Only a few years ago, the business community in Oxford skewed heavily toward traditional notions of economic growth and profitability, which inevitably bred a bias toward large manufacturing businesses, insurance, finance, and healthcare. A smaller-scale entrepreneur community, particularly more creative and artistic entrepreneurs, was not cultivated to the degree it should have been. This community didn’t attract attention because it wasn’t necessarily seen as vital to the health of the local economy. In 2015, Oxford’s local arts agency, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC), recognized this was an issue for the community. They saw that a major part of the local economy—the arts sector—was not being taken seriously as an economic driver. The numbers, they found, were on their side, demonstrating that the arts made up more than a negligible portion of the local economy. The YAC began strategizing with the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce on how they could best capitalize on the arts ecosystem in town, which was finding a way to survive even without the necessary value placed on it. Together they began looking for ways to integrate the separate arts and business communities such that their complementary skill-sets and capacities could meet their mutual goals and needs.Read More
Designed by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma), the National Native American Veterans Memorial is located on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall and was commissioned by Congress to give all Americans and our international visitors the opportunity to learn more about the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States. As a tribute to Native heroes, this work of public art recognizes, for the first time on a national scale, the distinguished service of American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian veterans in every branch of the U.S. military. Given that Native Americans have a long history of service dating back to the Revolutionary War, and also serve at the highest per capita level of participation of any demographic, it is especially appropriate (and it’s about time!) for Native American veterans to be honored with this memorial. Public art in the 21st century is playing a key role in creating meaningful places for gathering and contemplation. Many memorials created in the not-so-distant past are figurative statues of heroic and historical figures. By contrast, both the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the National Native Americans Veterans Memorial are abstract works that are meditative in tone and rich in symbolism. The National Native American Veterans Memorial also serves as a place of reverence and honor, a commemoration of people who served with honor, and a site of celebration.Read More
Thursday, November 3, 2022
Americans for the Arts and lifestyle brand Free People today announced a first-time partnership, which includes a Creative Spirit Fund that empowers public school arts educators to fund the next generation of diverse creators. The partnership advocates for the importance of arts in early public education. Through this program, Free People will be distributing 10 awards of $4,000 each to public school educators across the United States in great need of support in teaching art, music, dance, theater, and creative writing and other artistic disciplines.
At the age of seven, I was involved in a car accident that nearly amputated my left hand. Since the accident, I have journeyed from denying my disability to embracing it. With this progression, I have frequently rethought concepts that are considered critical to what disability is and can mean. This thinking progressed in a dialogue with legendary activist Judith Heumann, known for contributions to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and foreign service with disability rights. During a conversation in 2019, Heumann asked why I refer to my left hand as “weak.” This question struck me personally and politically, as I usually called my left hand “weak” to provide a quick response for what my disability may be, thus categorizing it within narrowly defined social definitions of what weakness can and should be. I wondered if rethinking this terminology could foster a broader understanding and interpretation of “weakness” and related terms—terms explicitly central to disability culture yet relatable to all, disabled or nondisabled. I aimed to explore this by asking what these terms meant to disabled individuals across disabilities, highlighting the plurality of the disability community, and reframing collective perceptions about disability overall. The project will be released as an album on New Amsterdam Records on October 28, celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month.Read More
Americans Are Encouraged to Explore the Arts in Their Communities
Friday, September 30, 2022
Americans for the Arts today announced its October celebration of National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM), a time for communities to come together to celebrate the power of the arts and humanities in promoting individual wellbeing, addressing trauma, connecting cultures, highlighting inequities, and making the nation’s communities healthier and stronger.
Friday, September 23, 2022
Americans for the Arts is thrilled to collaborate with musician India Carney as our 2022 Ambassador for National Arts & Humanities Month. India will use her platform throughout the month of October to advocate for artists and share her love of culture and journey to becoming a professional musician as we promote the crucial role of the arts and humanities.
As founder and director of ¡Looking Bilingüe!, a storytelling platform for Latinés who feel ni de aquí, ni de allá (neither from here nor from there), I have the pleasure of listening to people’s stories, exchanging perspectives on issues our community faces, and uplifting the U.S.-born Latinés who can’t speak Spanish fluently, face racism, and/or who generally feel they can’t claim their Latiné culture. These guests and I amplify these topics, archiving where they are on their journey, and acknowledge the patchwork quilt that is Latinidad: not a melting pot, but how we stitch together who we are today based on our shared and distinct multicultural and multirace histories. This work was once something I ran from. The idea of using my cultural identity professionally was something I felt embarrassed about. It felt inappropriate, rude, and something I had to keep neutralized for the sake of homogeneity. As an actor, I’d been conditioned to think of how I could fit in certain “ideal” boxes, and this had bled into my personal life. I’d grown weary of 30-second elevator pitches of my cultural identity and artistry. I wanted to find a way to be myself in both professional and personal spaces without having to tick everyone else’s boxes—to make my story mine.Read More
Russia’s assault on Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, with a series of missile attacks and the use of long-range artillery. My mother called me from Ukraine in the middle of the night, crying. I assured her that everything will be alright. The next day I was headed south from my home in Florida for a ribbon-cutting event and the idea of war seemed to be surreal. How can we celebrate a new mural when people are being killed by invaders from a neighboring country? I thought of Shepard Fairey because he is well known for his involvement in social issues. He had some political ideas for a mural but it never happened because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked to paint a mural for Ukraine, he replied that he couldn’t but was releasing the Make Art Not War design for free for non-commercial purposes to support Ukraine, and allowed me to execute the mural using local resources. As a result of this project, money was raised and sent to some individuals in Ukraine directly, just to provide some immediate support. Even in a small town like Gainesville, Florida, a small group of people was able to collect some funds and help to buy a helmet, shoes for the frontline soldiers, and also contribute to fixing the damaged roof of an apartment complex. Maybe it is just one insignificant action, but there are many of us and we are powerful together.Read More
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce that Mariaesmeralda Paguaga has joined the organization as its new Vice President of Strategic Communications. Paguaga comes to Americans for the Arts with a broad and deep cultural foundation from which to build Americans for the Arts’ strategic communications plan that meets the needs of the organization’s diverse audiences internally and externally. Bringing over two decades of social impact leadership, Paguaga has an extensive and proven record in achieving transformational change via strategic communications, program innovation, brand positioning, integrated marketing campaigns, strategic partnerships, celebrity and dignitary relations, creative production, and mission-driven events.
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Registration is now open for the Cultural Equity Learning Community 2.0, a two-unit, asynchronous anti-racism course for arts and culture leaders committed to building intersectional racial equity. Two cohorts (Summer and Fall 2022) are currently offered with a sliding scale payment structure. Registration closes on Wednesday, July 13 for the Summer cohort, and on Wednesday, Aug. 31 for the Fall cohort.
Thursday, June 16, 2022
Ten art teachers that have made significant contributions in the lives of their students by advancing art education and inspiring self-expression through art will be recognized and receive a year’s supply of art products for their art room. Anyone may nominate an art teacher currently teaching in the United States by July 31, 2022.
Thursday, May 26, 2022
#DrawUsTogether is an innovative new global initiative created by Corel designed to flood social media with follow-worthy creations that spread joy and give people a sense of unity. For every piece of unique artwork shared using the #DrawUsTogether hashtag, Corel will donate $1 up to $50,000 to Americans for the Arts.
Friday, May 20, 2022
Americans for the Arts has introduced a new 2.0 version of the Arts + Social Impact Explorer, the most comprehensive clearinghouse of example projects and research about the role of arts in community life available today. The Explorer provides examples, datapoints, links to research papers, and lists of active organizations to illustrate the impact of arts and culture in 30 aspects of community life from public health to transportation, safety, community cohesion, and innovation.
As the nation observes Military Appreciation Month in May, it feels an appropriate moment to give attention to arts programs that support our military-connected communities, especially Veterans. The cultural sector plays an active and meaningful role serving Veterans and their families, and it is important to put this work within a broader context of both key challenges and issues. Of the more than two million American troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, about a third have symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression, and brain injuries. Many cultural organizations and individual artists have the capacity and interest to serve Veterans by providing them with opportunities to gain experience, new skills, and stronger ties in their home communities. For the cultural sector, the challenges of collaborating effectively with Veterans are demanding, and the work requires us to build relationships with Veteran organizations and develop specialized skills in how we serve Veterans. Given the special hardships and challenges members of the military face—including dealing with extreme stress and trauma issues and finding the wherewithal to reconnect with their daily routines, family and personal relationships, and their communities—the arts certainly play an integral role in advancing health and wellbeing.Read More
The National Association of Counties (NACo) and Americans for the Arts are pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. NACo and Americans for the Arts invited small- and medium-sized counties to assemble a team of county leaders, local artists and community stakeholders to imagine how art can be used to solve local challenges. From Potter County, Pa.’s “Highway to the Stars” through Cherry Springs State Park to the storied and breathtaking beaches of Hawai’i County, Hawai’i’s Puna district, the winners represent the geographic and social diversity of the nation as a whole. The teams will seek to address a wide array of challenges confronting their local communities, from drug addiction to climate resilience. Over the next 10 months, Americans for the Arts experts will provide virtual training and mentoring of these teams as they explore the arts as an applied strategy for meeting policy objectives. On July 25, the counties will participate in an in-person convening in Adams County, Colo., in conjunction with NACo’s 2022 Annual Conference.Read More
As the price of goods rises, costs will likely flow as far downstream as possible—which means cultural organizations and artists will continue to get hit with rising costs while arts patrons are likely to have more expenses that eat away at disposable income. At the same time, the slowly closing spigot of relief and recovery funding, mistimed to the needs of our field where things are still solidly behind where they were prior to the pandemic, poses serious risks to independent workers, creative entrepreneurs, and arts organizations. Will public policy solutions like Universal Basic Income (and related large-scale public policies around unemployment and healthcare access) scale enough to make the difference? It’s hard to imagine—but even two years ago it would have been hard to imagine multiple major cities running UBI pilots specifically designed to support and maintain a creative class.Read More
It was going to happen eventually, but the pandemic drove digital engagement of one type or another into almost every aspect of life. As we progress forward, how will that engagement make things better—and how might it make things worse? There is so much promise and peril for the arts sector and artists when it comes to the digital space, cryptocurrency, and the metaverse. The rules of much of this space are still being written, so one argument goes that it may end up being a more egalitarian and open space in which entrepreneurial creatives of all stripes can control more of their own destiny. On the other hand, accessibility issues and repeating patterns of colonization of the space by the same monied, privileged few who have been able to colonize elsewhere have people concerned. Whatever the outcome, these formerly sci-fi concepts have solidly moved into the realm of reality and will take up increasing brain space (and revenue) for both artists and arts organizations in the coming years.Read More
The planet is heaving, as are the human populations living on it. Whether we’re talking major weather events and icebergs the size of cities, the threat of global war, oppressive legislation at home, or a looming election amid governmental stagnation, much feels topsy-turvy these days. Climate change is already affecting the living habits of millions of people in ways large and small, and in the coming decades it will affect where we can have homes (and studios and performance venues), how much it costs to maintain internal climates that are comfortable, the availability of materials, and more. Similarly, burgeoning violence, invasion, and occupation are affecting systems and costs globally and locally, and likely will soon spark migrations that may impact cultural organizations and foster engagement by and with artists. On these scales, the potential impact of elections and state and national policy are closer and clearer, and accessibility to culture for millions of people may be affected.Read More
In ways large and small, the way we work continues to change as we carry into the rest of 2022 and emerge from two years of seismic change. A true tussle between those who want it to go back to how it was, and those who want something new in the relationship between workers and work, is about to come to a head. For our sector, the implications of this shift in work are, and will be, profound. The hardship of the pandemic created exoduses of artists leaving the arts field, either temporarily or permanently, and have opened new job training employment opportunities for creative workers and organizations. For those staying in the arts, collective organizing offers the promise of better wages and quality of life.Read More
Now that we’re more than a quarter of the way through 2022, it seems like the perfect time for a post about trends that will impact the arts this year, right? But seriously—the world is moving so fast and seems so chaotic that maybe partway in is the perfect time to think about the trends happening around us and how they’ll carry through for the remainder of the year. Why do we publish an annual trends post? Because what happens to the world happens to us all. It can be difficult to set aside time and brain space, particularly at this moment, to think about what’s out there and what’s coming our way. But if we don’t carve out that time, we risk being caught by surprise. We gather these trends in an effort to make it easier for you (and us) to be prepared, anticipate what’s coming, and actively engage in crafting the future instead of just reacting to it. As an organization and a field, we need to cast our eyes forward to that messy horizon and try and glean what’s coming. That’s always hard, and perhaps never harder than when everything seems in flux. But why not try, all the same?Read More
On March 9, I learned that in 48 hours President Biden would be visiting Luis Muñoz Marín Elementary School in North Philadelphia. Our school was selected for the presidential visit because it received critical funding from the American Rescue Plan—funding that kept essential before- and after-school programming going, like the arts clubs that I co-lead. It is not uncommon at Marín for students to participate in two to three clubs each week. During this special visit, I would have the opportunity to share how the art and design clubs I run are making a difference in students’ return to school amidst the pandemic. Over the past two years, everyone across school communities has been asked to press on and adapt in uncertainty. It feels like we have a lot to make up for after so much time spent online, yet we’ve also grown a lot from this experience. This visit prompted us to take stock of how much we have done and how empathetic, engaged, and wise our students are, placing our experiences within a broader interconnected web. That day, I felt reinvigorated by my commitment to listen to my students, provide them opportunities to lead, and create clear connections between the work they are doing and the impact they can have on our school community, their families, neighborhood, city, and world at large.Read More
The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, empathy, and beauty. The arts also strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even during a pandemic that has been devastating to the arts. The following 10 reasons show why an investment in artists, creative workers, and arts organizations is vital to the nation’s post-pandemic healing and recovery. The arts are a proven contributor in keeping us mentally healthy—reducing depression and anxiety and increasing life satisfaction. Just 30 minutes of arts activities daily can combat the ill effects of isolation and loneliness associated with COVID-19—and 78% of hospital CEOs say the purpose of their arts programs is to aid in the emotional and mental healing of patients Those data points nail it. The arts are all about stories—often personal, always meaningful. This advocacy season, find your stories and pair them with the research-based findings in “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”Read More