10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2022

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Mar 21, 2022

The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, empathy, and beauty. The arts also strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even during a pandemic that has been devastating to the arts. The following 10 reasons show why an investment in artists, creative workers, and arts organizations is vital to the nation’s post-pandemic healing and recovery. The arts are a proven contributor in keeping us mentally healthy—reducing depression and anxiety and increasing life satisfaction. Just 30 minutes of arts activities daily can combat the ill effects of isolation and loneliness associated with COVID-19—and 78% of hospital CEOs say the purpose of their arts programs is to aid in the emotional and mental healing of patients Those data points nail it. The arts are all about stories—often personal, always meaningful. This advocacy season, find your stories and pair them with the research-based findings in “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

Read More

Riva Lehrer and the Complex World of Art and Disability Advocacy

Posted by Laura Martin, Mar 17, 2022

Riva Lehrer is no stranger to difficult times. Growing up with spina bifida in the 1950s and ’60s, Riva experienced a very ableist world where children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. She very quickly had to learn to mask her own disability or acquire other identities to overshadow her “differentness.” She didn’t learn how to advocate or vocalize her needs as a disabled person until later in life. It was through her art and writing, and joining the Disabled Artists Collective, that gave Riva a way to portray and publicly amplify the humanness of those with impairments as people like everyone else, including herself. Riva stands squarely at the intersection of so many identities: advocate, disabled, queer, artist, writer, professor, public speaker, Jewish, and a woman. But the one she gets asked to weigh in on the most is disability, as if the mere fact that she has a disability makes her an expert in the field: “When I present my portrait work with people with impairments and who deal with stigma I can’t just talk about the art or some other aspect of the art. I’ll start talking about working with some trans or queer subjects and most of the time people just want to bring it back to disability. It often feels like a lot of me is left outside the door.”

Read More

Painting By Numbers: How Cities Can Use Data to Support the Arts

Posted by David Andersson, Feb 25, 2022

Although cities increasingly rely on data to help shape policy and identify service gaps, there is often skepticism from both the creative sector and government about whether metrics can meaningfully capture the impact of the arts. In a field where variety of creative expression is fundamental, how do you count what really counts? For cities that recognize their artists and cultural institutions as a critical part of the economy and essential to quality of life for residents, arts data can be a powerful tool to advocate for culture alongside other city services. Data can also help city leaders understand who is and isn’t being served by government arts dollars and expand access to arts experiences in every community. Through best practices and case studies, Arts Data in the Public Sector: Strategies for Local Arts Agencies aims to help arts agencies and city leaders show measurable impact, identify priority policy areas, and establish more equitable and inclusive practices to promote access to the arts across communities.

Read More

Artists as Advocates: A Conversation with Summer Interns Callia and Bella

Posted by Callia Chuang, Bella Kiser, Aug 12, 2021

This summer, we had the opportunity to intern at Americans for the Arts. Callia, a student at Harvard University, worked with the Government Affairs team, and Bella, a recent graduate of Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, worked with the Marketing and Communications team. Both of us hope to pursue artistic careers in the future: Callia as a filmmaker and Bella as a visual artist specializing in soft sculpture. Having gotten a taste of the arts administration and advocacy world this summer, we wanted to share our experiences and discuss the ways we have found that the arts and advocacy are intertwined.

Read More

Shooting for the Moon with the STAR Act: How an Arts and Transit Provision was Protected

Posted by Lauren Cohen, Jul 19, 2021

On the morning of June 30, 2021, a new and unexpected threat to a pro-arts piece of federal legislation became apparent. The full U.S. House of Representatives was beginning final consideration of the INVEST in America Act of 2021 (H.R. 3684), which included an arts and transit provision that had not attracted any opposition—until an amendment from Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) aimed to strike the pro-arts provision from the bill. Rep. Gibbs argued that that federal dollars shouldn’t be used for “feel-good frescoes and metro station murals.” What Rep. Gibbs and other opponents fail to realize is that the provision does not require art projects, but rather allows local transit authorities the option to hire artists and install public art in transit projects if they wish. And it doesn’t cost the federal government money, but rather allows local transit authorities the option to spend their budget hiring an artist if they want to. Arts-related votes on the floor of either chamber of Congress are a rarity, so a dynamic advocacy strategy becomes extremely important when one occurs—and in this case, Americans for the Arts marshalled every arts advocacy tool in our war chest in response.

Read More

In the Wake of the Pandemic, Asian Americans Artists Confront Racism

Posted by Irene Mei Zhi Shum, May 11, 2021

Unleashed by anxiety over the pandemic, the nationwide rise in anti-Asian hate has served as a call to action for many Asian American artists to take a stand: To actively challenge the historic negative stereotype of the vice- and disease-ridden Yellow Peril; to dismantle the pernicious and divisive myth of the model minority that pits achievements by Asian Americas as judgements against other communities of color; and to advocate for social justice, equity, and inclusion for all. Located on opposite coasts, the work of photographer Mike Keo and multimedia artist Monyee Chau exemplify this new generation of Asian American activist-artists who are working within their respective communities to effect change. Both skillfully employ social media to raise awareness. Keo and Chau follow a long line of Asian American activist-artists and curators who deserve wider recognition. Most notably, in 1990 artists Ken Chu and Bing Lee and curator Margo Machida founded Godzilla: Asian American Art Network, an influential collective of artists and curators in New York City.

Read More