Member Spotlight: David Ross

Posted by David Ross, Linda Lombardi, Mar 08, 2022 0 comments

As creative placemaking coordinator for The Arts Commission in Toledo, Ohio, David Ross is a community artist turned advocate for youth and creativity. An alum of The Arts Commission’s Young Artist at Work program, he has been a member of the creative placemaking team since 2020, working to connect visual art and social issues. Ross also chairs the City of Toledo Human Relation Commission’s Stop the Violence Committee, co-chairs the Toledo Racial Equity & Inclusion Council, and is the founder of a local celebrity basketball charity contest, Dunkin 4 Donations. “Creative placemaking is the answer to social justice artistically filling in the gaps and barriers in equality and opportunity. Not knowing how to express yourself or not having pride will make you not see the value of the land or opportunity to flourish. Creative placemaking directly addresses those issues with a creative and sustainable approach.”

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The Language of Equity

Posted by Ms. Ruby Lopez Harper, Linda Lombardi, Mar 01, 2022 0 comments

In recent years, there has been greater intentional focus on equitable language and communication. That focus has led to noticeable, positive change. The arts and culture field is uniquely positioned to help reinforce and advance this movement, particularly through the literary work of playwrights, novelists, poets, journalists, dramaturgs, editors, scholars, and critics. Equitable language opens dialogue and invites more people to the conversation. The words we use and the way we approach language can be the difference between diverse storytelling and empowered representation, or failed attempts to establish equity. The ripple effect of creating and adopting equitable language is limitless. That’s why language banks and similar tools are so crucial to navigating conversations, communications, and storytelling, and why these tools are essential to how we move forward together. Inside Americans for the Arts, we began dissecting and crafting how we could leverage our reach and resources in support of the work happening in communities across the county. We know that every organization, every individual, is on their own journey with equity and while we can’t bring everyone to the same level in one swoop, we could build tools to assist the work. 

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Painting By Numbers: How Cities Can Use Data to Support the Arts

Posted by David Andersson, Feb 25, 2022 0 comments

Although cities increasingly rely on data to help shape policy and identify service gaps, there is often skepticism from both the creative sector and government about whether metrics can meaningfully capture the impact of the arts. In a field where variety of creative expression is fundamental, how do you count what really counts? For cities that recognize their artists and cultural institutions as a critical part of the economy and essential to quality of life for residents, arts data can be a powerful tool to advocate for culture alongside other city services. Data can also help city leaders understand who is and isn’t being served by government arts dollars and expand access to arts experiences in every community. Through best practices and case studies, Arts Data in the Public Sector: Strategies for Local Arts Agencies aims to help arts agencies and city leaders show measurable impact, identify priority policy areas, and establish more equitable and inclusive practices to promote access to the arts across communities.

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CERF+ — The Artist’s Safety Net: Providing Emergency Relief for the Cultural Sector

Posted by Mr. John W. Haworth, Feb 24, 2022 0 comments

The work of CERF+ is vital within the larger context of the complex challenges cultural organizations and individual artists have managing—and surviving—disasters and emergencies. As emergency planning has become an ever-higher priority for cultural facilities throughout the country, CERF+ puts key strategic questions on the table: How do local cultural communities prepare for the enormous challenges of floods, fires, earthquakes, and storms? How do we meet the economic and human costs of such life-changing circumstances? With major support from foundations and other funders, local arts agencies across the country have developed programs to provide grants to individual artists. Though much of this support is earmarked for creative work, there is a growing recognition of what is required to sustain creative careers over many years or a lifetime. CERF+ is committed to helping artists sustain their careers and develop the tools and support to protect and preserve their livelihoods, studios, and creative output.

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Simone Eccleston Celebrates Black Genius

Posted by Simone Eccleston, Linda Lombardi, Feb 22, 2022 0 comments

I see Black genius as the soulful expression of the extraordinary creativity, intellect, and ingenuity of African Diaspora people. It is about how we incite the imagination, move the crowd, and stir the soul. There’s a spirit to Black genius that needs to be awarded. It’s not solely the moments of inspiration, but also the deep dedication and commitment to craft, the ways in which we locate ourselves within a tradition and traditions. The Black Genius Foundation is committed to transforming the conversation around genius by placing Black artists and the Black Creative Ecosystem at the center. The Black Genius Foundation is our opportunity to sing a praise song for new generations and advance the legacy that our ancestors and elders have so boldly created for us to carry forward.

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Cultural Asset Identification & Building Inclusive Creative Economies

Posted by Jessica Stern, Jan 20, 2022 0 comments

In early 2021, we published an outline of the goals and commitments Americans for the Arts is making towards supporting the development of an inclusive creative economy nationally and in local communities. This work in 2022 will focus on helping communities build awareness of their cultural assets and how to equitably strengthen, value, and utilize them. In partnership with and under the guidance of Cézanne Charles and John Marshall, principals of rootoftwo, LLC, we will embark on a year-long process to devise a set of tools, guides, evaluations, and trainings—with ample opportunities for participation from the field in the development of these tools—that will support local arts leaders in their efforts to identify and define their unique creative economies, and help communities to identify cultural assets and understand the health of those assets. 

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