A 4-Star General, a Dancer, & 900 Foundation Leaders Go to a Conference...

Posted by Emily Peck, Jun 06, 2011 0 comments

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

At last fall’s Independent Sector Conference, more than 900 leaders from the foundation world, corporate philanthropy programs, and nonprofit organizations were moved by the arts...literally, as choreographer Liz Lerman had conference attendees out of their seats reenacting conference highlights through dance (Check out the video below!).

Inviting Ms. Lerman to bring her magic to the conference was just one of the ways that Americans with the Arts partnered with Independent Sector to infuse the event with the arts.

Americans for the Arts President & CEO Bob Lynch explained why Americans for the Arts was ensuring that the arts were woven throughout the conference in his presentation at the opening plenary session

“To celebrate [Americans for the Arts'] fiftieth [anniversary], we wanted to help celebrate the Independent Sector's thirtieth by bringing arts voices and creative industries' ideas to this conference. The arts in America today are in many ways America's best-kept secret and secret weapon at the same time, in use everywhere, not just for beauty and for enjoyment, but as a partner in the solutions that you'll be talking about, solutions to America's problems, whether social or economic or youth or community development or health and even national security. And it's happening in cities all across the country.

Yet, we have kept this secret weapon too much a secret. We are pleased to help here to bring over the next few days a MacArthur Award-winning choreographer, a master storyteller, a United States Army general, a foundation CEO, all of whom have had the arts at the core of their work and of their problem-solving skills, and an extraordinary young violinist is also going to be with us who shows what arts education can mean because. In addition to being an extraordinary violinist, she's a Presidential Scholar, just honored at the White House, and, of course, today's keynote speaker, the incomparable Anna Deavere Smith.”

It wasn’t just the conference attendees embracing the value of the arts.

In his acceptance speech, John W. Gardner Leadership Award winner Gen. Colin Powell said, “As we press our kids now to pass tests and study for the test and we cut out playground time and we cut out art appreciation and we cut out music appreciation, we are doing a disservice to our youngsters. We are not exposing them to the real world they're going to live in.”

And if you are still wondering what a Four-Star General, a dancer, and 900 foundation leaders have in common, it’s a true understanding of the role the arts can play in solving America’s problems.

Liz Lerman at Independent Sector Conference from Independent Sector on Vimeo.

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