Spotlight on Nolen V. Bivens, Interim President and CEO

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Jan 29, 2021

A Director Emeritus and former Board member of Americans for the Arts, Brigadier General Nolen V. Bivens, U.S. Army Ret., is currently serving as our Interim President and CEO. He serves as Chair, National Leadership Advisory Council for the National Initiative for Arts & Health Across the Military, and Military community advisor for the National Endowment for the Arts Military Healing Arts Network Creative Forces program, among other roles. “As a senior military leader, I had to find answers to problems that traditional military training didn’t prepare me to deal with. Getting service members to address personal trauma was one of those problems. Following tours in Iraq and training to return, it became apparent to me that service men and women weren’t always taking care of themselves. Individuals who encountered some great trauma were not taking advantage of medical resources and it was showing up in all sorts of ways—from ever increasing suicides to family violence. They weren’t taking advantage of the traditional therapies available for various reasons such as fear of losing their clearances or being stigmatized as a weak leader. I found that many of them simply wanted to engage in activities which would free their minds of the stress they were experiencing. The arts were a way to do this without telegraphing the need for help.” 

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Creativity Drove the Inauguration—It Should Drive the Recovery, Too

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Jan 26, 2021

On Inauguration Day, we witnessed an explosion of arts, culture, and creativity in Washington, DC. Arts and culture were the backbone of the entire day—they carried the symbols of a broken country knitting itself back together, they celebrated our history and articulated visions of our shared future, they consolidated in striking images and economical language the whole complex ethos of a new presidential administration dedicated to unity, hope, and an American Renaissance. It was an inspiring thing to see, and hopefully bodes well for the position, and support of, arts, culture and the creative economy in the Biden/Harris Administration. In the days and weeks to come, President Biden will step into complex negotiations to build and then pass first the American Rescue Plan, a $2 trillion relief package, and then a subsequent large-scale workforce and infrastructure recovery bill—and this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to how much, and in what ways, the new administration thinks about the centrality of arts, culture, and the creative economy. There can be no national recovery, no American Rescue, without the creative economy, and the 5.1 million creative workers who make it up. 

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The 10 most read ARTSblog posts of 2020

Posted by Ms. Ann Marie Watson, Jan 13, 2021

“How do you measure … measure a year?” I won’t even try to measure the sum total of the dumpster fire that was 2020. But looking back on one of the most difficult years of our lifetime through the readers of ARTSblog paints an illuminating—if not entirely unexpected—picture. In a year when social media was often loud and angry (though also entertaining—if only our blog could skateboard to Fleetwood Mac while drinking cranberry juice!), ARTSblog remained a steadfast space for our members and the arts & culture sector to learn from each other, share our struggles and successes, and most of all stay connected in an unbelievably isolating time. The year’s most read blogs reflect how 2020 shaped the field’s fears and furies, but also our hopes and optimism for the present and future of the arts.

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By Every Measure, COVID-19 Continues Its Devastation of the Arts

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Dec 01, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, so does its devastation of the nation’s arts sector. Since the first U.S. case was reported in January 2020, cancellations have taken place at virtually every arts organization across the country, artists are among the most severely affected segment of the nation’s workforce, and 1 in 10 nonprofit arts organizations doubt their ability to survive the pandemic. It has been unquestionably brutal for the arts. When we get to the other side of the pandemic, however, I believe the arts will be among our greatest assets in helping the nation to recover. The arts are kindling for the economy—small investments that deliver big returns. The arts also provide shared and meaningful experiences in public spaces—a community connection that heals the loneliness caused by isolation and social distancing. The arts are on the right side of what needs to be done to rebuild and heal our country. We must continue to invest in our artists and fund our arts organizations to capture these benefits.

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Strengthening Healthcare Systems Through the Arts

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Oct 29, 2020

The Ancient Greeks anointed Apollo as the god of both the arts and of healing—a hefty portfolio even by early mythology standards. As different as those areas may seem, new research suggests this was a prescient choice. When the arts are part of our healthcare experience, we have shorter hospital stays, less depression, and take less medication—all of which adds up to reduced healthcare costs. In recent years, there has been a growing understanding of the benefits, and prevalence, of arts in healthcare programs. When hospital administrators were asked, “Why the arts,” chief among the responses were that they aid in the mental and emotional recovery of patients (80%) as well as their physical recovery (41%). Many programs extend beyond the patients in order to strengthen the entire healing system: 80% of programs serve patients directly, 58% include the patient’s family, and 42% are for staff to help them deal with the stress of working in the healthcare environment. With these (and many more) benefits, it is no wonder that 68% of Americans agree that the arts improve health and the healthcare experience—and 73% favor government funding for arts in healthcare programs.

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Member Spotlight: Kyaien Conner

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Oct 12, 2020

Kyaien (Kya) Conner, PhD, LSW, MPH, began studying West African Dance at the age of six and became a professional West African Dancer at 14. Trained in dance forms of Djembe, Sabar, and Kutiro, she is a member of Kuumba Dancers and Drummers in Tampa, Florida; teaches West African Dance at the University of Tampa; and has taught West African dance nationally and internationally. Conner also is a tenured professor of Mental Health Law and Policy at University of South Florida, specializing in health disparities and the benefits and effects of culturally relevant psychiatric treatments and community-based intervention in older African Americans.

Our Member Profile series features the many Americans for the Arts members doing transformative work for arts education, public art, advocacy, arts marketing, and more. An Americans for the Arts Membership connects you with this network of more than 6,000 arts leaders and gives you access to latest professional development and research. 

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