A Fresh Way to Learn About Local Arts Agencies

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Apr 11, 2019

I conducted my first survey of local arts agencies in 1991. It was all paper in those days. We didn’t even ask for fax numbers because too few had one! Over the years we have fielded dozens of local arts agency (LAA) surveys—some were short and easy to fill out and provided useful information, but lacked adequate depth; others were comprehensive and extremely informative, but were too long and hard for respondents to complete. While the paper surveys became online surveys and technology has made distribution more expansive, what remains as pressing as ever is the need for reliable, relevant, and easily accessible information about the LAAs—research that provides early alerts about new trends, drives discourse about how the industry is evolving, and simply allows LAAs to see how they compare to their peers. In 2018, Americans for the Arts implemented a new annual survey to accomplish just this—The Profile of Local Arts Agencies. There are multiple ways you can put the Profile findings to work for you! 

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Why It’s Crucial to Center Equity in LAA Investment Strategies

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Mar 27, 2019

What does it mean to center equity in your investment strategy? And why is that important? Cultural equity is critical to the arts and culture sector’s long-term viability, as well as to the ability of the arts to contribute to healthy, vibrant, equitable communities for all. If the field is not investing in the artistic and cultural traditions of every aspect of their community, then we are not fulfilling our purpose. Each year the United States’ 4,500 local arts agencies collectively invest an estimated $2.8 billion in their local arts and culture ecosystems, including an estimated $600 million in direct investment in artists and arts and culture organizations through grants, contracts, and loans. This makes LAAs, collectively, the largest distributor of publicly-derived funds to arts and culture in the United States. It is therefore crucial that LAAs employ a strong lens of equity to consider the full scope of their investments—including both direct financial investments like grants, and indirect financial investments like staff salaries and rent.

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