Remembering to Celebrate the Victories: State Arts Action Network Members’ Advances for the Arts and Arts Education

First, I want to acknowledge that the past few months have been tough; it seems like anytime I refresh my web browser, there’s more bad news happening in our nation. Personally, I find some solace in the work that we as arts advocates do at the federal, state, and local levels in advancing the healing and transformative power of the arts and arts education. I think it’s important to remember the positive moments and for us to celebrate the victories that we as a field are achieving. In that spirit, I want to share with you a few stories about the current advocacy successes at the federal and state levels, spearheaded by the State Captains, State Arts Action Network (SAAN), and their states’ advocates.

Tennessee Governor and Country Music Association Announce New $1 Million Music and Arts Education Initiative

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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Called "Tennessee: State of the Arts," the program is an unprecedented public-private partnership to provide school districts statewide the opportunity to apply for funding to improve or develop their music education programs for the 2018-19 school year. 

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards Releases New Report on The Status of Arts Standards Adoption

28+ States Have Adopted New Arts Education Standards Since 2014

Friday, April 6, 2018

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More than 28 states have adopted new arts education standards since 2014. The NCCAS report includes a comprehensive list of states that have revised their arts standards and an up-to-date status of other states that are currently working on standards revision. 

SAAN By Me: The Good Arts Advocacy Work Happening in Your States

Advocacy promoting arts and arts education funding and policy doesn’t just exist at the federal level. While the federal government funds the NEA at $152.3 million, state governments invest $357.5 million into state arts agencies. However, like the NEA, state arts agencies cannot lobby regarding appropriations, law, legislation, or policy, in their official capacity. Enter the State Arts Action Network—a professional development network of Americans for the Arts comprised of 53 state arts advocacy and service organizations from 42 states. SAAN members work around the clock advocating for pro-arts and pro-arts education funding and policies in their home states. Here’s just a sample of the great work happening at the state level! Here’s just a sample of the great work happening at the state level!

Preparing Your Organization and Your Donors for Shifts in the Charitable Tax Deduction

On January 1, the 2018 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act went into effect, a substantial change to the U.S. tax code which has the potential to negatively impact arts and culture nonprofit organizations in a variety of ways. One of the most significant impacts will come in changes related to the thresholds and amounts associated with the charitable tax deduction. This 100-year-old provision was designed to stimulate giving to charities and other organizations serving the public good by providing an opportunity to claim a deduction as a reduction in an individual’s tax burden. While the repercussions of the federal tax code changes are still emerging, and corresponding shifts in state-by-state tax policy may impact your situation, the notes that follow are an introductory primer. If you have questions about state-level implications, we recommend you reach out to your state comptroller or state association of nonprofits.

Governor Larry Hogan Honored for Arts Leadership

Governor Hogan Receives Award for State Arts Leadership; Civic Leaders Receive 2018 Public Leadership in the Arts Awards at The United Conference of Mayors’ Winter Meeting

Friday, January 26, 2018

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Americans for the Arts and The United States Conference of Mayors today awarded Maryland Governor Larry Hogan the 2018 National Award for State Arts Leadership. The award, along with three other arts leadership awards, was presented at The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Winter Meeting in Washington, DC. 

Leading from the Front: Arts Advocacy Strategies for the Public Sector

What does adaptive leadership and effective advocacy look like for those working in the public sector? Over the course of the past year, I began seriously wondering how public employees might be able to take an active role in raising political support for cultural agencies and state arts councils, within the legal restrictions that apply to their self-advocacy. I interviewed arts leaders in six states to find out how they were steering their agencies to serve many diverse publics within their state in spite of significant political and economic challenges—and in some cases, a lingering threat of elimination.

Americans for the Arts' State Arts Action Network Council Elects New Leadership

Sarah Gonzales Triplett and Ann S. Graham Named Chair and Vice Chair of Council

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Americans for the Arts today announced the election of Sarah Gonzales Triplett, director of public policy for Creative Many Michigan, and Ann S. Graham, executive director of Texans for the Arts, as chair and vice chair respectively of the State Arts Action Network (SAAN) Council. Each will serve a one-year term from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

Statement on the Intersection of the Arts, History, and Community Dialogue

Friday, August 18, 2017

Americans for the Arts releases a statement about the complex and important impact of public art, including monuments to the Confederacy, on the history and pride of diverse communities, and encourages ongoing civic dialogue around the removal and replacement of these monuments.

National Lieutenant Governors Association and Americans for the Arts Sign State Military and Veterans Arts Initiative

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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On Friday, July 28, the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) and Americans for the Arts signed a first-of-its-kind collaboration supporting the military and their families. The State Military and Veterans Arts Initiative seeks to increase visibility, understanding, and support for the care of persons across the military continuum (to include active duty and reserve service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers) and the role the arts can play in their health and wellness. 

Strategizing on the Future of the Creative Workforce

A recent publication, the Future of Jobs Report, aimed to alert those leaders about current stock of knowledge around anticipated skills needs, recruitment patterns, and occupational requirements on labor market from the perspective of some of the world’s largest employers. Both Creativity and Cognitive Flexibility made the list of top 10 skills. This is great news for education where the arts are present, since they are the springboard of creativity, innovation, and cognitive flexibility; but strategy to implement arts-infused curricula more fully in public education is needed to educate the workforce of the future. The call for strategic local arts advocacy is warranted.

Americans for the Arts to Present Six Awards for Exceptional Arts Leadership

Honorees to be Recognized on June 17 in San Francisco

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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Americans for the Arts announced the recipients of the 2017 Americans for the Arts Annual Leadership Awards. These awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations committed to enriching their communities through the arts.

Time to Celebrate—and fight for—the Arts and Culture!

Did you know that NACo (the National Association of Counties), along with Americans for the Arts, recognize counties for their arts and culture achievements? Beginning in 1999, Americans for the Arts, in partnership with NACo, began presenting its Public Leadership in the Arts Award to a county or county official who has worked to advance the arts and arts education within their county. Further, NACo presents its own award, the NACo Arts and Culture Award, designed to recognize county governments for their efforts to enrich American cultural and intellectual life, promote lifelong learning, and protect our national heritage. Nominations for both awards are currently open.

Action Both Today AND Tomorrow

There are a lot of bases to cover when preparing people to be effective arts advocates—especially when those aspiring arts advocates are undergrads. This isn’t work to be done alone. We have the distinct pleasure of working together, a boomer and a member of the Oregon Trail generation preparing arts advocates of the future. We met through ArtPride New Jersey, the state arts advocacy organization and member of Americans for the Arts State Arts Action Network. It was kismet. One had suffered through too many save-the-state-arts-council and save-the-NEA crises, the other through the inherent trials and tribulations of strategically navigating academia.

A State Captain’s Final Log: The Future is in Our Very Creative Hands

One of my first trips as Director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) was to the small, western Maryland industrial-town of Cumberland. Known as “Queen City,” Cumberland was Maryland’s second largest city in the 19th century thanks to the three R’s: roads, rails, and rivers. Arriving, one might expect to see a typical forgotten rust-belt town. Well, not this town! Cumberland became an Arts & Entertainment District in 2002, one of Maryland’s first. The management team targeted artists looking for affordable space and great proximity to major markets. The downtown felt as vibrant as any I’d seen, and there was a provincial feeling in the air—in the best sense of the word.

The Significance of Arts Advocacy: A Graduate Student Perspective

W.E.B. DuBois once said that we should “begin with art, because art tries to take us outside ourselves. It is a matter of trying to create an atmosphere and context, so conversation can flow black and forth and we can be influenced by each other.” As I read this quote during the final stretch of my undergrad years at Saint Louis University, I had just became an art history minor. Though I held a deep admiration for visual arts as well as the critical analysis of the work, I had absolutely no idea where I would end up with a liberal arts degree. It was not until I was perusing the internet that I was drawn to American University’s Arts Management program. Now, a little over a year later, I have been fortunate enough to not only be a full-time student of the Arts Management program but also the Government and Public Affairs intern at Americans for the Arts. 

Americans for the Arts Presents 2016 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership to the Founding Chairs of Pennsylvania Legislative Arts & Culture Caucus

Thursday, December 8, 2016

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Americans for the Arts and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) today presented the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership to the four founding chairs of the Pennsylvania Legislative Arts & Culture Caucus—Sen. Patrick Browne (R-16, representing part of Lehigh County), Sen. Jay Costa (D-43 representing part of Allegheny County), Rep. Tim Briggs (D-149, representing part of Montgomery County), and Rep. Stan Saylor (R-94, representing part of York County). The annual award was presented at the NCSL Fall Forum in Washington, DC, and honors public officials who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts at the state level. 

In Support of Theatre and Dance Teacher Credentialing in California

California, known for its creative economy among many other things, offers no teacher credentials in dance or theatre. California Dance Education Association has been hard at work on this issue this year, and a bill restoring these credentials is slated to be decided upon by California Gov. Jerry Brown in early September.

What Lyle Lovett Can Teach Us About Audience Engagement

I started doing trainings for arts advocates almost a decade ago. At that time, I gave a lot of thought to what advocates need to know in order to start being advocates. I came up with two messages. First: you already know enough to be an effective advocate. And second: carry a little water for all of us.

Lieutenant Governors Leading the Way for the Arts

Over the past ten years, Americans for the Arts has developed a close working relationship with many of the nation’s lieutenant governors, their staff and the staff at the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA).

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