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! 

Read More

Creative Conversations Take on National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Cristyn Johnson, Oct 08, 2019

Creative Conversations are on fire! This year’s Creative Conversation theme, How is the past shaping the future of the arts?, is sparking dialogue across the country. So, you may be asking yourself, “What exactly is a Creative Conversation anyway?” Well, I’ve got an answer for you! Creative Conversations gather together arts and community leaders to discuss local arts, culture, and creativity. These conversations help to foster cross-sector and inter-sector partnerships and promote increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts during National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM) in October. Creative Conversations can take on many forms. They can be informal brown-bag lunches with colleagues, professional development workshops, panel sessions with politicians, and even full-day symposia. Participants have learned about the state of their local arts and culture industry, explored new ideas to strengthen their community with the arts, and ignited connections that spurred movement and actions that work to ensure everyone has access to the transformative power of the arts.

Read More

Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny

Posted by Laura Kochman, Aug 14, 2019

What if you could score a mural the way that you can score a movie? A unique project from painter Joshua Mays and DJ King Britt answers this question. In West Philadelphia, Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny comes to life through an augmented reality app (MuralArtsAR), weaving together interviews with community elders, neighborhood sounds, and beats created by local students from The Haverford School and Mastery Charter’s Shoemaker Campus. The final mural evokes perspective and curiosity, invitations to meaning, and possibility through cosmic awareness and cultural connection. The artwork is intensely rooted in the neighborhood, and best experienced in person, but ultimately we wanted this public art to be accessible to folks farther afield—the final app includes a feature that will “create” the mural experience right in front of you, wherever you are. 

Read More

Families Belong Together

Posted by Laura Kochman, Aug 13, 2019

In the summer of 2018, against a backdrop of national immigration policy restrictions, Mural Arts had the opportunity to work with Chiléan artist Artes Ekeko (Ian Pierce). The pieces fell into place as we worked quickly to create something meaningful: North Philadelphia’s Providence Center joined us as a partner; members of our Restorative Justice Guild program were available to assist; and local artist Cesar Viveros signed on to help make this mural possible. A 900-square-foot wall was available in the Fairhill neighborhood, a predominantly Hispanic and Latinx community, and so we got to work. Ekeko and Viveros created a bright, textured design in line with Philadelphia’s longstanding status as a sanctuary city, representing a family making their way to a new home. Over a few short weeks, the mural went up on the wall, invoking conversation around community, empathy, and home. 

Read More

August Arts Advocacy Challenge!

Posted by Lauren Cohen, Jul 31, 2019

So far, 2019 has been a banner year in the world of federal arts advocacy. Throughout the spring, we saw promising bipartisan benchmarks for support of an increased budget for the NEA in FY 2020. However, our work advocating for pro-arts policies doesn’t stop with funding for the NEA. Americans for the Arts, along with national coalition partners, has pursued more federal legislative priorities this year than ever before. From tax policy to transit, healthcare to education, we’re working to ensure expanded arts access and opportunity throughout the country. You can get more information and send a message to your congressional delegation about any of these bills through our Action Center.

The U.S. Congress will take its traditional month-long recess in August. Members of Congress will be in their home states and districts holding town halls, making visits to local organizations and businesses, and taking meetings in their local offices. Wondering how to continue your arts advocacy momentum during the long recess? Participate in the August Arts Advocacy Challenge to stay involved and make an impact.

Read More

The U.S. Census and the Arts

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Jul 11, 2019

At the Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention this past June, quite a few members voiced concern about the upcoming U.S. Census. In many communities, there is worry that an inaccurate count could negatively impact towns, cities, regions, and even states, and disproportionately affect people who are already marginalized. This blog is meant to give information on the Census, its impact, and what arts and culture agencies across the United States are doing to ensure a comprehensive and equitable count. The U.S. Census is a consequential tool for distributing time, attention, and money in all sorts of ways—including ways that are deeply impactful on the arts. It is also an increasingly politicized tool, and as we round the corner into the 2020 U.S. Census, it is important to understand what the U.S. Census is, what it influences, what the implication of certain proposed changes could be both generally and for the arts, and how arts and culture agencies and organizations are mobilizing to ensure a fair, full, and unthreatening U.S. Census count.

Read More