Blog Posts for connect

In the Hands of a Loving Heart

Posted by Ms. Pam Korza, Apr 30, 2020 0 comments

On this last day of National Poetry Month, we have a special gift from musician and composer Hannibal Lokumbe, whom Americans for the Arts is proud to honor as our 2020 Johnson Fellow for Artists Transforming Communities. Hannibal composed this poem out of intense concern for the dire moment that all humankind is experiencing and the many people we hold dear. It was inspired by a recent dream in which his mother appeared holding her hand silently over her heart. As we ache for the breath, the embrace, the embodied presence of family, friends, and colleagues, Hannibal’s words remind of the enduring power of the spirit and heart to connect us in this time of physical distancing, duress, and loss. I leave you in the hands of Hannibal’s loving heart. 

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On Cultural Organizing and Performing Our Future

Posted by Ben Fink, Denise Griffin Johnson, Apr 21, 2020 0 comments

“We own what we make.” That’s the watchword of a national grassroots-to-grassroots coalition called Performing Our Future, which we both help lead. It unites communities across the country who have spent generations resisting economic exploitation—who historically have not owned what they make—and who have long been set against each other along racial, political, regional, and rural-urban lines. How have these communities come together? Through the work of cultural organizing. Cultural organizing is not the same as conventional community organizing or activism. Conventional community organizing and activism typically work from deficits: identify what’s missing in our communities, find and mobilize the people who agree with you, call out the inequity and injustice, and fight the bad guys. In the coalfields of East Kentucky and the inner city of West Baltimore, where we work, this usually means “organizing around” problems like unemployment, drugs, or disenfranchisement. Sometimes a meeting might start with a poem, or a protest might include beautiful puppets. But that’s still not cultural organizing. Cultural organizing is more than activism-plus-art.

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I Waited For the Sun

Posted by Michele Crawford, Apr 20, 2020 0 comments

Sometimes the source of our perceived needs is shielded, just to remind us of the greatness we take for granted and get us to yearn for something regular again. For many, that greatness is integrated in art, through creation and sharing. The brilliance of the solar system and the access to the sun is something we all share. Despite the classes we put ourselves in, despite the prejudices we choose to uphold and create, our sun is seemingly the same. It is a reminder of a new day beginning and, ready or not, another chance to be. My biggest lesson from the excessive alone time and relaxation of busyness is that though it seems many things are inaccessible, I still have access. I can still create, think, make mistakes, and breathe. 

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Local Arts Agency Roundtable: A Conversation with Kristin Sakoda

Posted by Kristin Sakoda, Apr 17, 2020 0 comments

In 2018, Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors voted to transition LA County’s long-standing Arts Commission into the County’s first-ever Department for Arts and Culture in response to the growing and expanding arts ecology. In a recent conversation, LA County Department of Arts and Culture’s Director, Kristin Sakoda, told us about the process. “There is culture in all people and all places—rich, cultural diversity; heritage; artistic practices; and traditions—but often unequal access, resources, recognition, and histories of support,” said Sakoda. “In a county as ethnically and culturally diverse and geographically sprawling as Los Angeles, the Department seeks to ensure that all the benefits of, and opportunities provided by, the arts are available and accessible to all residents, no matter who they are or where they live.”

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Local Arts Agency Roundtable: A Conversation with Nicole Mullet

Posted by Ms. Nicole Mullet, Apr 15, 2020 0 comments

In 2012, the GAR Foundation and Knight Foundation launched the Summit County Arts and Culture Initiative to better understand the strengths, challenges, relevance, and opportunities for the arts sector of Summit County, Ohio. The initiative marked the first time this type of work was done for or with the arts sector in the greater Akron area. As work progressed, it became evident a new organization was needed to meet the needs of Summit County, and in July 2015 ArtsNow was created to address the report’s findings and ensure the arts and culture sector is fully leveraged in finding solutions to community needs and moving the region forward. Nicole Mullet, executive director of ArtsNow, talked to us recently about the process and what the initiative discovered.

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It’s the Arts. Troubling News Yet Still Room for Optimism

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Apr 14, 2020 0 comments

The coronavirus is having a devastating impact on America’s arts sector. Since the first U.S. case was diagnosed, cancellations and closings have been reported at thousands of arts organizations across the country, artists are posting high unemployment rates, and organizations are furloughing staff. Clearly this is a distressing time for the country with more uncertainty ahead. When the crisis does end, however, the arts should be looked to as an essential tool in both economic recovery and reconnecting our communities. Getting people out of their houses and spending money again will be key to jump-starting the economy (70% of the U.S. economy is consumer spending). The arts also will create opportunities to heal the isolation caused by social distancing and unify our communities. The coronavirus toll is heavy, but the arts can be our great asset in recovering from the crisis socially and economically. This is why doing everything in our power to bolster the arts now will make our nation stronger later.

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