The Art of Creative Conversations
Fall is such a busy time at Americans for the Arts—and I know it’s a busy time for a lot of you, too!—but October in particular provides one of my favorite opportunities to see what people are thinking about across the field. This October will be my first National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) as an Americans for the Arts employee, but as a long-time Americans for the Arts member and Emerging Arts Leaders DC (EALDC) steering committee member, NAHM has long been on my radar thanks to Creative Conversations!
Creative Conversations are exactly what they sound like—members of the arts field get together to talk about trends, brainstorm about challenges, and explore new ideas. There are a lot of different ways to have a Creative Conversation—you can do brown bag lunches, panel discussions, longer workshops, and even full day symposia—but the most important thing is to have one!
Our annual Creative Conversation at EALDC is in a panel format, but we’ve found these discussions to be so valuable that we try to make space for them as much as possible. Our programming includes a second Spring Education Panel and monthly First Friday Lunch discussions, in addition to our Fall Creative Conversation.
This year, our panel series is a two-parter about nontraditional funding structures. We’ll convene experts on what those structures are in the fall. In the spring, we’ll speak to the people who interact with those organizations—funders, lawyers, and freelance employees, for example—to learn more about the role these organizations play in the broader arts ecosystem.
Past topics have included public art, risk-taking, and the art of negotiation. It’s been great to see how easily applicable some of these things have been for our members—and for me! The risk-taking panel introduced me to several case studies that I was able to use in my thesis about ways museums can make bold choices with their mission in mind, and our negotiations experts used their Q & A period to offer real-time coaching about conversations that artists and arts administrators often feel unprepared to have. Both sessions provided tools that were immediately applicable for attendees.
Whatever format or topic you choose, I encourage you to get out there this fall and talk to each other! We have a ton of resources that can help get you started including webinars, research, and a quick primer on Creative Conversations, but our strongest resources is all of you!
I hope you’ll let us know about the conversations you’re having this October—formal or otherwise—via email and social media. We look forward to sharing your stories!
Bridget Woodbury is a member of Americans for the Arts.