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.

Building a Culture of Creativity

The author, a Global Business Director at Thomson Reuters (TR) and Chair of the Board of the Arts & Business Council of New York (ABC/NY), worked with ABC/NY’s arts-based employee engagement platform and the Thomson Reuters Project Empire employee resource group to launch Thomson Reuters Arts & Culture (TRAC)–a program geared towards building an outlet for employee creativity. Here, she talks about corporate and personal benefits of the arts, as well as her vision for what TRAC could become.

The Starving Artist Syndrome & How to Cure It

Working in both arts and marketing/business, I've noticed a disconnect between the desire for artists to become successful and earn a living with their art and how they think about their craft as a business.

Childhood Lesson: Color Outside the Lines—How being a child artist helped me become a better business leader

I’ve been an artist since my earliest childhood memories, falling in love with crayons, paint, paper, pastels, pencils—anything I could get my hands on. I would create with reckless abandon. Slowly, as I got older, I began to learn how to become a better artist. I learned how to control the medium, hone the skills and techniques needed to make my art look like it was supposed to, how to follow the rules. Although important, I fell into the trap of focusing too much on the technique and final product rather than the process of creativity. I was not exploring the potential for creative discovery by breaking the rules! Here are my top 5 reasons how coloring outside the lines has helped me in business today.

STEM to STEAM

Business needs a creative workforce to compete in the global economy. But our schools are locked into 20th century priorities. We are testing mastery of content when the Internet delivers content in 0.7 seconds. If the only public measure of a school’s progress is standardized testing, then schools have every incentive to “teach to the test.” With limited resources, teaching the arts is dropped, diminished, or dismissed.

Testing establishes the educational priorities. So, how do you measure creativity? How do you test for the A in STEAM? In Massachusetts, we began discussing the concept of a Creative Challenge Index.

Inspiring Future Scholars—An Intergenerational Model

While the economy seems to be on the upswing, with jobs increasing and unemployment down, one group is still falling behind: children. The rate of children living in poverty has gradually increased since 2008; currently, 20% of children are living in poverty. That’s one in five American children. This means that the citizens most at risk to deficient health, emotional, and cognitive development, and the poorest citizens of our country, are also the youngest.

It’s Time to Engage and Listen to Millennials

It’s not uncommon for our media and popular culture to generalize Millennials as lazy and narcissistic, with an outsized sense of entitlement, interested only in their next opportunity to take a selfie. But this is the largest, best educated and most college debt-ridden generation in Western history. Based on a growing body of research, Millennials have emerged as creative, adventurous, civic minded, tech savvy, socially aware, and consider themselves global citizens, to name a few of their positive characteristics and drivers.

Seven Resources for Highly Effective Arts Professionals

The most important reason to join or renew your membership with Americans for the Arts is because we can help connect you to our entire member network—more than 6,000 people who work for themselves or for our nearly 1,500 member organizations, covering the entire spectrum of Americans with an interest in advancing the arts. That’s not all we do, though. Here are seven benefits we offer our members that make us your best bet.

The Arts Don’t Just Heal, They Also Unify and Inspire Action

I have been playing a lot of piano lately—my antidote for when I am feeling low, or my energy source for when I am working through challenges. This election season has brought to light challenges in our country, divides that I have always believed the arts can bridge. And so I find myself sitting at the keyboard and playing tunes by artists I admire like Bob Dylan, or trying out some dark Leonard Cohen pieces on guitar, or writing some of my own poetry in order to help me get from one state of mind to another. It also makes me imagine how to better convey the power of the arts during these difficult times as part of the solution for our country, much like my own art does for me.

Why Does Your Business Value the Arts?

In their acceptance speeches at the 2016 BCA 10 Awards, twelve industry leaders spoke about what being honored at the 2016 BCA 10 means to them and why they encourage and seek out opportunities to bring the arts into their worlds.

"We believe that everyone in this room is art. And when art and the folks in this room come together, we spark innovation; we inspire youth. We celebrate and heal communities. We stimulate economies. We sustain this great nation."

The Art of Healing

There's no doubt that these last several months have left many of us with a sense of deep divide—both across the nation and within our local communities. There are many remedies for that and most of them have nothing to do with politics (or presidents). I need to be clear that my writing here is not meant to minimize these deep and abiding concerns, nor should these words be received as an overtly political text. Instead, I simply want to drill down into what I believe art—and specifically in this context, arts education—can teach us in these anxious (for some, though not all) times.

One Year Later: Well-Rounded Education Boosted in Implementation of the K-12 Education Law

Leading up to the decade-long work that resulted in enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act last year—the latest authorization of the landmark 1965 Elementary & Secondary Education Act—Americans for the Arts has been covering developments and sharing opportunities to impact reauthorization with arts advocates. On November 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations pertaining to state accountability plans. USED fully adopted our recommendations to make clear that the “arts” are statutorily part of a well-rounded education. 

What women leaders said about the arts during a Creative Conversation held at McMurry University

On October 19, 2016, The Center for Arts Excellence (CAE) at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, hosted a Creative Conversation as a way to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month. The CAE gathered women leaders together from the Grace Museum, Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, United Way, Paramount, Hunt Direct Marketing and McMurry University to discuss the arts in Abilene. More specifically, this group focused their discussion on three distinct areas: arts and community, access to the arts, and possible community arts partnerships.

What Happened to Impact? Navigating Aesthetics & Social Responsibility in the Public Art World

In 2014, a coalition of Wynwood-based organizations invited a frenzy of mural artists to turn the school into an outdoor gallery. Even though the school’s walls looked vibrant, the students were not included in the mural project in any significant way. They were mere spectators to the act of creativity, rather than participants in the creative process. Did the murals fully empower the local students to be capable, responsible and active citizens? In other words, did this good-intentioned mural painting project do enough?

Catching STEAM

If you haven’t heard about the movement to place art within STEM curriculum, or STEAM, you’ve been missing one of the steamiest topics to hit the arts in decades. Essentially a catchy acronym for arts integration targeted at math and science, STEAM has ignited the imaginations of scientists, artists, and educators nationwide. Those on the outside of art and education may wonder: what does a STEAM program look like? Why do it? This blog offers a quick look into one such program steaming forward in the center of the Midwest.

A Tale of Two Industries: Art and Steel, Part 2

Erie, PA has embarked on a renaissance of both art and industry through a project that leverages Erie’s industrially-rooted identity. The Art & Industry project convenes local manufacturers to share trends and career opportunities with students from Erie County Technical School, reinforcing skills students need to excel. The students then designed, fabricated and installed public art that is a lesson in the history of Erie’s people, helping to foster pride in industrial heritage that extends to the products created locally today.

2016 Speaker Series: The Convergence of Arts + Technology

Creativity is the driving force of innovative technologies. The Arts & Business Council of New York dedicated its annual speaker series on November 15, 2016, to exploring the intersection of arts and technology by showcasing companies that have developed and utilized new technologies to tap into the creative economy—transforming how the arts are accessed, produced, and funded.

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