Seven Resources for Highly Effective Arts Professionals

Posted by Bridget Woodbury, Dec 19, 2016 0 comments

You may have noticed that some of our ARTSblog posts end with a line that says that the writer is a member of Americans for the Arts. Part of the reason that’s in there is to show you what a wide variety of people and organizations are a part of our member network. At the end of the year, we spend a lot of time with our organizational members, getting them renewed and making sure that all of their employees have access to our resources, so this seemed like the perfect time to let everyone else in on what it membership with Americans for the Arts means!

We serve more than 6,000 people who work for themselves or for our nearly 1,500 member organizations, covering the entire spectrum of Americans with an interest in advancing the arts. Our members are nonprofits and for-profits, government agencies, and collectives of all sizes and shapes working in the arts. They work with visual and performing arts, adults and children, professional artists, hobbyists, the private sector, policymakers, and everyone in between.

The most important reason to join Americans for the Arts is because we can help connect you to all of them. That’s not all we do, though. Here are seven benefits we offer our members that make us your best bet:

  1. Networks: This is the power of our broader network, on steroids. These close-knit, topic-based peer groups provide specialized support and a dedicated staff contact that is always thinking about your area of interest. These networks—whose members are accessible at any time via listserv—cover areas like Arts Education, Emerging Leaders, Local Arts, County Arts, Private Sector, Public Art, State Arts Action, and United States Urban Arts Federation—and we’re constantly thinking about how to best serve those communities.
  2. Leadership Opportunities: Take our network experience to the next level and join a network council. In addition to gaining the exposure and experience of working for the arts on a national level, you have the chance to help guide us in our work in a direct way.
  3. Research: We do the work on a national level and then help you distill it so it can do the most good in your community. One example is our Arts & Economic Prosperity and Creative Industries reports, which provide that localized data to help you quantify the impact of the arts in your community.
  4. Publications: Be they electronic our print, our publications analyze, interpret, and distill the must-know information for field leaders like you. We cover topics ranging from arts education, arts marketing, civic engagement, and arts in the military—all delivered straight to your inbox and mailbox.
  5. Convenings: Come see us in person! Each year, we host dozens of in-person convenings large and small (save the date for our 2017 Annual Convention!) with the goal of bringing people together—because we all learn best from each other. Not only can you join thousands of your colleagues, national leaders, and our expert staff in person—you often get a BIG discount as a member!
  6. Advocacy Tools: Our advocacy tools and trainings—which pair your stories and our national research—are key to successful case-making for the arts in your community. You can get personalized advocacy help, and invaluable connections with our strategic partners, from our expert staff.
  7. Professional Development: We are constantly working to bringing you the best online and in-person learning experiences. Members receive our online training tools—housed within ArtsU, a digital platform for all of our webinars, virtual conversations, and digital classrooms—entirely free of charge. Plus, members have access to discounted books, scholarships for our convenings, and discounts to host their own regional training opportunities with our staff experts.

My favorite part of mapping out all of the reasons to join Americans for the Arts is how inextricable what we do is from what you do! We provide platforms, data, and expertise, but Americans for the Arts members take that and make it their own.

There’s MASSCreative, which used our research, advocacy tools, and State Arts Action Network to secure the appointment of a cabinet-level Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Poston and conduct the first-ever gubernatorial debate about the role of arts and culture.

There’s the Boise City Department of Arts and History. The Department paired data from our Arts & Economic Prosperity surveys, National Arts Index, and Creative Industries reports with examples of percent-for-art ordinances from other members—and now they’re in their 15th year of their own percent-for-art program which includes more than 500 works of public art.

The Irving Arts Center in Irving, TX, hosted the Islamic Art Revival Series after being introduced to its curator at an Americans for the Arts event—and their Executive Director, Todd Eric Hawkins, credits his time on the Emerging Leaders Network Council with preparing him to take on his current role.

The small town—think 754 people small—of Lanesboro, MN, is a national leader in placemaking and their Executive Director, John Davis, relies on this very blog, calling it—as well as other publications and our regional convenings—a tremendous resource for his organization.

Imagine how we can help you or your organization! Can’t picture it? Ask us! Get in touch with me at and let me know what challenges you’re facing—I bet we have a member benefit that will help you. You can learn more about all of our membership options here.

Already a member? Ask us your questions, tell us your stories, and share your successes on social media using the hashtag #AFTAmember! We look forward to working with you again in 2017. 

Bridget Woodbury is a member of Americans for the Arts.

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