For Arts Professionals in the Know
I’m not going to lie, I really don’t know much about visual art. It’s embarrassing as an “arts” administrator because my brother is an accomplished artist, my mother is a wildly creative interior designer, and my father fashions some of the most impressive urban development project management documents around.
Now, I could tell you all about Romantic-era composers, and go on about West African beats and argue why their current grooves are an aural history lesson of the slave-trade and post-colonialism, but when it comes to visual art, I just really don’t know a lot.
What I do know is, 1) generally speaking, I like visual art a lot and 2) I love seeing art by people who don’t consider themselves professional artists.
Enter reason #17 or so why I love my job: The ongoing charge to recognize businesses that make a special effort to unleash the inner artist in their accountants, actuaries, techies, and administrators.
So, naturally I was overjoyed to receive an invite last month to attend the opening of The Standard’s 2nd Annual ARTS (Artists in Residence at The Standard) Show.
The Standard, a financial services company, is one of Portland’s largest private employers, with approximately 2,200 individuals working in the state. This 106-year-old Oregon-born company was founded originally as a life insurance company with a goal to “champion the needs of the local community.” That value of being a community champion still rings true and The Standard is continually recognized for its charitable work, in addition to being a great supporter of arts and culture.
Always on Business for Culture & the Arts’ (BCA) list of the Top Business Donors to the Arts, The Standard ranked as the #1 Business Donor to the Arts in 2010 in the Portland Metro Area and #2 in the state of Oregon. Last year, in BCA’s cumulative study of 10 years of data, The Standard ranked #6 in the state of Oregon (having contributed over $1.8 million to arts and culture in 10 years).
Whether it’s through volunteerism, employee team scavenger hunts or direct giving, in addition to insurance, this company does something exquisitely: they honor their employees.
But back to ARTS...I’m familiar with programs that other Business Committees for the Arts run in other cities like On My Own Time (Denver) and art@work (Kansas City), but I hadn’t realized that some companies take it upon themselves to highlight the artistic talents of their staff.Read More
The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV report comes at an interesting time for Portland as we prepare to launch a campaign for a transformational arts funding measure that’s headed for the November ballot.
If approved by voters in November, a new income tax capped at $35 per person will raise $12 million per year to support arts organizations and arts education in the City of Portland. Specifically, the measure would restore 65 arts specialists in elementary schools and allow our local arts agency to provide general operating support for about 50 leading arts organizations at a rate of at least five percent of their operating budgets. (Our largest organizations currently receive about one percent of their budgets from local public support).
The measure would also help our Regional Arts & Culture Council set up a fund to increase access to arts and culture, specifically within communities of color and underserved neighborhoods.
The Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) is leading this initiative, and even the most recent polls have been strong, earning 75 percent approval of the actual ballot language among likely voters; we are cautiously optimistic about our chances for success.
However, inexplicably, our local newspaper recently published an appallingly ignorant editorial that dismisses the notion of public funding for the arts, and value of arts education in particular. We’re not quite sure what rock they’ve been living under, but we know they don’t represent the opinion of the vast majority of Portland residents. The letter writing campaign to enlighten them has begun! (Thank you, Bob Lynch, for your letter.)
We’ve also done polling to make sure we understand which messages are most likely to resonate with the voters, and we found that economic impact was not very high on the list. The fact that our local arts organizations constitute a $253 million industry, supporting 8,529 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $21 million in state and local government revenue was deemed “persuasive” by slightly less than half of the likely voters we surveyed.Read More
Since I started my job 4 ½ years ago, I have been looking for a way to quantify arts education. There are an overwhelming number of models circulating:
Washington State did an invited, online, school principal survey, leveraging the partnership of their Arts Education Research Initiative to elicit responses.
Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming worked with the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) to develop a shared survey instrument, administered in collaboration with the four state offices of education and public instruction.
Communities involved in The Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child initiative have created extensive school-based survey instruments, drawing on the expertise of locally-formed partnerships to create the best instrument and guarantee response rates.
I could go on, but you get the picture.
With over 1,300 public schools in the state, the cost to hire a research firm to design and administer a survey instrument was prohibitive, and every existing survey instrument we looked at needed substantial adaptation to satisfy our stakeholders.
Luckily, two years ago, a graduate student in public policy at University of Oregon, Sarah K. Collins, mentioned to me that her thesis project involved pulling data from the Department of Education to examine access to arts education. The Oregon Arts Commission hired Sarah to produce a state-level summary report of her thesis, which we then published.
While the summary data was useful in tracking overall trends, it wasn’t applicable to most citizens, who wanted to know what the numbers meant for their local school. This demand evolved into what is now the Oregon Arts Commission’s newly launched online arts education database.Read More
For the past year, I have been captivated by the concept of how tomorrow’s arts leaders must also serve as community leaders. Hailing temporarily from Oregon, where I have been pursuing a master’s degree in arts management that focuses on community arts, the line between arts leader and community leader is one that is quickly blurring for me.
As an emerging leader who is continually drawn to work that falls at the intersection of arts and social change, my eyes are most often focused on projects that look to address civic engagement, social justice, and community development needs.
In order to produce and promote effective programming at this intersection, I have delved into graduate courses, practicums, internships, research, and beyond to inform myself in the areas of not only arts management, but also community cultural development, arts learning policy, community arts theory, and social art practice.
Leaving Oregon with my degree in hand in just a few short months, my view on the art world has widened.
I entered the degree looking for solid skills in what I defined as arts management—the programmatic, financial, and administrative aspects—and left with much more. Becoming informed in the areas of community cultural development, community organizing, activism, and beyond have opened my eyes and abilities to effectively straddle the line between arts leader and community leader.
In being both a great arts leader and community leader, there is much knowledge needed of an individual. And sometimes, as we often feel in the nonprofit world, we can’t do it all, even though we are asked to.Read More
On October 21, the Emerging Leaders in the Arts Network (ELAN) hosted our third annual Creative Conversation. Over the past three years, this event has enabled our Emerging Leaders chapter to make connections within our local Oregon community and address topics that provoke conversation around the state of the arts in this region.
As the only current university-based chapter of the Emerging Leaders Network, the Creative Conversations program has created a vital link between university students and the community at large.
Based out of the University of Oregon in Eugene, finding ways to break down the student/community divide is a high priority for our chapter. We strive to find ways to bridge the gap between students and professionals, and to take the opportunity while we are in graduate school to connect with artists, administrators, and educators so that we can inform our role as the current generation of emerging leaders.
For this year’s event, titled "Make a Scene: Activating Local Arts & Culture Media," ELAN sought to address how our community can work together to elevate local arts and culture media coverage, providing both print- and web-based opportunities and platforms for participation, dialogue, and critical engagement.
The event started with a panel comprised of local writers, critics, and media managers, including Rebecca Black and Karen Rainsong from Eugene A Go-Go; Jonathan Boys-Hkd, founder and editor-in-chief of Emerging Artist Magazine; Suzi Steffen, independent arts critic and blogger; Dante Zuniga-West, music/visual arts editor at the Eugene Weekly; and Joshua Finch of the zine Exiled in Eugene.Read More