Blog Posts for California

Helping to Define a Sense of Place in Communities

Posted by Tatiana Hernandez, Nov 09, 2011 1 comment

Tatiana Hernandez

People have looked to the arts to help define their communities and create a sense of place for generations. So, why are we so excited about creative placemaking today?

Perhaps it has something to do with context. In this digital world, many are reexamining the fundamental nature of “community” and our relationship to place. We now know, based on findings from the Knight Soul of the Community report, that social offerings, followed by openness and aesthetics explain why we love where we live. What does that tell us about the essential importance of our connection to place?

“Vibrancy” is popping up as a way of describing the intangible nature of a neighborhood’s character. Here are three projects working to help define a sense of place in each of their communities:

Philadelphia has a strong tradition of mural work, and thanks to Mural Arts, artists and residents continue to come together to help define “home.” As part of their Knight Arts Challenge project, Mural Arts brought two Dutch artists, Haas&Hahn, to North Philadelphia to live, work, and engage the community around a large-scale mural that will span several blocks of Germantown Avenue.

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Back to the Future (Part One)

Posted by Erik Takeshita, Nov 07, 2011 1 comment

Erik Takeshita

We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We have a responsibility to those who will come after us.  

These simple yet powerful concepts have been echoing in my head the past few days in New Mexico where I participated in a roundtable discussion held at the Institute of American Indian Arts sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, First People’s Fund, and Arts and Democracy Project. The people I met and the stories I heard reinforced the power of the arts – and more importantly culture – in transforming our communities.

Six case studies were presented at the roundtable: KUYI Hopi radio (Hopi Nation), Jikaat Kwaan Heritage Center (Alaska), Penn Center (South Carolina), Tamejavi Festival (Central Valley, California), STAY Project (Appalachia) and Cornerstone Theater (Los Angeles).

Despite the differences in geographic location, populations or medium, these exemplars all shared common elements: they were place-based, holistic approaches that engaged both youth and elders, and, perhaps most importantly, put culture at the center.

Place-based: When in New Mexico, it is obvious that place matters. This is, of course, true everywhere. Place informs who we are, how we act, our thinking, our relationships. Place is more that just a setting, but rather is an active participant that informs what can and should be done.

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What Can We Do...Now? Cultural Asset Mapping in Los Angeles County

Posted by Erin Harkey, Nov 07, 2011 0 comments

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission was recently awarded a grant through the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town initiative to produce a cultural asset map in the unincorporated community of Willowbrook, CA.

Located just south of Watts and west of Compton, Project Willowbrook: Cultivating a Healthy Community through Arts and Culture will capitalize on the county’s over $600 million investment in health services and infrastructure. This includes the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Medical Center Campus Master Plan and the Wilmington Streetscape Plan that will link the campus to the nearby Rosa Parks Metro Station.

The arts commission and primary project partner LA Commons will use community engagement activities to identify artists, organizations, programs, and artworks, with the understanding that “art” and “culture” should capture both the formal and informal ways that people engage, this information will be compiled in a final report. The report will provide recommendations on long-term, sustainable strategies that will integrate art into development and achieve overall community objectives.

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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:

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Beyond Letter Writing & Phone Calls: Relationship-Based Arts Education Advocacy

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders, Sep 30, 2011 5 comments

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

Over the last few years, I’ve blogged here about our arts education advocacy efforts in San Diego with the San Diego Unified School District. I am the co-founding chair of the San Diego Alliance for Arts Education (SDAAE) which officially launched in May 2010 (although our collective grassroots advocacy work began a year earlier).

As chair of the SDAAE I have been very clear about the approach I want to take in leading the advocacy work that we do. While I believe that public comment and letter writing are important components of advocacy, I am also an evangelist for developing a working relationship with those to whom you are directing your efforts.

In this case, it’s our local school board. We have always carried the message to them that we want to be partners in supporting arts education and that we are available as a helpful resource for them. As a result, members have called when they have decisions to make or proposals to craft that they know will affect outcomes in the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department.

Most recently, the school board asked community members to assist with what they call “Tiger Teams.” These teams are essentially efforts to get new information and an outside perspective about way that various district departments do business.

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Coping with Mother Nature: Emergency Relief & Readiness

Posted by Cornelia Carey, Sep 30, 2011 1 comment

Cornelia Carey

Nearly a month has passed since Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene blew up the East Coast affecting 17 states and territories from the Virgin Islands to Maine.

The deep river valleys of New York and Vermont were among the most severely impacted. And just as those communities were beginning to dig out, Hurricane Lee caused another round of flooding in parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

Further, drought fueled wildfires had homeowners, businesses, and firefighters scrambling for control earlier this month in Texas. In Bastrop County, TX, alone 34,068 acres burned with 1,553 homes destroyed.

Needless to say, it’s been a busy time for those of us who work as emergency responders. While Montpelier, VT, where the CERF+ office is located, narrowly missed devastation, experiencing the disaster from the front lines has been a humbling and heartbreaking experience for our staff.

Recently, Laura Scanlan, director of state and regional partnerships at the National Endowment for the Arts organized a conference call for all of the states and territories affected by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. The news coming out of the states and territories, with the exception of Vermont and Puerto Rico (and with a few states not on the phone) is that arts organizations fared relatively well.

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