Thriving arts communities need for-profit support

Almost exactly four years ago now, we at Golden Artist Colors embarked on a collaborative process to develop a new Vision Statement for our business. What emerged through this process was a collective vision that was much greater and much more audacious than anything we could have imagined for ourselves. Our vision wasn’t to beat any other manufacturer or supplier in our industry, but to ask our peer companies to join forces and, together, help us create more abundance in the arts for every one of us to grow. The art materials industry is an enormously powerful, committed, and connected community of the arts. It is important to share some thoughts of what I think this can mean for all of us to raise the value of the arts and, in doing so, clearly benefit the future and well-being of our industry—not only ours but across the private sector. 

Ten Reasons to Support the Arts in 2018

The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts are also a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times. The arts are all about stories—often small, always meaningful. This advocacy season, find your stories and pair them with the research-based findings in the “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Yours will be an advocacy visit that is not soon forgotten.

Americans for the Arts Announces Inaugural Johnson Fellowship

Johnson Fellowship Awarded to Los Angeles-Based Artist and Designer Tanya Aguiñiga

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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Americans for the Arts announces today the inaugural Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities. The new annual fellowship celebrates the legacy and work of the late Robert Leroy “Yankee” Johnson. Americans for the Arts also announces that Los Angeles-based artist and designer Tanya Aguiñiga has been selected as the inaugural fellow. 

Advancing Arts Locally

While we all work to serve audiences that are growing in diversity, we cannot prescribe the art that might engage our audience without engaging in conversation. We must be ready to walk with them, to find out through relationship and exploration together what their expectations, needs, and wants are. And that’s how we truly build community through the arts.

Amplifying Institutional Evolution

Nearly a year ago, two members of Trinity Repertory Company’s resident acting company proposed an idea: use the Rhode Island tradition of presenting A Christmas Carol to amplify our institution’s commitment to community engagement. They dreamed of incorporating different community groups every night, connecting our audiences to work and people they might not otherwise know. Fast-forward to now, somewhere mid-run of an unforgettable Christmas Carol. Every three days a new community group steps into a show so full of heart it bursts off the stage. The results of this work are still uncountable, and yet the reverberations are already so easy to see. 

We Should All Value the Artists and Their Vital Role in Our Communities

As we celebrate the holidays, I encourage you to think of all the ways artists have helped your company, organization, place of worship, community. How have artists bettered your family and your life? Think about the artist behind the public art mural as you pass by while running errands. Take a moment to listen to caroling. Take family and friends to galleries, a live music venue, or small theater production. Let’s all support these artists and community change-makers this holiday season. 

Ars Populi: Art of/by/for the People

When I began teaching arts management, I remember Robert E. Gard’s The Arts in the Small Community almost leaping off the library shelf at me. His insistence on the importance of the arts to all people, and of communities to the arts, resonated with me from the moment I encountered his work. I have since discovered that as a high school student in Iowa my life was transformed by a summer program he was instrumental in supporting in Wisconsin. Many themes emerge from Gard's writing, and many of my most cherished ideas, among them the role of the “arts establishment” in this work (the need to pay attention to communities) and the role of the arts council.

Documentary Video Tells the Story of a New Public Art Monument in Richmond

“A Monument to Maggie” explores the decades-long community effort to develop a monument honoring civil rights hero Maggie L. Walker

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Monument to Maggie tells the story of the development and unveiling of a monument to civil rights hero Maggie L. Walker, which was unveiled after nearly 20 years of efforts led by community and political leaders to help tell another part of Richmond's history.

Enacting Change in the Performing Arts World Begins with Changing the Conservatory Culture

Twenty-five years ago American orchestras began a conversation about what would happen to excellence in performance if orchestras broadened their missions to focus on education and community engagement. The fear, unfounded, was that excellence would be compromised. The opposite was true. Today, administrators of top performing arts organizations are begging for those of us who train artists to start training like it’s the 21st century and not the 19th. More than new skills—which is certainly part of it—this requires something more difficult: a change in the mindset of musicians. We must understand we’re all in the audience development business.

Relating to each other as whole people

Our filter bubbles and gated communities (both suburban and barbed) divide us. In this intentional division, it is our responsibility to seek that which is different, to engage with what is uncomfortable, and to soften to our own tenderness in order to grow, together, into the promise of America. This America has not yet existed but the potential is there. How, in this time of rapid and sometimes overwhelming change, can the arts alter the face and heart of America?

Artists’ Voices Ring Through Civic Dialogue and Municipal Engagement

The role of the artist is changing. In the midst of these challenging times, civic engagement has become the focus of attention across many sectors and fields. More than ever, the arts are promoting greater awareness and understanding of community issues, contributing to shifts in thinking and in attitude. I see artists and arts organizations across the country being integrated into practices of civic engagement, and applying the power of artistic imagination to inform, inspire, engage, and motivate social action. And I continue to applaud state and municipal governments across the U.S. for embracing such collaborations.

Americans for the Arts Celebrates National Arts and Humanities Month

Americans Are Encouraged to Explore the Role of Arts in Their Communities

Monday, October 2, 2017

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Americans for the Arts invites all Americans to celebrate October as National Arts and Humanities Month. The month-long celebration is the country’s largest collective celebration of arts and culture. 

Statement on the Intersection of the Arts, History, and Community Dialogue

Friday, August 18, 2017

Americans for the Arts releases a statement about the complex and important impact of public art, including monuments to the Confederacy, on the history and pride of diverse communities, and encourages ongoing civic dialogue around the removal and replacement of these monuments.

It’s Time for Sustainability in the Arts to be a Priority

Content sponsored by University of Massachusetts Amherst Arts Extension Service.

Arts organizations are leaders in their communities, and they can lead by example and inspire individuals and other organizations to also do their part in reducing the need for energy, water, and fuel. In the new 6th edition of Fundamentals of Arts Management, Sarah (Brophy) Sutton and I have mapped out a step-by-step process for how to transform your arts institution into a sustainable one, regardless of scale or budget size.

Of Distinction: Community-engaged notions of value

Animating Democracy’s new Aesthetic Perspectives framework spawned multiple parallel scenarios in my head. In one, I was continuing my conversation from a few weeks ago with a foundation grant officer, who told me that their organization was “not so interested in social justice”; you simply had to “have artistic excellence.” I had presented my most cogent argument that artistic excellence is often conceptualized in dangerously narrow ways, to the detriment of appreciating arts and social justice work—only to be brushed aside. What would have happened if the framework, offering many different ways of reading “excellence” in socially engaged art, had been at my fingertips then? 

Why Does it Matter?

Content sponsored by University of Massachusetts Amherst Arts Extension Service.

Identity, cultural democracy, excellence, justice—just a few of the “whys” behind our work. We have many spiritual ancestors who can help us articulate our “why” because, as discussed in Fundamentals of Arts Management 6th edition, this work has been weaved throughout our country’s history. I urge us all to take to time to connect with our own sense of “why.”

Skill-Based Volunteers Serving the Arts

Louisville Arts Link features a continuous feed of every imaginable local arts event. Previously only available in a physical format, the Arts Card allows users to support Fund for the Arts directly and receive special offers like discounts and first opportunity to purchase tickets for events. There are endless possibilities for the future of the app and with the help of our skill-based volunteers and committed partners like Humana Inc., we’ll be able to achieve those goals. 

Hotels Make “Room” for the Arts in Queens

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The QCA ArtHotel Residency is a new program of Queens Council on the Arts in partnership with The Paper Factory Hotel and the Z NYC Hotel. The partnership is intended to give artists a safe place to focus on their work in the public realm, build different audiences, and be seen making work within the Queens community. In turn, this gives the public and hotel guests access to a working artist’s dynamic process.

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About this Virtual Conversation

The 60+ year-old United Arts Fund field has seen a multitude of developments in recent years, from changes in leadership to shifts in grantmaking strategies and growing pains in the effort to become more nimble and accessible to the broader community.

New Case Study Released on Minneapolis' Creative CityMaking Program

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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Detailed stories of the five collaborative projects provide an illuminating and instructive look at how collaboration between artists and municipal government can achieve more diverse participation and greater equity in public process.

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