Good Tidings from SAAN

Posted by Ms. Elisabeth Dorman, Dec 11, 2018 0 comments

Much has happened since last I wrote, including the 2018 Midterm Elections, in which: Over 113 million citizens nationwide turned out to vote; a record-breaking total of 107 women were elected to serve in Congress; Democrats now control the U.S. House and Republicans retain hold of the U.S. Senate; key congressional arts supporters like Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) on Ways and Means Committee will be the new chairs; at the state level, there will be 19 new governors, 27 new state legislative leaders, and 1,700 new state legislators—resulting in a 23% turnover; and more than 2,000 women will serve in state legislatures in their upcoming sessions and will hold the majority in two state legislative chambers—the Colorado House and Nevada Assembly. On top of getting out the vote for this year’s midterms, State Arts Action Network leaders had noteworthy advocacy gains in their communities.

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Artists Transforming Local Government: Creative Strategies Toward Racial Justice

Posted by Diana Falchuk, Dec 07, 2018 0 comments

A few years ago, the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative Team started looking more closely at how the individualist, perfectionist, paternalistic, and compartmentalizing culture of white supremacy within ourselves and across the institution got in the way of the progress toward racial equity that we were making with trainings, policy tools, and interdepartmental organizing structures. We began to develop a strategy to shift that culture. We adopted the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond Anti-Racist Principles as our guideposts. We developed trainings to begin to understand and heal from the dehumanizing impacts of internalized racial inferiority and superiority. And we began working to de-center ego and lift up spirit, collective action and the belief that no one is disposable. We started getting real about practicing grace for ourselves and for each other. Cultivating creativity in our work has become a central piece of this strategy.

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Move Well with Communities

Posted by Jessica Moneà Evans, Dec 06, 2018 0 comments

When we think of health and wellness, we think about the mind, body and spirit. We imagine wholeness. … Why? Because every day, we have the opportunity to make conscious decisions about what we allow into our bodies. This includes not only what we eat, drink, watch, and listen to, but also our thoughts. To us at heidi duckler dance (HDD), wellness is how we realize our self image, and as artists, it is the overall practice we promote in our daily lives. HDD transforms non-traditional spaces, provides learning opportunities by engaging diverse communities, and promotes the concept that the arts can change our vision of the world and of ourselves. Through working with HDD’s Artistic Director, Heidi Duckler, I have had the pleasure of seeing firsthand the power of utilizing all types of venues while simultaneously using arts from across different disciplines to uncover powerful stories. This process has allowed me to see how I, as an artist and an administrator, can incorporate wellness into our work. 

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Who Are the Naturally Occurring Artists in Your Municipal Agency?

Posted by Ms. Elizabeth Hamby, Dec 06, 2018 0 comments

The first time I tried to get a job as an artist in government, I failed. I was recruited for a position focused on community engagement, visioning, and imagination. The hiring agency was excited by my artwork, and sought me out for the skills I’d honed through social practice. But as we negotiated the terms of my position and I asked that my title be “artist,” I quickly got shot down. To call this work “art” would somehow make it harder for it to be taken seriously by other stakeholders. Plus, my colleagues feared, they were already seen as “soft” for their focus on community engagement, and would be further ostracized from the real decision-making work of the agency. I could do the work however I wanted, they said, but I couldn’t call it art. The second time I tried to get a job as an artist in government, I kept my artist identity to myself. 

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Creative Strategist Initiative: Embedding Artist in the Bureaucracy

Posted by Pauline Kanako Kamiyama, Dec 05, 2018 0 comments

This summer the LA County Arts Commission (LACAC) kicked off the artist-in-residence Creative Strategist Initiative. One of seven recommendations from the Cultural Equity & Inclusion Initiative that were funded by the LA County Board of Supervisors in 2017, the AIR Creative Strategist Initiative places individuals with artistic expertise in County departments to assist in the implementation of special County projects. Creative Strategists are placed as artists in residence (CS-AIR) for a minimum of 12 months, and work alongside department staff. Together, the department and CS-AIR collaborate with project partners and community stakeholders to effect change and impact a specific project or initiative. The Arts Commission implemented extensive field research and months of conversations with these departments to prepare for artist placement, uncovering critical lessons through the process.

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Real Change Requires a Dismantling of Old Norms

Posted by Ms. Alison T. McNeil, Dec 04, 2018 0 comments

Many arts organizations approach change efforts this way: they operate on the surface with small adjustments to tactics or processes and encounter some of the same self-defeating results. In my career, I’ve observed this reality emerge among many different types of arts organizations. Maybe an organization is trying to improve their operations, or prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion, or consider how/if they can ensure that their impact is aligned with their mission, or effect systemic change. The common theme in most of these change efforts is that tactical strategies don’t yield transformational and sustainable results. So how do we do it? First, it’s important to examine what is at the core of the issues. We do this only after committing to a process that’s built on shared agreements, that prioritizes intellectual curiosity, trust, patience, compassion, and transparency. It’s work that doesn’t happen overnight, because our issues and/or challenges don’t happen overnight. 

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