Blog Posts for Massachusetts

State Arts Funding: Good News! There Isn’t That Much Bad News

Posted by Justin Knabb, Feb 16, 2012 2 comments

Justin Knabb

While state legislative sessions are just getting underway in the new year, perpetual campaigning for the election is no doubt leaving everyone already feeling cranky and cynical (or is that just me?).

But take heart, advocates! Despite the cornucopia of GOP candidate positions on public arts funding---ranging anywhere from mild tolerance to total abhorrence---President Obama just proposed an increase in NEA funding!

And on the state level, while some familiar faces are making waves, several states are receiving some great surprises and proposals for steady funding:

Connecticut
Last month, Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) announced the launch of a $3.1 million local-level creative placemaking initiative in July. Gov. Dannel Malloy’s FY13 budget recommends eliminating all direct art support and redirecting those funds to a statewide marketing campaign that would include tourism. The state’s budget office indicates that arts organizations will be able to compete for $14 million in funding with other programs in the DECD.

Florida
The state legislature is proposing an increase to Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Cultural and Museum Grants. These grants were appropriated $2 million for the current fiscal year, and for FY13 the House and Senate are currently recommending $3,025,000 and $5,050,000, respectively.

Kansas
After zeroing out the state arts commission last year, Governor Sam Brownback reversed his decision and proposed $200,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. However, these funds would be for a new Kansas Creative Industries Commission, a merger of the Kansas Arts Commission and the Kansas Film Commission, housed under the Department of Commerce.

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The STEAM Camps Are Coming

Posted by John Eger, Jan 30, 2012 1 comment

John Eger

It's early in the new year but educators across the country are already making plans for the summer and they are thinking STEAM...with the arts playing a critical role.

As demand for a new workforce to meet the challenges of a global knowledge economy is rapidly increasing, few things could be as important in this period of our nation's history than an interdisciplinary education that brings the arts and sciences together. Not surprisingly, so-called STEAM Camps signal an increased role for the arts as part of the new curriculum.

Most analysts studying the new global economy agree that the growing "creative and innovative" economy represents America's salvation. The STEAM camps represent a totally new approach to the curriculum, and forge a new beginning in reinventing K-12 education.

Urban Discovery Academy, a charter school in San Diego has partnered with the University of California at San Diego (UCSD); Concordia University in Mequon, WI, together with the Chicago Lutheran Education Foundation (CELF); and the largest Lutheran school systems in Northern Indiana, and other educational organizations across the country are thinking about or have already started hosting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Camps to jumpstart education learning for the new economy.

STEAM is a direct response to STEM, the Bush Initiative called the America Competes Act, which authorized funds to help students earn a bachelor's degree, math and science teachers to get teaching credentials, and provide additional money to help align K-12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college.

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The WOO WAY

Posted by Erin Williams, Dec 05, 2011 0 comments

Erin Williams

Erin Williams (Photo by Paul Kapteyn)

Worcester, MA, is a New England industrial city busy reinventing itself.

Worcester is the heart of the Commonwealth; home to 180,000+ residents and 32,000 college students.

In the late 1990s a group of cultural organizations came together to create a unique coalition, in partnership with the City of Worcester, which shines a spotlight on the creative activity taking place in the region.

The Worcester Cultural Coalition is the unified voice of the cultural community. Today 72 cultural organizations (from the stately Worcester Art Museum to the feisty arts collective Fireworks) work together with creative entrepreneurs to incite a panoply of creative activity, encouraging residents and visitors alike to get engaged.

Inspired by the work of Charles Landry, an international authority on city futures and the use of culture in city revitalization, the Worcester Cultural Coalition organized a series of forums in 2005 to encourage a civic dialogue about our great city.

More than four hundred people – artists, entrepreneurs, business and civic leaders, students, and neighborhood activists – took part in many conversations led by Landry over the course of four days, which opened up a dialogue and encouraged people to express their unique vision of the city and its future direction.

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What Would Business Investment in Arts Education Look Like?

Posted by Stan Rosenberg, Sep 13, 2011 0 comments

MA Senate President Pro Tem Stan Rosenberg

This blog continues my conversation with Harvey White that took place during the "Heating Up STEM to STEAM" session at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention earlier this summer. Read Mr. White's initial comments here.

Sen. Stan Rosenberg:
"No, it’s not dumb, but I also want to do a little counterpoint here to see where you might go with this…OK, so I think the key role for the business leaders is to provide the leadership to push the government in the direction to make the investment and make the investment in a wiser way.

We spend $5 billion on education K-12 in Massachusetts. I don’t think it’s fair to go to the business community and tell them to give us another $1-2 billion to run that system. But I would sure love to use the leadership and capacity that they have to push the governor and other people to use some of that money more wisely.

Harvey White:
But you have no qualms at all in saying to the business that you ought to spend another billion on factories?

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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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