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  • Barry's Blog: Four Areas Arts Organizations Need to Master
    leverage whatever strengths that may give them to open new doors and vistas to new possibilities What am I talking about I don t know for sure But it will likely involve completely rethinking what an arts organization is and how it functions We likely won t know what might be possible until we fundamentally change how we see ourselves in the context of independence and until some of those new doors open up I m not talking about economies of scale and saving money by mergers etc I m talking about what might be possible if we are open to the idea that to survive we have to be open to the idea of being part of something bigger than the way we have scaled ourselves up to this point That doesn t mean we have to lose our identify or forsake our mission It may mean finding a new identity so that we can fulfill the mission This may require us to rethink much of how we have done business for the past half century Maybe the Met can go it alone maybe some others can too Most won t be able to do that into the future We need to redefine ourselves as a field 4 Re Programming We are going to have to move away from the blind and absolute loyalty to protecting and preserving the heritage of our individual art forms to the exclusion of any other purpose and embrace those arts forms as they might now be transitioned into the new millennium That doesn t mean we abandon the great art that our organizations represent but rather that we complement that art with the great art yet to be created within the form Art has to be more than a snapshot of how great it was at a point in time If that isn t true then we aren t arts administrators at all we are preservationists charged with protecting the zenith of a now dead form And we have got to embrace the new art forms that are emerging as the artists of the world themselves change Keep the old but make room for the new with a solid emphasis on the latter Is this simplistic Yes unfortunately it is Getting to mastery in these areas and others will likely be a step by step process until we get to some milestone tipping points While there are places pockets as it were where we are doing spectacular things overall we struggle We ve got to re imagine our very being on a fundamental level or we may go the way of newspapers records and other platforms now virtually obsolete and gone I think the above four areas demand some new approaches and ideas and at least people thinking out loud about change As a start Will that happen It already is in a few places It will grow It has to Slowly I suspect as change is often a difficult thing Have a

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2015/05/four-areas-arts-organizations-need-to.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: The Time for the Arts to Make A Move in the Presidential Election is Now. I hope our people are working on this.
    administration will raise funds for her and seek to align themselves with her machine The same is true with any front runner I also have no doubt that Hillary is supportive of the arts in a general way and up to a point Does she fully get it like we do No and that might be too much to ask anyway When she was the First Lady and as Bill Ivey then Chair of the Endowment has frequently said The NEA is the province of the East Wing and the First Lady she was supportive but not significantly The same has been true of the Obama Administration and the same might also be argued to have been true under Bush as well White House support no matter how tepid is important and critical to the continued existence of the Endowment and to the arts at all levels But what we really need is something more A recognition that continuation of the status quo of funding for the Endowment and of support for the value of the arts isn t enough We need vision in the White House that understands how undervalued and underutilized as policy the arts are including arts education We need an administration that will fight to expand significantly arts funding and the presence of the arts at the decision making tables We ve never really had that And we re not going to get it unless we change our approach dramatically How do we get that from say Hillary I m not sure we can but to even be in the running for that kind of consideration we need to have a strategy right now about how to support her and how to gain access to her campaign so we can position ourselves in the event of her victory Now if there are substantial numbers among us who prefer Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or any other candidate and the same is true on the GOP side then we ought to have strategies to become involved in those campaigns too And the time for that kind of approach is now not next year not after the conventions when we will be johnny come latelys and indistinguishable among countless others then jockeying for position So I hope there are conversations going on right now among the leaders in the city state and federal arts advocacy halls among the major service provide organizations and even among the funders and foundations conversations about how we organize support for whichever candidates we prefer or more importantly whichever candidates we think can win and I hope that there is talk about which GOP candidates might merit our consideration too I hope those conversations include how we can best put together committees for candidates and how we can approach the campaigns and get involved with them now and that must include some discussion on how we can marshall support and how we might bundle contributions to candidates we choose to back I hope

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2015/05/the-time-for-arts-to-make-move-in.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Tasting Menus for the Performing Arts
    or structure it s more of an add on something new and different This theoretically might do several things 1 It might be a way to attract new audiences for and excitement about what has remained hidden to a lot of people people who are unsure they want to attend a long program of any single discipline organization exposing them to a wide variety of the arts and culture available in a given area Priced right these events might attract new audiences spread out across various demographic categories including age income levels geographic location etc 2 It might prove so popular that ticket prices could be raised and the event could be a positive source of income for the participating organizations 3 It could cross pollinate the spectrum of arts offerings thus strengthening the whole of a field in a given area Most importantly though it might open the door to potential new audiences supporters donors AND it might be yet another way to program performances highlighting the best of what the organization and its artists have to offer If the idea had any legs all kinds of possibilities in the same city might be possible thus for example eight theater groups could collaborate on such a Tasting Menu evening Or eight varied dance groups Or eight Latino Arts groups Or eight symphony opera choral jazz etc groups It might be an idea for big and small arts organizations Of course all these organizations want to produce and perform full works within their disciplines that s their mission and that s a given and the vast majority of their annual offering schedules would be what they have always done But nowhere is it written that they can t offer tastes or samples of their work to entice more people to want to experience more and do so in a different way that excites people and fosters a buzz in a community And were this a viable approach it might be reasonable that if a portion of the audience preferred sampling to the alternative of full immersion then providing them the option would help subsidize the longer form of the art Part of the sell of this kind of approach is for people to try something new but the risk is minimized in that they are pretty much guaranteed that what they will be trying sampling is certifiably excellent I certainly would be up for trying an evening like this and I think I could convince any number of friends who don t usually patronize the arts on a regular basis to join me If we want more people to feast on the arts it may be necessary to first get more of them to taste what we offer Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 7 31 PM No comments Post a Comment Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Creative Vitality Suite Defined by the 59 SOC codes used in CVSuite

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2015/04/tasting-menus-for-performing-arts.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Lessons from Steve Jobs
    had the machine booting up 28 seconds faster The point is that we might accomplish much more than we do if we didn t start out believing that what we can do is limited Effective leaders push they demand their people break new ground come up with new solutions do what hasn t been done before We won t always succeed with this attitude but we ll likely rarely succeed without it Complacency is the enemy self doubt is the enemy timidity is the enemy We need to take a lesson from the artists we represent and push the boundaries demand more of ourselves set the bar higher When Jobs was designing the iPhone he decided that he wanted its face to be a tough scratchproof glass rather than plastic He met with Wendell Weeks the CEO of Corning who told him that Corning had developed a chemical exchange process in the 1960s that led to what it dubbed Gorilla glass Jobs replied that he wanted a major shipment of Gorilla glass in six months Weeks said that Corning was not making the glass and didn t have that capacity Don t be afraid Jobs replied This stunned Weeks who was unfamiliar with Jobs s Reality Distortion Field He tried to explain that a false sense of confidence would not overcome engineering challenges but Jobs had repeatedly shown that he didn t accept that premise He stared unblinking at Weeks Yes you can do it he said Get your mind around it You can do it Weeks recalls that he shook his head in astonishment and then called the managers of Corning s facility in Harrodsburg Kentucky which had been making LCD displays and told them to convert immediately to making Gorilla glass full time We did it in under six months he says We put our best scientists and engineers on it and we just made it work Impute Jobs s early mentor Mike Markkula wrote him a memo in 1979 that urged three principles The first two were empathy and focus The third was an awkward word impute but it became one of Jobs s key doctrines He knew that people form an opinion about a product or a company on the basis of how it is presented and packaged Mike taught me that people do judge a book by its cover he told Issacson We pay a great deal of attention to our packaging in how we curate exhibits and in the design of our space in our sets and costumes in our graphics but how much time do we spend on the whole of the packaging of our organizations our products and brand People judge us not just based on the art we present but on a spectrum of impressions and perceptions about who we are what we do and how we do it Not every leader can be a Steve Jobs but every leader can learn lessons from all those people who change the rules

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2015/04/lessons-from-steve-jobs.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: 10th Anniversary Milestone for Barry's Blog
    very good friend I am living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks simple ones anyway I hope to continue posting for at least a couple of years and I ve still got ideas about new projects that I hope when launched will be thought interesting and even worthy and of some value I m still having fun I am also indebted to the WESTAF staff who have been part of this effort in support over the years Laurel Sherman Shannon Daut Bryce Merrill Seyon Lucero Leah Horn and many others I m also indebted to the many of my fellow bloggers Thomas Cott Ian David Moss Doug McLennan Doug Borwick Arlene Goldbard Andrew Taylor Diane Ragsdale AFTA and many others who from time to time will pass on a link to one of my posts and every time they do so there is a spike in page hits Thank you all Finally I am indebted most of all to each of you for being loyal readers and subscribers Now if each one of you could just send me twenty dollars no no just kidding If I have one lament looking back over this decade it is the feeling that sometimes blogging has become too much like broadcast journalism it has become the almost exclusive recitation of the litany of all the challenges we face the problems and everything that threatens us with too little mention and inclusion of what is going right of all the positive contributions of the field of all the progress and all the end results of which we can as a field be proud I think in the blogosphere it s often times easy to get caught up in covering what is going wrong when sometimes we need to hear about what is going right So to celebrate the Tenth Anniversary I offer you three stories about projects by people in our field that I came across this week and this is I think a typical week that are each absolutely wonderful and bespeak an energy that is undeniably exactly what the world needs more of proof that as a field the arts contribute mightily to the betterment of our world and are acting responsibly and wisely to thrive in a difficult environment First an experiment in genuine out of the box thinking by the San Francisco Symphony to attract new audiences in new ways As part of a growing national movement to revitalize the symphony experience for patrons the San Francisco Symphony recently launched SoundBox a show series meant to create new musical experiences and entice new audiences This is an absolutely brilliant approach that changes dynamically how symphony music can be presented and accessed exciting energetic engaging and completely different from the old model I love this Go to the site and watch the video to understand what a breakthrough this is Second this story from Fractured Atlas about a 2015 Arts Entrepreneurship Awards honoree The Laundromat Project connecting communities

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2015/04/10th-anniversary-milestone-for-barrys.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Programs for the Underserved; Programs for the Overserved. Time to Switch Priorities
    consequence of keeping the status quo of the structure which perpetuates the over served the privileged the mainstream and the advantaged And that seems true for public and private funding In Holly Sidford s 2011 landmark study Fusing Arts Culture and Social Change High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy the gulf between funding for the marginal disadvantaged underserved arts communities became all too apparent Only 10 percent of grant dollars made to support the arts such as visual arts performing arts and museums explicitly benefit the poor ethnic and racial minorities the elderly and other marginalized populations Less than 4 percent of grants dollars support advancing social justice goals through the arts Further 55 percent of arts grants go to organizations with budgets greater than 5 million which represent less than 2 percent of the more than 100 000 arts and culture nonprofits Recent research demonstrates that the primary audience of these large institutions is predominantly white and upper income For a funder with an annual grant budget of say ten million dollars to award four or five million dollars to a single large budget established Euro centric cultural institution whether it be a museum an opera a symphony or whatever is really unconscionable and egregious today Not uncommon and one need only look to those funder s governing Boards and the historical pattern of those people s interests and overlapping and sometimes conflicting loyalties to understand why but it ought to be unacceptable under any theory That is not to say the recipients of this favored support aren t valuable They are and we need to support and protect them But no longer at the expense of those who were the victims of the inequity of the system As a matter of equity it s time for a turnaround change How did we get to where we are What is equitable depends on the criteria used in any given set of circumstances In the earliest days of the nonprofit arts the majority population particularly the wealthy class was anglo white and controlled most philanthropic efforts Early on the established criteria for funding was centered on artistic excellence which was almost exclusively applied to white cultural art forms where factors such as diversity connection to community and even box office success were irrelevant It was unnecessary to consider anything else but the excellence of the art being considered And the only art being considered was Euro centric In this example those making the art their experience reputations and prior work may legitimately be considered but only to the extent that the product itself qualifies as excellent What constitutes excellence is of course invariably subjective even if the judgment is the conclusion of so called experts or peers and who qualifies as a peer would be open to debate As long as every artist and organization had an equal opportunity to apply for the funds and an equal chance to be favorably considered according to criteria that itself passed an equity test for fairness and impartiality then the final conclusion while it might be disputed on the standard of excellence comparative or otherwise wouldn t necessarily be inequitable Moreover those making the philanthropic and later government decisions regarding the allocation of funding were the very white backers of the doctrine of excellence that considered only white art And if the only criteria the only standards were Euro centric art then it s not surprising that the structure of funding became a defacto one of bias and prejudice Moving towards diversity by itself is not likely to change that structure At least not anytime soon The problem with excellence as the prime and maybe exclusive standard is its very subjectivity Excellence is a relative concept and must be considered not in a vacuum but in the context and community of the art being considered its legacy audience perceptions and practitioner techniques and skills If excellence was for a time the gold standard and it certainly sounds like a reasonable approach judging what qualified as excellent suffered from the prejudice of the bias of those making the decisions Not a prejudice against any art form or product but a bias in favor of certain forms as created by certain artists Excellence needed to be judged by the standards of the ecosystem and community from which the art sprang not always the dominant white community And it wasn t But even excellence of artistic creation was never the sole criteria for funding support The excellence or quality of the organization making facilitating or enabling the art also became a factor as funder sought organizations that had the capacity to carry out their missions and which could be sustainable over time Funders logically and understandably wanted their limited resources to have the widest impact and farthest reach Not surprisingly early on the largest cultural institutions with the deepest pockets virtually all of which tended to be Euro centric and white tended to come out on top under both criteria Though not admitted to there was clearly a bias and prejudice at work here that justified the lion s share of funding going to these organizations And that reality continues today I m not suggesting the arts are racist per se I think compared to most fields we acquit ourselves fairly well in terms of our genuine belief in inclusion But structural racism and inequity exists in the wider society and that impacts our framework and our legacy And because structural inequity is often if not invisible then certainly harder to pinpoint and recognize our structures are suspect too Whether racist sexist ageist or otherwise there is substantial evidence that there has been for a long time an inequity in the nonprofit arts from funding to seats at decision making tables Having more diversity particularly I think people of color and younger people is necessary and will help to address over time the structural aspects of inequity Meaningful representative diversity gives us not only a better face

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2015/03/programs-for-underserved-programs-for.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Stakeholder Support Essential for Effective Advocacy
    the local state and federal levels but they don t do that for the arts even though a lot of us might be their members I argued some time ago that if half of all the arts organizations in the country would join their local Chamber of Commerce and assign somebody from the organization to be active in the chapter s committees then in the aggregate by virtue of our sheer numbers and our activity the arts would be one of the major forces in the Chamber nationally And that would mean that when priorities are drafted we would have a much better chance to be included And more importantly it would mean we would have the juice voting power over Chamber leadership to move the Chamber as a stakeholder in our success because we too are small businesses to lobby for us on our issues That s how politics works and that s how to get us closer to our goals And if you look closely as the above referenced Chamber 2015 Priority document under the Intellectual Property section page 15 it isn t hard to see the efforts of Silicon Valley and the Entertainment Industry in lobbying the Chamber to include this section The question is why don t we do this too And not just with the Chamber of Commerce but with a range of organizations from those on our side like the PTA to those coming to our side like the AMA and various academic institutions Active stakeholder support may just be more important to our success than whether we use an intrinsic or an instrumental approach to making our case So as we begin again our advocacy efforts this week as we marshall our best stories to tell and as we employ both instrumental and intrinsic arguments to keep the powers that be from cutting our funding or at best only marginally increasing it in a symbolic way I would hope the field would consider the specific political ways we might enlist stakeholder support to make some progress in this endless Sisyphusian nightmare of what we call advocacy I would hope we might be at least a tiny bit concerned with political gamesmanship because getting what we want from government is a game with specific rules and we can t forever insist that we get the play the game by the rules we want to make up A more detailed post on the whole advocacy challenge at least as the same relates to public funding is coming in the near future Have a good week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 12 43 AM No comments Post a Comment Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Creative Vitality Suite Defined by the 59 SOC codes used in CVSuite Subscribe via email Enter your email address Delivered by FeedBurner Subscribe via Reader Subscribe in a reader Barry s Blog is a service of the Western States Arts Federation WESTAF The opinions

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2015/03/stakeholder-support-essential-for.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Are You Meerkatting Yet? Maybe you should be!
    South By to people who have never seen it and want a taste of it Sullivan said referring to the festival by its informal name I t works surprisingly well it is very impressive how easy it was to get going with the live stream With Meerkat a tweet is fired off containing a link that anyone can click to be connected to the stream while it is in progress Tiny profile icons pop up to show who is tuning in to broadcasts Videos are available only at Meerkat while they are live but the app gives users the option of saving what they have recorded on their devices Have a performance with tickets still available Meerkat Periscope a poignant one minute video or better yet three quick rave testimonials from exiting audience goers and send it off Trying to complete that Kickstarter project video a one minute synopsis of the project using your smart phone and Meerkat Periscope it to your list The possibilities are endless You only need a smartphone the app and some inspiration Obviously to distinguish your message you will need to be creative in the content of what you Meerkat Periscope but we re suppose to be creative people And remember the purpose of that kind of content marketing is not just to get people to respond but to get them to pass your message on In fact passing the message on may just be the most important goal as it increases the chances of the response level So if you aren t Meerkatting yet or Periscoping in the near future perhaps you need to take a look at getting on the bandwagon now and incorporate this tool into your communications marketing strategies It seems a natural fit for us Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 11 13 PM No comments Post a Comment Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Creative Vitality Suite Defined by the 59 SOC codes used in CVSuite Subscribe via email Enter your email address Delivered by FeedBurner Subscribe via Reader Subscribe in a reader Barry s Blog is a service of the Western States Arts Federation WESTAF The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of WESTAF Followers Buy Barry s Book HARDBALL LOBBYING FOR NONPROFITS Barry learned political advocacy the hard way convincing the California legislature to multiply many fold its investment in arts funding In his new book Barry extracts the lessons of his long experience into a readable and impassioned tutorial that has broad application throughout the nonprofit sector John Kriedler former President Community Initiative Fund This is a powerful provocative and daring look at the ups and downs of fighting for beliefs The book straightforwardly mixes together simple clear definitions strong opinions new ideas and in your face strategies all designed to help the good guys win Robert L Lynch President CEO Americans for the Arts Hardball Lobbying is an essential tool for every

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2015/03/are-you-meerkatting-yet-maybe-you.html (2016-05-01)
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