Blog Posts for Social Change

Celebrating National Arts & Humanities Month and The Creative Community

Posted by Bill Rossi, Oct 15, 2012 0 comments

Bill Rossi

One two three, one two three, one two three...Nate was in a groove, the ensemble was cookin', and Miles Davis' tune All Blues had never sounded better.

As the lead drummer, Nate stayed with that simple beat, rode it out to the end, then finished in perfect time. He beamed as the audience roared in appreciation, and if you hadn’t known him you would not have believed that one year ago he’d been unable to count rhythmically or sit still for more than five minutes.

But those who’d known him—who had seen his eyes light up at that first simple beat and watched over the year as he learned to focus, to listen, and to succeed—we knew what had happened. Nate had found himself through the arts.

The challenges Nate once faced are growing more common every day. Attention deficits, oppositional defiance, and incidents of youth violence and suicide have increased as our society has become preoccupied with materialism. As our focus has gone off taking care of our kids, the opportunities for to them to discover and express their voice have diminished. As ARTSblog readers know, the arts can fill this need.

I believe it’s also evident that any modality which can cause healing can also mitigate or even prevent illness. Unfortunately, our culture has segmented the arts, commercializing them into a “privileged” position. Perhaps we could learn from other cultures.

In many other cultures, the arts serve as a cohesive fluid in which the community operates. People get together informally through music, dance or song to relax and enjoy themselves and each other, with the performance aspect of art secondary to a self-participatory way of being together.

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How the Arts Lead Me to a New Career (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Marla Sincavage, Oct 11, 2012 0 comments

Marla Sincavage

About 18 months ago, my boss informed me that they had decided to shut down the New York City branch of my division and, as the saying goes, “my position was being eliminated.”

I saw this as my big chance to do something different. Just exactly what that was I had no idea; I just felt very strongly that I was meant to use this opportunity to make a career change. I had spent fifteen years working in finance, and there were things about it I liked, but I never LOVED it.

I didn’t have to think too hard to recognize that I love music. So my first logical thought (because I am a very logical person) was to look for a finance job at a music company, like Universal Music or Steinway pianos. Unfortunately, even though almost every company has a finance function of some sort, I didn’t find a plethora of finance jobs at music companies that fit my background.

But I still had this strong pull toward music, and was determined to “think outside of the box.” I must have been going on about all this to my piano teacher one day, when she said to me, “I have a friend that works at Carnegie Hall, do you want to meet with him?” Are you kidding me?? CARNEGIE HALL? As in, the Mecca of Music? YES PLEASE!!

So I met with this young man, who was very nice, and asked him on a very basic level, “what would someone with a background like mine do at a place like Carnegie Hall?” He thought development would probably be a good fit. 

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Local Arts Classroom: Stepping Outside of Your Bubble

Posted by Jenna Hartzell, Oct 09, 2012 0 comments

Jenna Hartzell

When the call for applicants went out for the first ever Local Arts Classroom (LAC) program with Americans for the Arts I didn’t hesitate to apply.

I had attended the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in 2011 and returned to work thinking, “I need more.”

I felt the need to stay connected to what’s happening on a national level, but had a desire to learn more about what I should be doing as a Program Director of a local arts agency. I read blogs, followed @Americans4Arts on Twitter, and was connected on a surface level, but missed the sense of camaraderie the convention facilitated.

Enter the LAC and a chance to learn about cultural planning, making space for art, advocacy, board and staff development, fundraising, and making the case for the arts; a chance to learn with arts administrators from all over the country; a chance to absorb different perspectives and experiences of those who know what it’s like to be an arts administrator.

I say “absorb” because that was how I approached the class: to be a sponge, and absorb every concept, idea, and piece of advice I could possibly take in.

One concept that I’ve applied frequently since I graduated from LAC is one about fundraising, planning, and community:

When planning for an event or fundraiser, organizations typically take this approach:

  • Name the activity/goal/event
  • Plan
  • Execute
  • Evaluate
  • Ask: What is a success for the organization?
  • Ask: Was it a success for the community?
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From Boots to Brushes

Posted by Joanna Chin, Jun 10, 2012 0 comments

Joanna Chin

Beginning and sustaining work using the arts to serve veterans’ needs is an exercise in translation. While the need is great, it is also daunting to move into that space or grow existing programs to meet that need.

The insights that emerged from the Boots to Brushes session at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention is that many of these obstacles (and some of the solutions) are, at their core, an issue of translation.

Here are a few of those:

Because of the structure and culture of the military, partnerships are a foreign concept. For the most part, the military just takes what it wants. For the arts, collaboration and community are essential pieces of the process.

One insight that emerges for arts organizations interested in addressing veterans’ needs is being cognizant of how foreign the concept of partnerships is to the military.

To tackle the hurdle of getting a foot in the door with the Veterans Association, one key insight was to use the veterans that you’ve worked with in the past as your spokespeople.

It might be an unintentional consequence of doing good work and transforming someone’s life that s/he spreads the word about your organization; however, veterans themselves can be the best ambassadors into hard-to-crack groups. 

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