10 Reasons to Invest in Your Local Arts Agency During a Crisis

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, May 26, 2020

Cities are in trouble. A new report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities—The Economy and Cities: What America’s Local Leaders are Seeing—shows that effectively every city, county, and town in America is expecting a budget shortfall this year. “[The] coronavirus will have a staggering impact on municipal employment,” notes the report, with about half expecting layoffs or furloughs. Depending on population size, 50% to 75% of municipalities will cut public services—and more than half expect that to include police. With cities facing their most severe budget headwinds in generations, every sector of government can expect to be scrutinized to gauge impact on the community, including the nation’s 4,500 local arts agencies (LAAs)—arts councils, arts commissions, cultural affairs departments that lead, cultivate, and support an environment in which arts and culture can thrive. They ensure vibrant and accessible arts experiences for all. LAAs are an essential tool for local leaders as they work to rebuild their economy and promote social cohesion in the wake of COVID-19. Here are 10 reasons why investing in LAAs benefits everyone.

Read More

Pre-historic Optimism in the Age of Corona

Posted by Mr. Andrew A. Valdez, Apr 29, 2020

I often ask my students what they want to be when they grow up. I wanted to be a paleontologist. I loved dinosaurs and spent hours in my school’s elementary library reading up on every dinosaur book and watching every documentary I could get my hands on. Had I been a child during this pandemic, my ideal scenario would be curled up in my school library with the internet and a treasure trove of dinosaur books at my disposal. However, that’s not feasible for most of my students. In fact, roughly two-thirds of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District students don’t have access to a computer or similar device at home. One third of our families do not have access to reliable high-speed internet. But what is waiting for them—once the district hands out hotspots and computers—is something I wish I had access to at their age. They will have access to each other, a support network of friends and teachers who are eagerly awaiting them. In particular, one teacher who is so excited for the moment they reconnect because he has collected a handful of dinosaur facts he can’t wait to share with them.

Read More

Raising the Roof: How the Arts Can Lift Up Communities and Rebuild the Economy in the Post COVID-19 Era

Posted by Ms. Tamaira Sandifer, Apr 09, 2020

COVID-19 has heightened the stress levels in lower-income families and put people in extreme survival mode. If you’re not on the top of the socioeconomic ladder, this is a very scary time with lots of uncertainties. Removing vital systems of support like school and community programs throws people into a fear-filled tailspin. We started doing a lot of arts integration work back in 2007 with a couple of different school districts, and we found that because of the shift in budgets teachers began teaching P.E. To support them, we build a hip-hop dance-inspired, web-based learning platform called PassToClass.com. Because of COVID-19, we offered free access to PassToClass.com to all our school partners as a fitness and creative expression resource for distance learning. We need to expand access as much as possible right now. Partnering with creative nonprofits that have tight community ties and boots on the ground means our under-resourced communities get the information and resources they need to stay safe.

Read More

10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2020

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Mar 23, 2020

The effective arts advocate needs to articulate the value of the arts in as many ways as possible—deploying the right case-making tool in the right situation. Consider these “10 Reasons to Support the Arts” as your Swiss army knife for arts advocacy. Like so many sequestered at home during COVID-19, I write this while mindful of our challenging times, and yet inspired by how the arts still have found a way to permeate our lives. I have watched Yo-Yo Ma concerts online, visited the Smithsonian Museum with a click, and joined my neighbors for daily 6 p.m. outdoor singalongs. Even in this difficult environment, the arts are providing personal experiences and promote social cohesion (see tools #2 and #8 on your army knife!). While I am uncertain what we will look like on the other side of this crisis, tool #1 makes me optimistic that when it is time to stop practicing social distancing, it is the arts that will unify us. 

Read More

Engaging the Arts in 2020’s Top Education Policy Priorities

Posted by Mary Dell'Erba, Feb 19, 2020

Last month, Education Commission of the States President Jeremy Anderson shared six trending education policy topics we will likely see in 2020. Arts education stakeholders and advocates may not be surprised to see that the arts were not listed among the top education issues—but don’t worry! The arts interact with these topics in meaningful ways and can be a critical part of the dialogue around the top six trending education policy priorities. Want to continue this conversation? The Arts Education Partnership is pleased to collaborate with Americans for the Arts to host the Arts Education Policy Briefing on Sunday, March 29 in Washington, D.C. We invite you to join us to discuss two of these priorities—workforce development and school climate—together with education and arts stakeholders. 

Read More

Ten 2020 Trends that Will Impact the Arts

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Feb 14, 2020

As we turned the corner into 2020, the Americans for the Arts staff put our heads together to come up with 10 big trends that we think are worth paying attention to this year. Together, these ten trends will inform Americans for the Arts’ next strategic planning process, which will occur this year to drive our work from 2021 to 2023. Some of them you’ll surely already know about—it is an election year, after all! But others may surprise you. From demographics to climate change to the creative economy and more, take a read and let us know what you think—what resonates most with you? What is top of your mind that is missing here? And what are you planning to do to prepare? 

Read More