Embracing the Velocity of Change (Part 3) (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Emily Peck, Oct 26, 2011 0 comments

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

The theme of this year’s Grantmakers in the Arts Conference reflected the big challenges facing arts funders and also arts organizations. The changes in demographics and changes in technology are issues that are being confronted across the country.

It seemed appropriate to gather for these conversations in San Francisco, a city in close proximity to the technological advances coming out of Silicon Valley and a state which became a majority minority state in 1999, about 42 years before we will become a majority minority country.

That last fact came from the keynote speech by Dr. Manuel Pastor, professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Dr. Pastor successfully managed to make census data entertaining and relevant as he addressed how California and the rest of the country will need to address shifting demographics in order to stay relevant. The ideas presented in his speech resonated throughout the conference as funders reflected on how to address these changes in their grantmaking.

The James Irvine Foundation has been keeping close watch on these changes and the impact of these changes on the arts organizations they fund. In a breakout session, Arts Program Director Josephine Ramirez provided an inside look into how the Irvine Foundation evolved their arts funding guidelines to better address the needs of arts organizations and the community. Here is a video that does a great job illustrating the foundation’s arts funding priorities:

Throughout a session that practiced what they preach regarding engagement and technology, Ramirez employed Skype, visitors, “surprise” appearances by experts and open discussion to show how the foundation plans to engage all Californians with the arts.

As part of the presentation, Alan Brown led an interesting discussion on his report, which examines what it means to engage with the arts and how to define engagement. Check out the charts on page four and see if you agree with his definitions as there were a lot of different ideas in the room.

Irvine is just one foundation facing shifting demographics, technology, and engagement head-on. I am looking forward to gathering again next year at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in Miami Beach to hear an update from the Irvine Foundation and to learn how other foundations are continuing to address these issues.

*Arts Watch is the bi-weekly cultural policy publication of Americans for the Arts, covering news in a variety of categories. Subscribe to Arts Watch or follow @artswatch on Twitter to receive up-to-the-minute news.

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