Painting By Numbers: How Cities Can Use Data to Support the Arts

Posted by David Andersson, Feb 25, 2022

Although cities increasingly rely on data to help shape policy and identify service gaps, there is often skepticism from both the creative sector and government about whether metrics can meaningfully capture the impact of the arts. In a field where variety of creative expression is fundamental, how do you count what really counts? For cities that recognize their artists and cultural institutions as a critical part of the economy and essential to quality of life for residents, arts data can be a powerful tool to advocate for culture alongside other city services. Data can also help city leaders understand who is and isn’t being served by government arts dollars and expand access to arts experiences in every community. Through best practices and case studies, Arts Data in the Public Sector: Strategies for Local Arts Agencies aims to help arts agencies and city leaders show measurable impact, identify priority policy areas, and establish more equitable and inclusive practices to promote access to the arts across communities.

Read More

Member Spotlight: Darlene McClinton

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Jul 26, 2021

Darlene McClinton is the grants manager for ArtsGreensboro, a community-supported nonprofit organization and the largest public and private alliance dedicated to sustaining the Greensboro, North Carolina, arts economy. McClinton also is an artist, educator, entrepreneur, collaborator, ally, and advocate. Since joining ArtsGreensboro in December 2019, she has made a significant difference in their outreach efforts, diversifying their grant pool, and expanding their artist support grant applications over 400% from the previous year. This post is the latest in our series featuring the many Americans for the Arts members doing transformative work for arts education, public art, advocacy, arts marketing, and more.

Read More

Shooting for the Moon with the STAR Act: How an Arts and Transit Provision was Protected

Posted by Lauren Cohen, Jul 19, 2021

On the morning of June 30, 2021, a new and unexpected threat to a pro-arts piece of federal legislation became apparent. The full U.S. House of Representatives was beginning final consideration of the INVEST in America Act of 2021 (H.R. 3684), which included an arts and transit provision that had not attracted any opposition—until an amendment from Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) aimed to strike the pro-arts provision from the bill. Rep. Gibbs argued that that federal dollars shouldn’t be used for “feel-good frescoes and metro station murals.” What Rep. Gibbs and other opponents fail to realize is that the provision does not require art projects, but rather allows local transit authorities the option to hire artists and install public art in transit projects if they wish. And it doesn’t cost the federal government money, but rather allows local transit authorities the option to spend their budget hiring an artist if they want to. Arts-related votes on the floor of either chamber of Congress are a rarity, so a dynamic advocacy strategy becomes extremely important when one occurs—and in this case, Americans for the Arts marshalled every arts advocacy tool in our war chest in response.

Read More

The Uncomfortable Truth

Posted by Ms. Krista Terrell, Apr 21, 2021

The Arts & Science Council (ASC), the local arts agency for Charlotte-Mecklenburg in North Carolina, for nearly 60 years engaged in practices that led to inequitable funding to organizations and creative individuals. In June 2019, ASC’s Board of Directors approved a Cultural Equity statement. It creates a framework to set organizational policies and practices and offers external visibility for the organization’s commitment to cultural equity. It also guides ASC’s decision to cap operating support grants for large institutions to fund small and mid-sized organizations so they can build their capacity and thrive. The board agreed that if it is committed to doing this work, ASC must report to the community on its progress. The report was not done in a vacuum. Experts in the history, equity, cultural transformation, philanthropy, and public relations space served as external readers. Their feedback was valuable. When the report was published on February 24, 2021, it felt liberating. While I knew the facts in the report were startling, I never thought I would experience so intimately the uncomfortableness, the defensiveness, and the scaredness of white people reacting to the unvarnished truth.

Read More

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. 

Read More

Arts Leaders and Americans for the Arts Members Getting Out the Vote

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Oct 22, 2020

As the 2020 election gets closer and many voters are already voting by mail or in-person, arts organizations around the country are doing their part to help voters make their vote count. This election is crucial to electing leaders at each level of government who will ensure that funding for the arts is protected and accessible for all. In this month’s Member Briefing, Americans for the Arts members Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and Nate McGaha, executive director of Arts North Carolina, discussed using the arts to Get Out the Vote. They shared their experiences conducting voter outreach in their communities including their candidate forums, messaging about important voting deadlines, and partnership with other local, and national organizations including ArtsVote. If you missed the briefing live, a recording of the event is available now on ArtsU. Member Briefings are our quarterly opportunity to talk to you about what’s happening now, so mark your calendars to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at Americans for the Arts and across the sector. 

Read More