Blog Posts for Arts & Culture Leaders of Color Fellowship

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.

The Journey is the Thing

Posted by Leah Harris, Jun 28, 2021 0 comments

As I reflect on my journey as an Arts & Culture Leaders of Color Fellow with Americans for the Arts, I am unsure of when I started referring to myself as an “arts administrator,” or if I have yet fully embraced the term. I’ve always lived and worked in the community engagement lane, in theater arenas. My resume reflects a career path synonymous with the definition of arts administrator, but I never really claimed that title out loud. I knew, however, that this fellowship would put me in community with other people of color outside of the American Regional Theater network. A space that I initially thought would be pure refuge from my (at the time) predominantly white working environment ended up being so much more. It was affirming, challenging, and, at times, liberating. I felt seen and inspired by my cohort of fellows.

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Envisioning My Future Self: Reflections from a Future Leader of Color

Posted by Meccah M. Martin, Dec 11, 2020 0 comments

When I look into the future, my vision is a little blurry. The year 2020 caused me to reflect in a way I never have before. In a year of uncertainty, the last thing I would like to be is unsure of my path. My wariness mirrors my feelings towards the arts and culture field, which is my career focus. The arts are struggling as performance venues, museums, dance centers, and so many other large and small arts organizations closed their doors due to COVID. Not only do the arts have to navigate the current state of the world, but there is another issue that plagues the field, namely racial inequity. Along with the pandemic, the ongoing conversation of race and the treatment and lack of representation of African Americans in the arts and entertainment sectors came to the forefront. Unfortunately, the demand for equality is still prominent, after years and years of constant toil. As much as I put my chosen career path on a pedestal, the arts struggle with this issue as well, making it harder for Black people to excel to higher positions or step foot in the door at all. You would think that a field that relies so much on diversity, and champions itself on representing different ideals and backgrounds, would have more representation. The sad truth is that the arts are far behind in the race for equality, equity, and inclusion.

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Posted by J. Gibran G. Villalobos, May 01, 2020 0 comments

Times have changed. The alarm has been struck, and it is declared that for the next few months we are living in a state of emergency. The alarm will persist in the background for months as we try to make sense of our world. For many, our lives have become paralyzed as we wait for announcements and instruction on how we are to continue working. Others continue their commutes to their jobs, as the essential laborers and custodians of our world. For now, many of us are remotely reporting via digital platforms, supervising the structures of a disordered world through virtual windows. As a curator of public programs, I am tasked with the delicate observation of people—understanding their needs, anticipating their questions, and often regulating their movement. It is in the nature (and definition) of this work that I care for all individuals through their experience in artistic environments. In the midst of this emergency, I have observed how institutions have immediately taken action to facilitate programs. I admire the resilience of the arts sector—its agility and improvisation are often pulled off with success, disproportional to anemic budgets with robust audiences. Yet, I am also dismayed that the arts, once again, confronts a different crisis, an unprecedented crisis.

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Pre-historic Optimism in the Age of Corona

Posted by Mr. Andrew A. Valdez, Apr 29, 2020 0 comments

I often ask my students what they want to be when they grow up. I wanted to be a paleontologist. I loved dinosaurs and spent hours in my school’s elementary library reading up on every dinosaur book and watching every documentary I could get my hands on. Had I been a child during this pandemic, my ideal scenario would be curled up in my school library with the internet and a treasure trove of dinosaur books at my disposal. However, that’s not feasible for most of my students. In fact, roughly two-thirds of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District students don’t have access to a computer or similar device at home. One third of our families do not have access to reliable high-speed internet. But what is waiting for them—once the district hands out hotspots and computers—is something I wish I had access to at their age. They will have access to each other, a support network of friends and teachers who are eagerly awaiting them. In particular, one teacher who is so excited for the moment they reconnect because he has collected a handful of dinosaur facts he can’t wait to share with them.

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Essential in a Different Way

Posted by Kavita Mahoney, Apr 22, 2020 0 comments

This is an unprecedented time in our history—one I’m still processing and reacting to as things change every day. I’m reminded how grateful I am to still have a job I love and basic necessities such as food, electricity, and technology (especially to connect with loved ones). This experience also has taught me several important lessons and reminded me why I chose a career in the arts to begin with: creating is essential to mental health and provides an opportunity for human connection. People are rallying around the arts, donating money, collecting data, creating artwork, hosting live performances, and even collecting shared stories and histories around this experience to add to museum collections. It’s no coincidence that people are using the arts to stay connected to each other. The arts have always had a way of bringing people together, and this has been true even before we hit a global pandemic.

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Do those values come in my size?

Posted by Ms. Aseelah Shareef, Apr 21, 2020 0 comments

Whether or not we can name them, we all function from a set of values. From when we’re young they get passed down from our caretakers and life experiences. However, as adults we can be more intentional. We are empowered to think about the person we aspire to be and align our values accordingly. Our core values should not be relegated to a page in a shelved binder or a forgotten annual report. Use them as a tool to navigate your leadership as an arts administrator during this pivotal moment in history. While we create new avenues for arts and culture engagement in this changing landscape, our individual and institutional core values will light our paths towards new solutions and new ways of being as arts practitioners, participants, and leaders.

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