Boston Public Schools Arts Educators Creatively Meet the Moment

Posted by Anthony Beatrice, Ruth C. Mercado-Zizzo, Sep 16, 2020

Within a week of Boston Public Schools closing its schools due to COVID-19, the district’s nearly 300 BPS visual and performing arts educators quickly shifted to offering remote learning in the arts. The creativity, responsiveness, and community approach educators brought to this task have ensured the arts remain a priority for our students during the spring and moving forward into the new school year. Within days of school closures, BPS visual and performing arts educators congregated on our first Zoom meeting to take stock of the moment and build a plan going forward. In a traffic-jammed city where it can take over an hour to get from one neighborhood to another, meeting online quickly turned into a silver lining, creating a new outlet for collaboration and camaraderie. Discussions rapidly led to an action plan focused on pedagogy and approaches that would make arts learning relevant and sharing resources to do so.

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How to Secure a Local Proclamation for National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Mr. Jay H. Dick, Sep 08, 2020

Proclamations are a wonderful way that your mayor, city council, or your city (or county) in general can easily show its support for the arts and culture. Each year, Americans for the Arts encourages advocates to work with their local and state elected officials to issue a proclamation declaring October National Arts & Humanities Month in their city, county, or state. They allow elected officials to easily demonstrate their support for the arts, offer a written document for advocates to use year-round to demonstrate the value of the arts and culture, and serve as a tool to engage other arts advocates in their local communities. For those who have never done this before, I thought that I would offer a how-to guide help you understand the process of obtaining a proclamation.

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Spotlight on 2020 Johnson Fellowship Nominees: Women Musicians Elevating Black Culture, History, & Contemporary Music for Change

Posted by Ms. Pam Korza, Jun 16, 2020

In this blog, we feature Courtney Bryan and Ashleigh Gordon, two of the 11 music artists who were the exemplary nominees for the 2020 Johnson Fellowship. As consummate musicians in contemporary genres, each thrives on the stimulation of artistic collaboration with fellow musicians, poets, writers, and dancers, but also drives the collective work that builds strength as socially engaged artists. These artists advance self-representation and advocate for cultural equity in the music field, creating music and curating programs that showcase and elevate Black culture and excellence. Importantly, themes of racial justice serve as sources of inspiration and a reservoir of strength in their ongoing support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Committed to spirit and always to beauty, Bryan’s music responds to the present, confronting contemporary social injustices in her home city of New Orleans and across the globe. In her home community of Boston, Gordon is a musical force whose goal is to foster cultural curiosity about, and celebrate the music of, Black composers.

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Artists as Essential Workers with and within Local Government: Models & 3 New Resources for a Creative Way Forward

Posted by Ms. Pam Korza, May 29, 2020

In early April, as the City of Boston became an escalating COVID-19 “hot spot,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office responded with forceful measures on many fronts. In the midst of extreme circumstances, on April 3, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture (MOAC) also announced the fourth cohort of artists-in-residence in its Boston AIR program. The program pairs local artists and staff from City of Boston departments to co-design projects that test new approaches to City policies and processes and that often address the social and political context of that year. In the years ahead, municipal and county government officials face unfathomable challenges in recovery and reconstruction stemming from COVID-19. Programs such as Boston AIR and Los Angeles County's Creative Strategist Artist-in-Residence have demonstrated that artists working in partnership with government are essential workers who bring creative practices and solutions to issues that municipalities face. Local arts councils and commissions often play a big role in conceiving and coordinating these programs in tandem with local government.

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Spotlight on 2020 Johnson Fellowship Nominees: Celebrating How Artists Transform Communities

Posted by Ms. Pam Korza, May 19, 2020

We need to celebrate the important work that artists do every day. They imagine creative courses to solve problems. They create welcoming spaces to exercise cultural and civil rights and to challenge the status quo. They orchestrate rituals of spiritual and emotional healing. They configure single words, movements, marks, sounds to make meaning, purpose, and full-on expressions of beauty that remind us of the most fundamental things we humans share. Especially now, as we strategize to ensure that artists are supported and integrated into COVID-19 recovery and reconstruction, we need ready stories of their unique contributions substantiated with the real impacts of their approaches. Beginning with this post, a new ARTSblog series will celebrate the 11 music artists who were the exemplary nominees for the 2020 Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities. Vastly different in their artistry—from classical orchestral work and blues, gospel, and American roots traditions to punk rock, improvisational, and genre stretching forms—each artist in their own right is advancing community, civic, and social goals.

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A Strong Equation: How State Arts Advocacy Efforts are Paying Off!

Posted by Mr. Jay H. Dick, Feb 21, 2020

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) recently published their FY 2020 State Arts Agency Revenues Report. By any measure, the report paints a very positive picture for state funding of the arts, with year-to-year appropriations increasing by more than 37% to a grand total of almost $495 million in total legislative appropriations. Because the economy is doing well, it stands to reason that SAA appropriations would be higher. While it is true that a strong economy makes increases more likely, a strong economy alone cannot explain this year’s massive increase. There in an interesting equation at work: If your state has a State Arts Agency that is engaged in thoughtful programming, a strong statewide arts advocacy organization, and advocates who are proactively engaged with your state’s existing political leadership, more funding/pro-arts policy are possible! 

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