Blog Posts for Community Engagement

Painting By Numbers: How Cities Can Use Data to Support the Arts

Posted by David Andersson, Feb 25, 2022 0 comments

Although cities increasingly rely on data to help shape policy and identify service gaps, there is often skepticism from both the creative sector and government about whether metrics can meaningfully capture the impact of the arts. In a field where variety of creative expression is fundamental, how do you count what really counts? For cities that recognize their artists and cultural institutions as a critical part of the economy and essential to quality of life for residents, arts data can be a powerful tool to advocate for culture alongside other city services. Data can also help city leaders understand who is and isn’t being served by government arts dollars and expand access to arts experiences in every community. Through best practices and case studies, Arts Data in the Public Sector: Strategies for Local Arts Agencies aims to help arts agencies and city leaders show measurable impact, identify priority policy areas, and establish more equitable and inclusive practices to promote access to the arts across communities.

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Cultural Asset Identification & Building Inclusive Creative Economies

Posted by Jessica Stern, Jan 20, 2022 0 comments

In early 2021, we published an outline of the goals and commitments Americans for the Arts is making towards supporting the development of an inclusive creative economy nationally and in local communities. This work in 2022 will focus on helping communities build awareness of their cultural assets and how to equitably strengthen, value, and utilize them. In partnership with and under the guidance of Cézanne Charles and John Marshall, principals of rootoftwo, LLC, we will embark on a year-long process to devise a set of tools, guides, evaluations, and trainings—with ample opportunities for participation from the field in the development of these tools—that will support local arts leaders in their efforts to identify and define their unique creative economies, and help communities to identify cultural assets and understand the health of those assets. 

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Sustaining and Advancing Indigenous Cultures at the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums

Posted by Mr. John W. Haworth, Nov 19, 2021 0 comments

Over the last couple of years especially, the major national arts service and membership organizations have given greater attention to engaging diverse communities more effectively. Building meaningful dynamic and collaborative relationships with community-based partners informs programming and audience building work. Working effectively with organizations serving diverse communities has become an ever-higher priority for state, regional, and local arts agencies throughout the country. Addressing cultural equity in tangible and effective ways is critically important for all of us, including how arts organizations recruit staff and identify board candidates. With a heightened awareness in our society about these issues during this time of major social and political change, the work of organizations like the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) takes on even greater significance. Becoming more familiar with the work of ATALM (and likewise with similar organizations serving diverse organizations) gives professionals working in local arts agencies both a better understanding of key issues, as well as connections to colleagues in the Native cultural field, to help them address these crucial matters. 

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Member Spotlight: Asiyah Kurtz

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Oct 25, 2021 0 comments

Located in Camden, New Jersey, Camden FireWorks is a Black-led, community-based arts organization that works to grow, gather, and invest in artists and artists-to-be in the Camden community. Executive Director Asiyah Kurtz is an applied anthropologist with 20 years of experience in leadership of private, nonprofit, and public sectors. “As a young arts organization, we had previously only relied on volunteers to teach our open studio workshops for our first five years of operations. With the support of our Board, one of the changes I made this year was to pay a meaningful wage to teaching artists for their time, labor, and talent. If I have anything to do with it, there will be no starving artists in Camden.” 

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Shining a Spotlight on Native American Media and Mediamakers

Posted by Mr. John W. Haworth, Oct 14, 2021 0 comments

It is important for cultural leaders and individual artists to know the work of organizations elevating Native artists. This is of special urgency given the current challenges faced by local and regional arts agencies: Leaders in the cultural sector simply must have a broader understanding of social and economic justice issues. As our field does more to support civic engagement and informed public dialogue about these key issues, local arts leaders have the opportunity to assume leadership roles on the complex challenges in our communities—promoting equity, addressing the climate and other issues, and promoting civic literacy about the issues we face. As arts administrators and managers, it is not enough to be informed about the issues—we need to know how to communicate effectively with broader, more diverse publics that we serve. Local arts agency leaders must understand these issues on ever deeper levels as they develop meaningful competitive grant review processes and find effective ways for arts organizations to take central roles in public discourse. 

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Member Spotlight: Bernadette Carroll

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Sep 13, 2021 0 comments

Bernadette Carroll joined Act One as their executive director in March 2020, just as arts organizations across the country shuttered due to COVID-19. She hit the ground running and worked on a new strategic plan with board and staff to address the needs of schools and arts organizations during the pandemic, its impact on the future of Act One, and on the communities served by the organization. Adapting to the changes of remote work, Carroll and her team launched Act One’s new virtual reality field trip program for students.

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