Questions to Begin a Conversation about (Re)Designing Your Organization for Equity

As we approach the upcoming National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Memphis, I’m excited to enter a new conversation about the possibilities for our sector that can be unlocked by embracing a designer’s mentality to address the critical need to diversify our audiences, our leadership, and our organizations.

Undoing Power Dynamics by Incorporating Youth and Community Voices

By wishing to incorporate youth and their communities in decision-making for initiatives that are intended to engage them and their peers, organizations and program managers are (knowingly or unknowingly) giving these young people a lesson on power dynamics, the power of organizing, and policy development via focus grouping, researching, and consulting with experts (aka themselves). By welcoming youth into the decision-making process, we can begin to show them how decisions—within our organizations and more broadly in society—could be made differently. Let’s lean into it and, in fact, give these young folks more power over programs that are meant to be for them, particularly in organizations that have little or no history of incorporating young people in admin-level spaces.

Please, Do Your Own Facebook Advertising

Facebook’s changes suggest a general direction towards offering incentive for DIY advertising. Anyone who can send an email, shop on Amazon, or navigate around a basic spreadsheet can learn Facebook advertising basics by launching a campaign in under an hour.

A Perspective on Accessibility

I’ve long held that audiences with disabilities, including deaf audiences, would benefit from being considered from a marketing perspective and understood from a multi-cultural standpoint, rather than a strictly legal requirement/service perspective.

Engaging a Mid-Size Community with Digital Content

When you work for a non-profit arts organization outside of a metropolitan area, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that what works for the big organizations won’t work for you—even when you know your mission is BIG.

This is Not Your Grandmother’s Arts Scene.

Or maybe it is? Or maybe it isn’t. The challenge that arts marketers face is navigating the changing landscape and being mindful of the identity and personality of the organization balancing against welcoming the whole community.

Do we want to foster the arts or do we want to foster creativity?

Way before immersive theater or virtual reality were trendy, Robert E. Gard spoke to the idea of an experience that is creatively valuable because the experience of the “audience” becomes the story itself. We see this in role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, as well as new forms of immersive theater like Sleep No More or Then She Fell, in which the experience of participating becomes its own creative energy. I think these creative endeavors resonate with people because they are grounded in each participant’s lived experience (rather than universal plots or a reflection of someone else’s perspective) and, as such, they cannot help but be authentic. 

Arts Education Helps Train Tomorrow’s Workforce: A strong arts education helps prep kids for the future

To build the workforce of tomorrow, let’s invest in arts education for our youth today. Studies show that early arts engagement for students from low socio-economic backgrounds significantly increases their likelihood of college attendance and graduation. Increased graduation rates lead to increased employability, and studies also show these students demonstrate increased volunteerism and political participation. Exposing young people from all backgrounds to the arts is an investment not only in their future, but in a collective future with an employed and engaged next generation.

“Ink For The Arts” Campaign Bolsters Efforts to Save Arts Funding

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

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Americans for the Arts is excited to collaborate with Cuseum on Ink For The Arts, a new initiative to unite people in the fight against the elimination of federal arts programs. The campaign comes in reaction to the ongoing threats to cut funding for the arts, which would put the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and other programs at risk.

UPDATED! Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts for National Arts & Humanities Month

October is National Arts & Humanities Month, a time to celebrate and champion the arts locally and nationally. 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 effective arts advocate needs a full quiver of case-making arrows to articulate the value of the arts in as many ways as possible—from the passionately inherent to the functionally pragmatic. To help fill your quiver, I offer an updated Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.

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. 

A New School Year Means New Opportunities for Arts Education in Schools and Communities

As the new school year has officially begun across the country, I feel a renewed sense of possibility for the role the arts can play in learning, in all subjects, in the year ahead. Even greater, I feel a new sense of opportunity for the role the arts can play in cultivating new awareness and understandings for students of all ages, across our communities.

Why We Celebrate: The Power of Youth Voice

We don’t empower young people for the simple concept of empowering young people—but instead because it is the right thing to do. How dare we sit around as adults to discuss the future of arts education without the young people who participate and benefit from that arts education present? Additionally, I know that from experiences like advocating publicly, we are building the leadership skills of the next generation through intergenerational dialogue and cyclical mentorship. We learn just as much from young people as they do from us. Lastly, we know that decision-makers respect the power of authentic youth voice, speaking from experience. So, my message this National Arts in Education Week is simple: Let us take the lead of our youth to support a shared vision for the future of arts education in America.

Stepping to Success #BecauseofArtsEd

From my interview with Shemar Pelzer: “The idea of how arts are made and what it takes to create art—all of those skills can apply to other things. Through dance and through my work with the New Victory Theater Usher Corps, I’ve seen a lot of growth in my willingness to be more open to different things, seize opportunities and speak to different people. I recognize that this will help me in the future and I want to share that with others.”

You need to know the Truth of ART!!!

There wouldn’t be anything to do on earth without creativity! For example, a phone. The creativity is in all the technology put into the phone to make it what it is. You can be talking to someone all the way in Canada while still in the United States! C’mon, we all know that’s creative. Don’t deny it! The arts and creativity can take on many different forms and be important to everyone in different ways. Most people don’t even realize that art and creativity are everywhere and can come in so many forms. Examples can be music, arts-integrated learning, drama, singing, instruments, and dancing. That’s just 6 examples. If art and creativity are everywhere and in everything just imagine how many more examples there are!

Photographer and Pablove Shutterbug Cameron of New Orleans Drops #TruthBombs about Arts Education and Cancer

From my interview with 16-year-old student and Pablove Shutterbug Cameron Washington: “Photography came when I was going through a hard time in my life with cancer. When I started it, it brought me into a different world and into seeing different things with a deeper meaning. It helped me learn how to tell a story and say things without using words. It helped me see where I was in the world. I feel like art is really important because you can express a side of yourself that you normally wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with strangers.”

My Past, Present, Future in Music Education

I have begun to develop a philosophy of music education, which has guided me in all the decisions I have made in my collegiate career. I strive as a music educator to provide a quality music education in a classroom that is accepting, accessible, and safe for all students because, just like music, humans come in many different forms. Music, like students, cannot be confined by the regular restraints common in areas such as math and English; it allows people to be expressive in an experience that encompasses body, mind, and soul in ways no other form of expression can.

Contact Crash: How jumping head first into arts education affected my life

There is so much that I was able to do because of arts education. Having the arts in high school opened many doors to my academic and personal growth. Even the way I see the world is different. I can look at things and analyze them for what they are, and what they could be. I can dissect things in my mind to understand the process behind them. I have gained so much. My high school experience was built upon arts education. Now, I have started college, and the knowledge I have collected about the arts, and the experiences I have had through the arts, has not only given me new friends, but has opened doors in terms of what I can do with my life.

Behind the Business: Learning about the 2017 BCA 10 Honorees, Best Businesses Partnering with Arts in America

On October 11, businesses of all types and sizes from all across the country—Vermont to Hawaii and eight states in between—will come together for the BCA 10 gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York to be recognized by Americans for the Arts for their outstanding commitment to the arts. But WHO are these honorees? Learn more about their arts partnerships below including corporate performance groups, extensive art exhibits, and some fierce board leadership. 

My Time as an Artist

Art is fluid and very multidimensional, and coming in with very little technical skill I didn’t think that I was a legitimate artist because of my lack. The problem with that is that it was hindering me because I was viewing myself in this negative light. In the same way silence is just as much music as sound is not, being able to make a straight line doesn’t disqualify you as an artist. The important thing is that you remember to make it meaningful and about something you care about. Making a difference is no easy task but doing it alongside other amazing people made work feel like fun.

An Interview with Megan Kim: 2017 Oregon State Poetry Out Loud Champion

By bringing poems into high schools, Poetry Out Loud exposes large numbers of students to a wide variety of poetry, and in doing so, opening up their lives to all that it can offer. It encourages community among contestants and builds up confidence in participants, as they learn to identify with the poet’s words and discover the best way to share them with others. It connects at an intensely human level that transcends the words it relies upon. 

Advocate with Grace

I had the honor of creating the Kennedy Center Youth Council (KCYC) in Spring 2016 with a specific mission of investigating how the Kennedy Center can positively impact and be positively impacted by youth. The KCYC founding was inspired by the Kennedy Center’s yearlong celebration of the centennial of John F. Kennedy’s birth, which included the exploration of citizen artistry, defined as using the arts for positive social impact. One of our most extraordinary KCYC members, an embodiment of the citizen artist ideology, is Grace Dolan-Sandrino. Grace, a 16-year old senior at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, has accomplished more than seasoned professionals twice her age.

“To My Fellow Combat Veterans”

I taught theatre in Lee’s Summit, MO for many years and had the privilege to work with many wonderful students. One of them I truly treasured was Richard Gibson, who went on to enlist in the Marines after high school and serve his country with honor. Richard wrote a letter in response to the budget situation facing the Missouri Legislature this year. From his words, I hope all elected officials realize the value of the arts in education. Adequate funding for schools keep arts programs alive. Public investment in arts agencies allows institutions in large cities and rural communities alike to provide arts opportunities for their citizens.

Ballet Folklorico? Not for me! Or, So I Thought

Arts education is important because it helps others express themselves into music, art, drawing and many other different forms that people use to show how they feel. It’s important for people to show how they feel so you don’t get depressed and push people away. This only makes you feel lonely and dark inside. For someone who is Mexican American, arts education is very important because it helps me learn about who I am and who my family is. And for me, my family is unique and full of culture. 

Youth Finding a Voice, Finding a Stage

Excerpted from my interview with Xavier Harvey: “What I’ve noticed being an actor and being involved with Actors’ Shakespeare Project is the tools that art gives you is learning more to express yourself. So when you’re hit with a difficult angle at something and you don’t know how to go about it, you learn different ways to conquer those challenges and all those obstacles. And in my way and where I live and the people that I surround myself, I always think about if I was put in that position again, if I had an artist’s way of thinking then I would have taken these challenges different and made better choices in life.”

Through the Artist’s Lens: A Conversation with a Young Actor, Writer and Illustrator

Arts education means so much to so many people, it seems counterintuitive that its continuation in school communities and beyond is constantly under threat. I know that I would not be the person I am today, a successful and happy museum professional employed by the Smithsonian Institution, had I not had the opportunities in my youth to explore the vast world of visual art provided by my schools and local youth orgs. For the future of all our children, we must defend arts education every opportunity we get. With that in mind, I was extra delighted for the opportunity to get to know my colleague’s spirited and quite profound daughter better through this interview.

Arts Education Transforms Teaching, Learning, and the Lives of Our Young People

During this week of celebration, advocates in every state are working to secure equity in access to arts education and articulate the role of the arts as a pathway to academic success, specifically in the education of students of color, students in rural communities, students who are classified as low-socioeconomic status English Language Learners, or those who require special education. Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stated, “This is absolutely an equity issue and a civil rights issue.” We recognize this issue. We stand against the barriers that cause this issue. And we are working to overcome this issue.

Game Designer at 17: How SAY Sí Changed My Life

In the short amount of time I’ve been at SAY Sí, they have made a great impact in my life. As a video game developer, I’ve gained so many connections and branched out as an artistic individual. SAY Sí has made me aware of my environment and my ability to influence as an activist for my community. The arts can mold and change perspectives only to be interpreted differently and we need to embrace the idea that art is capable of influencing the world. I think all youth deserve a creative outlet to express and evolve a future that is woke and powerful. 

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