Artists & Planners Partner in DC: Innovating Engagement & Instigating Systems Change

Posted by Joshua D. Silver , Sakina Khan, Jan 23, 2019 0 comments

A few years ago, the District of Columbia Office of Planning (DCOP) launched an ambitious local government creative placemaking initiative. DCOP designed a multi-year, multi-neighborhood effort that would build community in areas experiencing rapid change. Supported by the Kresge Foundation’s Arts and Culture Local Systems Program, “Crossing the Street: Building DC’s Inclusive Future through Creative Placemaking” used arts and culture to activate space, foster conversation, promote inclusive experiences, highlight neighborhood assets, and advance planning. What became apparent as we embarked on this journey with curators, artists, and communities was the impact that an artist-municipal framework could have: planners began to think like artists, and artists began to think like planners. We also had not fully accounted for the unique lens, approach, and connections that artists make when working in a community. There are many lessons learned from our Crossing the Street, but we will focus on two distinct areas: 1) a new way to engage community; and 2) systems change. Inherent to both areas was a single underlying facet: the role of artists-municipal partnerships.

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The 10 most read ARTSblog posts of 2018

Posted by Ms. Ann Marie Watson, Jan 22, 2019 0 comments

ARTSblog once again was a vibrant space for sharing and learning across all sectors of the arts field in 2018. All told, we published more than 215 blogs by authors working in public art, healthcare, government, marketing, local arts agencies, the private sector, and at Americans for the Arts, plus artists, arts educators, leaders at every stage of their careers, and many more. We hope you got your fill of your favorite topics and posts—but if you’re looking for a quick snapshot of the year that was, here are the 10 most viewed ARTSblog posts from 2018.

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Business Improvement in Colorado Historic Corridor Tied to the Arts

Posted by William P. Marino, Jan 17, 2019 0 comments

Small business is the heartbeat of the economy—that’s certainly the case here in Lakewood, Colorado—population 155,000 in a city that occupies 44 square miles between Denver and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We have seven large organizations with 1000+ employees, but nearly 7000 entities employ 50 or fewer. Primary employers are critical. But the math is crystal clear … small business rules the road. But as the new millennium arrived, not every part of our City’s economic engine was hitting on all cylinders. Lakewood’s 40 West Arts District is located in the oldest part of our City along West Colfax Avenue—a historic commercial corridor that is just now emerging from 30 years of economic decline, with the arts at the vanguard of its renaissance.

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Room to Breathe and Grow: The Executive Leadership Forum at Sundance

Posted by Mr. Lawrence Brad Anderson, Jan 15, 2019 0 comments

I have had the honor and pleasure of attending Americans for the Arts’ Executive Leadership Forum (ELF) three times in the last eight years. Without a doubt, these experiences have provided the best leadership and professional development in my life. The ELF is an opportunity for executive directors in the arts and culture field to come together for the opportunity of deep learning, reflection, and planning, all aimed at advancing the arts at the local level. Having several days to reflect, retreat, connect, and celebrate with colleagues who “get it” is a tremendous bonus that is both restorative and empowering. The quality of content carefully prepared by the Americans for the Arts staff helps ensure that each ELF provides the enrichment and reflection necessary to equip local arts leaders in what is often a busy and demanding life. The attention to detail and advanced reading material helps set the stage for a great learning opportunity.

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2018 PAN Year in Review Trends and Themes: Underrepresented History Projects

Posted by Mr. Lucas Cowan, Mr. Kipp Kobayashi, Mandy Vink, Jan 14, 2019 0 comments

Annually, the Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review recognizes outstanding public art projects that represent the most compelling work for the year from across the country and beyond. The projects are selected and presented by a jury of three professionals who represent different aspects of the public art field, including artists, admonitors, and other public art allies. New this year, the PAN Advisory Council curated the selected 49 selected projects for 2018 under five unique themes to broaden the exposure of the selected works on ARTSblog and social media, and to provide context to the works through national trends and themes that are impacting the field today.

Many of 2018’s selected public art projects addressed issues at the forefront of current political discourse — particularly, how history and culture has not represented race, gender, sexuality, and class with fairness. Politically and socially, the issues are playing out through the incoming U.S. House of Representatives and the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, among others. The arts and culture field is not exempt from addressing these national challenges, as demonstrated in recent museum exhibitions focused on decolonization, through the debate on memorials and monuments, and with temporary and permanent public artworks. Of the 2018 selected PAN Year in Review projects, six uniquely addressed the issue of underrepresented histories. 

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Rehearsing for Civic Dialogue

Posted by Jessica A. Levy, Jan 03, 2019 0 comments

Few of us are taught how to do civic dialogue. How do we develop and improve our ability to facilitate groups made up of individuals with potentially vastly different life experiences, identities, vested interests, and communication styles? Here’s one answer: Theater. When we want to literally incorporate new skills in our work, we need a body-based practice that can allow us to explore the interplay of subject matter, emotional response, social identity, and physical bodies in a physical space. That is the theater of civic engagement. And the methods of theater are learning tools that can and should be central to the training of public officials and community leaders who shape our interactions in the public sphere. Drexel University is currently working to ensure that urban planners have the skill set to facilitate civic engagement, and its Masters of Science in Urban Strategy (MSUS) program has drawn on embodied and theater-based methods as a core training methodology.

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