Blog Posts for Massachusetts

Investing in Arts Education to Ensure a Strong Future Workforce

Posted by Harvey White, Sep 13, 2011 0 comments

Harvey White

During the "Heating Up STEM to STEAM" session at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention this past summer, I engaged Massachusetts Senate President Pro Tem Stan Rosenberg in a tête-à-tête about workforce development. Below is the first half of a conversation we had on the panel (You can access the full session via Convention On-Demand):

"This [educational] system that we have today was created by industry to create the workforce they needed. We’re going to need to get business leaders [involved], as it happened in Massachusetts. If you [arts education advocates] want to talk to somebody other than your arts friends or your educator, talk to your business man—that if you’re going to have the workforce that you want, you need to have the kind of education system that will give you that workforce.

This [expanded arts education] will not, in my opinion, happen if it does not get embraced by business. And I could go on for a long time about what I think that may mean. But talk about wanting to expand this—the next person you want to talk to besides your neighbor and your arts advocate [is the business man]...

Why do business people not embrace this? And [not] give money to it? What I saw was that individual business people give a lot of money. From a philanthropic standpoint, most every community prospers from the rich people from the business world that give money. But businesses don’t. Why is that? I think it’s really very simple…it’s called quarterly earnings.

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9/11 & Beyond - Creating a Space, an Invitation, and a Spark for Meaningful Dialogue

Posted by Pam Korza, Sep 09, 2011 0 comments

One of the "100 Faces of War" portraits by Matthew Mitchell

On September 11, 2001, the Animating Democracy team was on a conference call with New York-based colleagues when a faint newscast on one of their TVs emitted something about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

What started out as a call to fine tune preparations for a national convening of Animating Democracy grantees slated to be held two days later morphed inevitably into cancellation plans, then into disbelief and mourning with the rest of the country.

Two months later, we reconstituted our plan. More than 100 grantees and guests gathered in Chicago to resume our intended work of exploring the role of the arts in fostering meaningful and productive civic dialogue.

With 9/11’s still raw emotions beating in our hearts, we asked artists Marty Pottenger and Terry Dame to help us make sense of it all, particularly the questions that had begun to infiltrate the American psyche: What does it mean to be an American? What is your relationship to America right now? What course should the U.S. take?

Terry’s slow, distorted, eerie, yet beautiful rendition of "America the Beautiful," played on a homemade gamelon, created a different kind of space in which we moved ourselves physically, psychologically, and intellectually, guided by Marty’s creative facilitation around these questions.

This arts-based dialogue exemplified the potency of arts and culture to create a space, an invitation, and a spark for meaningful dialogue.

It was just what was needed as this collection of arts practitioners, leaders, and their community partners considered how they too could and would animate and strengthen democracy in their own communities around issues affecting people’s daily lives.

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The Arts & Social Justice

Posted by Maya Kumazawa, Sep 02, 2011 1 comment

Maya Kumazawa

Having completed my internship at Americans for the Arts, I’m excited to take back what I’ve learned to my local community in Western Massachusetts.

Over 10 weeks, I worked on a wide range of projects that involved public art, local arts agencies, and emerging leaders. One topic, community engagement, is something I can be a direct advocate for even after the summer is over.

Through Net Impact’s Board Fellow program, I’ve served on Youth Action Coalition’s Board for the last year. The Arts for Change program at the Youth Action Coalition pairs intensive arts immersion with social justice education for youth. This program is free to any youth in the community interested in creating a change in the area through high quality arts programming.

How can the arts actually be used for social justice education and youth empowerment? YAC’s four primary programs engage different audiences through various media:

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