In a field in which “representation” is important to the stories we present to the public, the persistent underrepresentation of female leadership is puzzling and problematic. A 2013 research study was able to unravel some of the reasons behind leadership gender imbalance through a multi-informant and multi-method design, which made clear that the issue is not a pipeline problem. There are sufficient numbers of women in next-in-line positions in the field. Action plans that address this “glass ceiling” need to be developed to correct the disparity and will be explored at the pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit in October 2017.

The Moment in the Movement—Art, Advocacy, and Activating Personal Mission and Vision in this Very Moment

As members of the third sector, our purpose is to empower, enfranchise, and capacitate the people of this nation, regardless of origin or other socially constructed dimensions. No matter the federal priorities or administration in power. Serious work must always be done. Now is not the time to be humble about the power of our work, nor the time to equivocate impact. Now is moment we live our missions!

Where is a Young Feminist’s Place in the Arts? (Trick Question. Answer: Anywhere and Everywhere!)

Arts organizations are very often predominantly staffed by women, but unfortunately this does not eradicate the centuries of patriarchal approaches that block us from allowing equity for all. In the broader non-profit sector, executive roles and boards are often filled by male candidates who keep their posts until retirement. “Top-down” leadership and a competitive spirit that rejects collaboration or promotion of others’ achievements are other examples of this obstruction. Feminism and activism are just as important as ever in our current political climate.

Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Arts Leaders

All children deserve access to quality arts programming, which means that we must not only support in-school arts education programs across the board, but also prioritize schools in low-income neighborhoods and community-based organizations that specialize in mentoring these students outside of school. Serving every student also means providing culturally relevant and economically accessible opportunities in the arts for the overlooked and under-resourced youth between the ages of 14 and 18, especially if we are to create effective pipelines of leadership in the arts.

When Trying Hard Isn’t Good Enough: Alignment, Action and Accountability

Bridging the gap between reality and results for arts education in schools requires multi-sector, cross-agency leadership making aligned efforts and contributions. Moving from talk to action requires collaborative leadership—the ability to make decisions and take action together in service of the result. This type of leadership requires experimentation, trust building, and a fair amount of risk. It breaks down the boundaries of hierarchical leadership and looks across organizational boundaries. When we work collaboratively, we acknowledge that no one program, agency, or organization can produce population-level results.

Investing in Leadership Development

Having worked with arts organizations both large and small, I have learned that it is the leaders at the grassroots level who actually represent and reflect the diverse communities that their programs and organizations aim to serve. Meanwhile, the larger institutions—such as museums, operas and symphonies—are facilitating conversations around the need for greater diversity in arts leadership, but most have not yet overhauled their own practices for cultivating diverse leaders. The arts field needs to invest in developing the necessary leadership skills of emerging professionals whose marginalization is keeping them out of the running for leadership positions at larger arts institutions.  

Justice-Seeking Super Robot Takes on Arts Education; or, How I switched from a deficit mindset to an asset-based approach

Instead of entering a community as a teacher and bringing a prescribed text or curriculum, I would enter as a learner. I needed to value the community and learn from them. I needed to connect with my students—to see their stories and experiences as equal to my own. To see my students for more than their perceived needs. I needed a new approach to arts education. So, I scanned the literature, and I found an approach that works with, and values, oppressed groups. It’s called an asset-based arts education, and it works in solidarity with the community. It is mutually beneficial and builds social capital.

Asking for a raise is awkward. But it doesn't have to be.

As an emerging leader in the arts, have you ever felt stagnant in your job? Are you struggling with feeling undercompensated? Love what you do and where you work, but don’t feel able to ask for the raise that you deserve? These are common challenges facing many emerging leaders in the arts. They lead to burnout, young professionals leaving the arts altogether, or perpetuate the high turnover rates that many small and mid-sized arts organizations experience. Even though asking for a raise is uncomfortable and intimidating, it’s an important and necessary communication skill to cultivate.

Are Internships Building the Leaders We Need?

Today’s emerging leaders will need to be proficient, savvy, self-aware, and boundlessly resilient in order to meet tomorrow’s challenges; and yet, the long-term value of the short-term internship model appears to vary by organization and pupil. What makes an internship meaningful and worthwhile for both parties? Does a traditional internship model facilitate learning that extends beyond specialized proficiency to include strategic thinking, a value for cultural equity, and adaptive processes?

Playing the Long Game: Developing our Future Board Members

After years of playoff failures, Sam Hinkie, the Philadelphia 76ers general manager, decided to stop focusing on winning now. In fact, sometimes he made an active choice to start losing. Why? The worst teams in the NBA get the highest probability of top draft picks, and he was going to build a dream team, one player at a time. Hinkie and the 76ers were playing the long game.

Arts organizations can have a similar problem. Some organizations in our sector struggle to make balanced budgets, and while we’re producing thought-provoking, life-changing art for our communities, our financial situation can be squarely mediocre. So I, too, am playing the long game. Fortunately, it doesn’t involve losing at all.

The leadership pipeline: A core responsibility

It is obviously unfortunate when talent, out of necessity or frustration, leave the field for higher paying jobs with more responsibility and/or agency. The brain drain on the field, as with any field, is problematic as it not only makes the next generation of leaders more elusive, but takes away the change agents that could help create a better environment. There are steps we can take now—as in today—within our organization to make the situation better. We can make a better arts field.

Community Leadership from the Inside Out

Berkshire County in western Massachusetts is an incredibly rich place for the arts. It contains such a critical mass of artists, arts institutions, and arts resources that in 2016 the county was named the 12th most arts vibrant small- to mid-sized community in the nation by the National Center for Arts Research. With this abundance of creative activity comes a necessity for arts leadership, although here, these positions aren’t reserved for executive directors and upper management of large institutions. A new generation of community arts leaders in North Adams is surfacing as junior employees and other non-executive workers are beginning to cultivate leadership roles outside of work.

Under 18 = Emerging Leaders

Our society has created a narrative that says we must either keep young people safe from themselves (censorship), or we must keep others safe from young people (a group a young folks sitting under a park gazebo must be up to no good). These thoughts create a deficit model approach. Why is this the default when the assets young people possess are plenty? To truly engage young people from the beginning, they must be at the table when the outlines are created. Their full bodies and selves need to be a part of planning and development spaces.

We Resolve to Create a Better Arts Field

Throughout this year, our Emerging Leaders Council will be developing an Emerging Leader Vision for the Field, using vision statements that encapsulate shared hopes for our field as a starting point in conversation with emerging arts leaders and Americans for the Arts’s Emerging Leader Networks through a variety of in-person and online platforms. This blog salon is the formal start of that year-long dialogue.

Skill-Based Volunteers Serving the Arts

Louisville Arts Link features a continuous feed of every imaginable local arts event. Previously only available in a physical format, the Arts Card allows users to support Fund for the Arts directly and receive special offers like discounts and first opportunity to purchase tickets for events. There are endless possibilities for the future of the app and with the help of our skill-based volunteers and committed partners like Humana Inc., we’ll be able to achieve those goals. 

On the Value of Arts in Healthcare: A Letter from the National Organization for Arts in Health

Decades ago, one thought arts and medicine mixed like water and vinegar. Today, more people recognize the power of the arts. Patients have claimed that doctors heal them through medicine, but the arts heal their souls. NOAH aims to honor the history and mission of former arts and health alliances: “To promote the incorporation of the arts as an appropriate, integral component of health care by 1) demonstrating the valuable role of the arts in enhancing the healing process, 2) integrating the arts in the planning, design, and operation of health care facilities, and 3) developing and managing arts programming for health care populations.” 

Six Secrets on How to Become Pennsylvania’s Next Hot Arts Marketer

This first-of-its-kind skill-building initiative combines best practices with new trends to give you and your organization the confidence to compete within the state's diverse and exciting arts space.

Driving Diversity Through Board Service

We already know it’s important that a nonprofit organization have a Board of Directors that reflects the community the organization is designed to serve. We don’t simply believe that nonprofits should look like the communities they serve, but we understand the importance of the high-level participation and integration of individuals from historically overlooked groups. Imagine the implications in funding, talent acquisition, and audience development, for example, when an arts organization enjoys passionate champions on their board who come from a cross-section of backgrounds and experiences. This can open critical doors in helping arts groups achieve their mission.

The Many Hats of the 21st Century Arts Marketer: There is a Solution

Realizations about trends in our field like multiple hat syndrome helped inspire a new program to support, strengthen and advance arts marketing and audience engagement skills in Pennsylvania.

Advice for Arts Advocates Everywhere

At a time of volatile change, we must be relentless in voicing a strong and clear message. Learning more about our elected officials and then actively engaging with them will serve to advance pro-arts policies that will impact our society and communities for years to come. 

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.

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