Los Angeles Theater Artist Mark Valdez Awarded Americans for the Arts’ 2019 Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Americans for the Arts announces today that theater artist and cultural organizer Mark Valdez is the recipient of the 2019 Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities. The $65,000 award will support him in advancing his work in community-based theater during the fellowship year. 

Arts Education: Next Gen Leaders and “Breaking In” to the Field

I often get questions from up and coming leaders about what it takes to “break in” to the arts education field. I can relate—I love the career path that I’ve taken and yes, arts education can feel like a specific field that no one really envisions themselves doing from a young age. I fell into the profession with no set path but a vision of wanting to do good and contribute to a more just and equitable society. While I have a background in multicultural education, and was able to eventually blend my academic training and my interest in visual arts to impact communities that do not have access to formal and experiential programs in the arts, for many like myself the path is far from being clear cut. 

An Artist at the Table Means Hope for a Better World

2018 was a year of some highs, but many lows. Controversy and anger and fear still seem to swirl around us in large supply, and more often I find myself sitting at my piano, my energy source and antidote for when I am feeling low. I imagine how all of us can better convey the power of the arts as a unifying force—as a solution for our country—during these difficult times. Our need for the arts is apparent. We have needed and sought the healing and teaching power of the arts for a long time. Robert Redford once said, “I’ve long believed we could move toward solving some of our biggest problems if there were an artist at every table.” Woven through the events of this year were artists who are making a tremendous difference in communities across the country, and their diverse voices are animating conversation and giving us hope for a kinder and more compassionate world.

Americans for the Arts Names 10 Vans Custom Culture Grantees

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Vans and Americans for the Arts envision a country where every child has access to—and takes part in—high quality learning experiences in the arts, both in school and in the community. As such, the two organizations partnered to create the Custom Culture Grant to promote awareness and support arts education in public schools at a time when budget cuts threaten arts education programs across the country.

The Importance and Impact of Planning for Public Art

There is a growing interest in public art from across the country. In the Public Art Programs Fiscal Year 2001 report, Americans for the Arts estimated 350 public art programs across the U.S. The 2017 Survey of Public Art Programs identified more than twice as many. With this growth it is important to understand the various ways public art is planned for and implemented in different communities. In this post, we provide an overview of three papers published by Americans for the Arts that speak to the diverse needs of public art programs across the country, and how local institutions are approaching the topic in innovative ways. With a focus on planning for public art from a municipal perspective, growing public art programs in small to mid-sized cities, and recognizing grassroots and folk art in rural communities, these papers show that successful public art values local context and the public art programs are as unique as each community.

Americans for the Arts Presents 2018 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership to California Senator Ben Allen

Friday, December 7, 2018


In partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Americans for the Arts is pleased to present California Senator Ben Allen with the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership. The award honors state officials who effectively lead the arts advancement movement in their region. The ceremony took place this morning at the NCSL Capitol Forum in Washington, DC.

Move Well with Communities

When we think of health and wellness, we think about the mind, body and spirit. We imagine wholeness. … Why? Because every day, we have the opportunity to make conscious decisions about what we allow into our bodies. This includes not only what we eat, drink, watch, and listen to, but also our thoughts. To us at heidi duckler dance (HDD), wellness is how we realize our self image, and as artists, it is the overall practice we promote in our daily lives. HDD transforms non-traditional spaces, provides learning opportunities by engaging diverse communities, and promotes the concept that the arts can change our vision of the world and of ourselves. Through working with HDD’s Artistic Director, Heidi Duckler, I have had the pleasure of seeing firsthand the power of utilizing all types of venues while simultaneously using arts from across different disciplines to uncover powerful stories. This process has allowed me to see how I, as an artist and an administrator, can incorporate wellness into our work. 

Creative Strategist Initiative: Embedding Artist in the Bureaucracy

This summer the LA County Arts Commission (LACAC) kicked off the artist-in-residence Creative Strategist Initiative. One of seven recommendations from the Cultural Equity & Inclusion Initiative that were funded by the LA County Board of Supervisors in 2017, the AIR Creative Strategist Initiative places individuals with artistic expertise in County departments to assist in the implementation of special County projects. Creative Strategists are placed as artists in residence (CS-AIR) for a minimum of 12 months, and work alongside department staff. Together, the department and CS-AIR collaborate with project partners and community stakeholders to effect change and impact a specific project or initiative. The Arts Commission implemented extensive field research and months of conversations with these departments to prepare for artist placement, uncovering critical lessons through the process.

The Arts Say Thank You to Our Veterans and Active Duty Military

As we celebrate both Thanksgiving and National Veterans and Military Families Month this year, we honor the service and sacrifice of America’s more than 18 million veterans across the country. Arts and humanities events and programs remind us of the contributions that veterans and active duty military and their families have made and the power of joining together through the shared experience of art. We recognize the growing number of state and local-level arts and military initiatives that are creating greater access and more opportunities across the country. These programs unite us, bridging the civilian/military divide in a non-partisan way that only the arts can, in communities both large and small. And these efforts aren’t just one-time events; they represent long-term commitments from artists and arts groups to serve those who have served.

Celebrate National Shop Local Artists Week 2018

Be part of the nationwide celebration December 2-8, 2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

From December 2 to 8, 2018, the initiative encourages the creative field to join together in communities across the country to promote the sales of the work of local artists, and to promote to all consumers that art—including tickets to events and organization memberships—makes great holiday gifts.

Mad River Theater Works sets deep roots in their songwriting and storytelling while exploring the valiant and courageous personalities in American History. While focusing on culture and community, Mad River Theater Works strives to challenge racism and intolerance thorough their performances. Audiences take a glimpse into the past as Mad River Theater presents “Wings of Courage” an unbelieved story of Eugene Bullard, an African-American boxer, jazz musician and World War I flying Ace.

Arts For The Schools presents: Nation Beat
Borrowing, mixing and adapting musical traditions is at the heart of music. Nation Beat singularly conjures up this elemental musical charm, drawing on the source of rhythm that lit up jazz. From the Brazil drumming, propelled by sounds of New Orleans-flavored brass, this music makes you dance! Nation Beat’s mission is to unite the rural music of Brazil maracatu and NOLA roots to all audiences with their joyful Carnival-style rhythms.

Arts For The Schools presents: Okaidja Afroso

Join genARTS Silicon Valley for their annual Creative Conversation and participate in the national initiative started by Americans for the Arts to bring communities together in the month of October (National Arts and Humanities Month) to discuss issues of importance in the local arts and culture sector.

This year, our panel conversation will explore topics of advocacy FOR the arts and advocacy IN the arts. Learn and discuss how everyone can use their power to advocate for the arts in their local community, or how to use art as a catalyst for change.

Join genARTS Silicon Valley for their annual Creative Conversation and participate in the national initiative started by Americans for the Arts to bring communities together in the month of October (National Arts and Humanities Month) to discuss issues of importance in the local arts and culture sector.

This year, our panel conversation will explore topics of advocacy FOR the arts and advocacy IN the arts. Learn and discuss how everyone can use their power to advocate for the arts in their local community, or how to use art as a catalyst for change.

An internationally renowned powerhouse for dance, Ririe Woodbury Dance Company offers exquisite performances of contemporary repertory by diverse choreographers that allows an experience the audience can interpret as their own. A daring reconsideration of light, space, movement Ririe Woodbury Dance Company movements comment to dance while advocating the philosophy that “dance is for everybody”.

The first all-women full ensemble Mariachi Group Flor De Toloache is a diverse, bilingual band that fuses jazz, blues and other forms of Latin American music to illuminate world-renowned stages while preserving traditions of Mariachi. Taking Mariachi to old places and new, their limitless possibilities transcend the stereotypical as they as add intensity, color and exuberance to their music. 

Emi Sunshine, a 14-year-old prodigy from East Tennessee and a true vocal stylist, brings storytelling to her audience of all ages. While her music has been described as old timey, she adds her own unique blend with a sprinkle of vivid emotion. She plays the guitar, mandolin, and ukulele and combines her youthful, bubbly disposition with deep, meaningful song content.

Emi Sunshine, a 14-year-old prodigy from East Tennessee and a true vocal stylist, brings storytelling to her audience of all ages. While her music has been described as old timey, she adds her own unique blend with a sprinkle of vivid emotion. She plays the guitar, mandolin, and ukulele and combines her youthful, bubbly disposition with deep, meaningful song content.

Americans for the Arts Introduces the Arts + Social Impact Explorer

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Today, Americans for the Arts unveiled the Arts + Social Impact Explorer, an interactive online tool that draws together more than 1,000 data points on how the arts impact and integrate into 26 different sectors ranging from education and innovation, to health and wellness, immigration, faith and environment. The tool provides quick top-line research, example projects, core research papers, and lists service and partner organizations doing this work, as well as provides printable PDF fact sheets to share with decisionmakers.

Spark a Creative Conversation During National Arts & Humanities Month

Happy National Arts and Humanities Month! Each October, millions of people across the country celebrate the transformative power of the arts in their communities. National Arts and Humanities Month is a “coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America,” with the goals of: FOCUSING on the arts at local, state, and national levels; ENCOURAGING individuals and organizations to participate in the arts; ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and RAISING public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives. During National Arts and Humanities Month, some truly amazing celebrations of arts and culture take place across the country. One of the big initiatives for the month is Creative Conversations, which gather community leaders to “discuss local arts, culture, and creativity to generate partnerships and increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts in America.” 

Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018: An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes About the Arts in America

In a society struggling to find equity and social justice, Americans believe the arts improve the quality of our communities. How do we know? We asked. Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018 is the second in a series of national public opinion surveys conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Americans for the Arts. One of the largest ever conducted, it gauges the public perspective on (1) personal engagement in the arts as audience and creator, (2) support for arts education and government arts funding, (3) opinions on the personal and well-being benefits that come from engaging in the arts, and (4) how those personal benefits extend to the community. Here are some findings of the survey. 

Join us for a creative conversation between thought leaders about how to sustain the integrity of a cause when making art for public consumption. The panel will feature artist Karla Camacho, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) Visual Art Director Nara Hernandez, and filmmaker Sequoyah Tiger Moon.

The 32nd Annual Emeryville Art Exhibition celebrates the work of Emeryville artists and includes paintings, sculpture, photographs, prints, textiles, ceramics, glass works and poetry. The sheer number and array of artists living or working in Emeryville illustrates the city's cultural vibrancy and provides an impressive creative pool that continues to create new and exciting works. The 2018 exhibition features 165 works from 115 artists, representing the largest group show in its 32-year history.

On Becoming an Effective Leader and Creating Your Own Opportunities

As a woman working in the arts management field, I know how critical it is to look for opportunities and to take advantage of them. I have had several women role models who have demonstrated the importance of being a good leader, and now that I’m at a stage in my career where I am training the next generation of arts leaders, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be a woman in a leadership position, and how to create your own opportunities. There are three guiding principles that I continually share with my interns who are just getting a glimpse into the inner workings of an arts organization. First, always be curious about what you are doing and what others are doing around you. Second, don’t sweat the small stuff; work your way through problems the best way you know how and don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. And finally, pass your knowledge and expertise on to the next generation.

The Privilege of Voice

The MOCA Teen Program, which I co-manage, is an academic yearlong paid internship for 18 students that supports teens on a journey of self-discovery through learning about art, the museum, and the world. In the process of selecting candidates, we look for individual voices that can become part of a diverse and connected community. Students who come from privilege are empowered to have a voice from a young age. Students with fewer resources are not, and face a disadvantage before even applying for the MOCA Teen Program. The unequal empowerment of student voices illuminates a systematic barrier for youth to be prepared and competitive candidates for art and leadership pipeline opportunities. While the MOCA Teen Program aims to empower the voices of our program participants, we may be perpetuating cycles of privilege if our selection process gravitates towards privileged applicants. We must put more resources and thought into equitable recruitment and application processes to creative pathways if we are to overcome this barrier to diversity in our field. 

Give More Kids a Voice Through the Arts. Then Listen Up.

Although the average household income in Marin County is high, the income gap in the county is wide. And Marin public schools serving lower income families are as cash-strapped as any in California. Yes, Marin’s pricy private schools offer rich arts experiences. But most of our public-school students receive a haphazard mix of programs hustled together by hardworking PTAs. And in our lowest income communities, where schools often serve predominantly immigrant youth of color, many have no arts at all. During National Arts in Education Week, my organization Youth in Arts and a team of stakeholders will present data illustrating local inequities in arts services before unveiling the first ever Marin Arts Education Plan. This plan offers first steps towards addressing the arts divide and creating a framework for all students to access quality arts learning.

Join us for an interactive workshop informed by holistic practices. Artists and educators Alli Simon (Instructor, Everybody Gym, and founder of OM Girl) and Sarita Dougherty (Artist in Residence, Women’s Center for Creative Work), will lead participants through exercises in movement, sound, meditation, and breath work to stimulate a connection with the self, facilitate an engaged community, and manifest creativity. This workshop is free and open to all.

Please RSVP at:

Americans for the Arts Is Celebrating National Arts in Education Week September 9-15

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

National Arts in Education Week Logo

Americans for the Arts today announced its celebration of National Arts in Education Week. During this week, the field of arts education joins together in communities across the nation to celebrate the transformative power of the arts in education. 

 Support Oakland's rich, creative legacy in order to mentor the next generation of artists and culture makers. 

The Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area, Oakland Unified School District's Visual and Performing Arts Department, and Oakland Museum of CA are partnering to showcase the amazing programs of Bay Area community arts organizations who work with Oakland's emerging creatives. 

Teachers, administrators, teaching artists, youth, families, and arts education advocates will learn about:


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