It’s Never Too Late for PTSD Awareness

Some may not have known, but Saturday, June 27th was National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. In 2010, Congress named June 27th PTSD Awareness Day. They later declared the entire month of June 2014, National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month.

Plastered in Paducah

I first learned about Paducah, KY eleven years ago when I started working at Americans for the Arts. Where is Paducah, you ask? Well, it’s a town of about 25,000 people nestled where the Ohio and Tennessee rivers converge, approximately 140 miles north of Nashville in the western sliver of Kentucky. But don't let this quaint town fool you, as it packs a huge arts punch. 

Non-Traditional Forms of Arts Education

I’m not sure if it’s because it’s summer and the tourism/events season is really rolling in South Dakota or if it’s the fantastic arts experiences I’ve had the good fortune of experiencing in the past couple of months, but I’m having a hard time shaking thoughts about non-traditional forms of arts education.

The arts, in all disciplines, are educational by their very nature. If people are engaging in an arts event or exhibit, they are learning, and there’s no way to stop it. But the really cool thing about learning through the arts is the multiplied effect that results. When learning through the arts, audiences are almost always learning about more than one thing. Another really cool thing: This type of learning generally continues through adulthood.

The Creative Economy: How a Chamber of Commerce and Arts & Business Council Are Changing the Conversation

For nearly 35 years, the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia (A&BC Philadelphia) has been engaging with business, legal, and technology professionals to strengthen our region’s cultural sectors. A&BC Philadelphia continues to support the business aspect of our arts community through volunteer consulting projects, board governance, leadership development programs, and pro bono legal services. 

Privilege, Access, and the Arts

This past June, I had the opportunity to present at the first Cultural Equity Preconference at the 2015 American for the Arts (AFTA) gathering in Chicago, IL. Over 100 people spent three rigorous days thinking about art, diversity, and their own communities. Each presentation created space for me to consider, reflect, and question. From chats over lunch about gay zombie theater to bus rides investigating the urgent need to include dialogue about ability and accessibility in social justice movements, every interaction was steeped in expansive conversations.

The "Graying" of America: An Opportunity to Add Color and Artistic Expression

This post by Robert Lynch was originally published on July 15, 2015 by the Huffington Post.

A "first" for my mother came just days shy of her most recent significant birthday -- the exact number for which she does not want to see printed here. As I helped to set up her first major art gallery exhibit in Falmouth, Massachusetts, I marveled at how full of life she was, radiating joy as she showed her work to fellow artists, family and guests. The windswept beaches of her Cape Cod home, colorful harbors, cozy New England cottages, rolling hills and old barns -- she transformed her life experiences into beautiful works of oils and acrylics.

The Intersection of Creative Youth Development and Creative Community Development

My last blog “The Power of Place: The Importance of Dedicated 3rd Spaces for Youth to Engage in the Arts” talked about the importance of creating dedicated 3rd spaces in the community for youth to engage in the arts. I talked about our successes of creating the ARTS Center in National City – a low income, blighted community with high rates of violent crime, poverty, and unemployment. The ARTS Center is a colorful, vibrant, and safe oasis within the community for youth to come after-school and on weekends to be healed, inspired, and empowered through the arts. 

The Art of Relatability

Last Tuesday, ballet was trending on social media. More specifically, Misty Copeland’s story of becoming American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American female principal dancer was trending. Following the ABT announcement, the internet flooded with congratulations for Ms. Copeland from faithful and new fans alike. Perhaps most moving was how personal many of the well-wishes were, written as if being sent to a dear friend or family member.

What’s Measured Matters . . . Private Giving to Arts & Culture: Way Up in 2014!

Support for the nonprofit arts in the U.S. is a mosaic of funding sources—a delicate 60-30-10 balance of earned revenue, private sector contributions, and government support. The arts sector relies on contributions to keep its cultural products and services affordable and accessible to our communities.  We pay close attention to philanthropy because even small fluctuations in contributed revenue can be the difference between an arts organization broadening its reach or facing a deficit. Every year the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy publishes their annual Giving USA analysis on philanthropy. Their latest report shows that 2014 was a very good year for the arts.

Fund for the Arts Connects with Louisville Schools

This piece by Tom Partridge was originally published The Courier Journal in Louisville. This piece was re-posted with their permission.
Over four and half years ago I had the opportunity to move to Louisville to lead the Kentucky market for Fifth Third Bank. As an 18-year Fifth Third employee, I was fully engrained in the culture of giving back to our communities, and embraced the bank’s commitment to help the communities we serve grow and thrive.

10 Fun Online PD Resources for Arts Educators & Leaders

It’s that time of year – summer is here! As we say goodbye to another school year and take the next month or two to regroup, plan, and hopefully enjoy some much needed R&R (preferably on a beach), here are a few (mostly free) really great professional development resources to help refuel, recharge, and inspire our creative minds. The bonus is they’re all available online!

ESEA Reauthorization – The Senate Takes Action!

Although the timing of congressional votes keep getting kicked around, it remains a crucial time in Washington for arts education.

Anything’s possible*, but what’s most likely is a U.S. Senate floor vote and amendment consideration this weekas well as a long-delayed House floor vote—on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization.

Makers’ Fever Spreads Throughout the District

*achoo*A couple weeks after the festivities, this humble intern is still recovering from Makers’ fever. I caught it while attending two of the Maker Faires held in the District the week of June 12th.Last year, President Obama caught the fever when the White House hosted its first Maker Faire after submitting a Presidential Proclamation declaring June 17th a National Day of Making. This year he updated the Proclamation, declaring June 12th-18th a National Week of Making. That’s one serious case of the Makers’ bug, if you ask me!

Offline at AFTACON

Americans for the Arts Annual Convention (AFTACON) regularly draws thousands of members of the arts world to one location for a whirlwind four days of workshops, recognition, plenaries, and arts excursions in some of the most incredible and dynamic cities in the country. There is never enough time to attend all the sessions I’m interested in. They all offer an insight into how art influences our economy, education, and communities – and how we visualize and interpret our world.

So, What Do You Do?

Editor’s Note: Ashley McDonald, Membership Associate at Americans for the Arts, interviewed our member Felicia Shaw about her work in the arts field. At the time of this interview Felicia was in the process of transitioning from her role as interim executive director of Young Audiences of San Diego to her new role as executive director of the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) in her hometown of St. Louis, MO.

AM: Can you describe your role at St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC)?

FS: My job at RAC will be to assume the leadership role of a local arts agency that has had an impressive 30-year history of growing the arts and culture community throughout the St. Louis region. I’ll be working to preserve the vitality of a successful organization that is ready to grow to the next level, particularly at a time when St. Louis is turning the corner and looking to the future. I am charged with establishing a vision for RAC and strategically moving the organization forward in a new and impactful way for the next decade and beyond.

Business Leaders in Dallas Choose the Arts On Their Own Time

The North Texas Business Council for the Arts (NTBCA) is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1988, by iconic business leader and philanthropist Raymond D. Nasher. NTBCA is dedicated to creating business and arts partnerships in the 16-county region that is anchored by Dallas and Fort Worth. Our programs connect business professionals to the arts through education, events, and advocacy. NTBCA’s Board of Directors is made up of executives from some of the region’s top companies.

Richard Huff Responds to Annual Convention 2014

Editor's Note: When asked to blog about his experience at and reaction to Annual Convention 2015 in Chicago, where he received the Selina Roberts Ottum Award, Richard Huff kept things short and sweet as usual: Thank you!

Our Shared Public Art (and Placemaking) Legacy

At the Americans for the Arts 2015 Annual Convention, I was honored to accept the 2015 Public Art Network Award on behalf of the Association for Public Art (aPA) and also the early innovators who guide our work today. I am acutely aware that as the nation’s first non-profit public art organization, aPA has a unique 140+ year legacy. While we do not operate in the same environment as government agencies, I believe that recognizing our shared public art legacy can fortify our position by imparting clarity, credibility, and clout.

So who were those civic-minded people who founded and supported the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) and established the earliest percent for art programs in the United States?

Arts Action Heroes to the Rescue!

During my 30 years at Americans for the Arts, I have had the great privilege to visit and learn about a different community nearly every week. While they differ vastly from one another, there is one common strength I have observed: the arts have made a profound impact on the health of each community.

Across America, in communities of all sizes, a rising population of arts action heroes -- both individuals and organizations -- are stepping up, armed with the tools of their craft and a vision of how their work in the arts contributes to the well-being of a community.

Follow up on Americans for the Arts' Annual Convention

The 2015 Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention was also my first visit to Chicago. Having arrived early, I heard that the Chicago Architecture Foundation offered outstanding tours. I arranged to join the “Must See Chicago,” tour and was not disappointed. My inner geek enjoyed learning about Daniel Burnham, bundled tube construction, and remembering the contributions to mid-century modern architecture of Mies van der Rohe from art history class. While I spent a considerable amount of time “looking up” at numerous behemoth skyscrapers, I was grounded by a treasure trove of public art. It felt like opening a new box of crayons-truly inspirational. That was only the beginning of my #AFTACON inspiration.

Some Expressions about the Arts and Creative Expression

I was thrilled to sit in on the “Vocabulary for Arts and Arts Education” session at Americans for the Arts' Annual Convention this year. All three presenters—Christopher Audain, Kevin Kirkpatrick, and Margy Waller, along with moderator Margie Reese—were all on point for the session and I perhaps overtweeted in my enthusiasm over what they shared.

As I left the session, I started focusing on what Kevin presented on changing the conversation about arts and culture. Arts Midwest recently released the study Creating Connection: Research Findings and Proposed Message Framework to Build Public Will for Arts and Culture, which examined how existing attitudes and values of our audiences connect with our field’s message output. The study suggests reframing arts activity to be “creative expression” will have a more effective connection to broader audiences, and that connecting with others, with their families, and with their inner selves is their largest motivation for participating in arts and culture.

VANS Inspires the Next Generation of Artists, Designers, and Innovators

Editor’s Note: Americans for the Arts partners with VANS on their Custom Culture program. Last week in New York City was the final event of the competition, where the winning shoe design was picked. Below are remarks that our Arts Education Program Manager made during the event:

My name is Kristen, and my organization, Americans for the Arts, partners with Vans to ensure that schools all over the country have amazing arts programs, just like yours.

Custom Culture was developed to encourage high school students to embrace their creativity and inspire a new generation of youth culture.

Working Smarter - not Harder - when Advocating for the Arts

It is an interesting time in arts education. Two distinct, relatively recent developments--the National Core Arts Standards and New Models of Teacher Evaluation for non-tested subject areas--have greatly contributed to arts education and will continue to have a positive impact on the field for years to come. These projects have provided the field with current perspectives on best practices in teaching and assessing learning in the arts. In addition to providing guidance for educators’ practices in the classroom, these developments in our field also help illustrate the positive impact of the arts in education. While these different tools provide arts educators and administrators with a means to shape valuable arts experiences in education, their relevance could also be used in current advocacy efforts.

Chicagoland's Arts and Culture Brings the Vibrancy -- and Money, Too!

This article has been co-written with Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and originally published by The Huffington Post on June 12, 2o15.

Deplaning at Chicago's O'Hare, it's easy to daydream of the world-famous art that awaits: the gleaming, 100-ton stainless steel Cloud Gate, Grant Woods' iconicAmerican Gothic, historic architecture and the homegrown Chicago blues.

Short and Sweet: the Truth about Money and the Arts

There is never money and there's always money. I have never met a mayor, a city manager, or a school superintendent who ever had any money, but I have never seen one who quit spending it. A lack of money is not the key problem. In my opinion, creativity is the problem. Money follows ideas. Arts administrators need to be as creative as we expect our artists to be.

Justice in Education

Across the country, communities are calling for justice in education. High stakes testing, disproportionate discipline by race, and the mass closing of public schools in certain regions profoundly impact the lives of young people. In an environment where education reform, vouchers, charter schools, and increased accountability dominate the landscape, what does it mean to impact the very heart and bureaucratic structure of public school districts and build trust, equity, and meaningful change?

Using public funding to incent private sector contributions

I live in a community that clearly values the arts and creativity – arts participation in Portland and in Oregon is among the highest in the country according to the NEA. Even so, private philanthropy lags significantly behind the national average.

How can we convince more Oregonians to support the arts? Anytime we launch a new private sector initiative, we turn to our government partners first. (Perhaps that’s partially because our local arts agency, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, was a city bureau until 1995.) In any event, public-private partnerships have become the standard way of growing the Portland metro region’s arts community.

Placemaking is a Verb

On reflection, I think most of us would agree that the term “placemaking” has been conjugated beyond definition. This year’s public art pre-conference is called “Public Art and Placemaking.” In my view, the best public art is inherently placemaking (the verb). Perhaps the pre-conference should instead be called “Public Art IS Placemaking.”

Based on my experience at the Association for Public Art (aPA), formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association, art in public spaces has long been a material attribute of our civic landscape. We know and can cite examples of public art that enhance our environment, transform landscapes, express community values, bring people together, heighten our awareness, or question our assumptions.

Great Expectations: One Measure at a Time

Tis the season for all things grants. Grant applications, grant reports, grant prospecting (well really, that season never ends). In the past 90 days, I have had my hand in nearly a dozen grants, mostly to corporate and community foundations, as well as (state) government.

Those of you who work in this realm or in tandem with your development team know the drill: mission, check. Need, check. Project description, check. Impact, check. Or in this one, outcomes. But wait, the other one is asking for metrics and measurements. This one is looking for more quantitative measurement. That one encourages qualitative data. And the school systems to whom I am providing services are looking to still different outcomes and measurements altogether. And while so many benevolent community funders have taken the seemingly Herculean effort to equitably support both social services and cultural (education) funding, so often then, we are asked to complete evaluation templates that are really geared towards social service sector outcomes.

What’s Going on Internationally in Arts Education?

As we celebrated International Arts Education Week 2015 last week, I have a renewed interest in exploring what is happening around the world in the fields of arts and education; specifically where they come together.

The first International Arts education Week was held in 2012 at the UNESCO headquarters with representatives from all sectors involved including artists, educators, NGO’s and the like. To coordinate global efforts in celebration of the power and impact of arts education, the delegates at the UNESCO general conference approved a resolution designating a week to join together as a global community to celebrate on the 4th week of May annually. This guide book is a great starting place for your celebration.


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