Colorado Representative Leslie Herod Advocates for the Arts in General Assembly

Posted by Mr. Jay H. Dick, Nov 03, 2022

Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), presented Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod with the 2021 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for her work in advancing arts and culture, especially during the pandemic to help artists and arts organizations survive. As Chair of the Colorado House Appropriations Committee, she has used her influence to ensure that arts and culture are not only seen as economic engines but are treated with the respect they deserve. Rep. Herod is fond of comparing the economic impact of the state’s arts and culture sector to its ski industry. Aware that everyone in Colorado knows that the ski industry is huge in the state—supporting jobs and bringing in tax revenue—she notes that the ski industry is $4.8 billion dollars, while arts and culture is a $14.4 billion dollar industry, generating about three times more than the ski industry. Rep. Herod believes that the arts bring diverse groups of people together to inspire connections, create change, and support economic vibrancy. She believes that the shortest distance between people are their stories, and the arts open doors to conversations that define us as a community and address complex issues to create greater understanding. 

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Member Spotlight: Patrick Rath

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Oct 04, 2021

In October 2020, Patrick Rath became the president & CEO of United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF), the largest united fund for the performing arts in the country. Since 1967, UPAF has been dedicated to securing community resources, promoting the performing arts as a regional asset, and improving the quality of life through responsible investment in and financial support of the performing arts in Southeastern Wisconsin. Every dollar raised comes from individuals, companies, and foundations. Rath brings more than 30 years’ experience in development and on the boards of several performing arts organizations to the role. He is also a classically trained double bass player and has performed with eight of UPAF’s 14 member organizations. 

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Member Spotlight: Ernest Disney-Britton

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Jul 12, 2021

Since its inception, the Arts Council of Indianapolis has provided programs and services to the citizens of central Indiana, and to hundreds of artists and arts organizations. Vice President of Community Impact and Investment Ernest Disney-Britton’s areas of focus include grantmaking, arts education, impact research, and equity partnerships. He provides support for arts organizations and individuals who apply for grant and fellowship funding through the Annual Grant Program, Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship, Robert D. Beckmann Jr. Emerging Artist Fellowship, and Transformational Impact Fellowship. Additionally, he coordinates the Any Given Child Indy program that is creating a long-range arts education plan for students in grades K-8 in Indianapolis Public Schools.

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How America’s Arts Organizations Can Invest Their Values

Posted by Laura Callanan, May 20, 2021

Following the strong, public statements of solidarity with Black Lives Matter that cultural institutions across the country made in Summer 2020, museums, artist-endowed foundations, and other arts organizations began to look inward, identifying all the ways their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access can be lived in their day-to-day activities. This has prompted endowed cultural organizations to seriously evaluate whether their investment decisions reflect their values, and to begin the journey to align their money with mission and purpose. Such a reflection is a natural outgrowth of recent debates over accepting donations earned through the sale of opioids, fossil fuels, weapons, and the operation of private prisons. It also recognizes that Next Generation art donors and foundations that fund the arts—many of whom are impact investors themselves—are beginning to evaluate an arts organization’s investments alongside its programs and policies when deciding where to give. America’s museums, libraries, art schools, performing art centers, and other cultural institutions steward more than $58 billion in financial assets through their endowments. This means investment policies and practices offer a meaningful way for cultural institutions to signal their values of diversity, equity, inclusion and access.

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Activating Support for the Arts from Donor Advised Funds

Posted by Ms. Christina Ritchie, Apr 20, 2021

Philanthropists around the country are trying to make an outsize difference during the COVID-19 crisis with an initiative called #HalfMyDAF. The group, founded by Jennifer and David Risher, has banded together to offer matching challenge grants when others join them in committing to distribute at least half of the money in their Donor Advised Fund accounts to charities. The initiative spurred the distribution of $8.6 million in DAF distributions that were matched by $1.8 million in matching grants in 2020. So far $3.1 million is available in matching grants for 2021, but those funds will support the arts only if arts philanthropists step up to participate. Below is the story of one arts organization that benefitted from the initiative in 2020, Ashland New Plays Festival, which received a matching grant that provided a significant additional financial boost in a difficult year. Could this growing movement do even more for the arts in 2021?

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10 Trends that Will Impact Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy in 2021

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Mar 16, 2021

About this time last year, Americans for the Arts staff put our heads together to create a “Trends in 2020” blog post. We didn’t anticipate an economy-grinding pandemic, which has devastatingly shaped everything this past year, but we did hit some of the other trends that occurred—demographic change, rising division and distrust, shifts towards equity, the fight over who would get to vote and political power, and the primacy of data. Across the arts field, most of us would agree that 2020 was a humbling, surprising, traumatic, and frustratingly unpredictable year. While trend forecasting in this moment is a tricky business, understanding what might be coming around the bend is crucial to our success as a field, particularly as we navigate such a volatile time. Who knows, honestly, what 2021 will bring—but the staff at Americans for the Arts got together (virtually, this time) and here’s what we’ve come up with—10 trends that we think will impact arts, culture, and the creative economy in 2021.

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