Maine Arts Leadership Initiative: Quality Arts Education for All Learners by Focusing on Educators Learning

I am exhausted after last week and thrilled about the accomplishments that happened at the seventh Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Summer Institute. Almost 70 teaching artists and pre-K through grade 12 visual and performing arts teachers spent three intense days in a collaborative learning environment. I am proud of these educators who challenged themselves on the topics of teaching, learning, and assessment. I am again reminded of the value of bringing arts educators together to form a community and delivering meaningful professional development!

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.

Wake Up to a New Day

Notions of excellence and equity are linked and increasingly demand that we attend to both the positive and negative ways they intersect in policies, practices, and decisions. Which artists get opportunities, who gains resources, how are arts and cultural practices understood and valued by critics, audiences, and gatekeepers? Our Excellence and Equity Blog Salon explores these questions and provides guidance in the form of Animating Democracy's new framework Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change.

Arts Teachers Crave High Quality Professional Development

For the past year I have been traveling around the state of Ohio providing arts assessment professional development sessions to arts teachers, as a part of the Ohio Arts Assessment Collaborative. What we have discovered is that teachers, whether in large urban districts or small rural districts, all crave the same thing: They want to learn new skills to take back to their classrooms and to be able to connect with like-minded colleagues. They are typically enthusiastic to have a workshop in their content area with materials that they can apply immediately. They want to soak up as much knowledge as they can.

Are You as Connected as You Could Be? Introducing our Member Briefing Series

On February 8, Americans for the Arts launched our Arts Mobilization Center, which serves as a hub for all of our position papers. The Mobilization Center is available to the public and is intended to be a tool to help you advocate for the arts. Then, to help our members be the most effective advocates they can be, we launched a regular member briefing series on March 23. These are 30 minute calls available exclusively to members around a specific issue statement, topic area, or program update. During each call, Americans for the Arts senior staff members and I provide background on a given topic, then we take your questions live!

Strategies for Change Leaders

Sometimes I feel like I’m not making a difference as an arts administrator because I’m not actually creating art. Making change, however, is my time to get creative at work. It’s exciting to examine procedures from a new perspective, find ways to push limits with policy, create sincere relationships with my coworkers, be confident in my administrative choices, and feel like an agent of change in my work. Change isn’t easy, but these strategies can be. 

Author(s): The Center for the Study of Art & Community
Date of Publication: May 2016

Intermedia Arts, in conjunction with Americans for the Art' Animating Democracy program commissioned this national study of local arts agencies to asess community arts activity and training opportunities. The study was conducted by William Cleveland and the Center for the Study of Art and Community. Its purpose was two-fold: to provide a greater understanding of the demand and availability of arts-based community development training; and, to investigate how the benefits of Intermedia Arts' Creative Community Leadership Institute could be made accessible for a broader range of

Author(s): The Center for the Study of Art & Community
Date of Publication: May 2016

Intermedia Arts, in conjunction with Americans for the Art' Animating Democracy program commissioned this national study of local arts agencies to asess community arts activity and training opportunities. The study was conducted by William Cleveland and the Center for the Study of Art and Community. Its purpose was two-fold: to provide a greater understanding of the demand and availability of arts-based community development training; and, to investigate how the benefits of Intermedia Arts' Creative Community Leadership Institute could be made accessible for a broader range of

Reflections on Resilient Arts Leadership

This week we heard over a dozen emerging leaders reflect on this year’s Arts Leadership Preconference theme: “Impact Without Burnout: Resilient Arts Leadership from the Inside Out”. Echoed in many of the blogs is the need and desire for cross-generational leadership, mentorship and professional development (positioning everyone to teach and advance the field), the need to intentionally address diversity, and the importance of “soft-skills”.

Vulnerability is the New Confidence

Arts leaders must be comfortable with risk and uncertainty to be successful. Actually, I think this is true for leaders in every industry, but especially in the arts. Embracing vulnerability can be challenging for any leader, but especially a young one. Brene Brown, a preeminent researcher on vulnerability defines it as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” She has this to say: “Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity”; “There can be zero innovation without vulnerability”; and “Invulnerability in leadership breeds disengagement in culture.”

They Should’ve Asked a Folklorist: New Horizons for State Folk Arts Programs

Following the 1974 launch of NEA support for state folklife programs, folklorists have led state arts agencies’ efforts to serve traditional artists of the nation’s rural, occupational, and immigrant communities. What are the challenges facing state-level folk arts coordinators in 2016?

To gain insight, I consulted three emerging leaders in the field: Lilli Tichinin, Program Coordinator of Folk Arts, Art Projects and Accessibility for New Mexico Arts; Jennifer Joy Jameson, Folk and Traditional Arts Director for the Mississippi Arts Commission; and Josh Ehlers, Assistant Folklorist for the Oregon Folklife Network.

A Leader's Responsibility to Create Opportunities for Others

In 2008, print publications were shedding staff writer positions. Arts criticism was on the cutting room floor at daily newspapers across the country.

Blogging was all the rage in the mid-aughts, so despite the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s unceremonious slaughter of their arts coverage, Atlanta was seeing a groundswell of local arts scene coverage. From this movement a cohort of critics emerged. This independent and often amateur motley crew consisted of emerging artists, recently graduated art history majors, retired editors and junior writers. What they penned was avant-garde reviews that disregarded traditional methods of criticism.

Working With or For Everyone in an Organization

We have all heard or said the phrase: “I wear many hats within my organization”, as if we are justifying our importance (like my Great Dane tries to justify her importance by licking my face down to the bones). We all play important roles within our organizations. I have certainly used this phrase in some shape or form, but staying humble about our numerous roles can really pay dividends as we move forward in our careers.

Working with or for everyone does not always mean everyone is asking you to do something for them. More frequently, it means asking others how you can be involved in what they are doing. This approach not only expands knowledge in the short term, but it can lead to long term benefits including building new relationships or creating opportunities to take on more responsibility. Here are my keys to success when it comes to working with or for everyone in your organization.

Resilient Leadership in the Arts: Realities about being in an Arts Couple

A few years ago, my husband got a new job several states away that completely changed our lives. At the time, I had a job I loved in theatre arts education from which I had to resign. Starting over in a new place where you know absolutely no one is a daunting task for anyone, but when you’re in the arts, it can seem like an impossible task. Jobs in the arts are harder to come by than in many other fields and it takes years to build up connections, develop working knowledge of local funding sources, and get another shot at a job with an organization when you aren’t the one hired away.

Establishing a Career Path in the Arts

In 2011, while pursuing my graduate degree in Arts Administration at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), I came across Managers of the Arts, an NEA research study conducted in 1987 by Paul DiMaggio. In this report he examined the backgrounds, education, and career experiences of senior arts administrators of resident theaters, art museums, symphony orchestras, and community arts agencies. While this report is almost 30 years old, DiMaggio highlighted some key points that are important for attracting and retaining arts managers, which included:

  • Raising salaries in fields in which administrators are least well paid.
  • Establish somewhat more predictable career paths that offer the promise of further opportunities to administrators who reach the top of large or medium-sized organizations relatively early in life.
  • Offer more equal opportunities to women managers who pursue careers in these fields.

Following Young Leaders’ Lead

Like many urban areas across the country, much is booming in Atlanta: real estate, food culture, and a hunger for public transit and public spaces. Along with the renewed investment in Atlanta’s urban core, there is a building momentum around the role arts & culture play in civic life. Of course there’s a downside to the “upswing” as Atlanta faces some of the country’s most pronounced income and wealth inequality gaps. The disparity is real in Atlanta – and the arts are not immune, falling right in line with housing and education disparities, lack of access to healthy foods, and economic immobility.

While some our most conventional cultural institutions are searching for ways to discuss and address the issue of cultural equity, I am inspired by emerging leaders in Atlanta whose core purpose is rooted in cultural equity values.

Navigating Grey Space: The Personal, Professional, and Practice

How does one lead by an example that is still evolving, or in many instances simply doesn’t exist? As a young black woman in the arts, this has proven to be the ongoing topic of many conversations amongst my peers and myself. Decades have been spent sorting through lack of diversity in the arts sector, and people of color pursuing their passions as artists and administrators alike are still faced with a lack of representation and guidance around what the future of these roles look like within the field. Most recently I’ve found myself questioning how to explore my individual path in a way that feels productive and healthy, while also understanding how that impacts my future pursuits and leadership role(s).

Leading through Listening

Last week I met with local arts advocate Julie Madden to discuss some of her career experiences in the arts. I was lucky to have met her just a few weeks prior at Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. It just took one exchange to realize that we not only represent the same congressional district, but we actually live down the street from one another! I was so happy to meet with her and to hear the wealth of stories and advice to share. Since 1998, Julie has served with Maryland State Citizens for the Arts and in 2002 became a board member of the Maryland State Arts Council. Additionally, she has served on The Baltimore Museum of Art's Accessions Committee for Decorative Arts and as Maryland's Director of Arts and Community Outreach.

How to Be (or be an asset to) an Emerging Arts Leader of Color

You have to be resilient to be in arts management. Period. This required resilience goes double for emerging arts leaders of color and the people who want to see them do well. As an educator and consultant, I am sometimes asked to speak about diversity in our field. After these talks I hear from two types of people: arts administrators of color who are on the spectrum of “I know, right?” to “let’s laugh together about this ridiculous thing that happened to me–or else I’ll cry” (I buy the latter drinks, when possible) AND I hear from potential allies who want to know how to be helpful.

What follows are a smattering of things that I have said to both groups–as the discussion for one group is usually an inverse image of the discussion with the other. I offer these lessons I have learned (usually, the hard way) as fodder for further discussion, and a moment for us to strategize before we go back out into the fray.

The Importance of Organizations Investing in their Emerging Leaders

“You need to pay your dues.”

This statement has always hit a nerve with me. Not because I don’t believe there is some truth to it, but because I believe that it focuses on a problem and not a solution. This often means that the task of “paying one’s dues”, which can be defined as “you need more experience,” is forced upon the emerging leader with no assistance and no direction provided. Decision making is for those with experience, for valid reasons, but what I question is how organizations help provide that much-needed experience to their emerging leaders.

How does cultural identity impact arts leadership?

How does cultural identity impact arts leadership?

“We really need someone who’s more out front, who relishes the spotlight, who can shake the hands and kiss the babies.” (A major donor)

Let us picture the figurehead of an organization. The lighting rod. The glad-handing executive, the creative dynamo, the visionary. The confident and outspoken advocate with the answers. Is that what we want from a leader? Can that be anyone, any gender, any age (within reason), any race? Can it be a senior black woman? A young disabled veteran? Can that be a third-generation Asian-American, like me?

Resilient Arts Leadership from the Inside Out: The Arts Leaders Showing Us How

Welcome to the annual Emerging Arts Leaders Blog Salon!  We asked over a dozen emerging leaders to reflect and respond to this year’s Arts Leadership Preconference theme: “Impact without Burnout: Resilient Arts Leadership from the Inside Out”. In the coming days you will read about the work of some of these leaders and their advice to the field.

To kick things off, I asked Beth Kanter, the lead facilitator and curator for this year’s Arts Leadership Preconference, four questions to help us define and better understand the concepts behind resilient leadership.

Moving Arts Leadership Forward, Response by Mara Walker, Chief Operating Officer, Americans for the Arts

It’s not breaking news that America is in the midst of major change due to an aging and diversifying population. And it’s not unusual to be in conversations about how those changes are impacting the leadership of our nation’s nonprofit arts organizations. As the new William and Flora Hewlett Foundation report indicates, economic pressures and shifting demographics have led to cross-generational workplaces that require new strategies for building deeper appreciation for the range of voices and experience that exist within our organizations.

Product Relevance–An Experiment in Engaging Silicon Valley Corporate Millennials

In June 2015, Silicon Valley Creates, a regranting organization in San Jose, California, with a thirty-plus year record in providing funding opportunities for the local arts and culture community, made a bold move–for us. We took a first-time experimental step in investing in capacity building, specifically to elevate the conversation about product relevance.

Employee Resource Groups: what do they mean for the arts?

The pARTnership Movement’s latest tool-kit, on partnering with Employee Resource Groups, is a great introduction to working with these often under-discussed groups. Why should they matter to you, and how can you partner with them? Also, what are they?

An Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a network of likeminded individuals with similar interests or shared pasts and can usually be contacted though the company’s HR department. They’re often known as affinity groups, because they bring together people who have had a shared experience that influences their professional demeanor or outlook.

Los Angeles Mayor Announces New Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence Program

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Category: 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the launch of the city’s new Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence Program, facilitated by Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). The program will place artists to work within city departments to incorporate creative thinking in Los Angeles's approach to civic issues. 

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