Respect, Acknowledgement, Dignity, and Empathy

The world seems like an insane, frightening, and hopeless place. I’m not African American. I’m not a police officer. I’m not French or Turkish. But I am affected and my spirit is tired and sad—so, so sad.

What We Need in This Time We’re Living in

You’ve got to have an open mind. You’ve got to be honest with people. Until that happens, nothing is going to work. We’re going to always be divided. 

You Can’t Breathe the Air and Not Participate

Everyone has to be part of the change. We have an obligation not to just sit and complain. If you’re not part of the process, you can’t complain about the outcome. I was one of the skeptics—I questioned often, “Is this real?” And in seven years, I’ve watched this place change and then go back, move forward and then fall back. But this time feels different.

Living Up to the Promises We Made

We are, with this post, launching our first ever blog salon populated by posts from across the staff of Americans for the Arts. As part of our broader work on cultural equity, and our ongoing commitment to being transparent about the internal process we’re going through to become a more equitable organization, we invited our colleagues to reflect on what it means to work toward cultural equity.

On Audience: For Whom Are the Arts? by Robert E. Gard

The arts are for everyone. Each man, be he young or old, rich or poor, has the right to experience the arts both as spectator and as participant.

Five Ways Arts Education Is Closing Opportunity Gaps in Guilford County

With the help of local partnerships, our public school district of 72,000 students—66 percent of whom are minorities, and 62 percent of whom live in poverty—has created a number of new opportunities for students in the visual and performing arts. And our focus on arts education is paying off, resulting in higher achievement and more chances for traditionally underserved youth to shine.

Who Gets Your Vote This Election Season? The Arts!

Getting the word out to elected leaders about the inherent and practical value of the arts is critical. As Americans for the Arts has done for the last three political conventions, we will make the case at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia for better policy and support for the arts and arts education in America. 

My Voice: Celebrating Native American heritage

Lakota culture and tradition remain a guiding light—the beacon from which the community has drawn from and used their cultural and artistic practices to both honor their ancestors and rally their communities towards solutions. There is no question that traditional cultural and artistic forms root individuals in a shared history, connect them in expression, and help them look towards the future.

Arts & Culture Plays a Leading Role When Welcoming the World into a Community

We believe that art empowers us all. It inspires social change. It encourages community dialogue. It is a way that we connect with each other. Cuyahoga Arts & Culture looks forward to showcasing our tremendous cultural assets—and to helping visitors and residents alike find inspiration and beauty during their time in Cleveland for this important political event. 

On Value: What Does Art Have to Do with America? by Robert E. Gard

"If I could wish for one thing in this life it would be that I might live long enough to hear the music of the American spirit emerging from thousands of fine civic orchestras in large places and small; see good plays, joyously presented and viewed in every American community almost every night; see fine pictures by native American artists decorating the walls of a multitude of American homes of every economic status."

What Defines a Philanthropic Pioneer? Celebrating The Boeing Company’s 100 Years of Giving

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, The Boeing Company exemplifies how a committed corporate citizen can shape and impact its community.

Fifteen Things Americans Believe About the Arts

From tattoos to political candidates to arts education, here are 15 things we heard from the American public in our most recent public opinion survey.

Americans Speak Out About the Arts: An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes about the Arts in America

How does the American public feel about the arts? Do they value artistic activities and arts education? We asked these and other questions in one of the largest public opinion studies about the arts ever conducted.

What is Our Calling? by Robert E. Gard

This is the first in a weekly series of posts drawn from the newly released book, "To Change the Face & Heart of America: Selected Writings on the Arts and Communities, 1949-1992," by Robert E. Gard. This excerpt, "Invocation: What Is Our Calling?," was originally published in 1969.

For the Love of It: Lifelong Joy Through the Arts

The powerful effects of the arts on our well-being is undeniable. We do it because we enjoy the act of creation, even if it’s just for ourselves. But mostly, it’s for the love of it. 

Are You Here to Serve, Support, or Save?

When we propose to contribute toward making a place more healthy, equitable, and vibrant, we should be in and of the community—but not saving the people in it. 

A Shared Vision

Why don't more private foundations fund arts advocacy? Worse, why are we seeing funders across the country moving away from the supporting the arts at all? These were key questions that the leadership of the State Arts Action Network brought with us to Boston for the 2016 Americans for the Arts Convention.

Building Better Business and an Engaged Workforce Through Design

An office, study space, or hospital room is rarely seen as a space that is ripe with opportunities for artistic engagement. However, Steelcase—a global leader in office furniture, interior architecture, and space solutions—sees each spatial design opportunity in much the same way an artist views a blank canvas.

We Failed Before We Succeeded

In a lively discussion at AFTACON, one participant shared that a school in her area tells its students the word “Fail” stands for “First Attempt in Learning.” I embrace this interpretation. Failure can be an opportunity to fall back and regroup—and then come back at the challenge with renewed energy, a sharper strategy, and perhaps and a bigger megaphone

It’s All About our Base

Like most urbanized parts of the U.S., Boston’s demographics have changed dramatically in the last 30 years and so has tone of conversation. Anyone who attended this year’s Americans for the Arts conference could see and feel the change. 

Emerging Heap

I don’t know what others tasted at the 2016 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention, but for four days, the crisp flavor of inspiration sat on my tongue. I felt like a freshman attending the first day of classes at her top choice school. 

Reflection and Revolution: AFTACON 2016 State of the Arts Address

“All the arts, all the people” has been our steadfast declaration about equitable access to the transformative power of the arts. It is an aspirational phrase—and one we all must strive to meet.


It was with conflicting emotions that I flew to Boston last Thursday to accept AFTA’s 2016 Michael Newton Award in the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Orlando at the Pulse night club, the cornerstone of the LGBTQ community. Three reasons propelled me to move forward from a state of shock and pervasive, deep, emotional pain.

Paper Investments

We rightfully spend much time and attention on both arts education and celebrating the work of established artists, but the period in between also requires care and nourishment. By investing in and supporting the work of emerging artists and writers, they create communities, locally and on a larger scale, that provide support to a bigger group of writers.

Building Creative Communities Through the Arts and…

In 2015, Americans for the Arts launched a two-year program to explore the role the arts can play in partnership with other sectors to create healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities. The New Community Visions Initiative seeks to work with our institutional systems to find points of intersection to address arts impact in our communities. 

AFTACON Keynote Speech: Remarks by Donna Brazile

Donna Brazile, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee and prominent political strategist, gave a keynote speech at our 2016 Annual Convention on the volatile politics we’re living with, and the vital role of the arts and arts education.

AFTACON Opening Plenary: “On How the Arts can Fuel Revolution” by Diane Paulus

Diane Paulus, artistic director of American Repertory Theatre, gave a rousing speech at our 2016 Annual Convention pondering the state of our country and celebrating the role of the artist and the arts in this fragile moment.

An Unintended Sanctuary

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 12, I danced the night away with four of my dearest friends at a gay club in Miami. This wasn’t abnormal for us. This was just the first time we had, as a group, been together in many years and it also coincidentally fell on one of our birthdays. If anything, our reunion fueled our movement, made us sing louder to the music. Never did it cross my mind that a place we chose for celebration could turn into a place of destruction. For us that night, it didn’t—but four hours north of us in Orlando at Pulse Nightclub, that was entirely the case.


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