Blog Posts for connect

How the Work of Americans for the Arts Is Addressing the Urgent Challenges of 2020

Posted by Mr. Robert Lynch, Nov 16, 2020 0 comments

Americans for the Arts is committed to a vision of the arts being recognized as integral to the lives of all people and essential to healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities across the nation. The work of the organization is guided by a board-approved strategic plan with the advice of our leadership councils, strategic partners, local and state arts agencies, and many other decision makers, all of whom have a stake in advancing the arts as core to transforming lives, communities, workplaces, and education systems. The urgency of this vision has never been more apparent than in 2020—amid a global pandemic, heightened focus on social justice and racial equity, a huge economic downturn, and a contentious presidential election. These issues have impacted every community across the country and devastated artists, nonprofit and for-profit creative businesses, educational systems, healthcare, and trust in government. And because of long-term systemic inequities, these challenges have more severely affected people and communities of color. In 2020, Americans for the Arts continued its commitment to our vision and planned work, while also pivoting and taking on new, urgent work like so many of our 5,000 member organizations. Here are highlights of some key areas of the new and urgent work of Americans for the Arts in 2020 that are in addition to our planned work portfolio.

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Member Spotlight: Rosine Bena and Ananda Bena-Weber

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Nov 09, 2020 0 comments

The Sierra Nevada Ballet (SNB), a professional ballet company based in Reno, Nevada, will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021. The SNB’s founder and artistic director is former professional ballerina, Rosine Bena. SNB is made up of professional dancers from Nevada and from other areas of the country augmented by talented trainees and apprentices from the northern Nevada community. Among these professional dancers is Ananda Bena-Weber, Rosine’s daughter, who is also a founding member of the company and a principal dancer. SNB continues to expand and to encourage talented students at its Academy to remain in the Nevada area to pursue their careers and inspire others in the area to take advantage of the cultural enrichment. The mother and daughter duo spoke with us about the work of SNB, their artistic collaborations, and why they enjoy being members of Americans for the Arts: “Especially during these challenging times, it is such an important organization.” 

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Member Spotlight: Katrina M. Daniels

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Oct 26, 2020 0 comments

Katrina Daniels is the Exhibition and Gallery Sales Director at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center, which provides public awareness, education, and enjoyment of the visual arts by promoting the works of Michigan artists. Katrina coordinates exhibitions and public art programming working directly with artists to increase engagment between them and the Lansing community. Katrina is a co-founder of ARTpath, a program developed by the Gallery and the City of Lansing to bring artwork out of the traditional gallery setting and into the public realm. ARTpath offers more accessible opportunities for the community to engage with the work of Michigan artists. Our Member Profile series features the many Americans for the Arts members doing transformative work for arts education, public art, advocacy, arts marketing, and more. An Americans for the Arts Membership connects you with this network of more than 6,000 arts leaders and gives you access to latest professional development and research.

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Member Spotlight: Kyaien Conner

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Oct 12, 2020 0 comments

Kyaien (Kya) Conner, PhD, LSW, MPH, began studying West African Dance at the age of six and became a professional West African Dancer at 14. Trained in dance forms of Djembe, Sabar, and Kutiro, she is a member of Kuumba Dancers and Drummers in Tampa, Florida; teaches West African Dance at the University of Tampa; and has taught West African dance nationally and internationally. Conner also is a tenured professor of Mental Health Law and Policy at University of South Florida, specializing in health disparities and the benefits and effects of culturally relevant psychiatric treatments and community-based intervention in older African Americans.

Our Member Profile series features the many Americans for the Arts members doing transformative work for arts education, public art, advocacy, arts marketing, and more. An Americans for the Arts Membership connects you with this network of more than 6,000 arts leaders and gives you access to latest professional development and research. 

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Making art in person with community: Is it worth the risk in a pandemic?

Posted by Julia Vogl, Sep 23, 2020 0 comments

Whenever you make public art, there are risks—usually financial. But today with monuments being challenged, politics, history, and community emotions are often also at play. Oh, and we are in a pandemic. When everything was halted in March, I fell into a depression. The prospect of making art with community, if we could do it safely, felt like a mental health salvation. Our Neighborhood Rolls became a beautification project to cover the cinder block wall at the side of a building, but primarily it was envisioned as a point of pride that, in the making, would build community-a meaningful, fun, educational, and engaging project for local kids and residents in Kingston, NY. At a time when everyone is evaluating what risks are worth taking for the greater good, maybe making art with people in public sounds like an unnecessary hazard. However, after my experience in Kingston, I would argue it was an essential action. It greatly impacted my mental health, and visibly demonstrated the importance of placemaking and tangible engagement for community in these apocalyptic times.

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From Fearful to Fierce: Creating Authentic and Engaging Virtual Arts Experiences for Youth

Posted by Alex Gartner, Sep 17, 2020 0 comments

Until eight months ago, many arts educators would’ve scoffed at the idea of teaching art, music, dance, or theatre online. Now, virtual learning is a lifeline for arts education. With so many youth enrolled in virtual schooling, the need to design authentic and engaging online artistic experiences is ever more pressing. This challenge is coupled with the reality that so many young people are reeling from trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC reminds us that stark changes in routine, breaks in the continuity of learning, the cancelation of milestone life events, and the perceived loss of safety and security can be very damaging to a child’s social, emotional, and mental well-being. Furthermore, moving arts education online has interrupted social interactions and created limits on self-expression. Can virtual arts experiences still foster the social and emotional needs of young people during this difficult time in their lives? If you ask Maria Ellis and Morgan Luttig, the answer is yes.

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