Blog Posts for Civic Engagement

Arts Leaders and Americans for the Arts Members Getting Out the Vote

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Oct 22, 2020 0 comments

As the 2020 election gets closer and many voters are already voting by mail or in-person, arts organizations around the country are doing their part to help voters make their vote count. This election is crucial to electing leaders at each level of government who will ensure that funding for the arts is protected and accessible for all. In this month’s Member Briefing, Americans for the Arts members Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and Nate McGaha, executive director of Arts North Carolina, discussed using the arts to Get Out the Vote. They shared their experiences conducting voter outreach in their communities including their candidate forums, messaging about important voting deadlines, and partnership with other local, and national organizations including ArtsVote. If you missed the briefing live, a recording of the event is available now on ArtsU. Member Briefings are our quarterly opportunity to talk to you about what’s happening now, so mark your calendars to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at Americans for the Arts and across the sector. 

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3 Ways that Open Source Can Radically Transform the Arts

Posted by Vijay Mathew, May 16, 2014 2 comments

Open sourcing—otherwise known as “commons-based peer production”—is a model for the production of cultural and material products and activity. It is most well known outside of the arts as a successful collaborative model for producing software since the advent of the web more than twenty years ago. The goods that result from an open source endeavor belong to “a commons” and are accessible to all.

A key characteristic of an open source product is that it cannot be privatized. Privatization defines value through artificially induced scarcity and then derives money from barriers to access. Value in an open source project, however, is defined by how successful the needs of a community are being met and by the project’s ability to enable continuous innovation and evolution due to its openness and accessibility. Open sourcing is a civic good and a process for re-organizing communities and social dynamics. In many economic and cultural contexts in which we inhabit, open sourcing is counter-cultural. In terms of its value system and world-view, it’s a perfect match for what many people feel the not-for-profit sector should aspire to.

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Advancing Social Justice through Documentation and Archiving

Posted by Jamie Haft, May 19, 2014 1 comment

Jamie Haft Jamie Haft

A call to action is what has emerged for me from Animating Democracy’s vigorous blog salon, Back to the Future: Forward-Thinking Documentation & Archiving. Imagine an organizing effort to achieve Reverend James Lawson’s founding statement of principle for the civil rights movement’s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee: “a social order of justice permeated by love.” Do documentation and archiving come to mind as essential to building a movement? Reading the insights from all the thoughtful writers in this blog salon, I am happy to say, yes!

The work of documenting, archiving, and communicating about the field of community cultural development is a political act. This context encompasses and gives meaning to the five debunked misconceptions about archiving and documentation in my opening post.

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Creative Placemaking: Template for Cultivating Arts and Cultural Policy at the Local Level

Posted by Jim Clark, May 30, 2014 0 comments

"Creative Placemaking" as described by Anne Gadwa Nicodemus and Ann Markusen offers artists and arts administrators a template to engage business and civic leaders in the articulation of new cultural policies at the local level. In her paper, “Fuzzy Vibrancy: Creative Placemaking as Ascendant U.S. Cultural Policy,” Nicodemus states that one of the hallmarks of creative placemaking is the development of cross-sector partnerships to promote “arts-centered initiatives with place-based physical, economic and/or social outcomes.”

Does this widespread interest in creative placemaking present an opportunity for us to expand and develop cultural policy at the local level?

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How to Get a Seat at the Table

Posted by Linda Langston, May 30, 2014 0 comments

I recently spoke in an Americans for the Arts’ State Arts Action Network webinar entitled, “How to Get a Seat at the Table” on May 7. As president of the National Association of Counties, I presented from a political perspective. As a former museum director though, I am attuned to the unique challenges and opportunities in making sure your voice is heard as an arts organization. Your first priority in getting a seat at the table is to make sure that your organization’s business plan and vision are in line. You need to define what your organization is and also you need to determine your organization’s place is in the community. You must be the story-teller of your organization.

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The Beauty in Change: Considering Aesthetics in Creative Social Change Work

Posted by Alicia Gregory, Nov 17, 2014 3 comments

Alicia Gregory Alicia Gregory

“This feels a bit like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole,” said one contributor to this week’s blog salon on the role of aesthetics in arts for social change work. Indeed, it is no light matter. Despite this, we are pleased bring you 17 thought pieces from a diverse lineup of artists, cultural leaders, funders, and activists who have weighed in on why and how aesthetics are important in understanding, valuing, and advancing arts and social change work.

The questions we posed catalyzed some interesting critique and debate. In the weeks since we set them down on the page and said “Go!” to our generous bloggers, I’ve been thinking about these questions. I’ve thought about the time, in my days as an editor in graduate school, I went to bat for a piece on the 2011 Egyptian Revolution because it was urgent and moved me, despite falling short technically and in clarity.

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