Thank you to the many people who have been blog contributors to, and readers of ArtsBlog over the years. ArtsBlog has long been a space where we uplifted stories from the field that demonstrated how the arts strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically; where trends and issues and controversies were called out; and advocacy tools were provided to help you make the case for more arts funding and favorable arts policies.

As part of Americans for the Arts’ recent Strategic Realignment Process, we were asked to evaluate our storytelling communications platforms and evolve the way we share content. As a result, we launched the Designing Our Destiny portal to explore new ways of telling stories and sharing information, one that is consistent with our longtime practice of, “No numbers without a story, and no stories without a number.”

As we put our energy into developing this platform and reevaluate our communications strategies, we have put ArtsBlog on hold. That is, you can read past blog posts, but we are not posting new ones. You can look to the Designing Our Destiny portal and our news items feed on the Americans for the Arts website for stories you would have seen in ArtsBlog in the past.

ArtsBlog will remain online through this year as we determine the best way to archive this valuable resource and the knowledge you’ve shared here.

As ever, we are grateful for your participation in ArtsBlog and thank you for your work in advancing the arts. It is important, and you are important for doing it.

From the Elected Official’s Perspective: Why Arts Advocacy Matters

Posted by Mr. Jay H. Dick, Mar 25, 2022 0 comments

There is a great deal of information on arts organizations’ websites about why and how arts advocacy is important, along with suggestions for best practices for advocates. Here is an opportunity to switch up the perspective from the arts advocate and learn about the elected officials’ thought process. I recently interviewed Iowa Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg (R), whose relationship with Americans for the Arts through the National Lieutenant Governors Association has helped him understand that the arts are everywhere in our economy, how they play a huge role in education and rural development, and the ways they can support other areas such as health care and community cohesion. We discussed the importance of building relationships with elected officials in order to educate and advocate for issues that matter, how the arts make an impact in all 99 of Iowa’s counties, why it’s crucial for advocates to come together and work toward a common cause, and more.

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Member Spotlight: Mehmet Dede

Posted by Mehmet Dede, Linda Lombardi, Mar 22, 2022 0 comments

The Hartt School at the University of Hartford offers conservatory-based training in music, dance, and theater that moves beyond conservative traditions. Assistant Professor of Music and Performing Arts Management Mehmet Dede is an internationally recognized award-winning music curator and festival producer with 20 years of experience in the culture space. In addition to his work at The Hartt School, he is also the Programming Director of downtown New York City music venue Drom. “My two decades of work as curator and entrepreneur have taught me a powerful life lesson that I apply to my practice as an educator: To stay curious myself and to teach curiosity to my students. I love sharing what I know with others who are equally curious about music, the arts, culture, business, and how they all intersect. Whether college age students or lifelong learners like myself, I believe we have much to learn from each other.”

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10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2022

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Mar 21, 2022 0 comments

The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, empathy, and beauty. The arts also strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even during a pandemic that has been devastating to the arts. The following 10 reasons show why an investment in artists, creative workers, and arts organizations is vital to the nation’s post-pandemic healing and recovery. The arts are a proven contributor in keeping us mentally healthy—reducing depression and anxiety and increasing life satisfaction. Just 30 minutes of arts activities daily can combat the ill effects of isolation and loneliness associated with COVID-19—and 78% of hospital CEOs say the purpose of their arts programs is to aid in the emotional and mental healing of patients Those data points nail it. The arts are all about stories—often personal, always meaningful. This advocacy season, find your stories and pair them with the research-based findings in “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

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Riva Lehrer and the Complex World of Art and Disability Advocacy

Posted by Laura Martin, Mar 17, 2022 0 comments

Riva Lehrer is no stranger to difficult times. Growing up with spina bifida in the 1950s and ’60s, Riva experienced a very ableist world where children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. She very quickly had to learn to mask her own disability or acquire other identities to overshadow her “differentness.” She didn’t learn how to advocate or vocalize her needs as a disabled person until later in life. It was through her art and writing, and joining the Disabled Artists Collective, that gave Riva a way to portray and publicly amplify the humanness of those with impairments as people like everyone else, including herself. Riva stands squarely at the intersection of so many identities: advocate, disabled, queer, artist, writer, professor, public speaker, Jewish, and a woman. But the one she gets asked to weigh in on the most is disability, as if the mere fact that she has a disability makes her an expert in the field: “When I present my portrait work with people with impairments and who deal with stigma I can’t just talk about the art or some other aspect of the art. I’ll start talking about working with some trans or queer subjects and most of the time people just want to bring it back to disability. It often feels like a lot of me is left outside the door.”

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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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