Reflecting on Virtual Internships During COVID-19
The 28th year of Americans for the Arts’ Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) summer internship program was forced to shift gears due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year we shared a blog post, “Re-envisioning Internships During COVID-19,” which provides a baseline understanding of where we started in our discussions and decision to continue the DIAL 2020 summer intern program during the pandemic. We discussed our plans and strategies of how we converted our program rooted in in-person, cohort-based work and activities, to an all virtual experience. As so many internship programs have been eliminated or transitioned during this time, we wanted to share the outcome of our re-envisioned virtual DIAL internship program: the challenges we faced, the successes we saw, and what we’ve learned. Though our virtual programming was different in many ways, one thing that did not change was its impact. All our interns stated that continuing the program through the global pandemic had a lasting impact on them.
Member Spotlight: Katrina M. Daniels
Katrina Daniels is the Exhibition and Gallery Sales Director at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center, which provides public awareness, education, and enjoyment of the visual arts by promoting the works of Michigan artists. Katrina coordinates exhibitions and public art programming working directly with artists to increase engagment between them and the Lansing community. Katrina is a co-founder of ARTpath, a program developed by the Gallery and the City of Lansing to bring artwork out of the traditional gallery setting and into the public realm. ARTpath offers more accessible opportunities for the community to engage with the work of Michigan artists. Our Member Profile series features the many Americans for the Arts members doing transformative work for arts education, public art, advocacy, arts marketing, and more. An Americans for the Arts Membership connects you with this network of more than 6,000 arts leaders and gives you access to latest professional development and research.
Arts Leaders and Americans for the Arts Members Getting Out the Vote
As the 2020 election gets closer and many voters are already voting by mail or in-person, arts organizations around the country are doing their part to help voters make their vote count. This election is crucial to electing leaders at each level of government who will ensure that funding for the arts is protected and accessible for all. In this month’s Member Briefing, Americans for the Arts members Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and Nate McGaha, executive director of Arts North Carolina, discussed using the arts to Get Out the Vote. They shared their experiences conducting voter outreach in their communities including their candidate forums, messaging about important voting deadlines, and partnership with other local, and national organizations including ArtsVote. If you missed the briefing live, a recording of the event is available now on ArtsU. Member Briefings are our quarterly opportunity to talk to you about what’s happening now, so mark your calendars to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at Americans for the Arts and across the sector.
The decision to stand up and speak out on the injustices in our society does not always come as a choice for those who are subjected to them. In some cases, protest becomes a necessary means for which progress and justice may be made. The protests that followed the death of George Floyd in May 2020 took place all across the country, including Boston, where MASARY Studios is located. On May 31, a peaceful march in memory of George Floyd turned into a large rally on the Boston Common. The cultural tension between people of color and the local police force was felt in the air as the events unfolded throughout the night. Sparked by this event, the civil unrest became headline news and a prominent point of discussion. The start of our Protest Projections in Downtown Boston began the night after the rally at the Boston Common, emerging from the same cultural energy and tensions. As creatives we are motivated by our feelings of wanting to speak up, make a difference, and be a part of or start the conversation. Using our experience in public spaces as artists doing projections, we wanted to continue to use this medium to make an impact for change. Witnessing the nationwide protests, specifically the ones in our own city, the sense of creative urgency was even more present as we thought about our response as artists but also as protestors. Motivated by our drive to take action and the fact that so much is on the line for our future, it was not hard for us to decide whether or not we should take action.
Member Spotlight: Kyaien Conner
Kyaien (Kya) Conner, PhD, LSW, MPH, began studying West African Dance at the age of six and became a professional West African Dancer at 14. Trained in dance forms of Djembe, Sabar, and Kutiro, she is a member of Kuumba Dancers and Drummers in Tampa, Florida; teaches West African Dance at the University of Tampa; and has taught West African dance nationally and internationally. Conner also is a tenured professor of Mental Health Law and Policy at University of South Florida, specializing in health disparities and the benefits and effects of culturally relevant psychiatric treatments and community-based intervention in older African Americans.
Our Member Profile series features the many Americans for the Arts members doing transformative work for arts education, public art, advocacy, arts marketing, and more. An Americans for the Arts Membership connects you with this network of more than 6,000 arts leaders and gives you access to latest professional development and research.
Why the Arts are Valuable in Business School Curriculum
When you think of MBA coursework, you think of core classes in marketing, finance, economics, operations, decision sciences, strategy, and so on. You don’t think of color theory, collaborative drawing, or watercolors. But at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, we do. Unlike traditional business schools that collect and present art, we make it. In addition to core curriculum that encompasses fundamental business areas, for the past two years Kellogg has offered students an opportunity to participate in artist-led, hands-on workshops that focus on a variety of arts-themed topics. I attribute the success and popularity of these workshops to filling a much-needed void in MBA curriculum—one that stimulates the right brain, which supports creativity and intuition. Exercising these functions encourages important skills for aspiring business leaders. Interactions with art develop observation, collaboration, communication, narrative building, and critical thinking skills. They also emphasize empathic thinking, creative ideation, implicit bias awareness, and recognizing the nature of objectivity/neutrality. Leaders are made and trained, not necessarily born. Exercising empathy, knowing how to communicate effectively, and having the ability to think creatively through complex issues all help leaders manage effectively.
The Rebuilding Power of The Arts in Rural Communities
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.
Member Spotlight: Kathy Hsieh
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.
Making art in person with community: Is it worth the risk in a pandemic?
Whenever you make public art, there are risks—usually financial. But today with monuments being challenged, politics, history, and community emotions are often also at play. Oh, and we are in a pandemic. When everything was halted in March, I fell into a depression. The prospect of making art with community, if we could do it safely, felt like a mental health salvation. Our Neighborhood Rolls became a beautification project to cover the cinder block wall at the side of a building, but primarily it was envisioned as a point of pride that, in the making, would build community-a meaningful, fun, educational, and engaging project for local kids and residents in Kingston, NY. At a time when everyone is evaluating what risks are worth taking for the greater good, maybe making art with people in public sounds like an unnecessary hazard. However, after my experience in Kingston, I would argue it was an essential action. It greatly impacted my mental health, and visibly demonstrated the importance of placemaking and tangible engagement for community in these apocalyptic times.
10 (Newer!) Arts Education Fast Facts
During this year’s National Arts in Education Week celebration, we’ve heard hundreds of #BecauseOfArtsEd stories from students, parents, and educators about the transformative power of the arts in education. The stories we share demonstrate the social and emotional impact of the arts, and are a vital part of effective advocacy. Great stories should be paired with compelling data and facts to help round out your advocacy strategy. In honor of the 10th anniversary of National Arts in Education Week, we’ve put together 10 new fast facts—exclusively featuring data collected within the last five years—illustrating the benefits of, support for, and challenges facing arts education in America today. You can put these facts to good use as part of your personal advocacy plan to make the case for arts education in your local schools and communities.
From Fearful to Fierce: Creating Authentic and Engaging Virtual Arts Experiences for Youth
Until eight months ago, many arts educators would’ve scoffed at the idea of teaching art, music, dance, or theatre online. Now, virtual learning is a lifeline for arts education. With so many youth enrolled in virtual schooling, the need to design authentic and engaging online artistic experiences is ever more pressing. This challenge is coupled with the reality that so many young people are reeling from trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC reminds us that stark changes in routine, breaks in the continuity of learning, the cancelation of milestone life events, and the perceived loss of safety and security can be very damaging to a child’s social, emotional, and mental well-being. Furthermore, moving arts education online has interrupted social interactions and created limits on self-expression. Can virtual arts experiences still foster the social and emotional needs of young people during this difficult time in their lives? If you ask Maria Ellis and Morgan Luttig, the answer is yes.