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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Member Spotlight: Lawren Desai

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Dec 14, 2020

Lawren Desai is the executive director and curator of a/perture cinema in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In January 2020, a/perture cinema celebrated its 10th anniversary of serving the Winston-Salem community the art of film and providing a communal cinematic experience. As an art house cinema, a/perture’s mission is to entertain and engage the community through the art of film by showcasing informative, educational, thought-provoking, and inspiring films—the films that enrich our lives, engage our minds, promote diversity, and build community. Desai spoke with us about the inception of a/perture cinema, the organization’s adaption to COVID-19, as well as the organization’s plans going forward. 

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Pop-up Art Inspires Hope in Downtown Salina, Kansas

Posted by Anna V. Pauscher Morawitz, Dec 08, 2020

While we long for the time when we can gather to experience the arts together, at Salina Arts & Humanities we found a solution for the month of October while celebrating National Arts & Humanities Month: pop-up art installations. As we returned to work from stay-at-home orders and furlough, we discussed new ways of changing lives and building community. We asked: How can we follow public health guidelines, encourage engagement in the arts, hire local visual artists and writers, and inspire creativity in our newly reconstructed downtown? The staff at Salina Arts & Humanities (who wrapped trees and poles in cotton fabric to kick off the downtown project) in collaboration with three poets, three yarn artists, and three chalk artists pulled off an active recognition of National Arts & Humanities month in Salina, Kansas, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Member Spotlight: Kathryn Armstrong

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Nov 23, 2020

Kathryn Armstrong is the Executive Director at the Columbus Area Arts Council in Columbus, Indiana where she has worked since 2016. The Columbus Area Arts Council’s mission is to strengthen the Columbus community through arts and culture. With 15 years of experience working as an art professional, Kathryn’s work is centered around making communities stronger through art, culture, and civic engagement. During her tenure, she has implemented artist-led workshops, pop-up performances, and the 411 Gallery in downtown Columbus. Previously a faculty member at the Herron School of Art and Design from 2010 until 2016, Kathryn taught professional practice courses for undergraduate and graduate students and served as the Director of the Basile Center for Art, Design and Public Life. “As an arts and cultural leader, I look for ways to enhance daily life through arts activation, supporting artists and arts organizations, inspiring others to be creative, empowering youth, and more importantly implementing ways for folks to have equal access to the arts.” 

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Toolkit Developed by Artists Keeps Creatives Working During COVID-19

Posted by Ms. Jen Krava, Nov 20, 2020

“This toolkit was born out of a desire to fight despair,” shares Candida Gonzalez, artist and consultant to Forecast, a nonprofit for artists working in the public space. “I watched in disbelief as many friends all over the country lost their projects and gigs. Rather than pausing to think on alternatives, many funders’ knee-jerk response to the pandemic was to pull funding and cancel projects.” This despair birthed an idea from the team at Forecast for a toolkit created and launched in April 2020 with artists, arts organizations, presenting organizations, and others collaborating with artists in mind. “Innovation in the Time of COVID” is designed to be an ever-evolving platform that contains strategies for adapting in-person arts-based activities during the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone to share, use, and contribute to. Forecast continues to develop the toolkit based on open-source input from artists and arts organizations and examples of how they are adapting in-person arts-based projects. 

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Member Spotlight: Rosine Bena and Ananda Bena-Weber

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Nov 09, 2020

The Sierra Nevada Ballet (SNB), a professional ballet company based in Reno, Nevada, will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021. The SNB’s founder and artistic director is former professional ballerina, Rosine Bena. SNB is made up of professional dancers from Nevada and from other areas of the country augmented by talented trainees and apprentices from the northern Nevada community. Among these professional dancers is Ananda Bena-Weber, Rosine’s daughter, who is also a founding member of the company and a principal dancer. SNB continues to expand and to encourage talented students at its Academy to remain in the Nevada area to pursue their careers and inspire others in the area to take advantage of the cultural enrichment. The mother and daughter duo spoke with us about the work of SNB, their artistic collaborations, and why they enjoy being members of Americans for the Arts: “Especially during these challenging times, it is such an important organization.” 

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