Blog Posts for Alabama

A New Vision for Arts Education

Posted by Ayanna Hudson, May 28, 2014 1 comment

Ayanna Hudson Ayanna Hudson

The Arts Endowment’s vision is that every student is engaged and empowered through an excellent arts education. This statement reflects a fundamental belief that all students should have the opportunity to participate in the arts, both in school and out of school. It also acknowledges the very real benefits of an arts education—students participating in the arts are engaged in life and are empowered to be fulfilled, responsible citizens who make a profound, positive impact on this world. I'd like to share with you what the NEA has learned about how to achieve this vision and steps we are taking to move this vision forward.

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Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014

Posted by Randy I. Cohen, Mar 20, 2014 11 comments

There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”

This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:

“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”

With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

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Birmingham: Changing Hats from Arts Administrator to Economic Developer

Posted by Buddy Palmer, Jul 11, 2012 0 comments

Buddy Palmer

I’m a fortunate community arts executive. I direct an organization, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham, which supports a vibrant ecosystem in the largest city, and cultural capital, of Alabama. Just a few years ago, in a public gathering, our former governor recognized Birmingham’s cultural sector as the region’s second greatest asset, just behind the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the state’s largest employer with a giant, nationally-recognized network of hospital and healthcare resources.

Birmingham lost one nonprofit contemporary art gallery in the recession; however, I am proud to say most of our organizations are being extremely resourceful at doing more with less. As nonprofits, we’re used to it, right?

And I’ve just received great news: the results of our local Arts and Economic Prosperity IV study show a more than 50 percent increase in annual economic impact from the data collected five years ago. We had an 80 percent survey-return rate from our organizations as compared with the national average of 43 percent. So, our cultural leaders are enthusiastic, capable, and determined to demonstrate our value.

We also have some important and encouraging signs as we move forward. The City of Birmingham is in the process of creating its first comprehensive plan in 50 years, and arts and entertainment tactics have been included in the area of "Prosperity and Opportunity" as well as "Housing, Neighborhoods, and Community Renewal."

Perhaps even more significant, "Blueprint Birmingham," a recently published economic-growth-strategy document commissioned by the Birmingham Business Alliance, our regional economic development authority, identifies "Arts, Entertainment, and Tourism" as one of only seven target sectors with the greatest potential for new job creation, retention of existing jobs, and overall wealth creation in the region. This recognition of the cultural sector as an engine for both community and economic development, when coming from unusual suspects, is a sure sign of progress.

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Making Adjustments: The Art of Decision Making

Posted by Ms. Hillary Anaya, Apr 06, 2012 0 comments

Hillary Anaya

Hillary Anaya

Recently, the Emerging Leaders of Mobile were given the task to receive a performance critique. The goal was to find a skill that needs improvement and to gain motivation to strengthen it.

I consider myself lucky, because I couldn’t have better bosses. While for some, asking for a performance critique can be intimidating, I have a welcoming work environment for this sort of thing. This is great because this activity was my idea, and if anyone HAD to do it, it was me.

One of my character traits is that I tend to get annoyed when I have to make adjustments. For example, when I receive incomplete submissions on a deadline day, I get a little irritated. I don’t mean I throw a full-blown temper tantrum, but I do tend to complain. I have always been aware that I do this, but I never really considered changing.

Recently, I was on the receiving end. I missed a deadline and had to get an extension. With the combination of advice from my bosses and being on the other side, the resolution was clear as day.

Mistakenly, I assumed my job as an administrator was to make sure the guidelines are ALWAYS followed. But I have been wisely advised that when working with people, especially in the nonprofit realm, rules sometimes need to bend so we can better serve our community.

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Passion Starts with Positive Thinking

Posted by Ms. Hillary Anaya, Apr 04, 2012 1 comment

Hillary Anaya

Hillary Anaya

Having received my BA in Music Business from the University of South Alabama back in 2010, I began a career in arts administration working for the Mobile Arts Council.

Yup, I’m fresh off the boat with big plans and a sense of urgency to accomplish giant things. I seek to move the world tomorrow. Okay, fine, in the next two minutes.

Yet as I try to move the world here comes (insert Jaws theme song) a pile of real world inconveniences: paperwork, phone calls, and technological dilemmas. All the while, in the back of my already overloaded mind, I complain, why do they have to happen, do they really matter?

The answer: ABSOLUTELY! These annoyances are just the world’s little positive thinking exercises.

Okay, I have to be honest; this one is a work in progress for me because I’m a natural "Negative Nancy." However, when asked how am I going to engage my colleagues to make an impact for the sake of the arts, I’m learning "Nancy" is not my girl and a positive outlook will help sustain the future of the arts.

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Alabama High School Band Marks Tornado Anniversary with Touching Performance

Posted by Jessica Burton, Mar 30, 2012 2 comments

Jessica Burton

I’m no stranger to great music festivals, like Voodoo Fest in New Orleans or South by Southwest in Austin, that bring together both up-and-coming and legendary artists. And I’ve been lucky enough to score box seats to mega-star performances by the likes of Lil’ Wayne, Dave Matthews Band, and Coldplay.

But even though I went to more shows than I can count, only once did I have a front row seat to a truly life-changing concert.

No, it wasn’t a performance by Chris Martin, Lil’ Wayne or Dave Matthews. And it wasn’t a music festival, as much as I live for the three-day binges on incredible musical talent and soul swaying tunes.

It was at a mall—the Regency Square Mall in Florence, AL to be exact. And the show was put on by a high school band.

On Saturday, March 17, I drove three hours from Tuscaloosa, where I live, to the mall in Florence to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornadoes at a ‘giving thanks’ concert put on by the Phil Campbell High School Band.

A 45-minute drive south of Florence, Phil Campbell is a town of about 1,000 residents. Nearly one year ago, the Phil Campbell community was completely devastated by deadly tornadoes.

April 27, 2011 proved to be a nightmare that has taken a year to overcome. For the Phil Campbell High School band—whose band room was reduced to rubble—that Wednesday last spring marks the day the music died…almost.

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