Climate Change Impact: New Mexico with Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández

Posted by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, Nov 17, 2022

Climate change is chipping away at our cultural heritage. A place to live, eat, and watch the next generation grow, that’s not something we want to lose. We want to preserve the cultural heritage of our beautiful state, and that includes protecting our air, land, and water for generations to come. When you begin to lose your land, you begin to lose a piece of yourself. New Mexicans are strong. We take an enormous amount of pride in living in this state. You can see that in the different regions and in our communities, no matter what district you visit. There are dozens of murals spread out across our neighborhoods. You may pass a giant, majestic roadrunner with carefully painted blue and yellow feathers on the way to the grocery store, or a wall that depicts Zuni dancers and the pueblos painted in yellows. There are so many representations of our beautiful landscapes as well. Through them all, our devotion to the region is palpable. Our diverse culture, intimately tied to the well-being of the environment, is what frames conversations on climate change in our community. Our ranchers and farmers are an important part of New Mexican culture; they feed us and contribute greatly to our economy. They are key voices at the table when thinking of solutions. New Mexico is getting hotter. Our droughts and wildfire seasons are getting longer, and we are seeing the effects of climate change become increasingly more damaging. We know that if our families want to continue to call this beautiful place home, we have an obligation to address these issues.

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Arts in Juvenile Justice Working Group Provides Advocacy and Services

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Photo looking through large glass windows into an art gallery. Text on the glass reads: Can you see me?
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The Arts in Juvenile Justice Working Group is a conglomerate of organizations and stakeholders that are passionate about the Juvenile Justice system, as it relates to the integration of creative arts therapies. Working Group member SkyArt in Chicago provides visual art programming to young people ages 5 to 24 and is currently featuring an exhibition focused on artwork from incarcerated youth and explores the impact that incarceration has on the youth population.

Climate Change Impact: Louisiana with Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser

Posted by Billy Nungesser, Nov 15, 2022

Louisiana is on the forefront of climate change in the United States. The frequency and intensity of storms are increasing. Coastal land loss is increasing. More inland, cycles of drought and extreme precipitation is increasing. For every temperature degree warmer, we are seeing 7% more water falling from the sky. As a result, we are seeing more flooding. The Louisiana Folklore Society began the Bayou Culture Collaborative (BCC) in 2018 to provide a means to connect those interested in the human dimension, especially the impact of climate change on our culture. Louisiana participates in in SouthArts disaster preparedness programs and also has Creative Relief, a statewide system to respond to disasters. Each regional arts council has a means to receive donations to support arts organizations and artists. Within the Division of the Arts grants department, conversations have begun around the topic of requiring some of the larger (according to budgets) arts organizations to have disaster plans in place as a requirement for eligibility. This may take a few grant cycles to implement. Arts councils have also provided arts activities at evacuation sites. Dialogues with the Governor’s Office are beginning concerning how to help artists and arts organizations that have to relocate and how to help communities relocate together in order to support community connections and culture.

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Climate Change Impact: Michigan with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Posted by Rep. Debbie Dingell, Nov 10, 2022

A love for the arts instills important values within the community, including an appreciation of the beauty and importance of nature. Michigan is home to some of the most breathtaking waterways, coastlines, and forests, and many artists take inspiration from these natural treasures. Protecting these valuable and life-sustaining resources is critical in preserving Michigan’s vibrant art and cultural heritage. We had an art exhibit in Ypsilanti—Interdependence at the Riverside Arts Center—that demonstrated the connectedness of every person, animal, and living creature on our planet. The Huron River Watershed Council has also partnered with arts organizations like the Michigan Theatre to screen films including “An Inconvenient Sequel,” and host conversations on how we can engage at a community level to address these challenges. Communities across the nation are experiencing the effects of climate change firsthand, and Southeast Michigan is no exception. During Dearborn’s historic flooding in summer 2021, I heard from artists with flooded basements who incurred thousands of dollars of losses, not to mention the heartbreak seeing the damage to their life’s work. 

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Colorado Representative Leslie Herod Advocates for the Arts in General Assembly

Posted by Mr. Jay H. Dick, Nov 03, 2022

Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), presented Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod with the 2021 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for her work in advancing arts and culture, especially during the pandemic to help artists and arts organizations survive. As Chair of the Colorado House Appropriations Committee, she has used her influence to ensure that arts and culture are not only seen as economic engines but are treated with the respect they deserve. Rep. Herod is fond of comparing the economic impact of the state’s arts and culture sector to its ski industry. Aware that everyone in Colorado knows that the ski industry is huge in the state—supporting jobs and bringing in tax revenue—she notes that the ski industry is $4.8 billion dollars, while arts and culture is a $14.4 billion dollar industry, generating about three times more than the ski industry. Rep. Herod believes that the arts bring diverse groups of people together to inspire connections, create change, and support economic vibrancy. She believes that the shortest distance between people are their stories, and the arts open doors to conversations that define us as a community and address complex issues to create greater understanding. 

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Climate Change Impact: Minnesota with Commissioner Toni Carter

Posted by Toni Carter, Nov 01, 2022

Minnesota, known for its cold weather, snow, and ice, is now rapidly warming—particularly during winter months. It is also becoming much wetter. Twin Cities winter traditions, including our Saint Paul Winter Festival and Minneapolis Aquatennial events—tooled and refined over time as cold weather events—must accommodate weather that melts traditional ice sculptures and castles, and often makes snow largely unavailable for hosting sled and sleigh creations or for snow scavenger hunts—all a part of our winter cultural expectations. Accustomed to festivals, parades, Pow Wows, and such activities over summer months, people in our communities are finding more frequent rain disruptions or cancellations—and more sweltering days, dangerous particularly to elderly artists and observers. Both the more frequent rain and more severe heat episodes are also a challenge for outdoor tapestry maintenance and longevity. With summer temperatures over the last two years more regularly registering over 90 degrees Fahrenheit the amount of time artists can spend outdoors installing or creating artwork is becoming more limited. And paradoxically, with more tolerable (warmer) winter weather, some attractive outdoor spaces for artmaking are now occupied by people in tent encampments, which rose in number during the pandemic.

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Cooperative Economics: Balancing (in)equitable advocacy in Black art communities

Posted by Ms. Keya Crenshaw, Oct 27, 2022

Whether or not you practice Kwanzaa, the celebration's Seven Principles apply to all areas of life, including the arts, industry and economics, healthcare, and education. These actions can look like developing community-wide initiatives, such as those that center on art; creating community-led and focused direct impact service organizations; establishing businesses; educational and cultural events; and other enterprises that celebrate and center sustainable economic growth for and within the Black Diaspora. Like the art we create—be it murals during protests, artist community services rebuilding after a natural disaster, micro-grants for entrepreneurship, or any of the multiple ways creatives show up and produce work—Ujamaa, or Cooperative Economics, teaches us that this fundamental drive should grow out of the communal concept that it is for the betterment of our communities. Nobody should be under- or misrepresented, exploited, or oppressed; no one person, business, corporation, nonprofit, or organization holds the power to an unequal distribution of wealth, opportunity, recognition, or expression. As a practice within and among Diasporic populations, this principle asks us to understand that when we share our talents for growth and continued development of our environments, we establish the blueprint for how we survive and thrive.

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Perspective: Highlighting Disabled Voices through Artistry and Accessibility

Posted by Molly Joyce, Oct 20, 2022

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.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Ayad Akhtar to Deliver Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

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Americans for the Arts today announced that acclaimed novelist and playwright Ayad Akhtar will deliver the 34th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy. Akhtar will be introduced by Rockefeller Brothers Fund President and CEO Stephen Heintz, and the evening will feature a performance by artists Rez Abbassi and Kiran Ahluwalia. The lecture will take place at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The lecture will also be livestreamed for nationwide accessibility with ASL interpretation. Registration to attend is FREE.

Teaching Artist Resource Supports Inclusive Education Practices

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Logo for GIVE - Growing Inclusivity for Vibrant Engagement
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GIVE (Growing Inclusivity for Vibrant Engagement), created by New Victory and a consortium of teaching artists and arts administrators, is a free guide that supports Teaching Artists in the creation of liberated learning environments and vibrant arts experiences within inclusion settings.

Can Art Help Fight A War?

Posted by Mrs. Iryna Kanishcheva, Sep 08, 2022

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.

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Member Spotlight: Megan Berner

Posted by Megan Berner, Linda Lombardi, Aug 09, 2022

As Arts & Culture Manager for the City of Reno, Nevada, Megan Berner manages a public art collection of over 200 artworks, project manages all new public art projects, works with artists, manages the City’s Arts & Culture Grants program, oversees the City’s various gallery spaces, and serves as staff liaison to the City of Reno Arts & Culture Commission and their Public Art Committee. She is also a visual artist. “The best part of what I do is working in the community. I am originally from Reno and feel very connected to this place. It is exciting to work in a position that helps facilitate art and creative placemaking and to see ideas come to life. It’s especially rewarding to have the community be a part of the process, for them to interact with the artists, and to witness the transformation that takes place when art projects are implemented.”

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Member Spotlight: Lucy Gellman

Posted by Lucy S. Gellman, Linda Lombardi, Jul 20, 2022

Lucy Gellman is the editor of the Arts Paper and co-founder of the Youth Arts Journalism Initiative at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. As a reporter and editor, she covers arts, culture, and community with an eye toward social justice and anti-racism. Prior to her time at the Arts Paper, she worked as a general assignment reporter for the New Haven Independent and a station manager at WNHH Community Radio. She holds degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and the Courtauld Institute of Art, both in art history, and is a former Fulbright fellow and the winner of a 2020 Connecticut Arts Hero Award. This year, she received recognition from the Elm City Freddy Fixer Parade Committee for her work. “Last week, my Friday began at a theater summer camp and it ended with a march against police brutality in which song, poetry, and sidewalk art were all used in the streets. In between, I talked to a singer/songwriter about how the pandemic changed his practice. The arts are essential to every one of those stories.” 

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House Appropriators Agree on Increased Arts & Humanities Funding Following Monumental Hearing

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Photo looking up the stairs outside the U.S. Capitol building, a white marble structure with columns and a tall multi-tiered dome.
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Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) passed at $207 million each, $6.3 million and $3.45 million over President Biden’s requests. The bipartisan hearing on June 8—the first in seven years with the NEA and NEH—included testimony from Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson (13th Chair, NEA), Ms. Shelly Lowe (12th Chair, NEH), Ms. Kaywin Feldman (Director, National Gallery of Art), and Mr. Lonnie G. Bunch III (Secretary, Smithsonian Institution).

Anti-Racism Professional Development for Arts Leaders

Thursday, June 23, 2022

CELC logo, white text on an orange background
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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.

Americans For The Arts Debuts Improved Arts + Social Impact Explorer

Friday, May 20, 2022

Screenshot of the Social Impact Explorer wheel, with 30 wedges in a rainbow of colors.

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. 

Americans for the Arts Awards Urban Designer Paola Aguirre Serrano with the 2022 Jorge and Darlene Pérez Prize in Public Art & Civic Design

Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Americans for the Arts today announced that urban designer Paola Aguirre Serrano has been awarded the 2022 Jorge and Darlene Pérez Prize in Public Art & Civic Design. A first-of-its-kind national recognition program established by the Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation, the prize includes a cash stipend of $30,000 plus opportunities for Aguirre Serrano to participate in discussions about her work with national leaders in the arts and other allied fields.

Proposal to Increase Equity through the Arts and Humanities Introduced in Congress

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Smiling person with short dark curly hair wearing a blue blazer over a black top, pearl necklace, and a lapel pin.
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On Thursday, April 28, 2022, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) introduced the Equity Through the Arts and Humanities Act (H.R. 7627), which would create a grant program to support arts and humanities projects that work to dismantle systemic racism through the arts and humanities.

Centering Equity and Inclusion, Americans for the Arts Launches ‘Arts & Economic Prosperity 6’ Study

Data Collection for Sixth National Study of Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry Set to Begin May 1

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Americans for the Arts logo
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Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce the launch of Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), the sixth national study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry. Building on its 25-year legacy, AEP6 will examine the economic power that the arts and culture wield in 387 participating communities representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each community will receive a customized economic impact report about the number of jobs supported, government revenue generated, and economic activity of its nonprofit arts and culture sector.

New Study Highlights How the Arts Make Streets Safer

Monday, April 25, 2022

Bird's eye view of a city street with a colorfully painted striped mural on the median where people stand and walk bikes.
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Can art improve roadway safety? A new report examines the impact of art in the streetscape by comparing historical crash rates and real-time behavior of motorists and pedestrians at 22 “asphalt art” sites before and after the projects were installed, with illuminating results.

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