Blog Posts for Community Engagement

Creating a Suburban Cultural Hub in the Metropolitan Kansas City Region

Posted by Sarah VanLanduyt, Dec 06, 2011 0 comments

Sarah VanLanduyt

Sarah VanLanduyt

How does a county arts council better serve the arts sector segment of its constituency? This is a question that began a two year conversation for the Arts Council of Johnson County (ACJC) and ended with this answer: a new website.

At first glance it’s a fairly simplistic solution; however for a small arts agency working within the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area it’s a way to reach more constituents, connect them to regional resources and build a foundation for future ACJC initiatives and partnerships.

First a little background on the Arts Council of Johnson County.

ACJC is predominantly an advocacy organization who works with community leaders to promote the cultural and economic development of the county through the arts. Some of our previous work has included developing the Arts Business Plan and serving as lead advocate for Johnson County’s One Percent for Public Art Program. Through these projects and other initiatives ACJC has developed a good working relationship with the county government but in doing so we allowed our relationship with the arts community to weaken.

In 2010, ACJC held a series of forums for arts educators, organizations, and artists, to gain a better understanding of how to support their work in the community. It also gave us a chance to learn about their concerns and challenges within the current economic and political climate.

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Radio Lessons

Posted by María Muñoz-Blanco, Dec 06, 2011 1 comment

María Muñoz-Blanco

Almost a century ago, a gentleman by the name of Henry Garrett (then superintendent of the Dallas Police & Fire Signal System) installed a 50-watt radio transmitter in the central fire station to transmit fire alarms to the other Dallas fire stations.

Between fire alarms, Garrett connected the transmitter to a phonograph and played his collection of classical music recordings. Thus began the life of WRR, which 90 years later (and with a much, much stronger signal) is one of the divisions of the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs.

WRR 101.1 FM is a 24/7 classical music station, operating under an FCC commercial radio license. Because of this commercial license, WRR is what we call in the city an enterprise fund: the station sells advertising to generate revenues to cover its operating expenses, pay for capital upgrades, and keep an operating cash reserve.

The station plays an important role as the voice of the arts in North Texas, providing a venue for call-to-action advertising for arts organizations. I never expected to be in the radio business, but I find that many of the strategies used by the station to meet its bottom line can be successfully applied elsewhere in the agency and by our local arts organizations.

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Stewardship: Taking Care

Posted by Roberto Bedoya, Dec 06, 2011 1 comment

Roberto Bedoya

As an introduction to this blog post, I will be writing about Stewardship as a key to the values of the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC), the community we serve, and to the cultural sector at larger because of its ethical and aesthetic dimensions.

To begin let me contextualize TPAC and Tucson a bit. TPAC is the designated local arts agency (LAA) that serves the city of Tucson and Pima County. Tucson is the second largest city in the Arizona and the metropolitan region’s population recently topped one million this year, of which 40 percent is Latino and Native American.

Pima County is the largest county in the state (which is bigger than the state of Connecticut) and is one of four Arizona counties that border Mexico. It is the home to two Native American tribes - the Tohono O’Odham and the Pascua Yaqui Nations; and numerous small towns and ranches.

Against this background, Southern Arizonans are mindful of the Sonoran desert that we live in, its heritages, its power, and its profound beauty and how these qualities informs the social imaginary that operate here. How taking care of the land and our relationships to each other are grounded in the ethos of stewardship.

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The Art of Collaboration

Posted by Maggie Guggenheimer, Dec 06, 2011 0 comments

Maggie Guggenheimer

At Piedmont Council for the Arts (PCA), we often find ourselves in conversations about collaboration.

The Charlottesville (VA) area has a high number of arts and cultural organizations for its relatively small size.

Don’t let the quaint college town aesthetic fool you – with organizations like Monticello, The Paramount Theater, Live Arts, The Pavilion, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, and three amazing festivals, we’re busting at the seams with high-quality cultural experiences. It’s exciting, but it’s also competitive. For many of the smaller nonprofit arts organizations in the area, collaboration is necessary for getting big projects done with a small staff and budget.

PCA participates in collaborative projects and gathers arts representatives together for networking events and roundtable discussions to address collaboration strategies. I’m amazed at how much even the busiest directors seem to appreciate the opportunity to connect face-to-face and think "big picture." In today’s funding environment, no one doubts the importance of effective partnerships, and we all need to unplug and brainstorm together every now and then.

But beyond this necessity, lately I’ve been thinking about collaboration in a new way.

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Rebel with a Cause

Posted by Richard Stein, Dec 06, 2011 2 comments

Richard Stein

My first full-time job after finishing grad school was as executive director of the Oswego County Council on the Arts in upstate New York.

Three and a half years ago, I returned to arts council management after more than 25 years as a theatre producer and director, when I was appointed executive director of Arts Orange County.

I don’t know which is worse, running an arts council or running a theatre in times like these, but one thing I’m sure of: I owe my success to breaking the rules.

There are plenty of people who’ve attempted to dissuade me from that path or criticized me for failing to adhere to the conventional wisdom of the field. Conventional wisdom may have contributed to the growth of America’s arts organizations in decades past, but it sure isn’t helping them much today.

I see this every day—and not just in the reforms I’ve been instituting at Arts Orange County, but among the many constituent organizations we serve.

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Rethinking Strategies

Posted by Felix Padron, Dec 05, 2011 3 comments

Felix Padron

San Antonio is at a crossroads.

It is a city whose traditional identity has been shaped by generations of families rooted in the region and immigrants from Mexico. This identity has deep historical and cultural implications shaped by a unique set of economic and cultural dynamics; the backbone of a context that more often than not, influences most political efforts and outcomes.

Yet San Antonio is undeniably a growing city. The bulk of its population growth comes from the outside, creating a more heterogeneous cultural environment, where different and specific cultural identities are now being engaged.

The challenge becomes: Can San Antonio expand in a global economy while staying committed to an “authentic" culture?

This question is at the forefront of most discussions regarding the city's future.

It is a delicate balance for San Antonians, and it makes it difficult to reach consensus when trying to formulate strategies that allow for the cross-pollination of innovation and cultural preservation. This is certainly a challenge for local arts and cultural organizations as well.

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