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  • Barry's Blog: Coercive Philanthropy? Legitimacy v. Wisdom
    for a long time now take risks be strategic tackle the big challenges don t just protect the status quo Unfortunately few funders have the luxury of being able to engage in real long term planning boards and staffs change and foundations seem ever more invested in continually overhauling their priorities with new guidelines and objectives and that cycle seems to be shorter and shorter and so it is difficult for them to seriously embrace the virtue of patience Clay correctly calls for I think things must go in steps and that means first we have to at least begin to expand the diversity of our audiences as a sector not necessarily of each individual organization Get a foot in the door and move to whatever step two will be And allocation of funding to those already committed to doing that seems to me the best approach I also agree with Diane that the real key to any kind of meaningful movement by the flagship organizations will only happen with a committed leadership and would go one step further to suggest that that will inevitably require a change in leadership especially in the Board rooms which change I think will be unlikely to happen for quite some time Conservative Boards may be all for expansion of diversity in their audiences in theory as a concept But not necessarily willing to toe the line in terms of program content change to do so And for some organizations their purpose their missions will simply always be in conflict with attempts to make them part of the solution to a wider challenge Many of those organizations should not cannot be expected to be part of the solution It isn t that they are opposed to the diversity goal isn t that they are obstructive to that goal but rather that they cannot perceive any way to expand the current audience that doesn t in some way ultimately jeopardize and compromise everything they have done so far They may still deserve some kind of support to the extent the limited funder pools can provide it after adopting new goals I won t say they can never change never find a path that allows them both worlds because eventually everything changes and dramatically so I am not sure whether or not Diane s suggestion that those organizations would be better off foregoing application for grant monies I think rather the onus falls on the funder to deny the funding to those they conclude will not cannot comply with the demands of the award That said I am not convinced given the immediately preceding paragraph that throwing money at the reluctant dragons Diane s words is a waste of time Maybe I just don t know All I do know is that things that never ever change and at which people have for eons thrown time money and other resources have the habit of all of a sudden changing exponentially Smoking cessation Gay rights attitudes towards global warming et al It is hard to gauge what impact sustained effort has over time Certainly if one s expectation is quick change one is likely to be disappointed But I am unconvinced that efforts such as Irvine s or any funder trying to move existing organizations to a new place relative to diversity not matter how narrowly defined is a waste of time or money even if unsuccessful within that narrow time frame Somewhere is the balance of supporting organizations fully committed to diversity and those for whom it may be a very difficult road Certainly Clay and Diane are right that funders need to much more seriously consider being more patient in those efforts Unrealistic expectations serve no one well And in general all funders need to examine their attitudes towards what is and is not a reasonable expectation in a specific time period given the limitations challenges and circumspection of any funding award And they need to choose among hard choices as to who gets funding and for what purpose So I am left with two conclusions 1 The better approach to bring art to a more diverse audience is to put the lion s share of funding into organizations that are committed to and capable of programming that will appeal to that diverse audience and 2 To the extent funding goes to the flagship organizations to move them to whatever it takes to expand the diverse audience some degree of coercion on the part of the funder is legitimate and very likely well advised This is complex stuff to try to muddle through My own thinking is constantly evolving Only a few policy wonks bloggers and others of us have the time to devote to thinking about these issues in great detail for this fact is undoubtedly true for most of those in our field the work of the average arts organization person no matter what the size or character of that organization is never done by six or seven o clock on Friday and there is even more to do come Monday morning at eight or nine We are lucky to have people like Nina and Clay and Diane who help us to see the issues more clearly and to remind us to think about these things Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 12 13 AM 4 comments Barry Johnson February 11 2013 at 10 37 AM I like your sorting through a complicated issue toward a reasonable conclusion Thanks One quibble I don t think you can call an organization a flagship any longer if its direction programming staffing and board membership is of by and for one small slice of the public no matter how rich that slice is That sort of organization is itself a specialty organization a yacht maybe not a flagship For funders these days a big issue is whether to support a yacht that s taking on water just to extend the

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2013/02/coercive-philanthropy-legitimacy-v.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Networking Is Not Enough
    who you know should include the corollary that it s who your friends are It s just human nature We all tend to protect and help those in our tribe Nowhere is this more important in our field that in the development arena Development officers should invest the time and energy to become friends with program officers at funding organizations and with potential donors Too many development people believe that simply knowing who the funder is and what they fund and do not fund is all that is necessary They think if they have a good case to make and their proposal is solid that is all that is necessary That overlooks the fact that there are usually more sound proposals than available funds and that hard choices need to be made Friends in the right places may help to tip the balance in your favor I am not suggesting that funders approve proposals from their friends that are inferior to others or that their processes are flawed by according weight to friends proposals that do not otherwise measure up to the competition just that a personal friendship will almost always enter into the decision making process in some positive way This is true in politics job hunting and every other area of business life So while networking is good advice my best advice to all leaders in our field is to build relationships and make some good friends In my opinion that will be more valuable to you longer term than the biggest professional network You can t make friends with everyone you meet Often times friendships depend on mutual interests and share perspectives and even chemistry And friendship is always a two way street to have a friend you have to be a friend Bottom line You can t have too many friends Have a good week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 8 47 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

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2013/02/networking-is-not-enough.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Interview with NEA Chief of Staff Jamie Bennett
    to welcome people into town as well as a literal and metaphoric town square I think a good measurement framework for that project is one that helps them know whether the project has produced an effective home for local arts council whether people who come to Shreveport think of it as an arts destination and whether people who wouldn t otherwise have started congregating in the arts district It strikes me that there are lots of ways to begin getting at that At the NEA we think a good first cut would be to look at existing data that can shine some light on changes in quality of life the strength of the arts ecosystem community attachment and the local economy Our colleagues over at ArtPlace would begin by taking a look at vibrancy as defined by positive changes in people activity and property value Call it vibrancy call it quality of life perhaps quality of place might even work better or simply call it outcomes What we really want to know is whether what we hoped would happen has in fact happened If existing data sets or out of the box measurement models are useful even as a shorthand or a first step why not use them The danger only comes from misusing the information or in overreaching in claiming definitive conclusions I have not seen any of that What I have seen is people who care about this work wanting to know and learn more I think it is a really exciting time and I think that while we are all sorting it out more is more Barry Your job has included both the position of Chief of Staff and Director of Communications Usually the COS is a behind the scenes player while a Communications Officer is out front as the public spokesperson How have you reconciled the two Often times both positions have as one of their duties acting as the gatekeeper for the man in charge Yet both you and Rocco have been relatively more open than my experience with previous leaders of the agency Was that by design and to what extent do you see your job as having been the gatekeeper Jamie Rocco is fundamentally Midwestern which means he is open and forthright some might say to a fault He didn t bring me to Washington because he was looking for a gatekeeper He wanted someone who could work with him in building a national movement around creative placemaking There is an amazing public affairs team at the NEA who use press releases agency publications blogs social media audio and video to tell stories My job has been to make sure that the team has all of the information they need to tell our story completely and compellingly as well as the resources and support they need to succeed What has made this such an exciting time to be doing this work is that Rocco never ran away from an interesting conversation When he raised the now infamous supplydemand question at Arena Stage his instruction to me wasn t to go into gatekeeper mode Instead I was asked to do everything I could to invite as many points of view as possible onto the NEA s Art Works blog In terms of reconciling behind the scenes vs public spokesperson the one time I did try to step out into the public role blogging from the World Summit on Arts and Culture in Melbourne Australia Ian David Moss gave a nice shout out to the series of posts but introduced it by saying it was written by someone you ve probably never heard of I loved that and my mother has never let me forget it I think it is safe to say that I have mostly settled on behind the scenes In fact Barry this interview is one of the few other examples I can point to of putting myself out front Barry You have extraordinary background experience in the Chief of Staff position and at least from my vantage point you have been more active and involved both in the decision making process and in the public face of the agency than anyone in recent memory at the Endowment How would you define the Chief of Staff role Jamie During my time at the NEA we have had three chiefs of staff Katie Marie Zouhary who returned to law school and was recently featured on 60 Minutes for her work in getting a wrongful conviction overturned Anita Decker who now sits in the desk next to the President and serves as his chief aide and me It is fair to say that no two of us defined our role in the same way Chief of staff isn t so much a job description as it is a calling card to say that in certain circumstances we can speak and act on behalf of our agency head In my particular case I have a portfolio that includes all of the agency s external affairs public affairs the office of the National Council on the Arts White House and Congressional relations international programs and strategic partnerships My predecessors portfolios were different but each of us served as a member of the senior leadership team and operated as Rocco emissary Barry What is your judgment as to how we might best deal with the criticism that the arts too often try to equate correlation of data with causation conclusions Jamie I think we generally have a research and data problem in the arts Our data sets are often not as robust and our research is not always seen as being as rigorous as other sectors The NEA s office of research and analysis is working on both of the areas they have established research grants to try to build and strengthen the field of arts researchers they are collecting and publishing data sets to be reexamined one of the most exciting examples of this is the combined data file for the NEA s five Surveys of Public Participation in the Arts and they are aligning with researchers from other sectors they convened a day long session at Brookings that looked at the arts new growth theory and economic development and have an amazing partnership with a number of Health and Human Services agencies Both correlative and causal studies have their place after all where there s smoke there most often is fire and if we are able to maintain the momentum in our research office we will have more of both in the world Barry Your office seems to also be charged with acting as the liaison to both Congress and the White House How do you organize that effort What in your opinion is going right and what areas need work What is your judgment of the state of advocacy and lobbying by the arts sector on its own behalf and what needs to be done for the future to make those efforts more effective Jamie We have an amazing office of White House and Congressional relations headed up by Mike Griffin and I believe that we have continued to make extraordinary progress over the past three years in reaching out to members of Congress One of the primary means of outreach has been around letting Members of Congress know about NEA grant opportunities and asking them to share that information with their constituents Many Members of Congress even invite NEA staff to give grant workshops in their home districts We also work to make sure that Members of Congress are all aware of the successful NEA applicants in their districts The managing director of a northern Virginia theatre told me of the call she got from Representative Jim Moran congratulating her on their most recent NEA grant Members of Congress love being able to connect with their constituents so we try to give them as many opportunities as possible to do that The federal partnerships have also been key the partnerships with Walter Reed around the healing arts and with the Department of Defense for Blue Star Museums for instance mean we have reasons to talk with Members of Congress who serve on the Armed Services committees In terms of advocacy I will go back to your first question I think the abundance frame is the most useful Americans for the Arts figured this out long ago They don t approach elected officials to simply ask for more money for the arts they talk about the contributions of the arts to local economies I have huge respect for Bob Lynch and all of his colleagues Barry While you are no stranger to government work what has surprised you about working at the Endowment Jamie I am constantly surprised by the artistic talent that exists in every office at the NEA It is not such a surprise in the discipline offices but even on the administrative side the head of our grants and contracts office is an accomplished potter A colleague in IT has an amazing background as a jazz musician The deputy to our deputy chairman for management and budget is an actor I would love to find some ways to showcase and spotlight all of that talent art works at the NEA if you will Barry What are the two or three major issues you see facing the sector over the next five years and how might we best address those challenges Jamie I think we have to take a hard look at the investments being made to build audiences In my previous job I spent a good portion of my days working on citywide cultural events calendars Never once did I ever use one of those calendars to plan something to do in my personal life If someone lives in New York City and hasn t figured out how to get to the theater I am not sure that an alphabetized list of a thousand events is going to be the silver bullet to get them to attend a first performance Instead I think we have to look at preference discovery engines There are three basic kinds Amazon s based on patterns of behavior people who bought X also bought Z Facebook s based on personal relationships I am friends with X X likes Y I might like Y and Pandora s based on inherent qualities song A has X Y and Z characteristics and so does song B I think if we could create a cross disciplinary Pandora it would revolutionize audience development Can you imagine an algorithm that takes a person who listens to jazz music and enjoyed reading The Color Purple and suggests that that person might also enjoy seeing Bill T Jones s company dance It would be revolutionary The other issue I think about a lot is arts education My biggest worry is that we don t know in a systemic way where we need to focus our energies If Oprah were to wake up tomorrow and decide she wanted to dedicate her fortune to fixing arts ed in this country we would not be able to hand her the list of schools that have the least We need to know whether every student in this country is receiving the minimum arts education promised by that student s state education requirements The federal Department of Education is investing in statewide data systems which will be able to eventually answer that question provided someone is asking it Barry I really enjoyed your Postcards from your trip with Rocco to Australia I found them well written informative and highly entertaining While your schedule doubtless leaves you precious little time to share your insights on a regular basis have you ever considered doing a regularly scheduled blog Jamie I would love to have time to write more as often writing is my way of working things out and making sense of them However I am not at all convinced that much of it would be of interest for public consumption The Australia blogs were wonderful to do because there was such richness happening all around me to be honest I felt more like Forest Gump than a blogger Barry Speaking about your schedule where do you spend most of your time and which areas do you wish you had more time for Jamie I spend the vast majority of my days meeting with NEA colleagues Partially as the result of being in so many meetings I am often the lowest common denominator at the agency and see my charge as making sure my colleagues all know what else is happening I love it because it means I am lucky enough to know a little bit about almost everything going on I would love some time and space to be able to dive deeply into a single issue but that is just not part of this job description Barry What do you think the NEA s role ought to be in making sure the next generation of leaders have adequate professional development opportunities and training Jamie The NEA is a funder not an operator of programs So the short answer is that we need to invest in programs that prepare the next generation of leaders Every single discipline at the NEA welcomes applications for professional development opportunities under the rubric services to the field Looking around the country more widely I am a huge fan of the Taylors as I have come to think of them Russell Willis and Andrew Russell runs National Arts Strategies which has a Chief Executive Program and she also recently co chaired a program with the Salzburg Global Seminar Andrew did amazing work in the arts administration program at Madison and we are now lucky to have him in Washington at American University Actually going back to revisit your previous question I would love to have the time to work with Russell and Andrew and think about what is missing in the training and professional development arena in this country Barry In a conversation with Culture Craver s Julia Levy you talked about what the nonprofit arts might learn from the private sector particularly the failure of the arts to adapt its models to changing circumstances and to be more accessible to its audience by recognizing that a myopic focusing on an attitude that the arts have to be good for you ill serves us and that continuing to cling to antiquated subscription models rigid scheduling and fixed locations works against us Can you elaborate on your thinking Jamie That was a neat interview to do because I first met Julia when she was working for the New York City Department of Education It was wonderful to re meet her reborn as an arts entrepreneur I was speaking with some students at Brown University last year and one of them had read that interview and proceeded to quote me in front of me to the class It was the first time I had ever been referred to as Bennett as in Bennett claims It was surreal but it did get me to go back and re read that interview which I think does a really good job laying out the issues as I see them The new insight that came to me from the Brown conversation however had to do with arts workers who inhabit multiple subject positions I was lucky enough to have been trained at The Museum of Modern Art which had a total separation of church and state between the curators and the development marketing and visitors services staff the curators decided what went on the walls and in what order and then everyone else was free to do what they needed to do to get the money necessary to mount the exhibition and get the public in to see it To stick with the religious metaphor what was sacred the presentation of the art objects was inviolate But everything else was on the table People experimented with marketing techniques social media outreach hours of operation etc I think this is an ideal situation The ballet and the theater should not necessarily change their repertory assuming they have strong artistic leaders but everything else should be questioned Another real world example is from the Cleveland Symphony which has begun performing concerts in local bars they haven t changed the pieces they perform just the setting And they successfully mounted a Kickstarter campaign to put out a new classical record on vinyl I love it All of this gets complicated however in smaller organization where you have one person making both the artistic and the external affairs decisions Then the lines begin to bleed and you can end up with muddling the sacred I don t know any easy way around this trap except extreme vigilance and total self awareness of when one is working in an artistic capacity and when one is working on the administrative side Barry In that same interview in discussing the need for the arts to think more in terms of being a single community sector you opine that the arts need to more fully explore and embrace affinity algorithms in identifying potential audiences and supporters as a way to actualize cross genre approaches to gaining audiences I have long thought that in terms of advocacy we are like children in the sandbox compared to those players who succeed in the political arena in part because we do not avail ourselves of the state of the art algorithms that allow candidates like President Obama to similarly correctly identify potential supporters AND how to best approach them There are companies out there who would be only too happy to work with us to employ sophisticated tools to identify who might support us on a myriad of levels What is your current thinking on this topic and on the wider topic of how the arts might better tear down some of

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2013/01/interview-with-nea-chief-of-staff-jamie.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: What's the Most Important Quality in a Leader?
    Leaders understand the importance of trust Commitment to ongoing learning Leaders acknowledge that they don t know everything and that they are really never done learning Confidence self esteem Leaders are confident They trust their instincts Solution oriented Leaders can identify obstacles and barriers and they look for solutions Passion Leaders are passionate about what they do Team oriented Leaders recognize that their success is dependent on a whole team of people Patience tolerance Leaders are demanding but reasonable Authenticity Leaders are comfortable in their own skins and show it Tenacity Leaders Don t Quit I know Sounds the the Boy Scout oath A Scout is trustworthy loyal helpful friendly courteous kind obedient cheerful thrifty brave clean and reverent A saint Gad I can t believe I still remember that There are probably other traits not listed and doubtless some people will see many traits on the list as irrelevant Obviously no one person embodies all of the above Leaders aren t necessarily saints But they are in the final analysis people the rest of us want to follow And the best of them embody some of the above traits Is there a single trait among all these that is the one single attribute that makes a good leader Is there a top ten I think the most important ones include Projecting an air of confidence and inspiring people to believe you have a vision of what might be and that you can get the job done that your experience and knowledge and skills will carry the day In short getting people to believe in your leadership through focus passion and adaptability If there is a single most important trait to get people to follow you to work with you my own experience is that likability is the key I agree with Rocco Landesman s comments in the recent interview he did here People will work hard for you if they like you More doors will open more things are possible if you have that kind of persona Some are born with it and do nothing with it some have it and use it some learn it most simply don t have it at all There are ways to nourish and grow your likability and it seems to me that to the extent people believe you have integrity that you are on their side that you will fight to protect their backs that you listen to them respect them care about them believe in them as people then you are just more likable I would hope that as a field we might talk more about what it is we really want in our leaders and why and how to the extent it is possible we can help our leaders develop those qualities Have a good week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 3 26 AM No comments Post a Comment Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Creative Vitality Suite Defined by the 59 SOC

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2013/01/whats-most-important-quality-in-leader.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Board Micromanagement is the Number One Executive Director Complaint
    proven themselves incapable of foregoing the urge to micromanage That is one way to begin to change the phenomenon Funders should insist that such a written policy exist Boards need to be encouraged to lead as their principal function not to manage Again outside input as to why and how that best works may be advantageous Most Boards are unfamiliar with conceptual organizational dynamics from a Board perspective Knowledge in that area is essential and needs to be an annual agenda item for all Boards Funders ought to be involved by insisting that organizations demonstrate efforts to insure their boards act as leaders not usurpers of staff functions Dialogue within the organization should always be about the impact that any given policy or disregard thereof has on the organization Depersonalizing the issue is essential in getting all sides to see that impact It is better to talk about the organization than about specific personalities A periodic inventory of how the Board spends its time may be instructive How much time does the Board spend second guessing or actually performing what are logically staff functions v how much time is spent on financial oversight and big picture issues that affect success at achieving the organization s mission Planning long term strategic planning and even short term specific programmatic or operational planning may afford the Board an ultimately more satisfying way to channel their involvement and offer clearly delineated lines of authority In short the more a Board can discuss its role and how to best discharge that role the better it will likely be at addressing the challenge of micromanaging Planning as a process may also more clearly define what the staff does and where it needs help Board members should be encouraged to share with the Chair and the CEO their concerns and fears as a way of dealing with confusion over how they can best contribute to the organization Staff Board retreats may allow for the airing of grievances and concerns by both groups in a relatively non threatening way There should be some mechanism by which CEOs and staff can bring their issues to the table Board term limits and rotating committee assignments meaningful and comprehensive orientation protocols for new board members and periodic review of Board member performance are all essential to stemming the tide of micromanagement Some Boards may simply refuse to cede authority to the CEO and staff and will not give up the temptation to micromanage Those organizations are ultimately in trouble because in the future it will be axiomatically much more difficult for them to attract leadership talent Some intervention mechanism is needed but I am unsure how that would be created and employed but for it coming as a mandate from major funders and it is clearly in the interest of funders to shy away from funding organizations that cannot get a handle on micromanagement How does a candidate for a job with a new organization discover the existence of a micomanagement

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2013/01/board-micromanagement-is-number-one.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Solutions Will Remain Elusive in 2013
    increase their own earned income and to be more entrepreneurial in their business approach In the main this is easy to support but it clearly will be easier and more appropriate for some organizations and very difficult and wrong for others We can t take some cookie cutter approach and say everybody needs to become successful entrepreneurs We will continue to grapple with this in 2013 and I think we will see more discussion but not necessarily any practical answers It will remain one of the hot buzzwords of the year New Model to replace the 501 c 3 We have been talking about this seemingly forever What we need is for the government to revisit the whole public benefit corporation concept and figure out how nonprofits can be permitted to make a profit whether from their direct efforts or from investments The rationale behind barring profit making at least from indirect and non related secondary business efforts is that if we don t pay taxes we will have an unfair competitive advantage vs those in the private sector that do pay taxes But that is a straw dog in many ways as the private sector has all kinds of other advantages This challenge is bigger than the arts sector Nothing will come of this in 2013 Research and Data This is one area that I expect we will see major growth in the next year with expanded areas into which we conduct research and continuing efforts to make that research sound and viable While we won t fully successfully address the criticism that we use data that correlates with desired outcomes in ways to prove causality we will increasingly take on that challenge Leadership We will continue to talk about what kind of leadership we need where it will come from and how we will get it but we will remain long on talk and short on strategies What we need are programs that will invest in people not just in the organizations where they work but in specific people themselves Along this line we need to finally move forward with a comprehensive national program to provide professional development training opportunities that are organized widely available affordable and which address the demands of the marketplace There are lots of options out there but they are not centralized are too often inconveniently offered too expensive and not always tailored to the needs of our sector I hope we finally recognize this area as critical to our future and that we move beyond the piecemeal approach we have thus far taken I am cautiously hopeful Artist Administrator Divide We will continue to speculate about the divide between artists and administrators in ways that are not helpful that widen the gap if there really is one and compound not address the problem I suppose expansion of the discussion is of value in itself Community involvement I think it likely that arts organizations across the board will make some major inroads into becoming

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2013/01/solutions-will-remain-elusive-in-2013.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Exit Interview with Rocco Landesman
    the future Rocco One of the things that I found a little dismaying in this job is that for most people in this country cultural policy is a synonym for give us more money and get out of our way Far too often the conversation stops there But there are big issues that need addressing Let me take one in my own field When I was at Arena Stage for what turned into the supply demand conversation I had actually come to talk about something I consider to be an even bigger issue in the theatre homogenization Too many artistic directors in this country define success as a combination of three things attendance or butts in seats as we producers say income and national attention The easiest way to achieve those three elements is for theaters to reorient themselves toward Broadway If a theater is producing a show that has been on or is headed to Broadway they can count on robust ticket sales some sort of commercial subsidy for producing the show and perhaps a review in The New York Times But what is the result of defining success that way Too many resident theaters across this country whose seasons are interchangeable The plays that are being presented bear no relationship to their locality Yes there are notable exceptions to this Trinity Rep in Providence Rhode Island defines success locally and is one of the few true heirs to the resident theater movement in this country The actors in residence at Trinity Rep do not want to make it to Broadway in fact many of them worked to get out of Broadway in order to get to Trinity Rep The Trinity actors with whom I have spoken are interested in being artists but they are also interested in being citizens of a place and being part of a community This brings us back to the creative placemaking reframing we need artists to invest in the places where they live and in return we need those places to invest in their artists I also worry a lot about the future of arts criticism in this country I was trained as a critic at Yale by Bob Brustein and I have very strong feelings about the importance of this sector We took a look at the landscape and we realized there are basically 5 kinds of arts writing purely factual the theater is located at 123 Main Street casual facebook posts and tweets about how much someone loved or hated a dance performance journalism digging into a museum s antiquities acquisition policy criticism people trained and versed in the history of the art form putting a piece into context and academic journal articles and dissertations We also realized that three of these are flourishing factual and casual thanks to the growth of the internet and social media and academic just look at the proliferation of arts degrees that the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project SNAAP reports But the amount of print and broadcast space devoted to arts journalism and criticism is disappearing We knew what the problem was but we had no clue about the solution so we partnered with the Knight Foundation on a Community Arts Journalism Challenge http www nea gov national aji index html to see if we could crowd source some solutions The projects are still ongoing but we were heartened enough by the early results that we have now baked arts journalism and criticism into the NEA s core grantmaking Barry What surprised you most about heading the Endowment and working in Washington D C What s the one big lesson you take away from this experience Rocco I was amazed at how much we were able to get done and how quickly I have to admit that I arrived with the same prejudice shared by many coming into public service from the private sector and I thought I would be wading into a bureaucratic morass However It wasn t even six months before my colleagues got sick of me exclaiming This would have taken years in the private sector I was amazed at the power and leverage that comes with being part of a federal agency Barry If you had it to do all over again what would you do differently and why Rocco My mantra has always been Often wrong never in doubt I honestly would not change a thing Barry What do you see as unfinished business at the agency What areas do you wish the Endowment had been able to be more active in Rocco As I said earlier I do think that arts education is next up in the queue We commissioned a study from James Catterall http www nea gov research arts at risk youth pdf who used four longitudinal databases to look at the correlations between arts education and achievement for low socioeconomic status youth Low SES students who received high amounts of arts education outperformed the overall school population on grade point average high school graduation rates and enrollment in professionally oriented majors As far as I am concerned that alone should be enough to convince every school leader to bake arts education into every school day Low SES kids never outperform their peers and yet here we have consistent numbers to show it is possible The next arts education research project that I would love to see happen is a randomized control experiment that would get past correlation and get on to causality We need to find a population of students who are not receiving any arts education and randomly assign half of them to receive some I think we could easily partner with a national arts ed organization that was going into a new town If they had the resources to work with 5 schools we would ask them to let us select a cohort of 10 schools and then randomly assign the 5 schools with which they would work It would take no additional resources

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/12/exit-interview-with-rocco-landesman.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: The Further Erosion of American Innocence
    find some comfort and solace there I cannot imagine that any soul in the universe is more disconsolate more profoundly saddened than the deity we call God We in the arts whether directly as artists or those who support them in some way have the great and good gift of dealing with beauty with joy and hope even in the face of despair with redemption salvation and the wellspring of epiphany We do this in a world that is sometimes unimaginably ugly What can we now do Nothing more than to keep doing what we do to continue to be part of what makes life good what makes it worthwhile what gives hope and joy and brings smiles to faces My heart joins the millions of hearts that hope those parents can somehow again smile and know joy in their lives even if now forever abbreviated and brief I cannot imagine their grief will ever go away entirely My heart aches for them Like Ralph I weep for the further end to innocence and the hard cold reality of the darkness of some men s hearts And I hope that somehow we are not again soon so terrifyingly reminded of that darkness I take comfort in the goodness of mankind manifested in the response to this tragedy the outpouring of genuine love and concern a small corner I know but that is all that we have Hug your children and each other Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 12 19 AM 2 comments michael rohd December 17 2012 at 8 06 AM I hear you Barry And I respect what you are saying I hugged my daughter spoke with friends and family and was deeply moved by Jason Robert Brown s musical tribute to those who were taken Friday But I also continue to work on arts based projects that use the potential in our multi disciplinary forms of collaborative making and encounter to build space and opportunity for investigating the challenges we face in communities We are broken in so many ways when it comes to problem solving and coalition building and having difficult conversations in productive ways The practice of democracy of disagreeing yet still making decisions for the public good is currently a less than healthily functioning practice Artists have assets that can help with these challenges I think as we continue to be a part of what makes life good we can also look to be a part of what makes life work Collaboration Imagination The making of meaning in spaces where our systems need some help making meaning out of disparate and opposing beliefs and agendas We can bring the beauty and the function of what we do to bear on what we need Thanks as always for an invitation and space to share thoughts Reply Delete Frances McGarry December 17 2012 at 9 56 PM Posted this on my talk show blog arts advocacy website First Online With Fran Your blog is

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/12/the-further-erosion-of-american.html (2016-05-01)
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