Blog Posts for Community Engagement

Member Spotlight: Kathryn Armstrong

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Nov 23, 2020 0 comments

Kathryn Armstrong is the Executive Director at the Columbus Area Arts Council in Columbus, Indiana where she has worked since 2016. The Columbus Area Arts Council’s mission is to strengthen the Columbus community through arts and culture. With 15 years of experience working as an art professional, Kathryn’s work is centered around making communities stronger through art, culture, and civic engagement. During her tenure, she has implemented artist-led workshops, pop-up performances, and the 411 Gallery in downtown Columbus. Previously a faculty member at the Herron School of Art and Design from 2010 until 2016, Kathryn taught professional practice courses for undergraduate and graduate students and served as the Director of the Basile Center for Art, Design and Public Life. “As an arts and cultural leader, I look for ways to enhance daily life through arts activation, supporting artists and arts organizations, inspiring others to be creative, empowering youth, and more importantly implementing ways for folks to have equal access to the arts.” 

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Toolkit Developed by Artists Keeps Creatives Working During COVID-19

Posted by Ms. Jen Krava, Nov 20, 2020 0 comments

“This toolkit was born out of a desire to fight despair,” shares Candida Gonzalez, artist and consultant to Forecast, a nonprofit for artists working in the public space. “I watched in disbelief as many friends all over the country lost their projects and gigs. Rather than pausing to think on alternatives, many funders’ knee-jerk response to the pandemic was to pull funding and cancel projects.” This despair birthed an idea from the team at Forecast for a toolkit created and launched in April 2020 with artists, arts organizations, presenting organizations, and others collaborating with artists in mind. “Innovation in the Time of COVID” is designed to be an ever-evolving platform that contains strategies for adapting in-person arts-based activities during the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone to share, use, and contribute to. Forecast continues to develop the toolkit based on open-source input from artists and arts organizations and examples of how they are adapting in-person arts-based projects. 

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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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The Rebuilding Power of The Arts in Rural Communities

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Sep 29, 2020 0 comments

Not only are the arts big business, but they are a proven rural economic development tool. Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that in rural counties, the number of innovation companies—those that use design services or trademark and copyright-protected branding—rises proportionately to the presence of local performing arts organizations. As few as four performing arts organizations in a rural county significantly increase rural innovation businesses scores. Two-thirds of rural business leaders report that arts and entertainment are vital to attracting and retaining workers, providing the talent that businesses need to thrive. Residents of these arts-rich rural communities earn higher incomes (up to $6,000 higher) than residents of rural counties that lack performing arts institutions. As leaders position their states for a post-pandemic recovery, new research shows why the arts should be looked to as an essential tool in both economic recovery and reconnecting all communities.

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Member Spotlight: Kathy Hsieh

Posted by Abigail Alpern Fisch, Sep 28, 2020 0 comments

Kathy Hsieh is the Cultural Partnerships and Grants Manager at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, overseeing investments funding, and racial equity opportunities for community. Hsieh has transformed the City of Seattle’s arts funding program and helped the agency earn the Seattle Management Association’s first Race and Social Justice Management Award. Kathy shared with us her insights about how she became involved with the arts, her office's response to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as her recommendations for arts leaders looking to promote cultural and racial equity in their work. 

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