America’s Creative Economy: The Impact of COVID-19

Posted by Sean Baker, Feb 04, 2021

I grew up in a musical family—my dad is a children’s performer and songwriter—and the arts have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I had the opportunity to make a documentary for a C-SPAN education competition, it was natural for me to choose the arts as a topic. I hadn’t realized the impact COVID-19 had on our creative economy until I started listening to the stories of many local artists and creative workers. I interviewed a storyteller, a classical violist, a musical arranger, a vinyl record store owner, and several arts administrators, including Americans for the Arts’ very own Randy Cohen. What I saw right away was a common understanding that the lives of artists have been devastated by the pandemic. Gigs were cancelled, museums closed, incomes lost, and the future remained uncertain for our creative industry. At the end of the day, musicians and creative people need to have the necessary economic, social, and personal well-being incentives to rebound from the pandemic and to live. The arts bring value to society and we must focus on our artisans during these trying times.

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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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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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The Radical Importance of RedCan

Posted by Ms. Julie Garreau, Aug 14, 2019

Five years ago, I remember feeling profound sadness and disappointment when I thought about the condition of too many buildings in my town of Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Not only were the structures in rough shape; graffiti tagging had further defaced them. I’ve been the executive director of the grassroots, nonprofit Cheyenne River Youth Project since 1988, and three decades of youth development work here on the Cheyenne River reservation have taught me that our young people need to find healthy ways to explore their identities, find their voices, and share their stories. That’s fundamental to who we are as Lakota people, because for us, art is life. And without a positive outlet for so much youthful creative energy, vandalism is inevitable. I found myself wondering if CRYP could make a difference. In 2014, we invited a professional graffiti artist to complete a mural in town and provide lettering classes for our teens. We didn’t know it then, but this little test project was the proverbial pebble thrown into a lake, and the ripples are still expanding.

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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.

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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.

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