The Role of Corporations in the Grand Bargain of Detroit

Posted by Ms. Maud M. Lyon, Jul 31, 2014

Maud Lyon Maud Lyon

If you want to know why art matters, look at Detroit. Art has become the centerpiece of the plan for Detroit to emerge from municipal bankruptcy. The visionary plan began to take shape last fall with three goals: protect the city’s retirees from disastrous cuts in their pensions; avoid years of contentious litigation that would hamstring efforts to rebuild Detroit; and avoid selling the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to pay the city’s debts.

Dubbed the Grand Bargain, indeed it is. Everyone has to contribute in one way or another, and everyone gives up something to make it work. A group of more than 13 foundations, national and local, have pledged $366 million over the next 20 years to support the pension fund. The State legislature approved $195 million in current dollars for this special fund (equivalent to $350 million over 20 years). The DIA’s board voted unanimously to raise $100 million, not for the DIA, but for the pension fund, and as of mid-July, have achieved pledges for 80% of that goal.

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Collaboration is the key to “Love and Forgiveness”

Posted by John Wood, Aug 22, 2014

John Wood John Wood

The “Love and Forgiveness Project” at Detroit School of Arts, a recipient of the 2014 VANS Custom Culture grant, involves a collaboration between a variety of media and disciplines. Poet and educator Suzanne Scarfone is the lead curriculum writer for the Afghan Women’s Writers Project Lessons from Afghanistan: A Curriculum for Exploring Themes of Love and Forgiveness.

Suzanne choose the poem “Small Heart” as the starting point for our collaborative project. The poem was shared with musical composer Marilyn Perkins Biery, who created a composition for soprano, chorus, piano, and flute. The full composition will be recorded by Scott Koue at Detroit School of Arts in May 2014 with students and professional musicians from the community. The audio track will be used as the score for the animation project.

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Over Heads or Under the Table

Posted by Ashlee Arder, Sep 03, 2014

Ashlee Arder Ashlee Arder

The way I think through and solve problems is different. Good, but different, apparently. My contribution to boardroom meetings and planning sessions is either over heads or under the table. What does that mean? It really boils down to whether or not I am in a position to work through each element of an idea and illustrate how the idea attempts to solve the problem at hand, or if I propose an idea using general terms that avoid the mechanics of implementation. Maybe the best way to describe this ever-occurring event is through example.

A little over a year ago I sat in the basement of city hall, eagerly awaiting my turn to propose an idea for how the public art commission that I had recently joined could better engage the community. I suggested providing public art updates and information through various social media channels like Twitter and Facebook. I spent the next 15 minutes describing what a “tweet” was and how the “hashtag” or “pound” symbol could be used to virtually catalog and archive content. That suggestion was over many of my fellow commissioners’ heads. Had I simply suggested that we “explore alternative forms of communication to connect with members of the community,” I might have received a few smiles and nods in agreement and the next person would have been able to proceed with their suggestion. That would have been an under the table approach – a stealthy way of gauging support for a Twitter or Instagram account without having to spend time explaining what they are and how they work.

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What the Midterm Elections Mean for the Arts: Summary of 2014 Election

Posted by Ms. Nina Z. Ozlu Tunceli, Mr. Narric Rome, Nov 06, 2014

Nina Ozlu Tunceli Nina Ozlu Tunceli


In this year’s midterm elections, Republicans took back the Senate, kept control of the House and won governorships in 31 states and counting. What does that mean for you and for us, as strong advocates of the arts and arts education? Here we break down the national, state, and local results - and their potential impact on the arts:   In Congress The U.S. Senate will be Republican-led. This means all Senate committees will see new chairmen, and since those committees control and recommend federal spending, these new chairmen could have significant impact on federal arts funding.

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How Tools from Americans for the Arts Aided Arts Education Advocacy Efforts in My Community

Posted by Ms. Barb Whitney, Feb 19, 2015

I will be forever grateful to Americans for the Arts (AFTA) for the timely research and training they provided for our region’s arts education advocacy efforts in the spring of 2013. Americans for the Arts’ Narric Rome reached out to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing after hearing headlines regarding the Lansing School District’s decision to disproportionately eliminate arts, music, physical education, and media teachers. As we were later to discover, news had quickly traveled to multiple national conferences, delivering fear of similar situations to follow in communities across the country.

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