Mr. Gary P. Steuer
For Arts Professionals in the Know
The National Arts Index is the latest in a series of credible research reports to document the impact of arts and culture on a national and local level. Economic impact studies like the Arts & Economic Prosperity reports, employment data from the Creative Industries Report and other studies have all made significant contributions to our understanding of size and scope of the creative sector, helping to make the case for increased investment in arts and culture.
I know first-hand how valuable this information is to elected officials and policy makers when it comes to setting budget priorities. We continually reply on research from Americans for the Arts and other sources to keep civic leaders and the public informed and up to date on the health of our cultural sector. In difficult budget times like these, the NAI provides a new opportunity to engage in that conversation.Read More
The post-graduation years are considered a rite of passage, where emerging artists navigate crushing poverty, unpaid internships, uninformed financial decisions, and rejection in order to emerge as bona fide artists. People use words like sacrifice and bootstraps. You’re expected to work for free in order to demonstrate your work ethic and “make connections” with important people. These connections, we’re told over and over, lead to paid jobs. Just not yet. Let’s look closely at these expectations through the lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion. In a field that is still white and male-dominated despite encouraging signs of change, those who hold privilege (economic, racial, gender, social, etc.) are better positioned to take the unpaid internships, get that one-on-one meeting with the artistic director, or convince the seasoned leader to take them on as an assistant. How can we better prepare aspiring artists from all backgrounds to enter this field?Read More
I conducted my first survey of local arts agencies in 1991. It was all paper in those days. We didn’t even ask for fax numbers because too few had one! Over the years we have fielded dozens of local arts agency (LAA) surveys—some were short and easy to fill out and provided useful information, but lacked adequate depth; others were comprehensive and extremely informative, but were too long and hard for respondents to complete. While the paper surveys became online surveys and technology has made distribution more expansive, what remains as pressing as ever is the need for reliable, relevant, and easily accessible information about the LAAs—research that provides early alerts about new trends, drives discourse about how the industry is evolving, and simply allows LAAs to see how they compare to their peers. In 2018, Americans for the Arts implemented a new annual survey to accomplish just this—The Profile of Local Arts Agencies. There are multiple ways you can put the Profile findings to work for you!Read More
In America, I have the opportunity of expressing myself through the arts, and now my work as an arts leader is rooted in helping students achieve by learning through the arts. As an arts advocate and educator, I have the privilege of contributing to the education of diverse students, many of whom represent a wide array of languages, learning modalities, and backgrounds. I play a part in helping them express themselves through the arts. All of us have an identity, but the arts help students find the special and unique qualities that make them who they are. The arts are essential to education in America. Music, dance, visual arts, theatre, and creative writing courses broaden the educational experiences of students. Such experiences offer opportunities for students to create innovative solutions, to build community, and to foster their sense of self. The arts have a place in the balanced educational experiences of students all across the county.Read More
What does it mean to center equity in your investment strategy? And why is that important? Cultural equity is critical to the arts and culture sector’s long-term viability, as well as to the ability of the arts to contribute to healthy, vibrant, equitable communities for all. If the field is not investing in the artistic and cultural traditions of every aspect of their community, then we are not fulfilling our purpose. Each year the United States’ 4,500 local arts agencies collectively invest an estimated $2.8 billion in their local arts and culture ecosystems, including an estimated $600 million in direct investment in artists and arts and culture organizations through grants, contracts, and loans. This makes LAAs, collectively, the largest distributor of publicly-derived funds to arts and culture in the United States. It is therefore crucial that LAAs employ a strong lens of equity to consider the full scope of their investments—including both direct financial investments like grants, and indirect financial investments like staff salaries and rent.Read More