Why Does it Matter?

Posted by Ms. Maryo Gard Ewell, Jul 14, 2017 0 comments

Content sponsored by University of Massachusetts Amherst Arts Extension Service.

Identity, cultural democracy, excellence, justice—just a few of the “whys” behind our work. We have many spiritual ancestors who can help us articulate our “why” because, as discussed in Fundamentals of Arts Management 6th edition, this work has been weaved throughout our country’s history. I urge us all to take to time to connect with our own sense of “why.”

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Seeking a Common Language for Community Development and the Arts

Posted by Victor Rubin, Jul 24, 2017 0 comments

The worlds of community development and art for social change are intersecting frequently these days, and this leads, at least, to a need for simultaneous translation and patience if not treatment for outright culture shock. How do we talk about and track these new types of interactions? How are the respective practitioners getting along? And what happens when a planner, researcher, and evaluator steeped in 35 years of relatively conventional assessment of community development issues and organizations—that would be me—needs to understand, appreciate, and gain insights about the radically different styles, motivations, and ways of seeing and interacting that are employed by artists engaged in social change?

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Of Distinction: Community-engaged notions of value

Posted by Ananya Chatterjea, Jul 24, 2017 0 comments

Animating Democracy’s new Aesthetic Perspectives framework spawned multiple parallel scenarios in my head. In one, I was continuing my conversation from a few weeks ago with a foundation grant officer, who told me that their organization was “not so interested in social justice”; you simply had to “have artistic excellence.” I had presented my most cogent argument that artistic excellence is often conceptualized in dangerously narrow ways, to the detriment of appreciating arts and social justice work—only to be brushed aside. What would have happened if the framework, offering many different ways of reading “excellence” in socially engaged art, had been at my fingertips then? 

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A Humane Framework for Creative Practice

Posted by Linda Essig, Jul 24, 2017 0 comments

Aesthetic Perspectives is described as “a guide for description rather than a scorecard.” This is an apt explanation; it provides a framework for use by an evaluator rather than a rubric for evaluation itself. As such, there are aspects of Aesthetic Perspectives that are particularly useful or important and a few elements that raise some questions for me.

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Wake Up to a New Day

Posted by Pam Korza, Jul 24, 2017 0 comments

Notions of excellence and equity are linked and increasingly demand that we attend to both the positive and negative ways they intersect in policies, practices, and decisions. Which artists get opportunities, who gains resources, how are arts and cultural practices understood and valued by critics, audiences, and gatekeepers? Our Excellence and Equity Blog Salon explores these questions and provides guidance in the form of Animating Democracy's new framework Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change.

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When It’s the Right Time to Leave Your Job (for the Right Reason)

Posted by Laura Zucker, Jul 21, 2017 0 comments

Sometimes, of course, you feel like walking away because of the old challenges: a change in the political tide, a recession, difficult people, the endless paperwork, scrambling to do more with less. But none of these are reasons to bail. When I know I haven’t shied away from an uncomfortable situation or unfamiliar territory, then I can choose something new with a clear conscience.

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