archive-org.com » ORG » W » WESTAF.ORG

Total: 387

Choose link from "Titles, links and description words view":

Or switch to "Titles and links view".
  • Barry's Blog: Rethinking the Creativity Argument
    our finest instincts Everyone can write but that doesn t make everyone a great writer everyone can create but that doesn t make everyone an artist Mind you I am not touting the intrinsic value of the arts argument here In making our case to various groups and to the wider public I believe we need lots of arrows in our quiver and the creative sector and creativity umbrella has served us well in many regards But as a strategy after a decade it now seems to me that it is fair to question whether or not we ought to re think at least in part our fully embracing creativity as a mantra over art I m not questioning that the expanded creativity banner has been helpful in changing the perception that the field is much wider deeper and broader than merely the fine arts nor that such an expansion hasn t been beneficial particularly in making the economic benefit argument Nor do I mean to discount the value of the creativity framework in moving towards greater access to the arts developing a wider audience for our stories and even in addressing the social equity issues though both access and equity in the creativity sphere is not the same thing as access and equity in and to the arts I fear that while a host of activities from design to architecture animation to fashion graphics to even gaming can all legitimately be framed within an arts ecosystem creativity as the framework for that ecosystem may somehow detract from what art and artistic creation is really all about I m just worried that we are losing something in moving from the arts to creativity as a jumping off place I am worried that we subsume the arts when we embrace creativity as that jumping off point And that such sublimation may not be in our ultimate long range best interest I fear the arts are getting lost in the vast cavern that is creativity I fear that as the cachet and novelty in talking about creativity wears off the arts will be even further isolated and distant from the center point at which we want them I worry that creativity may be the flavor of the month decade and that it may not have the legs the arts as a concept has I wonder if despite all the positive outcomes that our moving from being the arts to being the creative sector has brought we may have blurred the lines too much and lost an exalted platform from which to operate I wonder if creativity is an even more difficult argument in the long run than the arts are I wonder if we are in danger of forsaking one of our greatest assets the perception of art as special and distinct and exalted an enterprise with a legacy more fully developed in the public consciousness for the less defined less meaningful creativity hodgepodge I wonder if everyone is creative then what

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/04/rethinking-creativity-argument.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive


  • Barry's Blog: 2012 National Arts Index
    with four years of arts or music average about 100 points better on the verbal and math portions of the SAT More college arts degrees conferred annually The number of college arts degrees has risen steadily from 75 000 to 129 000 over the past dozen years Reasons for this include an increase in design degrees and more double majors such as science and music This is promising news for business leaders looking for an educated and creative workforce Continuing Trends U S cultural destinations help grow the U S economy by attracting foreign visitor spending Effectively cultural tourism by foreign visitors is another form of export by domestic arts and culture industries Additionally the U S Department of Commerce reports that the percentage of international travelers including art gallery and museum visits on their trip has grown annually since 2003 17 to 24 percent while the share attending concerts plays and musicals increased five of the past seven years 13 to 17 percent since 2003 Arts and culture is losing its market share of philanthropy to other charitable areas such as human services and health It is noteworthy that this decline began well before the current economic downturn The share of all philanthropy going to the arts has dropped from 4 9 percent to 4 5 percent over the past decade If the arts sector merely maintained its 4 9 percent share from 2001 it would have received 14 3 billion in contributions in 2010 instead of 13 3 billion a 1 billion difference Arts employment remained strong A variety of labor market indicators show relatively steady levels of employment especially when compared to labor market difficulties facing all sectors of the economy There was a 15 percent increase in the number of working artists from 1996 to 2010 1 9 to 2 2 million Artists remained a steady 1 5 percent of the total civilian workforce The self employed artist entrepreneur active as poet painter musician dancer actor and in many other artistic disciplines is alive and well with total numbers growing eight of the past nine years from 509 000 in 2000 to 688 000 in 2009 Songwriter composer royalties grew from 2003 to 2009 from 1 27 billion to 1 66 billion a 30 percent increase over a six year span even after adjusting for inflation Government arts funding is mixed Federal funding to the National Endowment for the Arts increased to 167 5 million in funding in 2010 which was just a portion of the 1 9 billion in total federal arts spending As a share of the federal domestic discretionary budget however total arts funding dropped from 0 42 percent to 0 30 percent between 2002 and 2010 Many arts programs are also immersed in the budgets of other federal agencies such as GSA Transportation and Defense which boasts vigorous music programs throughout the armed services but are not included in these totals In contrast to the federal government aggregate state and local arts funding both had decreases in 2010 While bruised and a little battered by the Great Recession the arts turned a corner in 2010 and are poised to see increases in 2011 and beyond The Index highlights the changing nature of how audiences are engaging with and spending money on the arts and the resulting imbalance between supply and demand There are both demand side and supply side solutions to be considered how do we create more want for the arts by the American public using new technologies alternative venues and capitalize on the public s growing interest in personal arts experiences And on the supply side with large numbers of nonprofit arts organizations running deficits should more be considering alternative business models beyond prevailing 501 c 3 nonprofit such as arts and business incubators shared services and spaces nonprofit for profit hybrids more support for unincorporated entities and better use of existing venues What other funding models for a new competitive world can help funders evolve their role in advancing the arts even providing funding to help organizations close when it s time die with dignity or require validation by audiences Arts organizations have much in common even those in different arts disciplines or whether they are for profit and nonprofit It is important to see how they can exploit their shared circumstances in the form of collaborations especially those that build demand There also may be social equity issues related to arts education that need to be addressed in further conversation who is being left out Randy tells me he now has significant data for every county in the country and that much of the data digs deeper than previously he intends to begin to roll out some of that data soon and over time This promises to be a potential treasure trove to explore a whole range of issues that we haven t previously been able to touch on For example he has the data that can identify the funding presumably from both public and private sources within a given county that goes to the larger cultural institutions v the smaller ones the eurocentric ones v the multicultural ones As Randy suggests this kind of data and analysis that explains it ought to be invaluable in consideration of balancing support for the majors along with creating an environment for the new and emerging all that against a backdrop of flat or declining contributed support I hope to have that very discussion on this blog in the near future For more information go here www ArtsIndexUSA org www ArtsIndexUSA org Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 4 16 AM 4 comments Anonymous April 10 2012 at 8 09 AM www ArtsIndexUSA org is a spammer site Reply Delete Barry April 11 2012 at 2 47 AM The link is now good Reply Delete Barry April 11 2012 at 2 52 AM Larry Field left these two questions Randy please respond 1 Does the

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/04/2012-national-arts-index.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: Ten Tips to Help You Succeed on Kickstarter
    of belonging to a community some want to see some tangible result of their donation they want their largess to have an impact some want some special attention or recognition some may actually want something tangible and maybe a tee shirt is enough maybe a private lunch maybe a plaque on a wall but almost all of them want something in return If you look at the most successful Kickstarter projects at least in terms of total money raised they have been game entrepreneurs and the donors want the first edition of the game Very specific very tangible 4 Prepare Your Pitch How you introduce your project can make a huge difference On your project page you ll describe your project goals and rewards Be specific and include engaging images of your work Kickstarter recommends that you also create a video Make it fun natural and compelling by including key elements like people talking about how great or important the project is Remember your pitch should pump people up about your project and show both your enthusiasm and your ability to follow through 5 Market the Hell Out of It Once you ve pulled the trigger and published your project it s time to promote via social media friends family even strangers Any updates you post will automatically be sent to your current backers but urge them to re post and re tweet If you can find a way to make your work newsworthy pitch popular websites and newspapers 6 Keep It Alive Your initial marketing may bring you some early success but you need to keep feeding the fire Find ways to update the project Add new and fun rewards as you go Keep people informed about your progress and definitely share any good news or milestones like We re halfway there 7 Listen to Your Backers Many of your backers will offer advice Listen Some of them have backed many projects and know what works Others just have an opinion and even if you don t agree consider how many other people potential investors may think the same way 8 Be Patient There will be times when pledges seem to flow in steadily and times when it seems that nobody cares When this happens you ll need to stay positive and re engage those who got you this far Start by letting your biggest supporters know it s time to step up and spread the word If they ve backed the project then they also want it to succeed 9 Be Flexible and Creative Be prepared to do things you never anticipated doing You hadn t considered a special T shirt as a reward Maybe you should A supporter offers to create limited edition rewards to help your project Why not Bottom line Be open and flexible 10 Have Fun This is going to be a crazy ride so enjoy it And remember if at first you don t succeed Good advice I think Have a good week

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/04/ten-tips-to-help-you-succeed-on.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: Interview with Doug Borwick
    Indeed might our primary goals be the cultivation of acute external awareness deep curiosity rigorous self scrutiny and a deep abiding understanding of and commitment to risk As training programs can we promote to our students and model a vision of the arts that are firmly rooted in the world rather than insulated from that world that speaks with the world in dialogue rather than to the world that mirrors the same principles of nimbleness and openness of innovation and curiosity that we may seek to impart Is that a dialogue your field has prioritized What are your thoughts on Ben s inquiry Is Jim Undercofler s launch of a degree in arts entrepreneurship for Ithaca College an isolated ground breaking experiment or a trend in arts administration curriculum thinking Doug There are a variety of important questions you are asking here First with respect to entrepreneurship there is a good deal of discussion going on Each of our last three conferences has had several sessions devoted to it One of our Board members has volunteered to begin developing a curriculum standard addressing it We have hope of partnering with some organizations advocating for entrepreneurship in academic programs although our human resources for accomplishing that are limited I am convinced that Jim s proposed program at Ithaca College is at the vanguard of a real movement in the field Regarding your question about curricula that are too traditional outdated and antiquated we face a significant dilemma To a large extent our programs especially the graduate ones are judged by the success with which they place graduates in positions in established arts institutions If those institutions do not truly value graduates with an entrepreneurial bent and by value I mean hire it can be counter productive for arts administration programs to place a significant emphasis on it This does not mean they will not it simply means that there could be risk to them in doing so In spite of that as I said above this is a wave of the future for our programs As for Ben s questions to us in 2010 AAAE has recently added a new curriculum standard in the area of community engagement One of its functions is to foster the kind of awareness of and interaction with the broader community for which he was advocating 4 Barry University degree in arts administration programs are an enormously valuable asset for our sector But are they underutilized Due to costs scheduling and location isolation by and large our university arts administration programs are unavailable to the majority of our current managers What role do you think these programs might play in the future if any in terms of the wider picture of addressing the professional development needs of our sector s managers and 5 Follow up What movement is there in the arts educator field to offer access to its curriculum online on demand in whole or in part Doug Underutilized From whose perspective Over the last few years perhaps due to the economy we have had a big boost in graduate program enrollment While that may seem counter intuitive the downturn in employment has encouraged many to seek higher education You are right though that a traditional in residence degree is not an option for people with full time jobs Several member programs of AAAE have degree programs that are largely online designed to accommodate the needs of working professionals We began work on compiling a list of workshops and short term training programs that may be of interest to those seeking continuing education in the field That effort still needs work It should be noted that our programs can be at the mercy of host institutions that discourage online offerings a dwindling number to be sure or non degree opportunities I have spoken with some of the national arts service organizations about collaborating on professional development training The idea was met with some enthusiasm in some quarters However as with any collaborative effort the time and energy required to pull off such partnerships can be daunting 6 Barry Is there any data research on the composition of the students enrolled in these programs compiled in the aggregate I m wondering whether or not there is proportional representation of multicultural groups in particular What is the field doing to ensure such representation for the future of an educated and trained arts leadership It wo uld also be informative to know the breakdown of enrollees as to gender geographic hometowns age etc Is that data available anywhere Doug I am not aware of significant quantities of the kind of research you describe I would like to have access to it but collecting and analyzing such data annually would require resources that AAAE simply does not possess right now And our member programs are surveyed within an inch of their lives This should probably be high on this list of things to do for AAAE in the near future Unfortunately that is a very long list With respect to your question about multicultural representation in our programs on a purely anecdotal observational level the make up of our student bodies appears to me to reflect in large measure except younger the make up of arts audiences upper middle class white and female While that s a gross over simplification it s an issue for the arts as an industry not just the arts administration profession 7 Barry And speaking of research what kinds of research either that being done or that which ought to be undertaken do you see as essential for the future of the arts educator field What kinds of information and data does the field need that it does not have Doug I should probably defer to our Research Advisory Council on this The question is precisely why we established the group This may be the time to point out that I am the first President of AAAE from an undergraduate program It s not

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/03/interview-with-doug-borwick.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: Clout Blogfest - Arlene Goldbard wrap up
    citizens 3 What s needed now In my writing and public speaking I ve mentioned the NEA more in the last couple of years than during the two previous decades Why It s because the agency s funding is such a rich and handy symbol for everything that s wrong with our current cultural policy and national advocacy First there s the absurdity of spending only 50 cents per capita on the public interest in art 50 cents to balance the excesses of the marketplace make space for marginalized voices water the roots of creativity Second there s the fact that though the FY 2012 NEA appropriation is only 8 million less than FY 1980 s 154 million 68 cents per capita the real value of the appropriation has dropped by over 60 percent In the same period our spending on prisons and associated costs increased by 500 percent in constant dollars more than a doubling of real value This chart only covers 1982 2007 but is still worth a glance Do you need the numbers to know that the story has been the same with respect to war if you do we re still spending more than two annual NEA budgets a day seven days a week on war and on subsidies to Big Energy Big Pharma and Big Guns Who are we as a people What do we stand for How do we want to be remembered Most advocates never mention our egregiously distorted national priorities when they drum up support for the NEA s appropriation Most never mention that if they succeed in helping another 10 million to be restored to that appropriation they will still be far less than halfway to securing even the paltry value of 1980 s appropriation I suspect that my feeling about these realities is the reason why a couple of bloggers felt I was too pessimistic That s why I talk about the NEA I have the idea perhaps mistaken that the starkness of the contrast between conventional discourse and hard reality will help to awaken the urgent sense of cultural citizenship we need Otherwise sure the agency is still minuscule compared either to its counterparts abroad or to the landscape of need and opportunity here in the U S Diane Ragsdale is ready to consider letting it go What if the NEA were disintegrated and its components set free to be recombined with other components into an agency to fund the realization of Ivey s Cultural Bill of Rights Politically I don t see much wisdom in jettisoning the NEA at a point when our national cultural policy dialogue is so anemic that its replacement is likely to be nothing But neither is it the centerpiece of my vision for the future as you will see below It isn t a lack of good ideas that keeps things stuck Instead I think it s three factors First pervasive resignation to the status quo This still allows for creativity in wiring around it finding pathways to success that bypass a stultified system as Diane Ragsdale pointed out instead of trying to change it But it keeps this conversation from enlarging to engage a much broader group of those who are affected which is to say everyone I d like to see a lot more people pointing out what our current spending says about public priorities for instance contrasting culture to incarceration and demanding that change Second too many artists and arts organization reps are hanging onto old barriers and boundaries within the cultural landscape What do they get out of pretending there s some guarded frontier between not for profit land and Hollywood A sense of specialness often that is some kind of compensation for feeling marginalized The public has to be the main beneficiary for any good public policy Stand down the border patrol and invite the public in Third there s a puzzling resistance to articulating cultural goals that serve the entire body politic We should adopt the overarching cultural policy goal of an active engaged citizenry participating in a rich public cultural life There are many private actors whose funding choices influence the cultural landscape foundations corporations collectors investors and so on They have no obligation to adopt public goals or indeed any conscious goals at all Some are interested in publicity some in beauty or innovation or prestige or the expression of personality or a hundred other things that can be pursued through art and all of this is part of the landscape But the public sector should and must be shaped by the principle that there is a public interest in cultural development that should be guided by democratic values of pluralism participation and equity often summarized with the rubric cultural democracy As distinct from private actors our overarching public purpose should be to balance other forces the ones that tend to consolidate cultural privilege power and wealth It is an essential and uniquely public role and most of the deficiencies on our own cultural landscape can be traced to the fact that we have abandoned it Instead I propose four governing ideas that can sweep across the cultural landscape sending ripples in all directions Encompass the whole landscape If you look at the entire cultural landscape as an ecology you see some parts that are very richly fed and others that need nourishment The instant we begin to consider how they can be conjoined the way everything in the forest dead or alive supports something else ideas spring up for new revenue streams to underwrite cultural development Some commenters on the blogfest proposed ways of doing this such as a small tax on commercial events to subsidize noncommercial ones My favorite is a tax on advertising to support new creation We have an excess of passive capital intensive entertainment and limited exposure and accessibility to diverse voices it should be a public goal to pursue balance let s tax video games to support youth arts

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/03/clout-blogfest-arlene-goldbard-wrap-up.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: Clout Blogfest Wrap Up
    that some of the larger institutions in our field perceive there is little for them to gain outside their efforts to work the system for their own direct advantage Arlene made the same point Territoriality and in it for ourselves I have seen this over and over again I think that situation is also tragic for us If we can t somehow see that we are all in this together then it will very likely always be that we are divided and the development of real political power will remain axiomatically difficult if not impossible 4 To Diane s query A different but perhaps related question is when will those artists and arts and culture organizations that are not benefitting from the current arts system that is the large majority of them take control of and reframe the conversation around culture I can only echo When indeed And I would also point out that the overwhelming lion s share of government support for the arts isn t at the federal NEA level it is local money and so it is a mistake to characterize the need for political clout to be about the endowment It is only partly about federal funding It is much more about local funding that s where the real money is 5 I have long agreed with Bill Ivey s assessment and analysis and Diane s thinking that we need to reframe cultural support in terms of citizenry The challenge is how to go about addressing that challenge and alas it seems to this reporter that we have made precious little progress since Bill s thoughts first surfaced some years ago How is the real question that we seem never to get to Finally Diane s thinking on a new role for federal support and questioning whether or not the NEA might better be reconstituted is something I have wondered myself for a long time Though I suspect my priorities for the agency spending more money time and effort on improving the ability of the field to succeed the sustainability capacity building aims we are all too familiar with by now in doing such things as convening more national summits to address such issues as the development of a national arts policy exploring a national data policy addressing the need of the field for professional development etc etc etc is different from hers and likely different from other people s thinking too I don t want to be glib in commenting on Diane s thinking so I need more time to think about the very important issues she raises I had hoped that last year s multi week blogfest on the NEA would raise the issue of whether or not the agency ought to be re thought from top to bottom but it never did As 40 of the agency s budget goes to the states on a per capita basis I suspect there is an entrenched group that would not want to entertain any rethinking that would threaten that revenue stream unless their interests were protected There are a host of other problems with reinventing the agency including the reality that in Washington DC it is hard to replace something with something new 6 With respect to my esteemed colleague and I personally think one of the best advocates the arts have in America Ra Joy s thoughts again I would argue for both people power and money power to go hand in hand ala the NRA Please folks let s learn something from the NRA we have the same potential power to raise both a foot soldier citizen army and a huge war chest as I have previously suggested if every performing arts organization and museum in the country were to hold one benefit performance or exhibit the proceeds of which went to fund advocacy lobbying and the development of political clout every two years just one we could raise millions and millions of dollars And we can do it within our own resources without recourse to having to necessarily mobilize and incentivize the wider public We control our own destiny Again it would take far less than most people think it would take to garner some real political clout Alas it would seem Arlene is right the passion and commitment to do that don t seem to be there 7 There is no bigger fan than I for what Bob Lynch Nina Ozlu Tunceli and the whole AFTA team has done with the Arts Action Fund and building an effective state advocacy network but I wait patiently for that network to spearhead an effort to create local Action Fund PACs on the state level And the fact is that once a year arts advocacy days at either the national or state level while valuable are hardly enough Advocacy is a 24 7 365 job and we need a far more sophisticated network than what we have and the only way to develop that network is to pay for it It cannot be a wholly volunteer effort And you don t build relationships with a once a year visit Sorry that s the fact I like Ra s thinking on developing the arts as center hubs for democracy and I think his specific suggestions are excellent We should provide cultural organizations with the training and support they need to register voters provide easy to use voting information and play a more active role as catalysts for community engagement By strengthening the connections between cultural organizations community members and civic issues we can bolster the arts and build bridges across sectors and I might add we should run arts people for public office And as to Ra s idea that We need to invest more time and resources around formulating winnable policy goals We need to do a better job of sharing best practices and innovative ideas for both the public and private sectors We need to think about how our policy initiatives can empower

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/03/clout-blogfest-wrap-up.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog
    context with all its complicities is essential to successful advocacy work So good ones thank you for this opportunity for some commentary and since you riffed on Charles Dickens a literary reference for me is Emily Dickinson and her line I dwell in possibilities or maybe Mr James Brown Get on the Good Foot In community Roberto Diane Ragsdale Barry and Arlene have done a terrific job of priming this conversation Here are my thoughts building on their debate Part 1 On why we may not be doing a better job of advocating for the arts It strikes me that there are a couple assumptions embedded in the questions above 1 that arts organizations desire increased public support particularly at the federal and state levels and 2 they have been ineffective at getting this support because they do not have real political clout But are these assumptions true I guess the first proposition I want to put on the table is that perhaps the arts and culture sector in the US is neither inept at nor put off by politics nor simply so demoralized or offended by 30 years in the political dog house that it doesn t have the will or willingness to engage more strategically with the political sphere Rather I perceive that the sector may be quite reasonably shunning the approaches that Barry suggests contributing money to campaigns trying to influence elections building meaningful relationships with politicians because it is ambivalent about the benefits of public arts funding and long ago figured out a way to use its perceived dog house position to its advantage I don t see the sector as Arlene and Barry do Oliver Twist cap in hand and a charming accent pleading for any spare coin or crumb that can be spared If the efforts seem half hearted or even half assed perhaps it s because deep down what many of those in the sector feel towards those that would shun them is Screw the Philistines we don t need them In other words if we appear to be Oliver Twist perhaps it s an act As Lester Salamon Johns Hopkins has written the US nonprofit sector generally speaking not exclusively in the arts has proven to be incredibly resilient in recent decades in the face of numerous challenges including the loss of public support Is it a stretch to think that such resilience might very well go hand in hand with our decentralized indirect subsidy system When government closes a door quite often some wealthy individual opens a window and doesn t attach strings to funding like expectations of access or education And should no benefactor open a window Well there s always the market after all it s in the DNA of many in the sector Furthermore as Arlene noted the most powerful arts organizations in the arts and culture sector are already able to successfully lobby for line item allocations So what s in it for them to fight for a bigger pool for the rest Again they ve figured out how to work the system to their advantage Furthermore significantly increased support would probably mean that many more organizations those nudged out in the 80s and 90s and those that have never been in would get back into the tent So if we re waiting for the organizations that have the most power and influence in the arts and culture sector to lead the charge on this front I think we may be waiting a long time Of course there are those that don t have wealthy friends or significant government support To the degree that they ve survived it is probably by staying small being entrepreneurial market oriented and or relying on low cost or even free labor But let s face it even if the budget of the NEA were quadrupled tomorrow most of them would not expect money to be flowing their way A different but perhaps related question is when will those artists and arts and culture organizations that are not benefitting from the current arts system that is the large majority of them take control of and reframe the conversation around culture Part II On why other people may not be buying into us and how we might change it Both Arlene and Barry endorse the power of a grassroots movement though Barry sees this as a longer term goal and secondary to a more immediate strategic engagement with the political sphere Both also embrace the idea of cultural impact studies In principle I do as well however I doubt whether either of these approaches would be successful if they were biased towards the nonprofit arts and culture sector and if it were generally perceived that again the primary goal of such efforts would be increased support for the NEA This leads me to another point also raised by Arlene We stand for something both too abstract and too removed from everyday cultural life for most people to fight for And this seems to suit us just fine How do we think people in the professional nonprofit fine arts sector would answer privately if not publicly if they were asked the following question In the minds of the masses is it worse for the arts to stand for A Snooty orchestras and avant garde work created for wealthy people which you won t understand and which may challenge your values or sensibilities OR B Your kid performing in a youth orchestra your local banjo club performing at the zoo and at senior centers the American Pie music video created by the dying city of Grand Rapids Michigan and Wicked the Broadway musical We need to address why the arts are and have been such a hard sell in the US The best explanation I ve read in recent years is by Bill Ivey former chairman of the NEA and director of the Curb Center for Art Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt Back in 2009 I interviewed Ivey for Grantmakers in the Arts in conjunction with the release of his book Arts Inc How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights In our interview you can read the interview here Ivey remarked that the US has never come to terms with American culture for what it really is a grassroots vernacular that embraces amateur as well as professional rural as well as urban and unschooled as well as schooled The concentration of public support and private philanthropy on the fine arts is not sustainable he says because it flies in the face of American culture Ivey correctly asserts that when we face resistance to the idea of support for the arts it s often because our highest priorities are out of sync with those of everyday Americans Too many people receive little or no tangible benefit from the current nonprofit arts system thus whatever generalized good feelings citizens may have about the arts don t translate into sufficient goodwill when the arts must compete with education or the environment when advocacy really counts While Arlene and Barry invited those of us blogging this week to start with a blank slate for my money Ivey has already proposed an idea both an ideological reframing and a practical reconstitution that has legs Ivey proposes that if we want to achieve true cultural vibrancy we must adopt a new comprehensive approach to our arts system that encompasses the nonprofit commercial and amateur arts sectors Furthermore he suggests we need to coordinate our interventions in these interrelated sectors in order to serve the public interest Finally he proposes a Cultural Bill of Rights which he says we must be willing to assert with the goal of providing every American with the benefits of a vibrant expressive life The right to our heritage to explore music literature drama painting and dance that define both our nation s collective experience and our individual and community traditions The right to the prominent presence of artists in public life through their art and the incorporation of their voices and artistic visions into democratic debate The right to an artistic life to the knowledge and skills needed to play a musical instrument draw dance compose design or otherwise live a life of active creativity The right to be represented to the rest of the world by art that fairly and honestly communicates America s democratic values and ideals The right to know about and explore art of the highest quality and to the lasting truths embedded in those forms of expression that have survived in many lands through the ages The right to healthy arts enterprises that can take risks and invest in innovation while serving communities and the public interest In their opening statement Barry and Arlene write We remain timid and unimaginative acting as if cultural support were a rare privilege instead of a human right Actually I would suggest in line with Ivey that the beneficiary of cultural support if we want to talk of it in terms of a right needs to be reframed in terms of citizens Ivey writes It is time to establish a new set of goals designed to reclaim art and culture for the American people it is time to assert the rights of citizens to the multiple benefits of an arts system turned to public purposes Part 3 A possible next step So here s my suggestion What if the NEA were disintegrated and its components set free to be recombined with other components into an agency to fund the realization of Ivey s Cultural Bill of Rights The first order of business could be a broad cultural assets mapping of the commercial amateur and professional nonprofit sectors as Ivey has suggested A second order of business could be trying to understand the interdependencies on a local national and global level across these sectors as well as the diverse social cultural or economic values and impacts on individuals and communities realized by this comprehensive cultural sphere and its leverage points The third order of business could be using this knowledge to advocate for exponentially greater support for those leverage points that is where subsidy is both needed and likely to be impactful The traditionally funded institutions that benefit from the NEA and state support would not be eliminated from the picture they would be appropriately valued for their role within the larger cultural landscape At this point how beneficial is it for us to advocate for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts I m not challenging current leadership programs or strategies or asking how beneficial the money or NEA imprimatur may be to the organizations that receive funding I m asking whether the NEA is an idea for which we are likely to garner widespread support now or in the future I fear we may be chasing windmills Political support for the NEA seems to have begun to wane almost as soon as it was written into the legislation And as for all that leverage As John Kreidler points out in his essay Leverage Lost The Nonprofit Arts in the Post Ford Era the NEA s approach to providing seed funds to be matched by other sources was of course modeled on the Ford Foundation s practice which was widely adopted by all institutionalized funding sources Those running arts organizations can bear witness better than anyone to the result of this widely embraced practice money leveraged is too often other money seeking to be leveraged Everyone is counting on an ever increasing flow of money and on someone else down the line to pick up the tab however resources are limited We are not growing the pie indeed in some cases we are just swapping leverage Kreidler has likened it to a Ponzi scheme But I digress The preservation advancement and understanding of America s diverse artistic and cultural heritage and the rights of citizens to an expressive life are vitally important But is the NEA an adequate vessel for such goals Here s where we are curtailed by not having a larger cultural policy NEA policy with its limited mission and role becomes our de facto cultural policy Perhaps the NEA successfully fulfilled its mission look at the exponential growth of the sector over the past 30 years Perhaps we are trying to sustain and advocate for an idea whose time has come and gone Perhaps if we want to achieve real political clout in the arts and culture sector we first need an idea that exponentially greater numbers of people can buy into In a society in which the social structures underpinning artistic and social hierarchies have been crumbling the arts appear to have a choice become valued as an important part of a more catholic conception of arts and culture or willingly stay in the margins as the last man standing for the old system Ra Joy Dear Barry and Arlene Thanks for inviting me to your blog fest party The question of the week How can artists and arts advocates claim social economic and real political power For those of us who work in the arts advocacy field finding the answer to this question is what keeps us up at night All too often conversations about the arts advocacy movement get bogged down by hand wringing about how we make the case intrinsic vs instrumental value or how we talk about the sector I welcomed your charge of creating a blank slate and imagining a pathway forward for the arts to develop political clout So here s my three point plan for the arts sector to think bigger act faster and advocate smarter 1 Grow the Base I agree with you both that a massive sustained grassroots movement is the best way to achieve real power But where Barry focuses on money power I m more focused on people power as the route to clout I m from Chicago the home of community organizing made famous by folks like Saul Alinsky Jane Addams Jan Schakowsky Harold Washington and Barack Obama Community organizing has been a central strategy for almost every successful social change movement in world history From civil rights to women s right from the Arab Spring to the People Power Revolution in the Philippines an organized people can create real and lasting change The quality challenge arts advocates face is tapping into and fully leveraging the widespread public support for the arts that Barry describes As a sector the arts are uniquely positioned to excel at coalition building and alliance politics Cultural organizations have direct access to broad networks that often include staff board audience members and community partners And today s technology and social media tools enable us to reach more people with less money than ever before If hundreds of arts organizations stand firmly behind a common cause they can collectively engage and mobilize hundreds of thousands of people That s power The best way to move the needle on arts policy issues whether it s Barry s NEA budget or Alrene s WPA 2 0 idea is to create strong grassroots and grasstops networks that transcend age race ethnicity geography and other factors I give credit to Bob Lynch and our friends at Americans for the Arts for working to create an arts advocacy network that s built to last An empowered and informed network enables the arts sector to appropriately thank or spank policymakers based on their actions and our priorities In the end the stronger our network and the better our organizing tactics become the more policy wins will be achieved Here in Illinois building our network of arts advocates is strategic direction number one for Arts Alliance Illinois Some of the network building goals we ve established include Increase our e list subscribers to 50 000 Increase online followers on Facebook to 25 000 and Twitter to 5 000 Engage 15 percent of network in advocacy action Last month the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy released a report titled Cultivating the Grassroots While the report is geared to environment and climate funders it offers best practices in grassroots organizing relevant to advocates in any field 2 Occupy Democracy My second recommendation for building political power for the arts is to position cultural organizations as centers of democracy I believe deeply that democracy is a verb it s not something we have it s something we do And I think more artists and cultural organizations should do democracy Barry described a disconnect that some arts stakeholders have with the political process and the civic life of their communities This strategy would help close the gap But instead of partisan politics or PAC contributions another important point of engagement is around civic discourse and expanding voter participation We should provide cultural organizations with the training and support they need to register voters provide easy to use voting information and play a more active role as catalysts for community engagement By strengthening the connections between cultural organizations community members and civic issues we can bolster the arts and build bridges across sectors Nonprofit Vote has good resources to help nonprofits effectively encourage participation 3 New Policy Agenda Generally speaking for a sector that represents human creativity we have been pretty unimaginative when it comes to developing new policy solutions Ben Cameron Arts Program Director at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation often tells the story about the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky and the value of anticipating the future What made Wayne such a good player He skated to where the puck would be not where it has been From an arts policy perspective instead of skating to where the puck will be many advocacy groups have been frozen in time If we re serious about strengthening the operating environment for artists and cultural organizations we need to think beyond our traditional sources of support for the arts In addition to fighting

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/03/good-morning.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: Blog Fest on Political Clout and Power
    the kind of political clout that aims to affect Congressional and other votes on allocations an important aim and one you have characterized aptly I want to urge organized people coalitions on essential cultural issues that aren t yet on the Congressional docket We need a new WPA to address epidemic unemployment and cultural sector jobs should be as core to that as they were to the New Deal 80 years ago there s common cause with everyone concerned about unemployment and infrastructure deterioration I m not the only person appalled at four years of a Democratic president without a public service employment program in a time of tremendous suffering over joblessness It would take a while to succeed but along the way alliances would be powerful We need to institute something like a cultural impact report analogous to an environmental impact report assessing the cultural impact of public actions such as leveling historic neighborhoods to build sports stadiums If a community s cultural fabric has no legal standing we ll just keep on making those same inhumane and short sighted urban removal decisions over and over again The environmental impact report was one of the first innovations of the environmental movement to infuse daily public decisions with environmental awareness I m not saying it would be easy to institute a cultural counterpart but campaigning for it would do a lot to raise cultural awareness We need cultural equity in which access funding and other social goods are distributed fairly among all groups and categories There s always been a contradiction that funding is skewed toward the haves mostly white urban institutions but when advocacy time comes around the have nots are expected to be good sports and rally to the cause In my dream the most powerful spokespeople for the subsidized arts the heads of the major institutions and agencies stand up to advocate in no uncertain terms for equity for communities of color and others without the same access to capital That would attract some attention I ll stop here for now with a final point The existing arts advocacy culture has been tremendously short sighted willing only to advocate for what seems most doable modest and immediate There s something to be said for working toward immediate gains although even on that score the track record is poor but to build a movement you need a long view social imagination aspiration passion Artists have these things in abundance but if there s one thing these campaigns have lacked thus far it is art Mostly these are conceived and run by administrators who mistakenly believe that success will come from acting exactly like their counterparts in health or business What would it look like if we acted exactly like ourselves organized around our deepest truths stood for what we really believe Barry I agree with you and I don t I agree that in the long run what is needed is as you describe a massive sustained grassroots demand for support for arts culture and creativity akin to what we have seen as the green movement over the past fifty years real social change that drills down to the core of societal fabric I also agree with you that such a movement needs to have at its essence the value culture has in people s lives and cannot come into being without passion and our willingness to dig deeper than we have in the past But the problem is that broad social movements of the type you envision even if they can be jump started by some conscious attempt problematic at best often take decades if not generations to grow and succeed I would agree that we have to start that somewhere and the sooner the better but even if there were a perfect storm to set it in motion it will take a long long time to even begin to flower In the meantime I argue we ought to develop more practical political clout so as to protect ourselves as best we can in the near term and that such effort will help us to better organize ourselves into cooperative collaborative efforts that will improve our sense of ourselves as community and be ready to capitalize on a social movement should we be able to mount such an effort That effort is characterized by thinking more about organization tactics and the cold hard reality of how special interest groups get what they want within the system or fail to get what they want I would hope there would be room for both approaches in our thinking and that we could figure out given all the assets talent and intelligence within our sphere to move forward simultaneously on both fronts As to your specific recommenations I am not sure a WPA approach is viable in this new century I think the goal is lofty and admirable but I think we have to come up with something better I absolutely love the idea of a cultural impact report and think that might even be a catalyst to begin to launch the kind of grassroots movement you espouse Brilliant I completely agree with you about the need for a united front that demands cultural equity including in education and agree that would be attention grabbing Alas I think the haves are not likely to quickly join in such a clarion call That is a challenge that has been around for some time and we have not yet met it Finally I completely disagree with the assertion that we mistakenly believe that success will come from acting exactly like their counterparts in health or business Politics is a game with very defined rules To be a success in that arena until they change the rules you must play by and master those rules Political success in that sense for the arts depends on us acting exactly like our counterparts in health and business to play the game by its own rules

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/03/blog-fest-on-political-clout-and-power.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive



  •