Standing at the Intersection of Business and Society: Reflections from a Place where Nature and Modernism Co-exist

Earlier this month, I was thrilled to spend three days in Aspen, Colorado to experience a rich diet of intellectual dialogue, immersion in unspoiled nature, and innumerable opportunities to discuss and debate the critical role that business plays in society. As both an academic and CSR (corporate social responsibility) practitioner, the experience provided an opportunity for me to reflect on the history of the Aspen Institute as well as my personal role in understanding and teaching the many dimensions of how the private sector can be a positive catalyst for societal change. The experience also reminded me that business has played a critical role in supporting and promoting the arts in America. Although we cannot re-create the context, inspiration, and leadership that led to the creation of the Aspen Institute, we can all be pioneers in encouraging new models of corporate cultural responsibility where the arts enjoy secure and sustainable support from the private sector.

Americans for the Arts Announces Annual Business Committee for the Arts Awards to Honor Exceptional Businesses and Leaders

Awardees to Be Honored on October 2 at Gala in New York City

Monday, August 20, 2018

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Americans for the Arts today announced this year’s BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honorees. Presented every year by the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), a division of Americans for the Arts, the BCA 10 awards recognize 10 U.S. companies, a business leader, and an arts and business partnership for their exceptional commitment to the arts. The awards will be presented by Americans for the Arts on October 2, 2018, at a black-tie gala at The Central Park Boathouse in New York City. 

Americans for the Arts Mourns the Loss of Iconic Soul Singer/Songwriter Aretha Franklin

“Queen of Soul” Was Americans for the Arts’ 2006 National Arts Awards Honoree for Lifetime Achievement

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Americans for the Arts mourns the loss of soul legend Aretha Franklin, who died today at age 76. Franklin, an 18-time Grammy Award winner, had a career that spanned six decades. With more than 75 million records sold worldwide, Franklin was one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, and the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 
 

Postcards from America’s Future Arts Leaders: Part 2

For 26 years, the Arts & Business Council of New York has been hosting the DIAL internship program as an investment in a more equitable arts management field. This summer, 12 Diversity in Arts Leadership interns from all over the country are working at arts nonprofits in New York City for ten weeks to explore and build skills in arts administration and leadership. Get to know these up-and-coming arts leaders in a two-part blog series.

Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch Listed as Top 50 Executive in Nonprofit Sector by The NonProfit Times

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

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Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch was named to 2018 NPT Power & Influence Top 50, an annual list in its 21st year highlighting the nonprofit sector’s top working executives for innovation and influence on the broader sector. This is the fourth year Lynch has been recognized by the publication for his leadership for Americans for the Arts. He was previously recognized in 2012, 2013, and 2014. 

Postcards from America’s Future Arts Leaders: Part 1

For 26 years, the Arts & Business Council of New York has been hosting the DIAL internship program as an investment in a more equitable arts management field. This summer, 12 Diversity in Arts Leadership interns from all over the country are working at arts nonprofits in New York City for ten weeks to explore and build skills in arts administration and leadership. Get to know these up-and-coming arts leaders in a two-part blog series.

Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Receive 2018 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for County Arts Leadership

Monday, July 16, 2018

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Americans for the Arts and the National Association of Counties awarded Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners of Tampa, Florida the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for County Arts Leadership at NACo’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The award honors an elected county board or individual leader who has significantly advanced the arts in the communities they serve.

A Utah Business “Not Throwin’ Away its Shot” to Help Rural Students Experience “Hamilton”

When Zions Bank was approached by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums with a request to support the Hamilton Education Program, executives knew high school students from Title I schools and rural towns spanning the state needed to be in “The Room Where It Happens.” The $16 billion-in-assets financial institution based in Salt Lake City has a significant presence and market share in rural communities; because of its statewide network of branches, it is important to the bank to help promote rural populations’ access to the artistic treasures concentrated in Salt Lake City. Through the Hamilton Education Program, nicknamed “EduHam,” producers made tickets available at a discount, which was subsidized by Zions Bank and the State of Utah through a bi-partisan appropriation. After weeks of studying a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton, the May 4, 2018 performance provided more than 2,300 students an opportunity to experience the musical in person. 

Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman Receives 2018 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

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Americans for the Arts and the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) today announced that Connecticut Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman will be awarded the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership today at NLGA’s annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The annual award honors a public official who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts at the state level.

Presenting Historical Works of Art in the #MeToo Era

Recently, we saw a performance at the Met Opera of the classic Mozart opera Cosi Fan Tutti, restaged and mounted with a new production set in the 1950s. In the program, the director stated it was restaged so that it would be “[easier] to buy into the conceit” of the show. It was so real, in fact, that it was easy to draw comparisons to every man who has ever persistently ignored a woman’s denial and blamed rejection on the woman. So real, that when the women are literally saying they are frightened and terrified of the unwanted men sneaking into their rooms, it was easy to think of the hundreds of thousands of women who said #MeToo. As such, we began questioning the role of cultural institutions, particularly large and leading organizations to which others look for inspiration or leadership. What is their responsibility in reconciling classic works in modern times?

Americans for the Arts will continue this conversation at our upcoming Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado June 14-17, 2018, during the session “The Arts Community in the Time of the Women’s March and #MeToo.”

Reflections on Over 20 Years of Americans for the Arts Conventions

In 1993 I became the Director of New York Programs of the Arts & Business Council Inc., and as head of a national partner arts service organization of Americans for the Arts, I began what has become a very long association with the organization and its Annual Convention, literally attending the first Convention under the Americans for the Arts name—and nearly every one since. I have watched the organization, and its signature convening, grow and evolve over time—responding to the field’s changes and the external environment we all operate in. Now in my role as president of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation in Denver, Colorado, I have become one of the hosts and funders of the 2018 Annual Convention in Denver. We are so excited to be hosting this conference, and know that the content will be informative and inspirational, and that the City and its cultural assets will enchant. 

Culture Notes

Art is a barometer of its time, providing the common ground for our shared humanity—essential in a vibrant democracy. I came of age as an artist and administrator in New York in the 1970s. Post modernists, punks, minimalists, and graffiti artists were deconstructing and distilling everyday actions. By the 1980s, some of these provocateurs mainstreamed into galleries and museums, theaters and opera houses. Many audiences were mystified, some transformed by the emergent forms. At the end of the ‘80s, I was performing arts curator at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the aesthetic zeitgeist had changed. 

Americans for the Arts to Present Six Awards for Arts Leadership

Honorees to Be Recognized June 16 at Americans for the Arts’ Convention in Denver, CO

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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Americans for the Arts announced today the recipients of the 2018 Americans for the Arts Leadership Awards. Given annually, these awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations committed to enriching their communities through the arts.

Americans for the Arts to Present American Express Emerging Leaders Award to Quanice G. Floyd

Floyd to Receive Award on June 16 at Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Denver, CO

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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Americans for the Arts announced today that Quanice G. Floyd, educator and founder/director of Arts Administrators of Color Network, will be awarded the 2018 American Express Emerging Leaders Award. The annual award recognizes an exceptional new and/or young arts professional for their exemplary leadership, deep engagement with community, and strong commitment to advancing the arts. 

Artist Jeff Koons to Lecture on Artistic Endeavors, Collaborations, Why Businesses Should Partner with the Arts

Tuesday, June 5, 6:30 p.m., New York Institute of Technology Auditorium on Broadway

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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Americans for the Arts today announced that artist Jeff Koons will deliver the 2018 David Rockefeller Lecture on Arts and Business, a signature program of the Business Committee for the Arts. The lecture will address Koons’ arts and business collaborations, and how they have benefited his own artistic endeavors and the strategic goals of the businesses. 

Let Others Lead: A Mid-Career Manifesto

As an emerging leader in my late 20s and early 30s, I was desperate for a chance to be heard. I sought out opportunities to get involved with organizations and groups that would both connect me to other people in the field and allow me chances to organize, empower, and lead others. I had ideas. I wanted to share them. And I wanted to learn in the process. As the sun set on my emerging leader status—though I’m not sure exactly when that started happening, just when it was over—I had a pretty stark shift in my attitude about leadership. I found I wasn’t hungry for it anymore—not in the same way, at least.

Change The Story. Change The Equation. Change The Game.

Throughout this Blog Salon, you’ve heard testimony from arts leaders across the country: creatives working in street symphonies and theater companies in LA; administrators building community practices in Florida and Boston; artists and curators invested in equity work from Portland to Washington, DC, and all points in between. By using this Blog Salon as a platform, the ELC is combating the dominant narrative that power in the arts exists only in the hands of a historically white, historically male, historically wealthy minority. We’re collectively organizing our experiences into a larger tapestry to change the story. Another intention: all of this year’s contributors identify as People of Color (POC). By centering experiences of POC who are artists, administrators, and experts, we’re attempting to course-correct decades of exclusion, disenfranchisement, and marginalization our communities have experienced working in the arts. 

From Shy to Fly—How the Arts Developed My Self Worth

I first realized I had the power to create change through the arts in a small camp in my hometown, Rockford, IL. I was just a little girl trying to muster up the courage to get on stage and perform when I attended the Rockford Area Arts Council Camp for Young Creatives. Waiting backstage with knots in my stomach, fingernails digging into my fingertips to distract from my nerves, I reassured myself I knew all the moves. “I got this,” I thought to myself, “...but wait! What’s step one again!?” The music starts and my body takes over, making all the right decisions on time. All that was required of me was trusting my capacity to pull it off. It was before I knew what it meant to be a woman of color and the importance of representation in leadership roles, and before I could speak intelligibly about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts. 

Diversification Begins with a Theory of Change

When I finally pivoted into arts administration, inching my way closer toward being a full-time creative, I was a bit surprised to find how much the sector was struggling with issues of diversification. Over time, I suppose I had grown accustomed to an industry that had no issue tackling diversification head-on and I expected the arts, the champion of inclusion, would be the same way. I am fortunate enough to oversee two great projects at ArtsBoston which help to drive the change we desperately need in greater Boston’s arts sector. For the ArtsBoston Audience Lab, diversification (specifically audiences of color) began with a Theory of Change—a blueprint designed in collaboration with the ten participating organizations in the Lab. When organizations state that they want more “diversity” in their audiences, we ask them to think a step further.

A.W.E in Portland: Arts Workers for Equity

I work in the nonprofit arts sector in Portland, Oregon, which is 76% white despite the growing racial and ethnic diversity in the country. This whiteness was deliberately designed. In the 1800s, exclusionary laws were ratified into the Oregon constitution and the language wasn’t officially removed until 2002. This history is reflected in who lives, works, and plays here, including the demographic makeup of who runs our cultural and artistic institutions. In 2016, a group of us arts administrators came together with the evocative question: “Why are the arts so white?” A truly grassroots operation, Arts Workers for Equity (AWE) is a collective of ten individuals who represent a multitude of intersectional identities. Alone and individually, we had limited power to effect change. But collectively we’ve influenced Portland’s nonprofit arts sector, citywide.

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