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: December 2012
    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 for the organization and they would be the case study for what I believe would be the most nationally significant arts ed study possibly ever We could similarly partner with a school district or funder We have this as part of the arts ed and research offices five year plans And if anyone is interested in working with us please let my colleagues at the NEA know Barry You ve said you look forward to spending more time in Miami but I can t imagine you are yet ready to hang it all up Do you plan a return to Broadway and what ways do you hope you can continue to be involved in the nonprofit arts Rocco I honestly have no interest in returning to Broadway I hope this doesn t sound like I m too full of myself but I have had the opportunity to produce my favorite musical of all time Big River the most important American play of the twentieth century Angels in America and the most successful show in Broadway s history The Producers I sort of feel that I have done everything I can do in that arena and it is time for another generation to take over My wife Debby and I love the New World Symphony I think what Lin Arison and Michael Tilson Thomas have done with the symphony the building and creating audiences is just awesome We look forward to being involved there As audience members Barry If you could only offer one piece of parting advice to arts administrators across the country what would that be Rocco Don t stay too long at the party Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and I were talking about my intent to retire and Ray actually used a theatre metaphor He said Rocco you always want to leave the stage while they are still applauding Knowing when to leave also has the added benefit of making room for a new generation of leadership There are some remarkable young administrators that I have met across this country and I would love to see what they will do when they take over Barry If you had a ten million dollar war chest to spend in your sole and absolute discretion to address one specific challenge in the arts where would you spend that money and why Rocco I believe that subsidy exists to free arts organizations from the exigencies of the box office I would want to use the money to allow artistic directors to make decisions about a season s repertory with zero input from their managing directors or boards There are so many more questions that come to mind but I so appreciate your taking the time to respond to these Thank you Rocco and thank you for your leadership dedication and tireless energy over the past three plus years in your Chairmanship and service to the arts I know I speak for countless of those in our sector in wishing you all the very best in whatever you do in the future and our hope that you continue to be actively involved in the arts for a long time to come Merry Christmas to all Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 10 02 PM 1 comment Monday December 17 2012 The Further Erosion of American Innocence Good morning And the beat goes on The last line in William Golding s Lord of the Flies is And Ralph wept for the end of innocence and the darkness of man s heart In the face of the senseless carnage at the Sandy Hook Elementary school this past weekend America again shed tears in the continuing erosion of its innocence and the recognition of the darkness in the heart of one seriously disturbed young man The horrific unfathomable act left the world shocked and stunned No words are adequate to capture the profound numbness of the aftermath That it was aimed at the most innocent among us six and seven year olds babies really now robbed of their lives before they really started is just so devastating that we don t know how to react We desperately want to make some sense of it Looking at the pictures of the perpetrator he seems not much more than a child himself What motive could he have had to do something so evil What so tortured his soul and twisted his mind that he could have so callously hurt babies We desperately want to make some sense out of so senseless an act and the nation waits to hear some plausible answer as to Why But endless analysis of who he was and relentless speculation as to why he did what he did will bring us no answers no comfort no way to understand There is no sense to be made out of so senseless an act It was random predictable only in the sense that these things happen more often now than in the past perhaps Of course senseless violence and the misery it causes happens all over the world This one hit home it happened in our back yard With seven billion people on the planet it may be a miracle that it doesn t happen more often Then maybe it will We will talk about pathologies and the growing incidence of untreated mental illnesses and we will debate and promote gun control and security but the lack of a rational societal response to mental illness and easy access to guns on the street will remain unchanged This horrible event will doubtless diminish the joy of the holidays Even as kids gleefully open their presents on Christmas morning and squeal with delight it will be hard not to reflect on the suffering in New Town Parents will hug their children a little tighter worry a little more Little kids may wonder if they are safe It is hard to get something like this out of one s mind hard to compartmentalize it hard to deal with it Life will go on It always does The nation will return to the daily grind We will recover But it will not be so easy for those in that town The depth of the sorrow of those who lost a child or loved one is deeper than one can fathom Those poor people and especially the mothers and fathers who lost the precious life of a child will never again be the same How could they be Some may find the strength somehow to move past it but their lives will be forever broken decimated empty and devoid of the joy their children had brought to them They have only begun to pay the price that will be extracted from them and in part that is what is so painful for the country how to help them when we know deep in our hearts there is no way we can provide more than empathy comfort and shared grief And in the end no matter how heartfelt no matter how massive that outpouring of sympathy it will not be enough to ever make the lives of parents who must cope with this loss whole again as at least part of them died when their baby died These are wounds that never completely heal They run so deep that the suffering cannot even cling to anger as a way to cope How very cruel In the short run the outpouring of support may help them to keep busy and not think too much about their loss though the rituals of the season most assuredly will be hard reminders of what their lives were But that diversion will ebb and they will be left inconsolable with their pain Those who have a deep abiding faith may 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 Monday December 10 2012 The Marginalization of Cross Silo Thinking Good morning And the beat goes on That s Not Your Area of Expertise Mind Your Own Business I ran across a response on the Quora website to the question Programmers What do you think when you hear I just need a tech co founder wherein the responder lamented that the IT contributor to startups is often seen as a mere perfunctory in the process not an integral part of the whole Too often said the responder the attitude of the start up originator is the equivalent of someone saying I have the idea all I need is the technical guy to make it reality The nontechnical founders need to develop a deep respect for the development process how non trivial it is Everyone everywhere is today relegated to some silo We value expertise but we isolate one expertise from the process of creating something itself Each area of expertise is isolated from the whole of the process When I graduated college the joke was that a degree in political science and a dollar would get you a cup of coffee So I went to law school and graduation conferred on me a marketable expertise The truth of the matter is that what we lawyers know that you don t know lies largely in that we have developed layer upon layer of confusing nomenclature that only we can decipher at 250 an hour But lawyers like IT people today are dispensable functionaries they are part of the larger enterprise but expected to do what they do and not offer ideas about what someone else does And while all of the individual and separate contributions of a myriad of players in any enterprise are essential in some way the system of expertise and siloing potentially foregoes innovation and creativity because each of us is expected to limit our contribution to our own area of expertise Is that smart In the nonprofit arts world we have built similar silos I and others have talked about the danger of relegating younger leaders to isolation by putting them into the emerging classification a label that unintentionally works to marginalize their skills talents and contributions by questioning their experience level In an uptake on that issue Charles Jensen comments in a blog post on that danger We do that across the board Marketing people are separated from those who work in the Development area and they are usually not expected nor invited to offer ideas outside their sphere IT people are expected to limit their contribution to the tech side Finance people are separate from production and program administrators and they too are expected to confine their thinking to their own area And God forbid any of those on the administration side would ever dare to have a thought about the creative aspect of an organization s art or performance The artistic people would be aghast were an administrator to offer an idea on set design or costuming or staging or curation Artists often find the very thought to be threatening an invasion of their creativity prerogative The message is clear stay in your niche Be a good soldier don t try to overstep your bounds Do your thing but only your thing Keep your ideas on other s people s areas to yourself I am reminded of the quote If you want to have a good idea you need to have lots of ideas Most creativity is choosing between ideas and approaches Why then isn t having more ideas better Why then do we not have some means to allow for the cross pollination of ideas from all quarters There is of course a time consideration You can t realistically make every decision by committee nor can you probably reasonably expect that people outside of one sphere will fully understand or appreciate all the factors let alone the nuances involved in a new idea in another area But arguably that very handicap might allow for new kinds of thinking that would not come from those who suffer the limitation of understanding too well their own sphere What is the impact on a thriving and truly creative open enterprise of this kind of discriminatory isolation How many good ideas are lost because we are all experts at one thing and access to offering ideas in other areas is nonexistent discouraged if not outright prohibited With increasing movement of people from one job area to another more eclectic resumes denoting broader experience gained and the sheer incalculable amount of knowledge out there why do we foreclose input by siloing our people into pigeonholes There must be some way we can have more open organizations without being paralyzed by too much input some way where cross fertilization of thinking across silos of expertise would yield better thinking Such a challenge involves two formidable obstacles 1 coming up with the internal mechanism itself which would allow people to think outside their areas and productively not disruptively contribute and 2 and more difficult a change in our culture and way of thinking about what we do and the territoriality of protecting and defending our expertise so that we might be more open to that kind of different approach The current systemic way we limit our consideration of our own people s potential creativity seems to me anyway to be confining and perhaps costly if not outright demeaning and insulting Have a good week and try to stay sane as the holiday chaos gains momentum Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 12 32 AM No comments Saturday December 1 2012 Better to Give Than Receive Good morning And the beat goes on Christmas giving and Future Getting The Christmas ethic is that it is better to give than

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012_12_01_archive.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: November 2012
    in the Arts Dinner vention dinner party are due November 20th We ve gotten lots of suggestions so far Why not include yours this week Email to me at barryarts comcast net Thanks Election note Whew Like everyone else I am greatly relieved that we do not have to mount some Herculean efforts to save the NEA Nothing is ever a done deal so hopefully all of you out there will reach out to newly elected or re elected members of Congress State Houses and local City Councils and Boards of Supervisors and begin the process of lobbying them for support for the arts at all levels There is still the Fiscal Cliff looming but it is inconceivable to me that it won t be somehow resolved Of course it was inconceivable to me that we would have allowed our national credit rating to have been compromised but it happened Still this is a different Congress and the public has little patience now for more partisanship The Arts and the Convenience of Attending Events I live just north of San Francisco about 40 minutes from the city Like many major metropolitan areas traffic in the Bay Area is a problem and not just during peak commute hours It is a growing hassle to go to the city for any purpose the traffic is exhausting and parking is a hassle there is the cost of gasoline bridge tolls and parking The Golden Gate ferry system is an alternative but the last one returns from the city before 11 00 pm If you live in the East Bay there is BART the Bay Area Rapid Transit system as an alternative The point is that for me and for many others I suspect the inconvenience of getting to an event frequently trumps going at all If I want to go to a movie pretty much anything that is playing is within a 15 minute drive easy parking no cost and the movie itself is relatively inexpensive We spend a lot of time and energy exploring the ways the arts might better and more meaningfully engage our audiences as well as ways we might be more relevant to and involved in our communities But I think we spend perhaps too little time considering the mundane pedestrian issue of convenience for our patrons particularly those with more limited incomes and time and that is increasingly the whole of the middle class This is probably an issue that breaks down on income as well as generationally i e the cost factor is a factor for those still struggling on a budget to make ends meet and those skewing older find convenience a more important variable than younger people Then too convenience is likely tempered by where you live as well The hassle of attending an arts event is likely exponentially greater in the larger more populace dense urban areas of the country at least for those outside the city center area or wherever the arts venue is located less so in smaller cities and rural suburban areas So it is not a one size fits all issue But it IS an issue Underestimating the impact of convenience overall is I think a grave error A lot of people who might attend our events do not because of the cost and the inconvenience It has nothing to do with the quality of the offering nor with being or not being engaged I go to two or three San Francisco Giants baseball games on average each season I have the option of taking a specially scheduled Ferry to the ballpark it s on the water This is an especially attractive option as the Ferry Terminal is only 15 minutes from my house and parking is ample and free The cost of the RT ticket is considerably less than driving no gasoline no parking fees and the ferry docks right at the ballpark But most importantly there is far less hassle Moreover the experience of riding in with a boat load of other fans is enjoyable Those in the East Bay who take Bart have a similar experience There are times I wish there were a similar option to attend an arts event I wish there were an Arts Bus that I and fellow arts attendees could take that would be relative inexpensive let me out right at the venue and pick me up afterwards It would make the whole idea of going so much more attractive And so I wonder if such an idea is workable Doubtless an Arts Bus would be an expensive proposition for any one arts organization to underwrite especially as such an enterprise would likely take time early on to catch on with people and thus would need to be subsidized But at least on weekends several performing arts organizations might share the management workload and cost The bus could simply make the rounds of a half dozen venues much like airport bus drop offs do at various hotels It might be interesting to ride in and back with people going to a different event that I might be attending on any given night and impromptu conversations might peak my interest in other offerings You could even have a docent on the ride in talk about the various events on the stops thus making the whole experience more attractive and more involving People going to one event might think about another event for the future It would also I would think help raise awareness of various arts offerings in the area and help with the branding of participating organizations And if such an idea were do able over time it ought to be a break even situation It might and I say might because there are a lot of unknown variables attract new people to our venues or at least serve well those who want to attend our events And we might target such a service at the sector of the population that simply

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012_11_01_archive.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: October 2012
    will virtually always meet that demand But it has to be a large number and the demand must be vocal So the best thing we can do is generate evidence of that kind of voter support We can do that by a massive contacting of the White House and Congress and by public support via meetings rallies demonstrations and flash mobs that generate media coverage These kinds of things Identify and engage Personal contacts with Romney his key appointees transition staff first lady Identify and engage Personal contacts with legislators in the new Congress especially key committee chairs Develop and deploy a Massive letter writing phone call email barrage of Congress and the White House Massive means tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of such letters and phone calls not just hundreds Raise and donate money to the Arts Action Fund others to hire real lobbyists Immediately Schedule local town halls public rallies flash mobs and the like Generate media coverage of local outrage Schedule meetings with newspaper editorial boards asap Get op eds aimed as much at Congress as White House Stakeholder mobilization PTA Teachers Chambers of Commerce Tourism industry Exploit the nationalistic pride appeal does America really want to be gthe only western power not to support a cultural agency Timing Normally the prudent protocol with a new incoming Administration is to amass your data and stories to make your case and present that case to key members of the transition team as the same begins to act But as the new President must present his budget for the next fiscal year October 2013 to October 2014 by the first Monday in February and because depending on the composition of the new Congress there may be a lot of pressure to eliminate the Endowment altogether we ought to begin to act to try to influence whether or not there are any funds in that budget for the Endowment at all when that budget is presented to Congress We need to think this week on how to begin to mobilize the entire field beginning at 12 01 am on November 7th to contact each member of the new Congress plus the White House with the insistent and consistent message to FULLY FUND THE NEA We do not want a budget submitted to Congress that has no provision for any funding to the NEA in it That will make getting funds axiomatically more difficult We ought to do all the things and more listed earlier to try to make our case and while we need to be respectful and courteous at all times we need to be firm in our position that cuts to let alone elimination of the Endowment is simply UNACCEPTABLE That is the message to firmly carry to every member of Congress and to the White House Such cuts or elimination will costs jobs Local jobs Lots of middle class jobs And it will harm local communities and economies and kids And while I very much appreciate the argument centering around the intrinsic value of the arts on myriad levels that is not going to be a persuasive argument in this kind of fight This will not be a time to be too timid in what we want It s true that we have more time to ultimately fight our fight The Budget Process which BTW is the real chief business of Congress not passing new laws takes a long time and is very complex and plodding But while the process takes time many of the initial early on decisions all but determine the final outcome which can often end up mere symbolic process itself So the smart thing to do is to begin now We cannot afford to be complacent We simply aren t powerful enough to weather the storms that will come Note on the December 31 Fiscal Cliff Armageddon Scenario If the old current Congress fails to pass legislation this year regarding continuation of some or all of the Bush tax cuts then we will have an automatic return to the Clinton era tax levels as of December 31st which will means significant across the board tax increases plus huge spending cuts to defense and to other spending programs will automatically be triggered No one wants that to happen but there is no guarantee Congress will in fact work together to find a consensus solution If they fail the NEA along with almost all other agencies and programs may be the bystander victims If that happens it will be very hard to find anyone to support us for we will be small potatoes in the overall scheme of things basically irrelevant to the challenges on the table Not likely but a lot of disasters are not likely I hope all this turns out to not be the case a waste of our time I hope that a re elected Obama Administration will continue to support the NEA and not cut us more and or that a new Romney Administration will reconsider and likewise support the NEA But I know this we cannot afford as a sector to fail to act to protect ourselves as best we can and that means all of you out there need to start now to think about how you might address whatever scenario plays itself out I guarantee you other interest groups will be doing just that Were the unthinkable to happen and the Endowment were to be eliminated it would take a long long time to re establish Maybe as long as a generation If my leveraged half billion dollar impact is anywhere near correct multiply that by twenty years and think about what that loss of funds might mean to the sector over two decades Whether or not you are a current NEA grantee or direct beneficiary a strong healthy Endowment is valuable to the health of the arts ecosystem in America It is important to and benefits all of us no matter what we do And if it is eliminated or suffers drastic cuts do not think it will have no impact on you and what your organization does It will And you will feel it The time to think about all this is right now You should have some idea what you are going to do at 12 01 am on November 7th So Please Do This no matter who wins next week sorry to be repetitive Identify arts supporters in your sphere who may have a personal contact with a new or current White House and with the newly or re elected Congress Ask them to make those connections by December 1 2012 to lobby for NEA support Begin to put in place mechanisms that will rally your local people to write letters send emails and make phone calls Encourage all the arts in your area to set meetings with elected officials now Begin plans to stage meetings town halls rallies and flashmobs that will register with locally elected officials and the media Begin to talk to stakeholders in the community that will carry OUR message forward the PTA Chambers of Commerce Teacher groups Restaurant Associations and Tourism groups Ask them to help and figure out a way to follow up with them because if you don t follow up they likely will not act as you want them to and finally Raise money to fund some kind of lobbying effort in D C Work with your local state regional national and AFTA advocacy organizations Alas we don t have an iconic Big Bird or adorable Tickle Me Elmo to rally around All we have in the final analysis is ourselves But do not underestimate how powerful we can be IF and it s a BIG IF we act soon and massively Perhaps on a grander scale than we have ever had to mount before Think of it as the biggest collective performance of our lifetimes The audience awaits Please pass this on so that more people will at least think of the issues Thank you Have a good week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 7 09 PM 1 comment Sunday October 21 2012 Interview with Scott Provancher Good morning And the beat goes on Reminder If you haven t yet sent in your list of possible invitees to the Dinner vention Dinner Party please take some time to do that this week Thank you Scott Provancher is the President of the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte North Carolina one of the nation s oldest and foremost arts councils HERE IS THE INTERVIEW Barry While many if not most of the nation s LAAs and arts organizations are struggling in the current economic environment to raise funds and maintain financial stability you seem to have bucked the trend and had enormous success having raised 20 million to complete an 83 million endowment campaign for the Levine Center for the Arts and more than 14 million in annual support for Charlotte s cultural community To what do you attribute that success and what advice can you give to others Scott Despite challenging economic times and a diminished pool of resources the Arts Science Council has continued to articulate a bold vision for the important role arts and culture plays in Charlotte s future success Focusing on the inspirational big picture was the key to successfully completing the Levine Center for Arts We put all of our might into convincing the right people that completing a 300 Million cultural facility post 2008 was priority number one for Charlotte What effect would a failed project of this magnitude have on the willingness of the city to take on the next big idea If we haven t focused on the value of this project to Charlotte as a whole we would have never gotten the kind of investment we needed to successfully finish this campaign Creativity also plays an important role in our success If we hadn t found a way to rename the Center it was called the Wells Fargo Cultural Campus until Wells Fargo donated the naming rights so that it could be renamed the Levine Center for the Arts then I would be writing about how one of the most visionary ideas in Charlotte s history ended up a bust Likewise innovations like the development of the power2give giving site and the formation of a restricted fund for Arts Education have helped us continue to grow our investment in the cultural community year after year Barry Under your stewardship you have developed power2give a Kickstarter type platform geared specifically to the arts sector which appears to have been measurably successful and which I believe other agencies have adopted Can you give a thumbnail description of how it works how you license it to others and your assessment of its success and impact since its launch You predicted it would change forever the way you do business In reflection has it Scott We developed power2give as a tool to diversify the way we connect donors to cultural projects in the community Since its launch in 2011 power2give has had a huge impact on the way we think about the execution of our mission Up until recently as a united arts fund we fixated on the idea of only raising unrestricted dollars that we could then re grant in the community Instead of saying what are all the ways we can inspire donors to invest in the things that are core to our mission like cultural projects in the community Power2give has allowed us to put this theory to practice Last year ASC gave out 350 000 in project grants With the launch of power2give we have now funded an additional 500 000 worth of cultural projects by showcasing them on power2give and working with the cultural organizations to market them to new donors That s a 143 increase in project support in one year 46 of the donors are new to the organizations and 70 are new to ASC This small success has given us the fortitude to question other pink elephants in the room that may be stopping us from delivering more to the cultural community Barry What is the current political climate for support of the arts in North Carolina in general and Charlotte in particular Is there any remaining legacy of the fights Michael Marsicano former head of your agency now President of the Foundation for the Carolinas had to lead a decade ago What are the principal challenges facing your agency today and in which areas would you hope to make progress Scott The climate for public support of the arts in Charlotte is relatively positive due in part to the important role the arts recently played in the success of the Democratic National Convention The community leaders public and private also have a long track record of supporting the Arts and Science Council ASC as a unique public private partnership In Charlotte we do not have a city or county department of cultural affairs Rather ASC has serves as an outsourced department to the city and county and receives funds to do so ASC is currently focusing on how the cultural sector can partner with the City and the County to help them achieve their community goals For example instead of just asking for more unrestricted money for the arts we are working to develop innovative new programs with different departments of the City and County asking questions like could ASC lead a Arts in the Parks program in the same way we run the public art program Can ASC help to address neighborhood redevelop issues with cultural place making initiatives Stay tuned for more developments on this front Barry What kinds of new research and in what areas do you think would be helpful to the field Scott I actually wish we would not only fund research but start funding scalable ideas and programs that are already producing results at the local level that would benefit many communities Companies have R D departments with a clear mandate to develop products that are then scaled and sold The cultural sector has lots of research but no R D department Therefore very few great ideas ever get scaled at a national level If the arts sector is going to grow its impact and influence in our communities this is a conversation that must involve both funders and cultural organizations Barry Do you think your agency s current efforts at professional development and provision of training to arts administrators is meeting the demand or is there still work to do in this area If you see more work necessary what do you think needs to be done to make sure all our people have access to the training that will help them do their jobs Scott There are many examples of great programs at the local level but we are all working in a vacuum and not replicating our successes across markets I would love to see several local arts agencies and a group of funders collaborate on a Rosetta Stone like platform for teaching basic skills to the cultural workforce administrators educators and artists If Rosetta Stone can figure out how to teach a very challenging skill like a foreign language via an online platform we should be able to develop innovative ways to teach the skills needed in the cultural sector AND make it available and affordable to a broad audience Barry Do you consider the networking opportunities for you as a local arts agency to interact with other LAAs locally and across the country to be adequate Are the benefits to be gained by building more intersections for exchanges of information best practices advocacy strategies et al being fully realized and how might those be expanded to strengthen the field Scott I appreciate the work that Americans for the Arts AFTA does to gather LAAs together both at the conferences and in smaller groups The one downside of this being one of the only formal vehicles for collaboration is that the meetings are often spent on updates and broad topics and only involve the CEOs or senior leaders One of the ideas on my hot list is to work with either AFTA and or a group of LAAs to have a summit once or twice a year that is focused on one topic with each organization bringing 3 4 staff members For example a summit on the use of technology to grow audiences or donors would be excellent Barry If you could identify one single problem that seems to commonly stymie and frustrate arts organizations grantees for example and keep them from making forward progress what would that be Scott Time to think strategically Running an arts organization is like street fighting Our cultural leaders today only have time to decide whether to bring a gun or a knife to the fight They don t have time to step back and ask why are we fighting in the first place I remember that when I was Executive Director of the Louisville Orchestra I became so frustrated that I knew strategically what needed to be done but only had time to make calls for the next 25 000 to make payroll on Friday If we don t find a way to allow our most brilliant cultural leaders to be problem solvers and innovators we will be leading our sector right over the cliff This is something I have thought a lot about what about a think tank that would pay organizations to borrow their leader for a period of time to help develop strategic solutions to their organization s most pressing issues The funding would pay both for the leader s salary and for an interim leader during the sabbatical Barry Public art is a huge positive in some areas and in others it is a minefield of potential problems Which is it in Charlotte and why Scott Both Barry What do you think is the single most pressing issue in the nonprofit arts that is NOT getting enough attention Scott Leadership I am concerned that the pipeline of leaders in the cultural sector is not equipped for the challenges that face our industry There was a period of time in the history of Arts in America where the core missions of the institutions where not in question The western European art forms where the desired showcase of a world class city and cities were investing mightily to have the biggest and the best When that is the paradigm the type of leader one needs is a passionate sales person for the existing vision and a maintainer of the business model that supports it Today everything is being questioned how are these euro centric organizations meeting the needs of ALL of the diverse population in their communities how do the arts compete in a digital word what happens when the sibling of your major patron gives their parent s fortune to the underdeveloped world vs naming a new wing at the art museum Today we need leaders that have unprecedented adaptability creatively and perseverance We need entrepreneurs with a thick skin passion for innovation and vision for how the arts will continue to play an important role in America Is that what is listed in the job descriptions for the top jobs in our industry Barry Thanks Scott Bonus For all those who read the blog to the end here s some eye candy of spectacular photographs illustrative of just how beautiful and evocative the art form can be Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 5 58 PM No comments Sunday October 14 2012 Bill Ivey s new book Handmaking America Good morning And the beat goes on FROM THE KENNEDYS TO THE KARDASHIANS A while back Arlene Goldbard noted what we all already know something is dreadfully wrong in America It goes beyond the economic crisis beyond the gridlock in Congress and the problems of a crumbling infrastructure deteriorating education system suspect Supreme Court decisions and a world constantly at war beyond even the growing disparity in wealth and the concentration of too much in the hands of too few or the deepening divide over fundamental beliefs and civil rights Something is wrong with us as a people We don t just disagree we are at each other s throats It isn t just factions it is an intractable dividing line between entrenched camps And the civil discourse that has disappeared is the result of monumental distrust and even hatred of each other We have somehow made each other the enemy We are skidding away from being a nation wherein the nation itself is more important than the well being of any one interest Only fifty years ago Americans and especially young Americans admired and respected the Kennedys for their intelligence commitment to education patriotism and deep abiding passion about public service They added to that a sense of style and glamour but that was a bonus The Kennedys have been replaced by the Kardashians I am sure these young women are nice people Certainly their business acumen is admirable And they have style as well But they are idolized because they are rich and famous famous for being celebrities not for some stellar achievement The Beatles noted the trend back in the 60s in the song Come Together in describing the forces that drive people to seek identity and self worth in things other than those that nourish the mind and the spirit Got to be good looking cause he s so hard to see Gone from what we admire is public service gone too are the needs of the country being more important than the needs of certain segments Fame trumps accomplishment fashion trumps thought and of course wealth trumps the need to give a damn about anyone else If John and Paul wondered in Eleanor Rigby All the lonely people where do they all come from the answer lies in part because we no longer have values which unite us In a sense we seem adrift We don t know exactly where we are going where we want to go or how to get there Bill Ivey in his new book Handmaking America Counterpoint Press Berkeley starts from precisely that point He takes on how we have in so short a time moved from being a nation that worked together despite profound differences to be a nation to warring factions In a cogent intelligent extended essay Bill passionately and convincingly lays out at least some of the reasons we have strayed so far from the track And he offers a prescription of what needs to be done to address the challenges It isn t intended to be a step by step blueprint for solving the problems It IS a vision about how to move forward to re establish values for America values that can bring us a sense of worth and satisfaction that can unite us that can help us to repurpose life in the 21st Century to the benefit of all of us I admit to sharing most of Bill s biases and prejudices and so I find myself in agreement with virtually everything he says I can only give you a sense of the panorama Bill surveys in this work a work that does not center on the value of the arts to our future per se though he makes a strong stealth kind of underlying argument for that very value The themes of this work are bigger I had a good conversation with him this morning and he expanded on some of his thoughts in this book Bill carefully outlines the forces that have led us to define American exceptionalism as not much more than wealth and power how teamwork has been trumped by assembly line work and individualist thinking how we progressives liberals have allowed the opposition to convince the American people that government is bad and business and corporations are our savior how money and lobbying has allowed corporate America to redefine government as in its service and not the other way around He laments the success of the conservatives in driving home their simple message that We will keep you safe we will keep government off your back we will keep Washington out of your wallet with the implied commitments to defense deregulation and low takes and the failure of the left to counter that vision with its own He breaks down his analysis into three basic parts I Work Bill explores the causes and effects of assembly line work having replaced the job satisfaction of workers who once felt a sense of pride in their crafts and how that has led to a 24 7 work ethic that is profoundly unsatisfying He decries the lack of personal time in our lives and the role of too much technology imprisoning us rather than freeing us His prescription is that we recover the satisfaction of artisanship by stepping to the side building the kind of meaning found in craftwork outside the office classroom or factory while arguing for the benefits of a four day work week to give us back some of the time we have lost He posits that education has become too much the handmaiden of business and that its purpose shouldn t focus exclusively on preparing students for jobs at least not all office jobs but that we must achieve a subtle realistic balance between education for craftwork and education for citizenship Sure to be attacked if not vilified as a heretic he has the courage to discuss how education has been for some time wrong footed in its dedication to math and science to the exclusion of other pursuits and to question whether or not technology is all that big a boon to the quality of our lives He correctly notes that none of us are the clients of the major online social networking or search sites rather we are the product itself Data on us is what they are after to sell to companies and others who want that information making even the semblance of privacy something that is now long gone If nothing else he is willing to take on the sacred cows where others fear to tread II Government Here he observes the impact of the wholesale movement of the media away from the old understanding of the term responsible journalism replaced with Hooray for Our Side pundits Amplified by the drone of television and advertisting and the negative influence of relying on decision making by polls and the niche opining by bloggers and spin doctors the net result is to simply solidify already entrenched positions He quite deftly identifies the impact of the initiative movement in sabotaging the very foundation of representative government arguing that we simply no longer trust those we elect to act in our stead But the biggest failure of the political left has been not to effectively counter the assertion that there is too much government and that government itself is a bad thing extraordinary evidence to the contrary III Consumption Bill shows how business and advertising have accelerated the commoditization of everything not the least of which are our very values He discusses the toxic effect of envy as the driving force behind our race for things as a means to define our worth as individuals and as a nation In many respects the heart of the matter lies in our addiction to endless spending and consuming exacerbated by the financial system s extolling of relentless debt assumption As Bill explains Consumerism honors spending and buying as the surest indicators of achievement and happiness Comoditization and advertising encourage this comingling of spending and quality of life In the age of the Kardashians we have become obsessed with acquiring things an obsession in part created and continuously facilitated and nurtured by corporate America and especially the finance industry He concludes with thoughts on responsibility and happiness Responsibility of the education system to nurture our children to be informed citizens the responsibility of parents to teach them that happiness does not lie exclusively in consumption the responsibility of government to prevent the excesses of business the responsibility of citizenship to understand that in the end we are all in this together I like this book very much I think everyone should read it For a serious work of analysis it is written in a very easy style Though of an extended essay length it is a slow read because there are so many ideas within that you want to frequently stop and savor the thinking Of course the devil is always in the details and with neither politicians nor the media even remotely interested in drilling down this far into examining what is going on one wonders how we will ever get our citizens to slow down to re examine those things that are pulling us apart and weakening the fabric of our society let alone give up addictions long in the making This book is really about vision or rather a response to our lack of having any sense of where we are going and how we might get there One hopes it will be a springboard for a wider serious national discussion but it will be enough if it is read and discussed This is the kind of thinking I would personally like to see come from our candidates or at least the independent thinkers Alas it is very likely too risky for any of them to adopt The media Not the so called mainstream media their mantra is as Don Henley of the Eagles noted twenty five years ago Get the widow on the set At the end the challenge is clear and Bill says it more eloquently than could I Two obstacles stand between America today and the promise of a revitalized democracy First can we envision the constellation of values that will define a high quality of life in a post consumerist society Second absent out and out financial collapse can Americans recover the resolve and commitment to self sacrifice necessary to define and animate a progressive democracy that serves all I don t know if we can do that nor how we go about it I do know that if we do not do that if we continue down this road we will arrive at a place not to our liking one from which escape will be very difficult indeed What is worse is that our children will be right there with us brought along if not against their will certainly without their consent I think in the final analysis we need probably to start at the beginning As Leo Tolstoy observed a long time ago Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself Congratulations to Bill I think this is a very worthy effort I urge you all to read it There is much here to think about Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 5 45 PM 2 comments Sunday October 7 2012 GIA to Meet in Miami Mini Interview with Regina Smith Good morning And the beat goes on GRANTMAKERS IN THE ARTS MEET IN MIAMI NEXT WEEK The nation s arts funders meet next week This has become one of the most important and certainly most interesting of all the national gatherings in the nonprofit arts GIA s Chair Regina Smith Senior Program Officer Arts and Culture The Kresge Foundation graciously took some time out from an undoubtedly hectic schedule to answer a few questions for me on the eve of the conference I am hopeful she might answer a few more after the conference is over That mini interview is below In every field it s of importance when the people with the money gather Where once GIA was a smaller more insular organization of the older guard private funders both public and private arts funders are now integrated into GIA The organization has gone through somewhat of a metamorphosis over the past few years and is now more involved in a wider range of issues at least somewhat more open and transparent and more involved in collaboration and reaching out in new directions While somewhat conservative it continues to change I had the pleasure to be at the last two conferences and I found that the session offerings were really a cut above the typical national arts conference fare and this year appears likewise designed to tick off every issue on anybody s list There are sessions on the three big fields the arts touch on outside our own borders as it were arts education arts and creativity and business and arts and health care and healing There are sessions on research data collection and evaluative techniques sessions on the arts and social justice immigrants diversity communities and global exchanges sessions on capitalization leadership facilities and even on arts and climate change This is not your Father s GIA But despite an undeniable comprehensive inclusion of almost all the topics conceivable the thing I will miss most about not being at this conference this year is the casual but serious conversations that go on between the sessions over coffee in the morning in the lobby or over dinner at night Making those conversations possible and more likely is the fact that this isn t a mega sized conference of a thousand people or more Several hundred makes it much more manageable and intimate These are honestly some of the smartest people in our field They have experience and knowledge They value thought and are increasingly less risk averse And while they cannot solve all the challenges facing our field nonetheless it is they who are charged with trying to do just that For they control the money well actually their Boards control the money but they are our link and they are the ones who must argue on our behalf So I would like to be a fly on the drape as it were next week as private conversations invariably turn to the underlying issues the trends in the field the unasked and as yet unanswered questions that lie just beneath the surface What are those issues trends and questions Here are some thoughts 1 What will happen to public funding for the arts in the next ten years Will the November election mark a turning point in Federal funding What do we do in that case What will it mean And if the economic recovery takes another five years or longer to be fully realized assuming a full recovery is even possible what will be the trend in budget cutbacks at the state and local level Can private funders realize their foundation s organization s goals if public funding is not part of the mix 2 Will we ever succeed in reintroducing the arts into our schools on a national basis so that ALL kids have access Is there any alternative to arts in the schools to provide some kind of meaningful arts training not just exposure to kids in America while we continue to fight to have the arts a truly core subject in all the schools Realistically how many more generations will that take 3 What happens next to the arts and creativity discussion Have we effectively dealt with the criticism that we use our data and research that correlates the arts with desirable outcomes as proof that it causes those results 4 Should we be doing more to fund artists and provide services to artists Are we too focused on the arts organizational infrastructure rather than on artists and artistic creation Is the mission to support access to quality art or the creation of that quality art in the first place Is it both and

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012_10_01_archive.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: September 2012
    armed with an idea or two and a lot of hope and taking their shot What wonderful hope filled entrepreneurial and very American spirit Olive Mosier Director Arts and Culture William Penn Foundation I have learned just how much of a turning point the 2008 Independent Sector conference was in shaping my thinking as a funder Clara Miller who at the time was CEO of the Nonprofit Finance Fund said that the country was at a change point and too many nonprofits were trying to simply hold on and come out on the other side rather than reinventing themselves I learned that not only did this apply to the cultural nonprofits with which we as funders were working but it applied to us funders even more And it s not over yet We need to continue to be responsive flexible and cognizant of the ever changing environment that is challenging the cultural sector We need to allow for the testing of new ideas recognizing that they won t always succeed We need to support the redesigning of business models recognizing that this too often requires some trial and error And we need to ensure that cultural engagement opportunities are available not only downtown but throughout our cities As a regional funder we at the William Penn Foundation probably have a greater luxury in trying to work this way To this end the leadership of the Foundation is taking the needs of the local cultural sector out of the arts and culture funding silo by creating new cross sector funding programs that advance creative placemaking in Philadelphia neighborhoods transform outdated business models support new solutions and find new ways of strengthening the field and engaging the public in the arts We are pursuing an approach that allows for cross sector learning by both the organizations and the Foundation which I am also learning is a necessary aspect to all of us succeeding Marion Godfrey Cultural Advisor to the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation The most important lesson I have learned in 33 years as an arts administrator and grant maker is to ask for help The worst mistakes I have made resulted from pride and embarrassment that kept me from asking for help to fix or improve something the very worst mistake got me fired from a good consulting job when a problem turned into a disaster because I didn t ask for help The best programs I designed as a grant maker were all every one developed based on extensive advice and information from the people I was hoping to support the most successful benefited from advice and tough critique from my executive and my board When I didn t listen to them the programs weren t so good It is especially important to cultivate your ability to hear people not just listen politely when you are on the up side of the power equation as grant makers often are I have learned how easy it is from the safety and security of my perch to be incurious and to gloss over the urgency of mission communicated in telling detail being offered up by someone on the other side of the table People who are not empowered are hyper vigilant and command a far more richly concrete understanding of their situation and their objectives than those of us who listen by choice rather than necessity So if you want to do well and to do good honor your constituencies by making your listening a necessity Ramona Baker Consultant 1 Stay flexible It s always advantageous to have a clear and strategic plan of action but change happens Funding can disappear overnight leaders can come and go quickly and unexpected opportunities can suddenly appear If you think of your plans as guides rather than steel walls you stand a better chance of not only surviving but also being able to take advantage of new possibilities Try not to let your need for control get in your way I m still a work in progress on that one myself Remaining flexible will allow you and your organization to keep your footing whether the path suddenly goes up or down Staying agile and being willing to let your plans change will allow you to respond adjust and alter as needed People and organizations that lock their knees and fight change usually stumble and fall but I ve found that organizations that acknowledge the inevitability of change and the importance of flexibility have a much better chance of staying strong and moving forward 2 Include all voices It s tempting to surround yourself with people who are like you It s human nature to want to work with staff and board members who share your artistic political social and economic points of view Reaching agreement with a homogeneous group is easier because you already understand each other Bringing dissimilar voices into the mix is more challenging but ultimately diverse opinions from different people and backgrounds will make your organization and your leadership much stronger Including all voices takes more time but being inclusive opens you to a vast array of new ideas new possibilities new leadership opportunities and art that you hadn t previously considered I ve learned that it is easier to accept differences if you first respect those differences No one group of people has all the keys to fabulous ideas Anne Katz Executive Director Arts Wisconsin I ve learned about humans and human nature I ve learned about myself what matters to me my strengths and weaknesses boy have I learned about my weaknesses and what I am capable of I ve learned about politics relationships inspiration dedication global forces that affect peoples lives the intricacies of community engagement trust I m learning lessons every day The reason I still enjoy the job and what keeps me in this field is the passion the challenge the volatility the feeling that if I keep exploring I ll get it right someday In addition what keeps me in this job and so dedicated to the work are the people and their capacity for greatness To elaborate here are bullet points about what I ve learned There is astonishing creativity overt and unseen in the most unlikely places well unlikely to some but obvious to me in my work in every corner of the state People are dedicated to their families friends and community People will put superhuman effort into a cause they believe in Humans will stick to their habits and mindsets and work against their own best interests They will also open up their minds learn new things seek new directions at every turn Patience is a virtue maybe THE virtue needed in this work and in life Real change happens slowly much too slowly And I am so impatient by nature Patience s partner is persistence It s ok to understand that real change happens slowly but the only way things change is if you keep pushing them to change My daily mantra is Winston Churchill s quote Never never never never give up Having a sense of humor in the face of absurdity goes a long long way Volatility and uncertainty are part of the job On every level we can try to control people and situations as much as possible but in many ways we can t control anything Personalities and politics are the forces that shape a project an organization and communities The more I am involved in the arts the more I know that I don t understand anything about art I appreciate it greatly but understanding that s a whole different thing Dalouge Smith President and CEO San Diego Youth Symphony Artists stretch and strive It is inherent in supporting artists that arts organizations the people running them and the people working for them regularly extend themselves beyond reason or health I discovered early that I didn t always have a choice regarding when and how far I d have to push myself during moments of production and creation However I also discovered that if I didn t take control of the times when such effort wasn t required and simply tried to keep up the same pace at all times no one else would guide me to slow down Letting art be all encompassing of your identity is often viewed as the route to the heights of achievement I ve seen and heard too often of relationships and families that don t survive the artistic life because the art becomes so dominant This is probably comfortable for some I had the good fortune of realizing what was most important to me and what was secondary before reaching such a crisis Ultimately choosing to care for myself and having a relationship with my family was what I chose as primary Even still I ve been able to achieve nationally recognized work for my arts nonprofit but within the boundaries I set not to the dictates or expectations of others at my own expense I ve learned that I have to take care of myself and hope others will learn the same Barry And finally here is some of what I have learned and I say some because one thing I have learned is that learning is a never ending process But the process helps keep you involved and engaged relevant and interested and your mind active Good return for the investment Like many other fields in our sector who you know is as important as what you know That s not to say that we echo a good old boy network and do not value experience intelligence and knowledge We do But it does recognize that much of success has always been built on personal relationships So network as much as you can Build relationships ones that will last over time And keep them Ours is also a very generous field and people are not just open but quick to respond to pleas for help Ask when you need help guidance tutoring mentoring or whatever You will not very often get turned down Remember though that to have friends you have to be a friend Relationships are take and give You can learn a lot more by listening than talking There will always be people who will tell you why something won t work people who will tell you why your idea should be forgotten Listen to legitimate criticism but don t let the naysayers keep you from moving ahead with your ideas and dreams The whole world has been continuously changed by one person at a time a single person who saw something that needed to be done and then did it Stick to your guns believe in yourself and follow your dreams Never let them go never wait for a more opportune time The time is always now Believe in yourself Your job is to figure out how to get the NO people out of your way Remember that reward often entails risk And try hard never to step on someone else s dreams Most accomplishments are realized by working with other people Very few things get done all by yourself Share the credit Don t worry too much that people will know your contributions to something You can afford to be generous And being generous as a mantra will get you farther than being recognized Always do your best to produce exemplary work of which you can be proud Fluidity will be the byword of the next decade When you get to a position of leadership there is one axiom to remember hire the absolute smartest people you can find smarter than you and then do your very best to get the hell out of their way and let them do their thing At the very top of the heap a leader is two things a visionary and a cheerleader Do not always be too impatient with people but be very impatient with incompetence Champion people who report to you in public criticize only in private Like Ringo said in Yellow Submarine in reference to the Nowhere Man The first time I met that Nowhere Man I knew he was somebody For all of you out there there are lots of people who know you are somebody too So when times are tough and things aren t going so well When you are discouraged and life is seemingly relentlessly against you Don t quit Just don t ok Stay in there and fight for your own sense of integrity and worth Like the wise people know Dance like no one s watching Love like you ve never been hurt Sing like you re part of the choir and somehow let that little kid inside of you back out before it s too late If you would like please feel free to share what you have learned by entering a comment Thank you very much to all the participants You are all the best Have a GREAT week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 9 06 PM No comments Sunday September 23 2012 The ARTS Dinner Vention Project Good morning And the beat goes on Dear Readers PLEASE READ THIS OPEN INVITATION AND RESPOND It should be fun Thank You R egular followers of this blog know that late every August I publish a list of the Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts Most people understand that the list isn t meritocracy based it isn t based on specific achievement or accomplishment per se it doesn t purport to necessarily identify the best and brightest rather it merely identifies who has power and influence There has been some past comment that unfortunately the list excludes a whole cohort of serious thinkers a group of younger not necessarily chronologically younger leaders omitted because their careers have not been long enough for them to develop the requisite power and influence the Most Powerful list embodies and that there ought to be some mechanism that gives this cohort of leaders a voice and some recognition They are after all our future So to try to address that concern I ve come up with a companion project to the annual Most Powerful and Influential list I call it the Arts Dinner vention Party project thank you Shannon Daut It isn t a list or a ranking It IS a platform to give those who do not yet have power and influence a chance to intervene into the national conversation on the big issues and to give them a voice and recognition Here s how it will work It s like the fantasy game that starts with the question If you could invite anybody in the world to a dinner party who would you invite The difference here is that we will actually hold the dinner party and share it widely with the field And you can t actually invite anybody in the world It has to be arts sector people in the U S Readers of this blog are invited to submit a list of eight to twelve people that they think would represent the unheralded group of arts sector leaders see specific criteria guideline suggestions below and would as guests at a dinner party provide for a memorable and meaningfully engaging conversation on critically important arts issues people with new ideas who can argue convincingly for those ideas We call it the Arts Dinner vention because tongue in cheek it s like an intervention to a field that might have gotten addicted to old ways of doing things and old patterns of thinking about challenges and solutions a field that arguably talks about getting out of the box but sometimes seems stuck within those walls Once the period for proposing names for the Arts Dinner vention guest list closes November 20 2012 a small advisory committee consisting of Ian David Moss Author of Createquity Research Director Fractured Atlas Nina Simon Executive Director Santa Cruz Museum of Art History Richard Evans President Emc Arts Shannon Daut Executive Director Alaska State Council on the Arts Gary Steuer Chief Cultural Officer City of Philadelphia Mitch Menchaca Director Local Arts Advancement Americans for the Arts Ron Ragin Program Officer Performing Arts Program Hewlett Foundation will then vet all the suggested names received and come up with a final list of twelve people Once we have a date that will work for at least eight of those nominated dinner guests we will schedule the dinner probably in the Spring of 2013 location to be determined The entire dinner discussion will be videotaped and then edited and the final tape will be as widely disseminated via web access podcast you tube etc across the field as possible perhaps divided into two presentations depending on how lively and lengthly the dinner conversation goes The topics will be selected from a master list of suggested topics and those on the final guest list will determine which one or two they want to be the centerpiece of the evening s discussion I am open to suggestions from the field for the master list of topics and encourage you to include any ideas you have with your list of dinner guest nominees Once the topics are determined each selected dinner guest will be asked to write a succinct and hopefully compelling argument for whatever position they wish to stake out on the topic embodying some specific concrete idea they want to implement which briefing papers will be posted on my blog site prior to the dinner Rather than just another discussion of the topics where smart people wax eloquently about the issues and analyze what is wrong without trying to figure out how to address the problems the charge for those at this dinner will be to present specific concrete new ideas for addressing whatever challenges are embodied in the dinner topics Thus the framework for the dinner conversation will be real idea generation and not just another talk fest where the participants dissect analyze and ponder challenges but come to no conclusions about what specifically to do My primary purpose for this project is twofold First to identify and recognize some of the unheralded leadership of the field who have bold inspired cutting edge ideas and new thinking to put forth and to give them a platform from which to voice those ideas and Second to engage the national field in serious discussion geared towards generating specific concrete proposals and strategies for solving existing challenges I hope this might spur further discussion across the country and even that other people will hold their own local dinner parties to discuss the issues examine new ideas and to share the results of those conversations Should the project prove successful we are contemplating initiating discussions with funders to support such local regionally based dinner parties as part of a more comprehensive attempt to jumpstart and nurture serious new idea generation and a national conversation around those ideas One thought would be to hold one of these dinner parties every year and perhaps tie it in with a national arts organization and have the actual dinner party at their national conference perhaps with a live audience but at least with a companion session something like Dessert With the Arts Dinner vention Party Guests or Breakfast With the Arts Dinner vention Party Guests as a way to allow for some follow up questions and a means to continue and expand the discussion So who would you invite if you were hosting such a dinner party Who would be on your fantasy list We want inventive creative serious thinkers who have something to say and will contribute to an engaging in depth conversation on one or two major issues facing the sector and put forth specific ideas to move us forward We aren t looking for the people you usually think of as exemplified by the Most Powerful and Influential list We want those who are to a large degree still unheralded but who are highly regarded as the future of the field people without the same voice as those who have been in the field long enough to develop power and influence but who have something to say and ought to be heard Hopefully you would give a little thought to where these people came from their backgrounds and areas of expertise how they might complement each other and all of that so that there would be great diversity at the table and that the conversation would be lively and provocative The primary candidates any good dinner party host seeks are people with ideas dynamic thinkers and communicators with new ways of thinking about the challenges we face In short this would be a dinner party of people you would like to hear from because you think they would have something to say people you would invite to your fantasy dinner party It s a chance to identify a group of people that might differ from the Most Powerful list and acknowledge and recognize all those folks and give them a platform As a way to help you think in terms of who you might want to invite we suggest that people who fit any of the following categories would likely make for a memorable dinner party and hope you might include as many people who would fit one or more of these categories as you can though you are free to nominate any 8 to 12 people you like on your guest list The Connector the person who links us to the world those with huge networks of contacts and who span different spheres and sectors the bridge builder with multiple perspectives The Maven the person who accumulates knowledge the one who is the information broker and wants to share their new information The constant thinker The Salesperson the charismatic person with powerful negotiation skills who plays the role of the persuader the first three categories are Malcolm Gladwell s the Tipping Point categories Here are some others The Provocateur the person who provokes and pushes towards new solutions and acceptance of upending the status quo The Power Broker the person who can move other people and organizations to act based on knowledge insider position and the ability to identify and implement what kinds of influence are necessary to effect change The Visionary the one with the long range big picture in mind the person who sees the future what it will be and what it might be a realistic dreamer The Organizer Ring Leader the person who provides on the ground leadership to get things done The take charge leader with experience under his her belt The Cynic Skeptic the person who plays Devil s Advocate and asks the hard questions and keeps in check unbridled enthusiasm based more on passion than reality The Risk Taker the person who argues for bold moves and action now The Master of Bureaucracy and Detail the person in the trenches who actually makes things happen the one who knows how to get things done and wade through all the detail The one who works with the Organizer The Policy Wonk Geek the theoretician the student and strategist who revels in overarching implications The Practitioner Artist the centerpiece of why we all do what we do The Technology Guru the tech nerd who understands and revels in all the latest technological advances and who understands their long range implications and how they might be applied to the field Those who might fit these descriptions can come from any area of the arts from government agencies to foundation funders from advocates to bloggers from arts education people to discipline based organizations e g dance theater museums music film et al from national service organizations to local groups from consultants to policy wonks to researchers from established organizations to avant garde recently launched enterprises from senior managers to newbies from administrators to artists Age background experience geography et al are not necessarily the criteria to keep in mind As an incentive for you to think about this and help us everyone who submits a list of candidates for consideration for the final guest list will be entered into a random drawing and one person will be chosen to attend the actual dinner party all expenses paid You can submit your list of eight to twelve dinner party guests to me at barrysblogwestaf gmail com Nominate anyone you would like including yourself or even those individuals on our advisory vetting committee though committee members so nominated would not comment nor vote on their own nominations Please include for each name on the list the person s job title organizational affiliation contact phone and email if available and if you can in just a few words why you included that person and if applicable what category they might fit The deadline for submissions is November 20 2012 I would greatly appreciate it if you would pass this on and publicize it to people within your sphere The more names submitted for possible guests to the Arts Dinner vention the better Thank you for your consideration Have a good week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 2 24 PM 4 comments Sunday September 16 2012 Leveling the Playing Field Good morning And the beat goes on There has been much discussion this year about equity particularly in funding support for arts organizations and in access to services It is no secret that a disproportionately larger percentage share of funding has for a long time gone to the larger bigger budget major cultural organizations across the country That those organizations are predominantly euro centric has raised questions of diversity and fundamental fairness While shifting demographics continue to accelerate the change in population dynamics and portend for the future changes in where the centers of decision making will lie and while that landscape will predictably change in time as 2013 approaches the playing field continues to favor the older guard pretty much across the board Despite all our attempts to deal with it inequity still exists Some of that advantage is attributable to a long and vaulted history of the more favored organizations producing excellent product Having done it longer they are more experienced and have learned over time how to not only achieve excellence in programming but function as more efficient and effective managers and administrators Some of it is due to their audiences themselves in a better position to both be an audience and to support the arts organizations that cater to them Larger budgets of course allow for staffing and attention being paid to details that the smaller poorer arts organizations can only dream of with envy Most of what we classify as major cultural institutions symphonies operas museums theatre groups ballet companies all got bigger because they did things right Having worked hard to achieve it they deserve their success and that success has benefited the arts on the local and national stages But we need to remember that they were able to do things right because they got the lion s share of the available support A price was paid for that for the smaller newer and the multicultural arts organizations rarely got treated the same And their audiences and their supporters were not as able to nurture their existence The current tough economic climate hits all our organizations It is harder for all to steer a course through the economic minefields to successfully raise funds and reach financial stability and to address the daunting challenges of changing audiences and philanthropic giving Is this an issue that ought to be further addressed Haven t we dealt with it already and for some time While I know of no research or data that confirms let alone measures the extent that a segment of the arts has suffered because of the playing field favoring some over others it seems clear to me that on its face the anecdotal evidence that there has been and continues to be an inequity is overwhelming and universal It is difficult to imagine a convincing argument to the contrary For the future the demographics will eventually favor those multicultural groups once given the short end of the stick But for now the questions arise as to what we should do 1 should we not try to finally do something more that will level the playing field so that those arts organizations in the corners of the field that have for a long time been outside looking in are to the extent that is possible given a chance to grow expand and thrive on at least a more favorable basis then they have in the past on a competitive level and 2 how can we best create that more level playing field for them while at the same time not abandoning that which has existed for a long time nor somehow adopting a reverse unleveling of the playing field by merely favoring a new cohort What are we talking about when we reference an unequal playing field Here s a small example major organizations have budgets that allow them to provide for at least some professional development skills training for their managers senior to middle and in some cases entry level Not that they all avail themselves of the option but most could if they so desired Most smaller younger organizations including many of the multicultural organizations simply do not have the funds in their budgets to allow them to similarly provide that support to their staffs While there are foundation and government programs that recognize the need and offer some specific subsidies they are not universal and while some benefit many others do not and though I do not know for sure I suspect much of the funding of many of those programs goes to the bigger cultural organizations anyway Moreover more funding means you can hire more experienced people Staffs with training options and better salaries are better positioned to effectively and successfully manage their organizations So the rich seem to if not get richer stay rich anyway That is just one tiny example of how the playing field has not been level Are we talking about some kind of affirmative action or something else Is there anything inherently unfair or wrong to try at this point to make up for past inequities by redirecting some of our energies focus and funds in a campaign directly designed to increase the opportunities for all the arts organizations to survive focusing specifically on those that have toiled without That was I think the underlying assumption and justification for a lot of multicultural specific programs we have launched over the past three or four decades When I was at the California Arts Council we had several programs that addressed multicultural needs I didn t start those programs they existed before I got there They were well received and succeeded in some ways to level the field in California When I first lobbied the legislature for more money I got an additional two million dollars with the caveat that the money would be used to address the needs of the state s various multicultural communities Such programs do exist all over the country Many have been at the least somewhat successful over time in leveling the playing field Yet when the dollars started to dry up many of these programs were the ones that went by the wayside And while these were and are still exemplary programs they were never universal and even now the playing field still remains unequal The work was started but not finished That is the challenge Obviously there are insufficient funds to provide all things to all organizations Reality dictates that there is always some degree of inequality Some organizations will get more some less Some may deserve more others less The issue isn t absolute equality for everyone The issue is whether there is equity in the access of all to the pie Does the system favor one group over others in its provision to them of benefits that makes it easier for them to succeed Whether intentionally or unintentionally it doesn t matter If the playing field isn t level then the danger is the existence of unequal and unfair advantages for some that are not available to others Without that access you remain a have not It isn t just a matter of a new program nor good intentions There are systemic obstacles to leveling the playing field for the have nots protocols and procedures rules and regulations habits and legacies policies and customs that perpetuate the inequities Here are four examples i protocols and rules that ban organizations with less than two three or four years existence from applying for grants ostensibly and arguably to insure that a grantee will be fiscally responsible and have the capacity to meet its stated intent but with the net effect that it is axiomatically more difficult to launch new efforts by new organizations within specific communities ii in some instances lack of a ban of having foundation or government board members also sitting on the boards of major cultural institution grantees and even where that conflict of interest is resolved by the Board member abstaining from voting or the ban is in place the camaraderie of the good old boy network insures that everyone s pet project is taken care of that is simply how it works and even where there is no such potential conflict of interest more of the decision makers come from or have deep ties to and relationships with the groups that get most of the benefits iii inadequate access to limited facilities by the legacy of a historical priority system iv rules that prohibit grants to organizations more frequently than one every X number of years or back to back grants again on its face seemingly designed to actually level the playing field but the application does the opposite because the amount of the grants going to the haves is disproportionately larger than to the have nots and so the ban impacts the big guys less All of that worked though subtlety and continues in many cases to work to keep the field from being level It isn t consciously conspiratorial but it is now built into the fabric of how we do things We need to look at it all carefully and fix what is broken Blame is not the issue Nor is the past Justification rationalization complaints and grievances none of that really matters The issue is where do we go from here And please note that I am not suggesting that in all instances the inequity is so large as to be unconscionable rather just that the inequities do exist are pervasive and need to be addressed If you want to talk about doing something about inequity at least in this one sphere I think what is needed is some major overarching commitment of all the sector s funders government and private and the rest of us to work towards a level playing field however that might ultimately be defined and however it might be best manifested at a local level We need in my opinion a LINC type decade long program a PEW DATA level project but on an even bigger scale that will have as its stated objective to make sure that the have nots in our sector at least have more access to moving to become haves A leveling of the playing field at least in access to the tools and assets that will allow all organizations equal opportunity to be viable arts providers and makers Obviously that kind of effort will take different forms and different directions across different communities No cookie cutter approach will likely be possible or even desirable And yes as alluded to above there are already scores

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012_09_01_archive.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: August 2012
    the stages where classical music was performed 15 Sphinx competitions a successful international youth education and touring program and many accolades later this MacArthur Genius Award winner continues to knock down barriers advocate the embrace of change and blaze a path for young people to reach their potential His inspired and visionary approach has transformed thinking about and shaped the future for the arts and young people everywhere Sandra Gibson Independent Consultant Cora Mirikitani Executive Director Center for Cultural Innovation Former program director at the Irvine Foundation she has been at the forefront of providing direct services for artists for years now and nobody knows more about the issues in that arena than she does Very smart and effective ombudsman for the interests of working artists who knows how to make things happen without a lot of fanfare Maria Lopez De Leon Executive Director National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Long time head of NALAC with community grassroots organizing experience and nominated this year by President Obama to a seat on the National Arts Council overseeing the NEA Her influence will continue to rise as the demographics of the country and the sector change STATE LEADERS Arni Fishbaugh Executive Director Montana Arts Council Executive director of the Montana Arts Council Arlynn Fishbaugh has a someone s doing it why not us attitude that drives innovative programming for Montana Arni s leadership exemplifies the passion she has for the people of her home state with their beautiful western culture and the savvy of a respected arts leader who understands how national opportunities and trends can benefit her constituents She successfully combines strategic thinking with natural collaborative instincts Arni does this all with grace and charm gently bringing legislators governors artists council members and the general public along for a successful ride She is currently chair of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and serves on the Grantmakers in the Arts board of directors She was a past board member of the Association of Arts Presenters and WESTAF Janet Brown Executive Director Grantmakers in the Arts Anita Walker Executive Director Massachusetts Cultural Council Initiatives like the Cultural Facilities Fund and a re tooled program to partner with local arts organizations plus arts education programs like the Creative Minds Initiative and the joint Bank of America Big Yellow School Bus program have helped to solidify her influence in the northeast CITY LEADERS Scott Provancher President Arts and Science Council Charlotte NC Scott Provancher is a path maker and front runner In 2009 when Scott arrived in Charlotte arts giving patterns had already started to shift away from united appeals Then came the economic downturn Undaunted Scott focused energy on creating innovative giving systems that would lure back previous donors and attract new ones He has challenged the cultural sector to think differently about sustainability while also ensuring offerings remain accessible to the community Power2Give an online giving platform already adopted by other cities and states and a new 100 million recapitalization fund are just two examples among many of Provancher ASC ingenuity that are making Charlotte one of the growing arts and culture cities in America Scott thrives on finding the innovative long term solution AND he is a wonderful combination of brilliant hard driving and kind Diane Matarazza Independent Consultant Laura Zucker Executive Director Los Angeles County Arts Commission The penultimate local arts agency leader tough smart able to juggle complex multiple tasks from her Claremont College Arts Administration program to one of the country s largest local arts agencies to her continued work with the Los Angeles schools and she handles it all with consummate professionalism She simply knows how to make things work and she s makes it all look easy Widely respected for running a model agency Gary Steuer Chief Cultural Officer City of Philadelphia He has successfully managed more game changing initiatives over the past few years Business and the Arts pre AFTA take over and the national Arts Marketing Project to name but two than most organization leaders can claim as lifetime accomplishments A thinking man s arts leader with ideas that work Big player on the powerful Philadelphia arts scene with an ever widening national network Michelle Boone Commissioner of the City of Chicago s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Stepping into the shoes vacated by the legendary Lois Weisberg is no easy task but using her skills as a collaborator she is moving to re establish the city as a leader in the arts With a huge network of contacts and fans from her days at the Joyce Foundation she is bringing new energy and vitality to Chicago by facing foursquare the job of making the alignment between the departments of cultural affairs and the former Mayor s special events wings work Named to Chicago Magazine s 100 Most Powerful list this month Roberto Bedoya Executive Director Tucson Pima Arts Council Despite the Herculean challenges of running a mid sized city agency in cash strapped Arizona Bedoya continues to manage to thrive Oft sought out as a Latino leader with a national audience and a well earned reputation as a no nonsense advocate for equity in the arts he continues to be in demand as a speaker panelist advocate and advisor Kate Levin Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs New York City Harvard and Berkeley educated former academician she is the widely respected face of arts in New York She combines elan grace under fire and a command of the intricacies of the arts and politics in Manhattan to navigate the oft times treacherous minefield that the Big Apple can be and she does it very very effectively RESEARCHERS Alan Brown Principal Wolf Brown Alan Brown is one of the leading arts consultants in the United States He works on significant projects in the performing arts on behalf of foundations service organizations and major performing arts organizations ranging from symphony orchestras to presenters to dance companies here and internationally Alan and his research cohorts at Wolf Brown specialize in the quantitative assessment realm and through that have made a spectacular contribution to the field But beyond this specialization Alan has carved out a niche that requires much more than an MBA and a good set of quantitative tools Alan s frameworks and typologies show a deep understanding of the cultural sector and audiences that is unmatched In our work together on the typologies of arts donors the Wolf Brown team created characterizations of arts donors and participants that are nuanced and insightful and have resonated with countless arts leaders At times Alan s research is ahead of the field Arts organizations might not want to hear how much the participant wants to be the center of the performance And Alan knows both sides of this quandary and can also ask the questions about virtuosity He has been there Alan was at one time a vocal performer and a presenter He contributes greatly to our field through his ardent pursuit of marketing trends and data Most of all Alan pushes our analysis one step further at each turn A consummate professional he is a pleasure to call a colleague Marcy Hinand Principal Helicon Collaborative Randy Cohen Vice President Research and Policy Americans for the Arts The king of economic raw data collection increasingly on the road with an ever widening sphere of influence and network of friends and supporters Tireless and compelling speaker and defender of the arts He is increasingly recognized for his ability to see where things are headed and what opportunities are opening up for the field If case making has a point man he s it Sunil Iyengar Director Office of Research and Analysis National Endowment for the Arts Since his arrival at the NEA in 2006 he has re defined and invigorated the agency s research efforts A former reporter and editor with an investigative journalist s soul the Endowment has produced over 20 research publications under his tenure and more importantly begun to fund independent research done by credible third party institutions After years of predictable and limited focus on all the questions attendant to arts research the nascent arts data collection and research industry is getting a big boost under his stewardship as he helps to fashion a new and expanded era in arts research and analysis CONSULTANTS Holly Sidford Principal Helicon Collaborative Adam Huttler Holly Sidford s impact on our field can hardly be overstated Over the past three decades she has directed the arts programs of several national and regional funders created a major arts service initiative LINC and is today one of the most sought after consultants in the sector Last year she produced Fusing Art Culture and Social Change a groundbreaking study that confronted arts funders with evidence that their grantmaking was drastically out of step with larger patterns of cultural participation and demographic change Few are as willing to speak truth to power but Holly s sometimes brutal honesty is matched by her keen intelligence and intimidating track record making her impossible to ignore Adam Huttler Executive Director Fractured Atlas Russell Willis Taylor President and CEO National Arts Strategies Under Taylor s leadership NAS has developed and manages some of the most heralded and far reaching leadership initiatives in the industry Just when she seems to be winding down NAS comes up with another exemplary and acclaimed project that vaults them back into the limelight NAS denies it is a consulting service and only works with funders to create custom leadership programs for states and large cities with service organizations to create custom programs for their memberships and with large cultural institutions to create custom programs for an institution As such it one of the most highly successful consultants to the field DISCIPLINE ORGANIZATION LEADERS DANCE Trey McIntyre John Michael Schert Artistic Director Executive Director Trey McIntyre Project John Michael is a gifted and talented principal ballet dancer who also happens to be an extraordinary administrator in partnership with Trey McIntyre Together they have given example to how to build a strong effective organization in a venue other than a major urban area and in the process have redefined how to fundraise market develop a brand and most importantly work with a local community That John Michael can juggle both the demands of being an artist and those of being an administrator is nothing short of amazing and when and if he decides to pursue full bore the administrator role he will be in great demand across the sector He has made the Trey McIntyre dance project the posterboy of successful community involvement Able to put the same focus into arts management as he does with dance Schert is a very dedicated driven and smart individual with a big future in the world of dance organizations and the wider arts field Barry Hessenius MUSIC Jesse Rosen President and CEO League of American Orchestras Mr Rosen has made the League one of the stand out national arts service provider organizations and fashioned it to be involved in all aspects of support for its members Not the easiest group in the sector to bring together on either theory or practice his 2011national conference speech to the League was a brutally honest assessment that won him respect from even his detractors and it also won him attention from beyond the orchestra sub set MUSEUMS Nina Simon Executive Director Santa Cruz Museum of Art History Nina is heralded across the country for her innovative museum management style and collaborative community outreach efforts Author of The Participatory Museum and her widely read and influential blog Museum 2 0 she has brought financial stability and public interest to the Santa Cruz Museum of Arts and History and won high praise across the sector for her calculated risk taking to make the museum more responsive to and part of the local community and for pioneering ways to make cultural institutions more relevant and essential One of the future leaders in the field to watch THEATER Clay Lord Director of Communications and Audience Development Theatre Bay Area Theatre Bay Area is a model service provider organization in the greater San Francisco area with comprehensive programs and a wide variety of services to its members Clay gained considerable attention this year with the release of his edited compilation work Counting New Beans a report on two years of intrinsic impact research including essays and interviews with a host of theatre practitioners examining the ways theatre artists administrators patrons and funders value and evaluate the art they make and consume His blog New Beans is gaining audience and acclaim BLOGGERS Ian David Moss Createquity Since 2007 Ian David Moss has applied a thorough and lively intelligence to arts blogging not so much occupying a niche as creating one Ian is thoughtful and unafraid to ask questions He brings wide ranging data to bear on critical questions facing artists and arts organizations sharing insights from philanthropy economics and other realms often sequestered from the arts Articulate erudite reflective I could easily fill my word quota with synonyms for good without ever resorting to hyperbole Ian and I often disagree I challenge him for believing so deeply in the value of quantification and he challenges me for undervaluing it That never stops me from finding his work deeply interesting and useful Congratulations Ian Long may you blog Arlene Goldbard Arlene s Blog Diane Ragsdale Jumper Former program staffer at the Andrew Mellon Foundation current Ph d candidate her blog Jumper is one of the most widely read and respected blogs in the field Championing the artist and the role of the arts organization to support the artist she asks the tough questions and is not easily intimidated or turned off by those who pretend to know more but really know far less about the issues than she does Smart and thoughtful she makes people think Whether or not she is comfortable with the designation she is influential and powerful Like others in the blogger category she is pushing the envelope in pursuit of national arts policies Arlene Goldbard Arlene s Blog The conscience of the blogging field Arlene wears her heart on her sleeve and that endears her to her legions of fans across the sector No one is more passionate more informed and more willing to take on the windmills than she is A beautiful writer she is in great demand as a speaker and consultant James Undercofler State of the Art Professor of Arts Administration in the Arts and Entertainment Enterprise Department of Drexel s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design Former President and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra Dean and Professor of Music Education at the Eastman School of Music Executive and Founding Director of the Perpich Center for Arts Education formerly known as the Minnesota Center for Arts Education and Director of the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven Connecticut whew his resume alone is impressive Undercofler is the erudite intelligent champion of the burgeoning field of entrepreneurism and the nonprofit arts His thoughts and analysis on arts administration are incredibly keen and insightful and he has the ability to take complex issues and make them easily understandable Doug McClennan Editor Arts Journal Arts Journal is simply THE most important compendium of arts related media coverage available anywhere in the field Doug is one of those universally liked and respected people whose only real axe to grind is that he wants Arts Journal to be the most it can be for the field It is no accident AJ is home to many of the most widely read blogs in the industry The go to website for arts coverage and no one knows that field better than he does Thomas Cott You ve Cott Mail Director of Marketing at the Alvin Ailey Dance Company Like McClennan Cott is a curator of arts coverage His forte is organizing current coverage on specific themes and his blog is widely read because of the convenience it provides in amassing various perspectives on important issues Cott does the work for us and when he picks a topic people take note of and focus on what he has gathered More influential in determining people s thinking than he might imagine ARTS EDUCATION Sandra Ruppert Director Arts Education Partnership Since her appointment to the Director position at the Arts Education Partnership AEP in 2008 Sandra has overseen among other things a major organizational strategic planning process and the development and launch of ArtsEdSearch the first research and policy clearinghouse focused entirely on student and educator outcomes associated with in school and out of school arts education She brings a clear and practical eye to the organization s mission to secure a high quality arts education for every young person in America and has a knack for building partnerships across key sectors to address the overarching issues facing the provision of accessible and equitable arts education She does so with a sense of humor a keen understanding of the field and a steady hand Julie Fry Program Officer Performing Arts Program Hewlett Foundation Arnie Aprill Founding and Creative Director Chicago Arts Partnership in Education Aprill comes from a background in professional theater as an award winning director producer and playwright He has taught at the University of Chicago Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Add Fulbright Scholar to the list Increasingly recognized as a creative force in the arts education field and one of its truly effective public speakers and advocates On the rise Julie Fry Program Officer Performing Arts Program Hewlett Foundation While she oversees and directs a mixed portfolio of grant making at Hewlett her focus is on Arts Education and she has become one of the most knowledgable people in the sector on the issues attendant to all the challenges Sought out for her advice and counsel she is a frequent co host collaborator panelist speaker and convener Highly respected for her insights and attention to detail Eric Booth Actor businessman author teacher expert speaker consultant Simply one of the best thinkers in the entire field on arts education When he talks people listen His analysis carries weight with decision makers public officials and the media He is particularly influential in the Orchestra world Sir Ken Robinson Author lecturer Widely known and familiar to the mainstream he continues to be arts education s most public champion His 2006 speech Why Schools Kill Creativity is the most watched TED Talk of all time and has been seen on the internet an estimated 30 million times A frequent speaker at conferences across the globe he is often quoted and is as responsible as Richard Florida for valuing creativity for the future Sarah Cunningham With a strong academic background and by virtue of her status as the point person at the Endowment for Arts Education and Literature she is at the center of all the efforts across the country in the arts education arena FOUNDATIONS Regina Smith Senior Program Officer Arts and Culture The Kresge Foundation Regina manages a national portfolio of arts and culture grantees and she was influential in expanding Kresge Foundation s funding strategies to focus on institutional capitalization arts and community building and artists skills and resources In addition she has served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Grantmakers in the Arts since 2010 where she has prioritized national conversations on capitalization and financial health social justice and equity arts education and arts and aging A thoughtful and experienced leader Regina has worked in the arts field for more than two decades at a variety of arts organizations and funding agencies John McGuirk Program Director Performing Arts Program Hewlett Foundation Dennis Scholl Vice President Arts The Knight Foundation Collector Philanthropist Emmy winning documentarian Harvard fellow Scholl is responsible for some of the funding world s best known and loved out of the box projects including Random Acts of Culture He is comfortable with risk taking to a degree most are not and he understands the importance of moving towards new ways of addressing old problems His eight city core funding community gives him local clout and national perspective and his close working ties with Rocco at the Endowment have increased his visibility beyond the arts Ben Cameron Program Director Arts Doris Duke Charitable Foundations To call Ben articulate and well spoken is to understate considerably his oratory skills Somewhere there is a law that says if you want to get the best keynoter for your conference or the best writer for the introduction to your book call Cameron But his public speaking talents often overshadow his considerable skills in the design of innovative and effective programs to move the field forward and his real contributions lie in his recognition and support for some extraordinary programs from the Emc Arts Innovation Lab to his work in supporting jazz dance theater and multidisciplinary projects John McGuirk Program Director Performing Arts Program Hewlett Foundation The Hewlett program is now his and his imprint is all over their revamped goals objectives strategies and direction He is simply the most powerful funder not just in California but on the west coast His GIA Board seat is but one of the means for his expanding influence across the sector Olive Mosier Director Arts and Culture William Penn Foundation Active with GIA involved in the design of the Pew Cultural Data Project on Philadelphia Mayor Nutter s Cultural Advisory Council and with Penn for over a decade she is one of the sector s most senior leaders Though Penn theoretically eschews national arts funding projects with a major increase in the foundation s assets and a new strategy emphasizing marrying data with street smarts the projects Penn funds have national application and impact and other funders look to what she is doing Justin Laing Program Officer Arts and Culture The Heinz Endowments Laing s area of expertise is small to mid sized arts organizations and in culturally responsive arts education but where he is gaining influence and cachet is in carving out for himself expertise and ideas in the equity and social justice areas of arts funding and support GIA Board member with growing capital POLICY WONKS Steven Tepper Associate Director of the Curb Center for Art Enterprise and Public Policy Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University The number of cultural policy experts in the United States has never been large and over the years that field has drawn heavily on the academic world for leadership Steven Tepper is one of our leading cultural policy experts from the world of academe Steven who holds a master s degree in public policy from Harvard University s John F Kennedy School of Government and a Ph D in sociology from Princeton University has the formal education needed to underpin his work and a strong track record of highly credible research In a world flooded with research driven too much by advocacy and not enough by accuracy Steven and his writing are influential because his work is both timely and excellent In addition to his research and teaching Steven has also served as a consultant to arts administration practitioners That endeavor combined with his exemplary research make him a person of considerable influence in our field Anthony Radich Executive Director WESTAF Maria Rosario Jackson Director of Culture Creativity and Communities Program Urban Institute One of the key thinkers in the area of arts and community and probably an unintentional and unheralded silent author of the concept and design of the whole arts placemaking theory She is smart and people know it Adrian Ellis Director of AEA Consulting Previously Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center foundation head Oxford lecturer and conference organizer Ellis is one of the go to policy wonks in the sector with a global perspective Highly respected and sought out Barbara Schaffer Bacon Co Director Animating Democracy Americans for the Arts Prior to her stint at the Ford Foundation funded Animating Democracy project she served as executive director of the Arts Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts one of the original arts training programs in the field If the arts actually had its own Think Tank she would be a charter member Ann Markusen Markusen Economic Research Services Anne Gadwa Metris Arts Consulting Markusen s resume is an astounding list of positions at some of the most prestigious universities in the country Expert in economic planning and research She is one of the most highly regarded academicians in the field Her list of publications is too long to begin to list Anne Gadwa Nicodemus Markusen s frequent collaborator is a dancer art administrator turned planner Together they are the architects of the Placemaking program of the Endowment powerful and influential imagineers of the future and they are adroit at selling their visions Posted by Barry at 7 40 PM 14 comments Sunday August 19 2012 Setting as a variable in the greater arts debates Good morning And the beat goes on On the heel of last month s release of Set In Stone Buidling America s New Generation of Arts Facilities a massive study from the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago comes a new report All the World s A Stage Venues and Settings and the Role they Play in Shaping Pattens of Arts Participation authored by Alan Brown an excellent beginning analysis and discussion of the role of setting in attracting audiences and how artists work Set In Stone indirectly called into question the wisdom of the boom in cultural facilities building of the past decade The supply of cultural facilities may have exceeded the demand for them and alluded to issues of having directed so much funding into a significant uptake in building more facilities The underlying question is If you built it will they still come And the answer is anything but simple or even yet established Alan Brown s Abstract begins this serious discussion of setting where art is staged performed seen and accessed and the increase in the importance consumers are attaching to it Among the subtlest but most important shifts in patterns of cultural participation is the increased importance and meaning that consumers attach to the settings in which they engage in creative activities Future generations will not ascribe the same importance to permanent venues with fixed seating and fixed staging In order to remain relevant arts presenters and producers must radically re conceptualize the relationships between their programs and their spaces in order to reach younger and more diverse audiences Alan s report embodies several important themes that have been at the center of recent separate discussion threads going on elsewhere in our sector These issues are core to much of the decision making we will need to undergo in the near term on a whole host of issues First DEMOCRATIZING CULTURE As Alan suggests First class purpose built arts venues tend to be found in larger cities and towns with a strong philanthropic base As the American population continues to diversify both ethnically and geographically an inevitable shift in policy towards democratizing culture will almost certainly result in a re allocation of resources to organizations programs and venues outside of the major cultural center Thought provoking reports tend to raise as many questions as they answer And this is no exception One question then is to what extent those demographic changes and that reallocation of resources will change the facilities landscape both that which exists and that which we might build for the future Would an ethnic power shift result in favoring differing kinds of settings for the arts ones less euro centric What would be the impact of that kind of change on the existing urban suburban facilities infrastructure in terms of demand and patronage What are the new kinds of facilities that might emerge as options in response to wholesale kinds of changes that such democratization might create How do we go about trying to envision what those options might look like What kinds of research would be informative in such an inquiry What about geographic movements in sub populations and potential future migration patterns both those brought about by opportunity jobs housing education and those dictated by circumstances beyond one s control weather etc As population shifts respond to job and housing markets income fluctuations education opportunities urban flight and embrace and the vagaries of time work and life demands and pressures setting becomes a function of what works for various sub strata populations in practical terms or more likely what is even possible In that sense the arts as housed in fixed facilities may become less not more accessible As Alan intimates that may work against the fixed place facility Indeed he postulates correctly I think that The larger problem with the infrastructure of arts facilities is that it is fixed and slow to change while culture is changing more and more rapidly As democratization of culture gathers momentum there will be all kinds of consequences including impacts to the infrastructure What will that mean for the future of those built facilities Second EQUITY Within the above issue is the question of equity While considerable money and energy went into the cultural facilities building boom of the past fifteen years it seemingly benefited larger arts organizations with bigger budgets and was concentrated in performing arts centers more often than not located so as to appeal to a white mainstream audiences interested in established cultural art forms Whatever the future of cultural facilities building in America there will be increasing pressure to address the issue of a level playing field wherein all segments of the cultural community have at least some options available to them as to realizing their goals for facilities development or if you prefer in a larger context dissemination by whatever means of the art Moreover as the arts move increasingly to digitization of content and the myriad ways art can be disseminated and accessed how will the sector deal with the current and ongoing inequity A case in point is the success of the Met in bringing opera to a wider audience by programming for movie theaters around the country As Alan states In 2011 over 2 million people worldwide attended the Metropolitan Opera s high definition broadcasts in local movie theaters The Met s cinema patrons enjoy a good social dynamic they applaud together and mingle and often comment about the excellent visual experience Digital experiences as they gain in quality and selection will be seen as an inexpensive and attractive alternative to live performance especially when the setting affords more social benefits and creature comforts than are available in theaters and concert halls In 20 or 30 years it is quite possible that millions of people around the globe will be going to movie theaters to watch high quality digital broadcasts of the best opera dance classical music stage plays and musicals in the world for a fraction of the price of a ticket to a live performance While this would be a fantastic outcome in terms of increasing public participation in the arts it could also divert demand away from live programs The opposite may also be true broadcasting arts programs into cinemas may in fact fuel demand for live programs Regardless arts groups have a limited window of time to integrate digital content into their programs and facilities or risk foregoing significant opportunities to develop new What do communities need from their cultural facilities Cultural audiences and regenerate interest in their art forms The fact is that while the Met and perhaps a few other large organizations can afford to mount such an effort in cooperation with the nation s movie theaters by far the vast majority of arts organizations cannot Someday maybe the cost of being able to entertain bold new approaches will shrink so that everyone can play but maybe not and at best it will take some money to accomplish What that does right now is make for a continued uneven playing field and an inequity in which the large and wealthy organizations will continue to dominate the limited opportunities Equity in the access to built settings has been and continues to be an issue Third ACCESS itself is yet another issue that crops up in the debate on settings related to equity and changing technology As I have long thought and Alan observes in wondering why people will attend one venue but not another The reasons are complex often relating to cost mobility accessibility convenience cultural relevance and expected social norms How do such simple equations as the price of gasoline the number of miles away from a facility someone is and the hours in a day all play on fixed facilities located far from the shifting population in locations that may seem remote foreign and uncomfortable socially to shifting demographic audiences On a larger plane equity has to do with access to funds access to political power and access to public opinion both to build and to manage facilities Fourth SELF CURATION We have been talking for some time about the challenge of the public enabled by technology increasingly taking to curating their own arts experiences on their own timetables and terms Indeed the whole of the technological revolution has not only given people more choices as to everything but has established in their minds a sense of entitlement to having choices of what where when and under circumstances of their own dictation Nowhere is this sense of having it my way as a right more centered than in the younger generations What does that bode for the future for us Alan borrows the term audience sovereignty from Lynne Conner to characterize the authority that audiences want over their arts experiences Elements of that authority include audience choice in when to get up when to get a drink when to talk all of which are available in the theater of the home The question for us is as the home experience improves and as the benefits it offers in terms of an improved socialization environment and as audiences continue to at least subliminally prioritize the advantages of that experience what does that mean for the built environment of existing and future cultural facilities What are the various scenarios that might play out in the coming years and how can we cope with the possible outcomes A critical variable in the curation debate is the differences still existing in generational attitudes about setting Alan suggests the younger generation may feel that older established venues are your grandfather s experience preferences and are rejected because of that connection Clearly there are generational differences in attitudes towards settings But the same might have been said about Boomers rebellious in their youth rejecting of parental cultural norms who now arguably constitute the majority of those who patronize the built cultural facilities Are we not wise to be cautious in racing to embrace some new notion of what will be the norm in the future False assumptions may have gotten us to a precarious point whereby we spent treasure and more on a plan of action that now may turn out in the long term to have been a calculated mistake of judgement Perhaps we need to be a bit more cautious as we move forward It is the individual curator not the arts administration field nor even the artist who is likely to control how this all plays out Fifth Alan raises the issue of ARTISTS AS CURATORS OF SETTING suggesting What seems to be changing though is an increased desire among artists whatever their medium to control the settings in which their work is experienced and to afford audiences greater purview over their experiences Artists motivations to work in settings of their own design can be understood both in

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012_08_01_archive.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: July 2012
    we ve found that often the best answers to problems and the most innovative ideas come from within a community We as a foundation don t think we have all the answers and all the ideas We don t want to be prescriptive So whether it s in media innovation or in the arts we ve decided to tap the power of the crowd for new ideas When we ask the community that simple question what s your best idea for the arts people find it empowering It engages them more in thinking about their cultural community and about themselves as a creative person We did the same when we worked with the NEA on looking for new models for strengthening arts journalism we posed the question to communities about what they thought was the best way forward We re never disappointed with the responses BARRY As a follow up to the first question many foundations have expanded their efforts in working with local communities by partnering with community foundations in localized re granting programs What is your assessment of this trend where might it be refined and improved and what do your think are the measurable impacts that justify it DENNIS Knight works with community foundations in the 26 communities where we invest because we ve found they are valuable partners who have their finger on the pulse of the community In the arts though our funding is concentrated in just eight of those communities where we actually have resident program directors Each of them are community leaders themselves and work with us to seek out the most interesting forward thinking cultural grantees We also have a Knight National Art Advisory Committee comprised of Mitchell Kahan Director and Chief Executive Officer Akron Art Museum Scott Provancher President Arts Science Council in Charlotte Aaron Dworkin Founder and President Sphinx Organization in Detroit Yolanda Y O Latimore Founder and Artistic Director Poetic Peace Arts in Macon Silvia Karman Cubiñá Executive Director and Chief Curator Bass Museum of Art in Miami Gary P Steuer Chief Cultural Officer City of Philadelphia Laura Zabel Executive Director Springboard for the Arts in St Paul Anjee Helstrup Alvarez Executive Director MACLA Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana in San Jose and Damian Woetzel Jerome Robbins Foundation New Essential Works Program Director Vail International Dance Festival Director They are all art innovators both at a community and national level We don t hesitate to call on them when we are looking at projects where they have geographic or discipline expertise The national arts team also spends a lot of time on the ground in each community looking at the cultural ecosystem As an example we have had excellent success in Charlotte working with the Arts and Science Council on a regranting program Our experience has been that designated local arts agencies are the best pipeline for this kind of effort They re used to working with outside funders and have convening power in their communities along with the ability to identify and drive collaborative opportunities The digital revolution allows good ideas to spread rapidly and arts organizations have been quick to try projects like Community Supported Art a great project that started in St Paul based on the farm share Community Supported Agriculture model Instead of vegetables residents buy boxes of locally made art So far 25 cities have picked it up BARRY Many foundations are restricted in their charters to local territorial investment Knight focuses on eight principal communities in its arts funding a fairly representative national sampling To what extent do you think in terms of what national impact your localized funding will have across the sector and or the replicability of projects to address sector wide issues DENNIS It is rewarding to see a project take off like Random Acts of Culture where we took performing artists out of the symphony hall and into shopping malls airports and farmers markets to do spontaneous surprise performances While we launched it in the eight Knight resident cities it has been replicated thousands of times not just nationally but internationally by people who have watched one of our videos and decided to independently produce their own We just completed our 935th Random Acts of Culture We ve also received over 10 million views on the web Similarly our efforts to expand St Paul s Community Supported Arts CSA program into the eight communities and Power2Give P2G from Charlotte to Miami has spawned numerous additional sites outside the Knight communities We have had a number of other funders look at our localized funding initiatives and launch them in their own communities We encourage this and are always available to help accomplish these expansions The digital revolution allows good ideas to spread rapidly and arts organizations have been quick to try projects like CSA and P2G BARRY In a general sense what do you think are the most important issues facing the arts philanthropic community and what is your assessment of how we are addressing those challenges What are we doing right and where are we falling short What areas do you think ought to be prioritized in terms of our national foundational goals What do you think about the idea and the feasibility of creating a national arts funder policy statement to guide arts philanthropy priorities DENNIS Wow Barry big question But the one issue that I spend a lot of time on is how to catch up with the arts audience that more and more is defined by individuals seeking to curate their own experience and move away from traditional presentation models Both arts organizations and we as funders may have been a bit slow to react to this seismic drift in audiences Take a look at Sunil Iyengar s NEA study Participation 2 0 for some of the facts that make up this sobering reality I do see a grand awakening by arts organizations to these trends but I believe that we all need to make these audience engagement issues an urgent priority in our programmatic strategic and funding efforts We at Knight also feel particularly strongly about the digital revolution and what it means to our current and future consumption of culture As a foundation founded on quality journalism we have seen that industry decimated due to being slow to react to this profound change in the industry Frankly I see many parallels to this in the arts field Too many arts websites provide the user with only opening hours and location with no content that enhances the onsite programming or allows the user to learn about the programming prior to or after attending Arts groups need to have an integrated digital and mobile strategy for reaching their audience In this day and age it can t be an afterthought Your question regarding a national arts funder policy statement is an interesting one Each arts funder has its own mission and while a national dialogue among us is always necessary and the GIA and AFTA in particular do a wonderful job providing a platform for those discussions we at Knight tend to prefer an entrepreneurial risk capital approach which hopefully yields successful models that can then be replicated That being said there is one area that I believe we can all agree on and work toward that is the issue of a sustainability model for arts and culture in America I ve given a synopsis of a new project in this area in the response to question 5 below BARRY Along the lines of the above question what do you think the overall role of foundational arts funding is or should be Do you for example have any specific thoughts you might like to share with respect to supporting programs in arts and aging arts education arts and social justice or support for individual artists What role do you think the nation s arts foundation funders ought to take with respect to such issues as advocacy and public policy professional development for our arts administrators and managers or the issue of equity in funding DENNIS I m so glad you asked me to comment on policy issues I just finished a semester up in Cambridge as a 2012 Harvard University Advanced Leadership Fellow continuing to work on community engagement through culture One of the most exciting projects I ve encountered in the national arts policy area is called the Initiative for Sustainable Arts in America ISAA It is led by Jim Bildner out of the Hauser Center for Non Profits in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government ISAA is launching this year with the stated goal of creating a grassroots movement to establish a national arts policy It also asks communities to take increased responsibility for supporting their cultural assets The project will begin by assessing the cultural assets of six communities across America Boston Detroit Los Angeles Miami Minneapolis St Paul and Philadelphia along with initiating a community and national dialogue about the misalignment of community appreciation for cultural assets and the limited personal and philanthropic donor pool I m enthusiastic about the prospects for this project It s an idea whose time has come in America Stay tuned as Jim and I hope to present this project at the Grantmakers in the Arts National Convention in Miami this coming October BARRY A growing trend in arts funding is for various disparate parts of our sector s grant makers public and private to collaborate and work together How is Knight working to foster more joint efforts and partnerships How might the full range of arts funders collaboration be moved forward given the obstacles and barriers DENNIS For me the most exciting examples of public private collaboration out there right now have come from the willingness of the National Endowment for the Arts to reach out and work with so many private funders ArtPlace is the leading example of that ArtPlace was created by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman is led by Carol Coletta and housed at the NonProfit Financial Fund ArtPlace is a consortium of the dozen largest arts funders in America collaborating with five banks from the private sector and Cabinet level participants from HUD HHS Agriculture Education Domestic Policy and others The goal of ArtPlace is to encourage creative placemaking by searching for arts led vibrancy in communities and funding that momentum I am fortunate to serve as the founding chair of the executive committee and operating committee of ArtPlace Rocco and Carol s efforts have raised close to 40 million to date and so far over two rounds we ve given out 26 4 million to 83 projects You can see a list at artplaceamerica org The opportunity to work hand in hand with my colleagues at Ford Rockefeller Kresge Irvine and others along with the bankers and the federal agency has expanded how we all look at integrating the arts into the growth and development of our communities BARRY Engagement is the current hot topic buzz word in audience development What is your take on that dialogue and trend DENNIS Engagement is the raison d etre of the arts We must continue to try and find ways to reach audiences especially as they have so many choices Today s audiences want a multi media experience and want to participate in the artistic experience BARRY What kinds of research do you think the field needs to pay more attention to and why DENNIS We ve made an investment in the Cultural Data Project in St Paul That continues to show promise as being a long term solution to the existing data gap in our field The NEA under Sunil Iyengar s leadership remains a thoughtful generator of incredibly useful research especially in the area of audience participation My colleague at Knight Foundation Mayur Patel continues to push us to experiment with finding new addressable metrics and to seek new ways to use the data we receive from the crowd sourced ideas contests We need data to support our contention as a field that the arts play a significant role in the social and economic vitality of their communities As my AFTA colleague Randy Cohen just wrote Without the data you re just another person with an opinion BARRY You have both a journalistic photographic and museum background and an enviable eclectic resume prior to your joining Knight What have you learned so far at your post What do you want to talk about the most when you meet other leaders in the field DENNIS When asked about my eclectic resume I just explain that I have a short attention span I think the biggest learning for me since coming to Knight has been that the tools I used as a venture capitalist looking at funding and operating startups don t all apply as a philanthropist funding arts grantees People in the arts field are fiercely passionate and have given up a lot on a personal level to make art and participate in the cultural community So my approach to decision making and communication has had to evolve to acknowledge and respect that passion I ve been involved in the arts for decades but these last three years has been an immersive experience It s like drinking from a fire hose every day I feel that coming from outside the field has allowed me to try some things that might be a little out of the box and to make some grants to artists and organizations that are not necessarily traditional arts grantees All great arts ideas don t originate inside the 501c3 structure I think that opening the granting process to everyone in a community in essence crowdsourcing the best ideas has brought many more people under the arts tent in our communities We ve received close to 10 000 ideas for the Knight Arts Challenge in Miami and Philadelphia I know this to be true because I ve read each and every one of them over the last four years That sense of openness seeking diverse opinions but still focusing on artistic excellence is the hallmark of what we try to do at Knight Foundation BARRY Rocco Landesman has made great strides in putting the arts on the agenda of other federal agencies in cooperative and collaborative partnerships with the NEA Do you see any role for arts foundation programs reaching out on both the federal and state levels in this kind of effort How might that work DENNIS I can t say enough about Rocco and how he has totally changed the game Instead of viewing the NEA as a distribution committee he has put them out there as a convener collaborator and changemaker He has expanded the arts funding pie and aligned the arts with all arms of the federal government His senior team especially Joan Shigekawa and Jamie Bennett are also true thought leaders in the field We recently collaborated with them on the NEA Knight Community Arts Journalism Challenge where we invited the eight Knight resident communities to give us their new ideas for arts journalism in the digital age We received hundreds of responses and announced three new collaborative models for arts journalism in Charlotte Detroit and Philadelphia which are already underway and producing new reviews features and news stories We are also excited that the NEA will take the program national this year and Knight will continue to support by matching successful community arts journalism ideas that receive NEA funding in the Knight communities BARRY Thanks Dennis for your thoughts DENNIS Thank you Barry for allowing me to share some of the ideas the Knight Foundation arts program is funding Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 12 28 PM 2 comments Sunday July 8 2012 How Long Can This Go On Good morning And the beat goes on Here We Go Again This in on Friday from Betty Plumb of the South Carolina Arts Alliance Governor Haley has issued her vetoes to the state budget eliminating state funding to the Arts Commission 1 937 598 with Veto 1 and the additional one time funding of 500 000 for grants in Veto 21 funding that was approved in the balanced budget submitted by the General Assembly in June Until the vetoes are resolved the Governor s veto puts the Arts Commission in limbo with NO authorization to expend ANY funds including federal monies from the National Endowment for the Arts therefore leaving the agency unable to operate It will take a super majority to override the vetoes 2 3rd of the House and then 2 3rd of the Senate Once again the arts are Sisyphus pushing the rock mindlessly up the hill To be sure we can take some satisfaction that in most of these battles we survive Kansas last year and its re emergence this year But we do not survive unscathed These endless fights take a toll they impact psyche and momentum and demand huge efforts of time and energy that ought to be spent doing other things Camus says we Must imagine Sisyphus happy but it is getting hard to take much solace out of these victories that kill us a little each time If anyone can successfully rally the troops and yet again beat back the forces who simply do not understand the value of the arts it is Betty Plumb and I wish her every success in the coming weeks A 2 3 vote in both chambers will not be easy That this fight has to even be fought is a tragedy What strikes me yet again is that despite all the stories we tell despite all the data and research and the numbers which confirm our economic benefit despite the evidence of how we build bridges despite all our case making and our place making all our phone calls and emails all our entreaties despite all our fighting endless battles this still happens

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012_07_01_archive.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: June 2012
    I sense the beginning of some critical thinking on their part to work towards avoiding the isolation that may come from being the beneficiaries victims of a special designation I hope that we can begin in earnest to consider ways to continue to provide service to this cohort while simultaneously finding ways to integrate and more successfully involve them in the mainstream of who we are I don t think we can afford too vivisectionist an approach to any one sub sector of the field a field where are organizations are already divided into numerous classifications based on discipline geography and function I wouldn t want to see our leadership similarly divided NEA and Research Kudos to the Endowment for announcing its first ever grant awards for Arts research 250 000 went to 15 research projects exploring according to the agency three different areas the impact of the arts on local and or national economic development the health and viability of arts and cultural organizations the links between arts engagement and cognitive social civic and behavioral outcomes The scope and depth of these projects is impressive as is the diversity of the sponsoring grantees This on top of last November s announcement that the Endowment had formed a Federal Interagency Task Force to Promote Research on the Arts and Human Development That new cooperative effort is designed to host a series of quarterly webinars on compelling research and practices coordinate the distribution of information about funding opportunities for researchers and providers of the arts health and education across the lifespan conduct or commission a gap analysis and literature review of federally sponsored research on the arts and human development identify and leverage joint research funding opportunities across agencies host a convening with researchers and practitioners for professional development and capacity building in the field of arts and human development Sometime back I had called for a national summit meeting that would focus on development of a national policy on arts research Doubtless the efforts of the NEA were in the pipeline long before that clarion call and I am very pleased that the agency is stepping forward to take a national leadership position in this critical arena I hope at some point they can meld their efforts goals and policy thinking into a cohesive whole that will also encompass research undertaken by scores of arts organizations consultants municipalities and foundations and we can end up with a written national policy in this area that can intelligently guide our efforts methodologies results and evaluations subject of course to periodic changes and updating An excellent beginning and in my opinion a major accomplishment for Rocco and the team Well done Have a good week Don t Quit Barry NOTE Two Comments along with my reply to one were inadvertently deleted and including them here at the bottom of the original entry seems the only way I can reinstate them Posted by Charles I appreciate these thoughts on the Emerging Leader movement As an emerging leader and member of the Emerging Leader Council I agree that the movement can sometimes feel a little provincial and separate from the rest of the field and this can be a disservice to emerging leaders More integration with the field as a whole should be an essential part of the emerging leader ethos and I think we re in agreement on this as a both and scenario rather than an either or model Too much separation of emerging leaders from what would we call the others leaders cultivates a sense of preciousness about my colleagues I am eager for the moment when people stop expressing surprise or happiness that we are smart talented and valuable At the end of the day whether we are emerging or established we are simply leaders Yet no one lauds our established colleagues as smart talented or valuable The implication is of course that all established leaders are assumed to have these qualities and so they need no special mention While the emerging leader movement has provided an essential opportunity for national and local professional development networking and education for emerging leaders I worry it also also reinforced the chasm that previously existed I would welcome more discussion on how to bridge this gap together Posted Anonymously Perhaps part of your problem in feeling like the Emerging Leaders are siloed is that you don t even seem clear on what the Emerging Leaders Network is You refer to EL s as field a niche a movement and a special interest sub section of the wider field EL s are indeed already a part of the field They work right alongside you and other established leaders Yes we have professional development and networking opportunities that cater to our own interests and needs but usually in a way that helps us advance in the field not as some sub section of the field For instance last year through the Emerging Leaders Network I participated in a wonderful year long mentoring program with a senior leader in the field Next week I will be attending a panel discussion led by top executives in our field about what recruiters are looking for in senior leadership positions Through the Emerging Leader Network I have had the opportunity to network with and learn from my colleagues whether they are senior leaders or emerging ones like myself Or perhaps you are confused about the Emerging Leaders Network because you think that it is occupied by youth I am still confused by the title Youth in the Arts as a report about emerging leaders While I might be youthful compared to some of my most senior colleagues as a 30 something I hardly qualify as a youth I find these types of reports and discussions condescending at best While I agree with you that we have room for improving relationships between generations in our workplace and we definitely need to still figure how to offer livable wages and advancement opportunities for entry to mid career professionals in our field I think that you have grossly misstated that the biggest problem facing the Emerging Leaders Network is their own silo Perhaps you should volunteer as a panelist or mentor at a network in your area to see what s really happening with this silo niche field movement special interest sub section My response to Anonymous You seem angry You of course have every right to your opinion as do I to mine but this would seem to me less of an ad hominem attack were you to bear in mind that your point of view is simply an opinion not fact not the gospel but what you think One would hope you would be open enough to allow other people to offer their opinion too I would have more respect for your opinion were you to have submitted this comment under your name rather than hiding behind the cloak of anonymity and dear readers while I am publishing this comment as I wish to respond in the future as a policy I will not publish anonymous comments If you have something to say even if that something is highly critical of what I might say I will always publish the comment but only if you are willing to own it as your thinking Moreover charging me with having a problem is really quite offensive and doesn t speak very highly as to your people or diplomatic skills Your problem is that you are an intellectual bully you want to shout the opposition down not with facts but with yelling I would respectfully submit to you that if you really want to have a career in this field you ought to consider toning down your rhetoric and at least criticize in a civil manner That you find well reasoned and intentioned studies that essentially report what your peers say they need and want and tell why in their own words as condescending is frankly ridiculous btw have you ever even read the report Get over yourself already and lose the arrogant attitude No one is your enemy here believe it or not we are trying to help you So to reply to your comment First I understand perfectly what the Emerging Leaders Network is all about I have long supported the effort of not only the Americans for the Arts version of that network but countless local state and regional efforts of scores of other groups within the wider nonprofit arts field I have sat on numerous panels and been involved in meetings and conferences on this subject I will defend my credentials as someone well versed in this area and as someone who has been completely supportive of the effort against yours or anyone else s at any time Of course not having any idea who you are makes it difficult to assess your background and qualifications This blog post was in no way intended as an attack on the Emerging Arts Leader Network nor to disparage or marginalize in any way the value and need for that effort or the hard work done by countless people both young and old in moving it forward Whether you like it or not the whole of that Emerging Arts Leaders effort is a niche a sub section of the larger sector a special interest group There is nothing pejorative about that designation it merely recognizes the reality that there is no one monolithic whole to the nonprofit arts industry We are an amalgam an aggregate of various disparate parts of the whole Established boomer aged senior leaders are likewise a niche and special interest group they are simply not organized formally as Senior Leaders The challenge is that the emerging leaders sub section of the wider arts field while obviously part of that wider field has not yet been fully assimilated into the mainstream of the field s leadership and it is respectfully submitted naive to think that because you work along side the more established leadership that they fully accept you and that you are not in your own niche There existed and still exists a generational problem within our field as to leadership which problem bears on succession issues and virtually every emerging leader I have ever met recognizes that challenge One of the purposes of the emerging leader effort in addition to providing them with a platform networking options and a way to address issues they self identify as important to them is to help that cohort gain wider acceptance and appreciation from the more established leadership so that they may more quickly have decision making opportunities and increased chances to learn and advance The lack of those opportunities was a complaint voiced quite loudly in the focus groups done for my report on Youth in Art and echoed in numerous other studies and btw when that study was undertaken it s title was probably not the best choice for it may have inadvertently implied that only young people qualified for the emerging leader designation my profound apologies This blog was meant to ask whether or not relegating those leaders who are identified as emerging to a specifically entitled grouping is subverting to some small extent the stated goal of advancing the careers of those people It may not be the most important question to ask but it is a legitimate question despite your complaints to the contrary I am not sure why you find that question to be so offensive Finally I never stated that the siloing of emerging leaders was the biggest problem facing the ELN only that I wondered out loud whether or not the designation might be of a disservice to everyone as needless pigeon holing of people Perhaps YOU should read things more carefully before you make specious and unfounded charges And finally again do something to curb your anger See the comment above for a different take by one of your peers Posted by Barry at 3 09 PM No comments Sunday June 10 2012 You Aren t Special or Are You and The Kansas Reinstatement is a Victory But Not Necessarily For Us Good morning And the beat goes on You Are Not Special Unless of course You Are A lot of media buzz this week about Boston high school teacher David McCullough Jr who told graduates You are not special You are not exceptional Across the country no fewer than 3 2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37 000 high schools That s 37 000 valedictorians 37 000 class presidents 92 000 harmonizing altos 340 000 swaggering jocks 2 185 967 pairs of Uggs You see if everyone is special then no one is If everyone gets a trophy trophies become meaningless We have of late we Americans to our detriment come to love accolades more than genuine achievement The fulfilling life the distinctive life the relevant life is an achievement Do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance This raises an interesting conundrum for the nonprofit arts field Should we say the same thing to all the new organizations and perhaps to more than just a few of our existing organizations you are not special not exceptional Merely because you want to start your own organization doesn t mean you automatically deserve and qualify for funding it doesn t mean what you are doing adds anything of substance to the nonprofit arts landscape Clearly public and institutional foundation corporate private funding is not able to support the unbridled growth in the expansion of new arts organizations So should we or are we already in fact saying to all the new organizations you have to survive on your own until such time as you can demonstrably establish that you are unique There are no resources to support you in your embryonic stage OR Are many if not most or all new arts organizations in fact unique special and exceptional despite their growing numbers Do they not have something of value to offer by virtue of their very existence and should we not at least give voice to nurturing and supporting their growth and encourage them to try to make it Are they not fulfilling Mr McCullough s dictum of the fulfilling life the distinctive life the relevant life by doing what they love and what they believe in How many potentially great companies troupes performing organizations and artists might be lost if we simply say no to every new incarnation of the arts The challenge is that in order to pay Paul we have to rob Peter and it gets sticky deciding who is Peter and who is Paul Kansas Victory or Loss The reinstatement of the now reformed Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission is being heralded as a victory for the sector I am sure that this welcome turn of events was the result of very hard work by countless people in Kansas and they should be acknowledged for their tenacity and dedication Still I cannot help but think that this is yet another pyrrhic victory at best Richard Kooyman in a comment posted on Ian David Moss s site Createquity posted June 4th more eloquently and succinctly sums up part of my thinking than could I What those in the arts should take note of and not be so giddy about is that the Kansas Arts Council has not been reinstated but rather replaced with a more conservative name and focus This new name the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission reflects what is happening in many states with a quiet shifting in emphasis from the arts to arts industries This is a bad thing for the arts in general because it changes the focus from the intrinsic value of art to one of it being an economic stimulator In this new focus Art only becomes valuable when it can be measured to provide jobs or stimulate the economy in some fashion This is not a sustainable model in which real art and artistic development can move forward in I wonder whether or not Governor Brownback really paid any negative price for his original stance of wanting to eliminate the agency While I am one of Ian David Moss biggest fans I must respectfully disagree that the message this sends to politicians is you don t want to mess with arts funding I suspect Brownback gained much with his core base from his arts opposition and that his reversal now wins him friends who are arts supporters within that base and with pro arts independents Opposing the arts then reversing one s position after recognizing the huge outcry against such a move is especially for GOP candidates often a win win situation They appease the base then placate the opposition They look tough then moderate And in the process the arts yet again spend valuable time energy money and soul defending their very existence and consider their survival a real victory Meanwhile as Richard suggested they move the arts towards the private sector version of creativity and valuable only as an economic stimulator Yet it is a sort of victory for us just a very expensive one that does nothing more than keep us a step or two back from where we started out I wonder what impact this might have if any on a Mitt Romney administration s position on arts funding As reported on the Hyperallergic website earlier GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has penned an Op Ed for the USA Today newspaper in which he says he would eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential He then goes into specifics and takes aim at the battered National Endowment for the Arts Enact deep reductions in the subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts the National Endowment for the Humanities the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation The Huffington Post

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012_06_01_archive.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Barry's Blog: May 2012
    think the same needs to be true of the field as a whole and so I believe we are better served as a sector by keeping in mind that frequently we just don t know the answer That s not to say we shouldn t try all kinds of approaches posit all kinds of theories and both question and defend those rigorously but that we ought to do so in an atmosphere that recognizes that a lot of our posturing might be wrong and with an admission that we sometimes deceive ourselves And I don t think we do that enough I am not arguing that we need to embrace ungrounded intuition Indeed we need to seek persuasive grounds on which to base our decisions but I fear that we are getting closer to the point where we are intractable in defending our theories as gospel that we are less willing to admit doubt less willing to accept the proposition that we don t know and I am afraid that we are moving intractably towards definitive positions towards defending our positions as unassailable in explaining how and why things are as they are And an unwillingness to appreciate the fallibility of our thinking is dangerous I would argue that more movement whether or a macro or micro level in the direction we want to move things might result if we more frequently simply said I have no idea Let s go from there Of course this is just opinion a theory and it may be worthless Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 10 12 PM 2 comments Sunday May 6 2012 Demand for More Arts Organizations is Internally not Externally Driven Good morning And the beat goes on Supply and Demand In the latest issue of the GIA Reader Adrian Ellis provides an excellent summary of the Supply and Demand issue for the arts Quoting the latest Americans for the Arts National Arts Index this overarching statistic is a sobering comment on the debate between 2003 and 2009 a new nonprofit arts organization was created every three hours in the US Arguably that growth happened at a time of economic prosperity when some of the current problems occasioned by that growth were of less concern But I m not convinced that the growth is not going to continue despite the economic downturn And if that trend does continue we will add an additional 2 920 arts organizations to the fold this year and over a five year period nearly another 15 000 arts organizations Is this a good thing or a negative With support audience participation philanthropic giving public support and earned income down in the past five years the net result has to be that an increasingly smaller pie is being divided by an increasingly larger number of organizations There seems little debate that the demand is not leading the growth in the supply So why is this happening Clearly the nonprofit arts are not truly market driven Where then is the demand coming from I think we are hung up by discussing supply and demand in the usual market driven sense demand from the public or private sector for the arts I suggest the demand to create new arts organizations is coming from us from inside the arts sector Some of it is logically new people not currently involved in the nonprofit arts infrastructure wanting to provide art much more is very likely existing people in the arts who for whatever reason do not find what they are looking for within our existing organizations and want thus to start their own organizations Their motivation isn t some logical market analysis of the chances of success and cannot be analyzed or discussed in such a context It isn t necessarily rational driven rather by ego and passion and perhaps frustration as well Some of this trend is off the grid meaning it is not really part of the status quo arts infrastructure as we know it higher tech entries migration from professional to amateur or whatever Much of it is likely supported by the very sources arts agencies from the Endowment to local city agencies and foundations plus all those that facilitate the growth by providing such services as fiscal sponsorships that decry the overbuilt result in the infrastructure Because the funding pie is finite allocation to one organization literally comes at the expense of another What does the growth and support of that growth even if indirectly or reluctantly do to the sacrosanct goals of capacity building and sustainability If you fund the XYZ Theater group on Main Street and at some point some of the talent of that company decides it wants to form a new organizations assuming arguendo legitimate reasons at least from the new founder s perspective for so doing do you then also fund that new ABC Theater Company located just down on Main Street Does that new company take some of the donor support with it What if neither company has its own stage facility but both rent from a municipal facility crowded scheduling increasingly then narrows to the breaking point For example there are two hundred plus dance companies in San Francisco Many want to have space at Yerba Buena Center s auditorium facility which is one of the few in the city conducive to dance yet the facility cannot possibly accommodate the demand for even the established companies let alone all the new ones Does unbridled growth make capacity building and sustainability a futile exercise Yet there is no logical reason to simply continue to support the status quo and ignore newer entries To do so would stifle new creativity And so the growth continues The question though is why do so many of our people apparently feel the need to start new organizations rather than find a platform for what they want to do within the existing infrastructure What are the needs that are

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012_05_01_archive.html (2016-05-01)
    Open archived version from archive



  •