The 10 most read ARTSblog posts of 2018

ARTSblog once again was a vibrant space for sharing and learning across all sectors of the arts field in 2018. All told, we published more than 215 blogs by authors working in public art, healthcare, government, marketing, local arts agencies, the private sector, and at Americans for the Arts, plus artists, arts educators, leaders at every stage of their careers, and many more. We hope you got your fill of your favorite topics and posts—but if you’re looking for a quick snapshot of the year that was, here are the 10 most viewed ARTSblog posts from 2018.

The Importance and Impact of Planning for Public Art

There is a growing interest in public art from across the country. In the Public Art Programs Fiscal Year 2001 report, Americans for the Arts estimated 350 public art programs across the U.S. The 2017 Survey of Public Art Programs identified more than twice as many. With this growth it is important to understand the various ways public art is planned for and implemented in different communities. In this post, we provide an overview of three papers published by Americans for the Arts that speak to the diverse needs of public art programs across the country, and how local institutions are approaching the topic in innovative ways. With a focus on planning for public art from a municipal perspective, growing public art programs in small to mid-sized cities, and recognizing grassroots and folk art in rural communities, these papers show that successful public art values local context and the public art programs are as unique as each community.

Relevance, Diversity, and Progress in the Arts

When you look at the arts sector more broadly, it is clear women have gradually come into more leadership positions. Although art history departments and museums were male-dominated for centuries, recent data show that we’re finally turning a corner. Nevertheless, there is a stubborn gender imbalance at the helms of the largest museums. And barriers for women of color—or men of color for that matter—are even higher. Having seen as much change in my field as I have since 2000, I am both heartened and worried. As a society we have made progress on the recognition and remediation of gender inequality, and the persistence of racism as a driver of inequality has come into clearer view. In philanthropy we are becoming better at rewarding leadership in these arenas—often belatedly. But we also see that social progress can engender apathy and even resistance. There is far more to do for the arts and museum sector to become truly representative, equitable, and inclusive, and thus the most excellent it can be for our country. For all of us in the practice, study, and philanthropy of the arts, this is a great calling.

Twelve Things Americans Believe About the Arts in 2018

There are many studies that document the social, educational, and economic benefits of the arts to communities. But how does the American public feel about the role of the arts in their lives? Do they value arts education and support government funding of the arts? How important is creativity at home and at work?  We put these questions directly to the public to find out. “Americans Speak Out about the Arts in 2018” was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for Americans for the Arts in May 2018. It is based on a nationally representative sample of 3,023 American adults, making it one of the largest public opinion studies about the arts ever conducted.  As one might expect when hearing from the public, we find a mix of assumptions challenged and observations confirmed.

Giving Trends in Business Contributions to the Arts

Earlier this fall, Americans for the Arts and The Conference Board released the Business Contributions to the Arts: 2018 Edition report. The results provide both an insight into current corporate giving trends as related to the arts and an opportune moment to look back on broad trends. While the survey methodology has changed numerous times over the years, making exact comparisons challenging, we can examine the overall progression of certain aspects of arts support among companies, including what size businesses are consistent arts supporters, what reasons companies give for supporting the arts, and how giving behavior changes (or not) as the national economy fluctuates.

40 Years Young: The Evolving Practice of Cultural Planning

Research released this week by Americans for the Arts sheds light on the aspirations, accomplishments, shortcomings, and methods used in cultural planning over the past decade and compares findings with Craig Dreeszen’s similar—although more extensive—study from 1994. The data reveal that expectations of cultural planning have increased significantly over these 20-plus years, and that the greatest change is in the emphasis on serving community interests rather than a focus on the arts and cultural sector’s own needs. While community-wide cultural planning helps formulate aspirations and action strategies, it doesn’t ensure results. Where cultural plans also set their sights, but where outcomes fell short, is in the area of cultural equity—expanding resources for under-represented groups including immigrant populations, removing barriers to participation, and bolstering education and youth development. Fewer than half of cultural plans included specific actions to address diversity, equity, and inclusion—a surprising finding in 2017.

What’s so important about creativity?

No matter what industry you work in, Americans are seeing the value of creativity in their jobs. From our recent public opinion poll, Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018, 55% of employed Americans agree that their job requires them to be creative. And an even larger percentage, 60%, believe that the more creative and innovative they are at their job, the more successful they are in the workplace. And how are they finding their inner creative spark? For many businesses, the answer lies in partnering with the arts. Our recently released Business Contributions to the Arts 2018 Survey, conducted in partnership with The Conference Board, asked business leaders if the arts contribute to stimulating creative thinking and problem solving—and 53% of them agreed that it does.

The Ohio Arts Education Data Project

All students deserve high quality arts education that develops important skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive workforce. Many of the skills developed through arts learning—collaboration and cooperation, problem identifying and problem solving, decision making, design thinking, articulation and critique, constructive communication—are considered key attributes by employers around the world in the 21st century. After all, they are the skills of leadership. Since 1989 the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Department of Education have worked together to gather data and report on the status of arts education in Ohio’s schools. The Ohio Arts Education Data Project launched in September 2018, and Ohio is proud to be among the first few states in the nation to provide online arts education data dashboards available to the public!

It’s Time for the Arts to Rally Around Standardized Outcomes

Like many social areas, the arts have struggled to reach consensus on impact measurement metrics. Certainly, considerable progress has been made in terms of measuring economic impact as a result of the arts, led by Americans for the Arts and its Arts and Economic Prosperity series of research reports. But, as Business Contributions to the Arts: 2018 Edition reiterates, most companies are not measuring a standard set of social outcomes when it comes to the arts—and that could be holding the sector back. Our data also show that corporate funding for the arts is in a strong position. That means that now is the time to take on the challenge of being more rigorous in the measurement of arts programs to help ensure sustained contributions over the long term. Companies would benefit from stepping up to the plate.

Private Sector Shows a Steadfast Commitment to the Arts Built on Long-Term Partnerships, According to New Survey by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts

Manufacturing companies lead total contributions with an average of $4.6 million to arts organizations

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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According to a new survey by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts, nearly a quarter of companies expect to increase their funding for the arts in the next 12 months and only 7 percent expect a decrease. These increases will likely be driven by increased overall philanthropy budgets. The study also found that nearly all companies are engaged with the arts community, complementing the support for the sector delivered through the National Endowment of the Arts.  

Arts & Business Partnerships Continue to Strengthen Both Sectors, Research Finds

Last week, we celebrated arts and business partnerships at our annual BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts gala. We heard inspiring stories about why businesses value the arts. BCA Leadership Award winner Chandrika Tandon shared how her passion for music provided passion and engagement at her job. Fifth Third Bank spoke about how the arts helped them heal and respond after a mass shooting at their headquarters. Phillips66 shared how the arts create a strong company culture. These stories align with the data from the just released Business Contributions to the Arts survey, which found, among other positive results, that business support for the arts is on the rise. 

Americans for the Arts Introduces the Arts + Social Impact Explorer

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Today, Americans for the Arts unveiled the Arts + Social Impact Explorer, an interactive online tool that draws together more than 1,000 data points on how the arts impact and integrate into 26 different sectors ranging from education and innovation, to health and wellness, immigration, faith and environment. The tool provides quick top-line research, example projects, core research papers, and lists service and partner organizations doing this work, as well as provides printable PDF fact sheets to share with decisionmakers.

Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018: An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes About the Arts in America

In a society struggling to find equity and social justice, Americans believe the arts improve the quality of our communities. How do we know? We asked. Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018 is the second in a series of national public opinion surveys conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Americans for the Arts. One of the largest ever conducted, it gauges the public perspective on (1) personal engagement in the arts as audience and creator, (2) support for arts education and government arts funding, (3) opinions on the personal and well-being benefits that come from engaging in the arts, and (4) how those personal benefits extend to the community. Here are some findings of the survey. 

Americans Speak Out About the Arts in New Public Opinion Poll

Americans Believe the Arts Strengthen Communities Socially, Educationally, Economically

Thursday, September 27, 2018

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Americans for the Arts today released Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018, one of the largest national public opinion surveys of American perceptions and attitudes towards the arts and arts funding. The new research demonstrates that Americans continue to be highly engaged in the arts and believe more strongly than ever that the arts promote personal well-being, help us understand other cultures, are essential to a well-rounded education, and that government has an important role in funding the arts.

Cyclical Mentorship in Action: Crafting this Toolkit

While helping with research for Americans for the Arts’ Emerging Arts Education Leadership toolkit, I was able to find the true potential in the reciprocal exchange and cyclical mentorship of arts leaders in the field. Originally, I came to this project as just an artist and, therefore, a believer in the power of the arts, but I knew very little of the landscape and infrastructure of support for the arts in my region or my nation as a whole. I lacked that knowledge of how to create coalition as an arts leader, how to inspire others to action in the best way, or that there was even a cycle of mentorship that could tap into. Through this project, I realized how many resources and how much support there really is (and how much support there can be) for the intersections of identity and culture within arts education programs in America.

Americans Speak out About the Arts in 2018

Americans for the Arts Previews National Survey on Arts Attitudes, Perceptions in America

Friday, June 15, 2018

Today at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch announced the completion of a new in-depth study of American perceptions and attitudes towards the arts and arts funding and revealed three highlights of the study during his State of the Arts speech.

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 Releases 2018-2020 Strategic Plan

Friday, January 19, 2018

The three-year planning document describes how the organization—in alliance with our members, partners, and stakeholders—will build recognition and support for the extraordinary and dynamic value of the arts, and lead, serve, and advance the diverse networks of organizations and individuals who cultivate the arts in America.

Dance for Brain and Body Health

As an undergraduate student at Wake Forest University studying Health and Exercise Science and aspiring to be a future physical therapist, I was excited when I learned about a pioneering Parkinson’s Disease dance class developed by Associate Professor of Dance Christina Soriano, which is now trademarked as her own IMPROVment™ method. Soriano has crafted a pedagogy of improvisational dance movement that aims to improve the mobility, balance, and overall health of older adults, giving participants a beautiful and joyous way to practice how to handle the challenges that a life with Parkinson’s—or any neurodegenerative disease—brings. 

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