Blog Posts for Social Change

Corporate Giving to the Arts: Making the Strategic Connection (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Margaret Coady, Apr 12, 2012 1 comment

Margaret Coady

Though it may seem counterintuitive the first time you hear it, grantmakers and philanthropists will tell you the same thing: giving money away is hard work. Or more precisely, the hard work is allocating funds thoughtfully and with seriousness about making a real difference.

My role as director of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) puts me in close contact with the corporate giving officers who oversee the philanthropic budgets of the largest companies in the country and world, and in my seven years here I’ve come to understand some of their core challenges.

While many of the hurdles are tactical—giving officers typically work on small teams responsible for coordinating hundreds of grants across multiple countries—often the harder part of the job is more fundamental: setting and maintaining a coherent corporate giving strategy.

Who and what will the company fund? Why those causes and not others? Why those grantees and not others?

The rationale for the funding decisions must be rock-solid. After all, it can be difficult to explain to employees, shareholders, and others why a company can continue grantmaking in an economic climate in which they are simultaneously laying off workers and shutting down regional offices.

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10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2012 (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Randy I. Cohen, Apr 11, 2012 15 comments

Randy Cohen

Almost one year ago, I posted The Top Ten Reasons to Support the Arts in response to a business leader who wanted to make a compelling case for government and corporate contributions to the arts.

Being a busy guy, he didn’t want a lot to read: “Keep it to one page, please.”

With the arts advocacy season once again upon us...(who am I kidding, it’s always upon us!)...here is my updated list for 2012 which now includes new stats from our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Study.

10 Reasons to Support the Arts

1. True prosperity. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. They help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, the arts are salve for the ache.

2. Improved academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, lower drop-out rates, and even better attitudes about community service—benefits reaped by students regardless of socioeconomic status. Students with four years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with one-half year or less.

3. Arts are an industry. Arts organizations are responsible businesses, employers, and consumers. Nonprofit arts organizations generate $135 billion in economic activity annually, supporting 4.1 million jobs and generating nearly $22.3 billion in government revenue. Investment in the arts supports jobs, generates tax revenues, and advances our creativity-based economy.

4. Arts are good for local merchants. The typical arts attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, not including the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Non-local arts audiences (who live outside the county) spend nearly twice as much as local arts attendees ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.

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Local Arts Agency Tweetup: A New Approach to Networking

Posted by Megan Pagado, Apr 11, 2012 0 comments

Megan Pagado

In late February, we at the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County hosted our first-ever #CreativeMoCo Tweetup for creatives in and around Montgomery County, MD.

Why did we, a local arts council, host a tweetup?

  1. Our constituents asked for it. They wanted the opportunity meet others in a casual, laidback, unstructured setting. (We’re fans of speed networking, but had to put those impulses aside for this particular event.)
  2. While we’re active on social media, we‘ve never had the chance to meet most of our followers and fans face to face. And isn’t eventually creating real, genuine interactions the whole point of social media?
  3. We saw this as an amazing opportunity to not only meet and introduce creatives to each other, but to mobilize them and take them to the next step of becoming self-identified arts advocates.

The tweetup was first announced on Facebook and Twitter, which generated over 40 registrations in two days. As I saw the number climb, I was amazed at the number of people registering that we didn’t know.

Since we used the term “creative community” instead of “cultural community” in marketing the tweetup, we had everyone from magazine editors to restaurant owners to DJs in attendance.

Based on our experience hosting our tweetup, here are some tips I can share with you on hosting your own, especially one that is advocacy-based:

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Without the Data, You’re Just Another Person with an Opinion

Posted by Randy I. Cohen, Apr 11, 2012 4 comments

Three years before writing Future Shock in 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler first wrote The Art of Measuring the Arts, and noted, "A cultural data system is needed to provide information for rational policy-making in the cultural field and to assist those outside the field in understanding their impact on it."

This week, Americans for the Arts released the 2012 National Arts Index report, which delivers a 2010 score of the health and vitality of the arts in the U.S.

From its low point in 2009, the Index rose slightly from 96.3 to 96.7 in 2010.

This year’s report bears witness to how the arts sector fared during the Great Recession—and the losses were swift and measurable.

In 2010, half of the 83 indicators measured increased, which is equivalent to pre-recession, 2007 levels. In comparison, only one-third of the indicators were up in 2008 and in 2009, just one-quarter increased.

Here are just a few top-level findings from the 2012 National Arts Index:

1. There has been significant growth in the number of nonprofit arts organizations: In the past decade, the number of nonprofit arts organizations grew 49 percent (76,000 to 113,000), a greater rate than all nonprofit organizations (32 percent). Or to look at it another way, from 2003-2010, a new nonprofit arts organization was created every three hours in the U.S.

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Site-Specific Dance and Social Change

Posted by Rachel Engh, Apr 10, 2012 0 comments

Rachel Engh

The first time I saw site-specific dance was in a park in New York City’s Chinatown. While dancers climbed on tables and scaled fences, older local men who looked to spend much of the day in the park continued to read newspapers, staying still while the dancers moved around them.

I remember wondering, how do these men feel as we, the audience members and the dancers, share their space? Did they see us as intruders? Did the choreographer want the audience members to think about the relationships between the local men and the dancers?

It is hard to know unless a choreographer facilitates dialogue, and thankfully, Heidi Duckler does just that.

By bringing dance into public spaces, site-specific choreographer Duckler also succeeds in bringing social issues out into the open. Duckler is based in Los Angeles and leads the Heidi Duckler Dance Theater (DHHT), a company she has fostered since 1985.

In her work, Duckler inserts dancers into public spaces from washing machines in a laundromat to Los Angeles City Hall. The audience is a critical part of the experiences and Duckler works to engage audience members in dialogues about art, civic engagement, and social issues.

In one of her most recent pieces, Expulsion, Duckler brought together ideas of migration and displacement to examine the theme of “home" (you can check out the Project Profile dedicated to the performance on Animating Democracy.org for more information).

As part of the A LOT series, sponsored by the Arts Council for Long Beach, Duckler looked for material for Expulsion by soliciting stories from community members. Each piece is performed in a vacant lot in Southern California.

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