Spark a Creative Conversation During National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Cristyn Johnson, Oct 04, 2018 0 comments

Happy National Arts and Humanities Month! Each October, millions of people across the country celebrate the transformative power of the arts in their communities. National Arts and Humanities Month is a “coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America.” It was started by Americans for the Arts more than 30 years ago as National Arts Week, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993, Americans for the Arts and our national arts partners re-established National Arts and Humanities Month as a month-long celebration, with the goals of: FOCUSING on the arts at local, state, and national levels; ENCOURAGING individuals and organizations to participate in the arts; ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and RAISING public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives.

During National Arts and Humanities Month, some truly amazing celebrations of arts and culture take place across the country. One of the big initiatives for the month is Creative Conversations. Creative Conversations are a way to gather community leaders to “discuss local arts, culture, and creativity to generate partnerships and increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts in America during National Arts and Humanities Month in October.” Past participants have learned about the state of their local arts and creative industry, explored new ideas to strengthen their community with the arts, and ignited connections that spurred movements and actions that work to ensure that every American has access to the transformative power of the arts.

The Emerging Leaders Council and Network have a long history of being at the forefront of Creative Conversations. Conversations take many formats: They can be a casual happy hour, a moderated panel, a facilitated small group discussion, a collaborative art project, or any other format that will spark a real and productive exchange of ideas. Following the theme of the Emerging Leaders Council programming, this year’s topic is: What is your power to make change in/through the arts? Locals hosting their own Creative Conversations were invited to create dialogue around this prompt, shedding light on some amazing work going on in the arts and culture sector in their own communities.

Speaking of locals hosting their own Creative Conversations, this year more than 20 Creative Conversations will be taking place across the country as part of National Arts and Humanities Month. I’m thrilled to give you a sneak peak into some of these local Conversations! (Is there a Conversation happening in your community? You can add it to our National ArtsMeet Calendar!)

Title: Creative Conversations
Date/Time: Thursday, October 4, 6:00p – 9:00p EDT
Organization: Maryland State Arts Council
Location: Frostburg, MD
Short Overview: A series of evenings for artists, arts organizations, arts leaders and arts supporters to gather for collaborative discussion and professional development. Partners include Maryland State Arts Council, Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Maryland Nonprofits, and Maryland State Department of Education.

Title: Creative Conversations
Date/Time: Thursday, October 4, 6:30p – 8:00p CDT
Organization: Rising Arts Leaders of Lubbock
Location: Lubbock, TX
Short Overview: Ann Graham, Executive Director of Texans for the Arts, visits with Rising Arts Leaders of Lubbock about their power to create change through the arts. The conversation will be through the political lenses as we gear up for mid-term elections and the Texas legislature session of 2019. 

Title: Creative Conversation – Art and Eco Sustainability: Destination Crenshaw
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 10, 6:30p PDT
Organization: Emerging Arts Leaders/LA
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Short Overview: Join EAL/LA as they gather together with artists, architects, curators, city officials, and developers involved with Destination Crenshaw to consider and experience sustainable arts practices. Can using art as a form of environmental advocacy raise awareness on a more sustainable future of cleaner air, smarter transportation, environmental justice, public history and personal memory in the Leimert Park Village / Crenshaw Corridor?

Title: Creative Conversation – Sustaining the Self
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 17, 6:00p PDT
Organization: Emerging Arts Leaders/LA
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Short Overview: Join EAL/LA for an interactive workshop informed by holistic practices. Artists and educators Alli Simon (Instructor, Everybody Gym, and founder of OM Girl) and Sarita Dougherty (Artist in Residence, Women’s Center for Creative Work) will lead participants through exercises in movement, sound, meditation, and breath work to stimulate a connection with the self, facilitate an engaged community, and manifest creativity. This workshop is free and open to all.1

Title: Twitter Live Lunch Break with AMS Planning and Research
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 23, 12:00p – 1:00p EDT
Organization: AMS Planning and Research
Location: Remote
Short Overview: AMS Planning and Research (@AMSarts) will be hosting a Twitter Live “Lunch Break” conversation with their team of analysts.

Title: Creative Conversation – Art to Sustain a Cause
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 24, 6:30p PDT
Organization: Emerging Arts Leaders/LA
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Short Overview: Join EAL/LA for a creative conversation between thought leaders about how to sustain the integrity of a cause when making art for public consumption. The panel will feature artist Karla Camacho, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) Visual Art Director Nara Hernandez, and filmmaker Sequoyah Tiger Moon. The conversation will be moderated by Fe Love of Compassionate ARTS in Action.

Title: Women in Arts Leadership Symposium
Date/Time: Saturday, October 27. 9:00a – 4:30p EDT
Organization: UMass Amherst, Arts Extension Service
Location: Amherst, MA
Short Overview: The Women in Arts Leadership Symposium will connect UMass and Five College students and alumnae with emerging and professional arts leaders through workshops and network building. By sharing their stories and questions, participants will investigate the particular barriers to women’s leadership in the arts, and forge connections to support the next generation of female-identified arts leaders. Participants will respond to the following prompts throughout the day: “In my path to leadership I will: 1) Advance my ability to…; 2) Address my personal obstacle of… 3) Help affect change by…”

Title: Creative Conversation Round Tables
Date/Time: November
Organization: State of Connecticut, Department of Economic & Community Development
Location: Connecticut
Short Overview: These events will be in the form of a series of convenings that will begin as Round Tables (inspired by the NEA model) in November, which will inform further conversations and professional development offerings that will be planned for early 2019 and throughout the Spring. The goal of the convenings is to hear from the field and to make sure we are developing future professional development that is responsive to their needs. Topic areas to be discussed are: arts and economic impact, accessibility, READI, arts workforce development, and arts learning.

Bonus Creative Conversation that happened just before National Arts and Humanities Month…

Title: Creative Conversation
Date: Saturday, September 29
Organization: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
Location: Providence, RI
Short Overview: Co-hosted by Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and the Rhode Island Foundation, Maria Lopez de Leon, President + CEO of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture and expert on intercultural initiatives nationwide, facilitated an intimate, invitation-only conversation with the Rhode Island Expansion Arts Program (RIEAP) current and new cohort, as well as recipients of the Intercultural Collaboration Seed Grants.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a plug for one of our other great NAHM initiatives, the #ShowYourArt2018 campaign. #ShowYourArt2018 is an easy way for you to be creative and share how important the arts are to you in your day-to-day life. All you have to do is post a photo to Instagram or other social media each day responding to these 31 daily themes (click to expand)—and be sure to tag @Americans4Arts and use the hashtag #showyourart2018.

I hope that hearing about some of these amazing activities inspires you to take park in the National Arts and Humanities Month celebrations. How do YOU celebrate the arts and humanities?

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