Blog Posts for lead

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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Member Spotlight: Allyson Esposito

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Jun 14, 2021 0 comments

Executive Director of Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange (CACHE) Allyson Esposito is an arts administrator, lawyer, and dancer with more than 12 years of change management experience in philanthropy. Launched in 2019, CACHE supports Northwest Arkansas’ creative community—elevating local creatives; connecting the region with world-renowned leaders; and developing robust, culturally diverse hubs to create. Current initiatives include providing financial support to nonprofits in the wake of COVID-19, a weekly online creative variety that deep-dives into the world of artists, and multiple programs that enrich the region’s music scene. CACHE acts as a proud ambassador of the culture-bearers, makers, entrepreneurs, and collectives to intersect our region with the world. 

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Standing in Solidarity to Stop Violence Against Asian-Americans

Posted by Ms. Donna Walker-Kuhne, May 26, 2021 0 comments

On May 16, 2021, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) sponsored an important virtual panel discussion about the epidemic of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and the need for allyship. The program was another installment of NJPAC’s Standing in Solidarity, a series of initiatives and events promoting racial equality and social justice. The series was launched in June of 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd to offer greater understanding of current racial disparities, as well as offer a forum for learning about the actions all citizens can take to advance the causes of equality and justice. NJPAC’s Social Justice Planning Task Force recognized that the resurgence of anti-AAPI violence was a critical issue to discuss and there was a dire need to help the broader community understand how they can become allies in the fight against this surging injustice. The panel was convened just as the results of a survey conducted by a new nonprofit found that 80 percent of Asian Americans “don’t feel respected and say they are discriminated against by their fellow Americans.”

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Member Spotlight: Felicia Baca

Posted by Linda Lombardi, May 24, 2021 0 comments

Since the late 1970s, the Salt Lake City Arts Council has promoted, presented, and supported artists, arts organizations, and arts activities to further the development of the arts community and to benefit the public by expanding awareness, access, and participation. As director of the Arts Council, Felicia Baca acts as the chief arts and culture advocate for the city and oversees the development, promotion, implementation, support, and strengthening of creative programs and policy. “I’m an advocate, ambassador, and relationship-builder to elevate artists and art organizations in the city, while facilitating opportunities for residents to engage in the arts. My hope is to further the development of an arts ecosystem citywide that considers artists and arts engagement as essential for livability, equity, and economic development. Our Arts Council has a variety of functions, including granting, public art, and public programs. It all ties back to serving as an advocate for artists, and engaging residents in the many benefits of the arts.”

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How America’s Arts Organizations Can Invest Their Values

Posted by Laura Callanan, May 20, 2021 0 comments

Following the strong, public statements of solidarity with Black Lives Matter that cultural institutions across the country made in Summer 2020, museums, artist-endowed foundations, and other arts organizations began to look inward, identifying all the ways their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access can be lived in their day-to-day activities. This has prompted endowed cultural organizations to seriously evaluate whether their investment decisions reflect their values, and to begin the journey to align their money with mission and purpose. Such a reflection is a natural outgrowth of recent debates over accepting donations earned through the sale of opioids, fossil fuels, weapons, and the operation of private prisons. It also recognizes that Next Generation art donors and foundations that fund the arts—many of whom are impact investors themselves—are beginning to evaluate an arts organization’s investments alongside its programs and policies when deciding where to give. America’s museums, libraries, art schools, performing art centers, and other cultural institutions steward more than $58 billion in financial assets through their endowments. This means investment policies and practices offer a meaningful way for cultural institutions to signal their values of diversity, equity, inclusion and access.

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Member Spotlight: Jeremy Johnson

Posted by Linda Lombardi, May 10, 2021 0 comments

Since 2016, Jeremy Johnson has been executive director of Newark Arts, one of the city’s leading nonprofits. The organization makes grants to neighborhood arts programs, produces the award-winning Newark Arts Festival, and advocates for policies to uplift Newark as a city of the arts. During his tenure, Newark Arts has strengthened the city's cultural profile, including the 2020 ranking of Newark among America's Top 10 Arts-Vibrant Communities by the National Center for Arts Research. Johnson led the creation of Newark’s first community cultural plan, Newark Creates, which resulted in the city-sponsored Creative Catalyst Fund to support area artists impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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