Under Siege and Thriving
As artists and arts educators, we are keenly aware of what it feels like to be under siege. Our arts programs are interwoven into the fabric of our communities, and even in the face of challenges continue to thrive. We can’t imagine our communities without our arts programs, and thus we have become masters at articulating their profound reach. It’s ingrained in our role as arts educators to fight for the importance, continued relevance, and impact of what we do. And what makes me particularly proud is seeing the inherent drive that emerges in my students when they’re tasked with defending the powerful influence of the arts in their lives.
Time to Celebrate—and fight for—the Arts and Culture!
Did you know that NACo (the National Association of Counties), along with Americans for the Arts, recognize counties for their arts and culture achievements? Beginning in 1999, Americans for the Arts, in partnership with NACo, began presenting its Public Leadership in the Arts Award to a county or county official who has worked to advance the arts and arts education within their county. Further, NACo presents its own award, the NACo Arts and Culture Award, designed to recognize county governments for their efforts to enrich American cultural and intellectual life, promote lifelong learning, and protect our national heritage. Nominations for both awards are currently open.
Robert Lynch Responds to Hill Commentary Calling to End Funding for the NEA
In his op-ed (“The case for cutting National Endowment of the Arts funding,” April 2), David D’Amato states that “Government-funded art is publicly-funded art only once government is lazily conflated with the public. It is not the public (whatever indeed that may mean) that decides which art projects are to be supported with taxpayer dollars.” That statement is simply inaccurate. Mr. D’Amato must be unaware that the public is embedded in the entire grantmaking process at the NEA. This in part is why the NEA has received wide support from both Republicans and Democrats for half a century.
Strategies for Change Leaders
Sometimes I feel like I’m not making a difference as an arts administrator because I’m not actually creating art. Making change, however, is my time to get creative at work. It’s exciting to examine procedures from a new perspective, find ways to push limits with policy, create sincere relationships with my coworkers, be confident in my administrative choices, and feel like an agent of change in my work. Change isn’t easy, but these strategies can be.
Leading with the Pack
Whatever the reason for the change, the nature of leadership is changing. We don’t need harsher, more selfish delegators. We need influential social mobilizers capable of harnessing our collective intention and elevating each voice in the chorus. I argue it is Emerging Arts Leaders who understand this more than any and are best poised to make a lasting difference.
Over 50 percent of Americans live and work in suburbs. Are 50 percent of them arts leaders?
If equity and inclusion are of concern to you, then the suburbs should demand your full attention. Almost one-third of the nation’s poor live in suburbs; by 2008, the suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country. And while minorities only represent 35 percent of suburban residents, more than half of all minority groups in large metro areas live in suburbs. To be clear, the absence of suburban arts leaders isn’t the problem. It’s a symptom. The problem is a set of assumptions that occlude the arts and arts leaders not only in the suburbs, but everywhere.
Women’s Leadership in the Non-Profit Theatre: Continuing Actions to Shift the Perception
Women have never held more than 27% of leadership positions in American non-profit theatre. Why? In a field in which “representation” is important to the stories we present to the public, the persistent underrepresentation of female leadership is puzzling and problematic. A 2013 research study was able to unravel some of the reasons behind leadership gender imbalance through a multi-informant and multi-method design, which made clear that the issue is not a pipeline problem. There are sufficient numbers of women in next-in-line positions in the field. Action plans that address this “glass ceiling” need to be developed to correct the disparity and will be explored at the pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit in October 2017.
The Moment in the Movement—Art, Advocacy, and Activating Personal Mission and Vision in this Very
As members of the third sector, our purpose is to empower, enfranchise, and capacitate the people of this nation, regardless of origin or other socially constructed dimensions. No matter the federal priorities or administration in power. Serious work must always be done. Now is not the time to be humble about the power of our work, nor the time to equivocate impact. Now is moment we live our missions!
Where is a Young Feminist’s Place in the Arts? (Trick Question. Answer: Anywhere and Everywhere!)
Arts organizations are very often predominantly staffed by women, but unfortunately this does not eradicate the centuries of patriarchal approaches that block us from allowing equity for all. In the broader non-profit sector, executive roles and boards are often filled by male candidates who keep their posts until retirement. “Top-down” leadership and a competitive spirit that rejects collaboration or promotion of others’ achievements are other examples of this obstruction. Feminism and activism are just as important as ever in our current political climate.
Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Arts Leaders
All children deserve access to quality arts programming, which means that we must not only support in-school arts education programs across the board, but also prioritize schools in low-income neighborhoods and community-based organizations that specialize in mentoring these students outside of school. Serving every student also means providing culturally relevant and economically accessible opportunities in the arts for the overlooked and under-resourced youth between the ages of 14 and 18, especially if we are to create effective pipelines of leadership in the arts.
When Trying Hard Isn’t Good Enough: Alignment, Action and Accountability
Bridging the gap between reality and results for arts education in schools requires multi-sector, cross-agency leadership making aligned efforts and contributions. Moving from talk to action requires collaborative leadership—the ability to make decisions and take action together in service of the result. This type of leadership requires experimentation, trust building, and a fair amount of risk. It breaks down the boundaries of hierarchical leadership and looks across organizational boundaries. When we work collaboratively, we acknowledge that no one program, agency, or organization can produce population-level results.