Sustaining and Advancing Indigenous Cultures at the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and
Over the last couple of years especially, the major national arts service and membership organizations have given greater attention to engaging diverse communities more effectively. Building meaningful dynamic and collaborative relationships with community-based partners informs programming and audience building work. Working effectively with organizations serving diverse communities has become an ever-higher priority for state, regional, and local arts agencies throughout the country. Addressing cultural equity in tangible and effective ways is critically important for all of us, including how arts organizations recruit staff and identify board candidates. With a heightened awareness in our society about these issues during this time of major social and political change, the work of organizations like the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) takes on even greater significance. Becoming more familiar with the work of ATALM (and likewise with similar organizations serving diverse organizations) gives professionals working in local arts agencies both a better understanding of key issues, as well as connections to colleagues in the Native cultural field, to help them address these crucial matters.
Three Insights Tools for Increasing Audience Engagement
In the recent Arts Marketing Coffee Chat entitled “Research & Data: What Do You Need?” I shared the process for how arts organizations can address a specific a business problem by identifying data that an organization has or needs, which can provide insights into developing an effective solution.
Member Spotlight: Asiyah Kurtz
Located in Camden, New Jersey, Camden FireWorks is a Black-led, community-based arts organization that works to grow, gather, and invest in artists and artists-to-be in the Camden community. Executive Director Asiyah Kurtz is an applied anthropologist with 20 years of experience in leadership of private, nonprofit, and public sectors. “As a young arts organization, we had previously only relied on volunteers to teach our open studio workshops for our first five years of operations. With the support of our Board, one of the changes I made this year was to pay a meaningful wage to teaching artists for their time, labor, and talent. If I have anything to do with it, there will be no starving artists in Camden.”
Shining a Spotlight on Native American Media and Mediamakers
It is important for cultural leaders and individual artists to know the work of organizations elevating Native artists. This is of special urgency given the current challenges faced by local and regional arts agencies: Leaders in the cultural sector simply must have a broader understanding of social and economic justice issues. As our field does more to support civic engagement and informed public dialogue about these key issues, local arts leaders have the opportunity to assume leadership roles on the complex challenges in our communities—promoting equity, addressing the climate and other issues, and promoting civic literacy about the issues we face. As arts administrators and managers, it is not enough to be informed about the issues—we need to know how to communicate effectively with broader, more diverse publics that we serve. Local arts agency leaders must understand these issues on ever deeper levels as they develop meaningful competitive grant review processes and find effective ways for arts organizations to take central roles in public discourse.
Member Spotlight: Morgan Ritter
Public Art Exhibitions & Collections Coordinator Morgan Ritter is an artist, poet, and arts worker, and has been responsible for the care of art and arts spaces for 14 years within many of Portland, Oregon’s nonprofit arts institutions. Morgan joined the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) in 2019 and her personal art practice includes sculpture, installation, books, video, poetry, and performance. “Often, I feel playful, relating with the world around me in a flexible way where things like mud puddles, soda cans, and potatoes become compelling material to work with. Much of my artwork is sourced from these various fragments and consists not only of found objects, but found language from dreams, conversations, and texts. I find most interest in making meaning with matter that is not classified as precious or valuable. And now in these times, I am finding all the more reason to be resourceful and utilize the available domestic systems and dusty, garage detritus for their extrasensory, healing potential.”
Member Spotlight: Patrick Rath
In October 2020, Patrick Rath became the president & CEO of United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF), the largest united fund for the performing arts in the country. Since 1967, UPAF has been dedicated to securing community resources, promoting the performing arts as a regional asset, and improving the quality of life through responsible investment in and financial support of the performing arts in Southeastern Wisconsin. Every dollar raised comes from individuals, companies, and foundations. Rath brings more than 30 years’ experience in development and on the boards of several performing arts organizations to the role. He is also a classically trained double bass player and has performed with eight of UPAF’s 14 member organizations.
Creative Confidence and the Education Revolution
Art-making seeds a certain bone-deep faith in one’s instincts, a deeply grounded sense of comfort that frees one up to try new things. Developing one’s artistry is an exercise in taking risks and living to tell the tale. Mistakes aren’t only tolerated, they’re expected. Built into the artistic process is the act of rough-drafting, rehearsing, reframing, “take-it-again-from-the-top”-ing. The voice will crack at some point as we seek our sweetest, most vulnerable sound, and our foot will falter occasionally as we attempt a new pirouette. Producing meaningful art means that we’ve given ourselves space to experiment, iterate, fall and fail and get up and try again. The opportunity to correct flies in the face of an educational system predicated on the right/wrong binary of standardized testing. It’s radically freeing to look beyond that binary, and creative confidence is the byproduct. With creative confidence in place, anything is possible for our students.
Member Spotlight: Bernadette Carroll
Bernadette Carroll joined Act One as their executive director in March 2020, just as arts organizations across the country shuttered due to COVID-19. She hit the ground running and worked on a new strategic plan with board and staff to address the needs of schools and arts organizations during the pandemic, its impact on the future of Act One, and on the communities served by the organization. Adapting to the changes of remote work, Carroll and her team launched Act One’s new virtual reality field trip program for students.
Maintaining and Cultivating New Audiences During COVID-19 and Beyond
Breaking down barriers for our audiences to engage with our organization should be a top priority as we navigate today’s ever-changing landscape. Our new and existing audiences will thank us with continuous support, which helps us thrive as arts organizations.
A Message to the Field from the Board of Directors of Americans for the Arts: Report to the Field
To our members, strategic partners, patrons, artists, and the entire arts and culture community: Americans for the Arts Board of Directors and senior leadership want to share, with all sincerity, that we have used these last months of organizational transition to reflect on our actions, and their effect on those we serve. We have taken a deep and critical look in the mirror to better understand how our work is being impacted by the societal issues affecting our members, partners, and all those dedicated to the arts and culture community. In our introspection, we acknowledge the importance of shared advocacy and shared leadership within the broader arts and culture community. We want to be better partners in this regard, and we realize our best efforts can only occur by rebuilding trust and realignment with the field. We know that it will take time and, more importantly, actions. We have come to fully recognize that Americans for the Arts can do better in delivering consistent, high quality, and mutually beneficial leadership and service as a national organization. We want to begin this recognition by offering the findings from the board commissioned Task Force for Racial and Cultural Equity.
Spotlight on America’s Future Leaders: 2021 Nashville DIAL Interns
The Diversity in Arts Leadership program once again returns to a virtual setting with a brand-new set of interns from all over the country fueled by their passions and interest in arts administration and cultural equity. For 28 years, Americans for the Arts has been hosting the DIAL internship program as an investment in a more equitable arts management field. This ARTSblog series features the DIAL cohorts in New York City, New Jersey, and Nashville in four parts; profiled here are interns from the Nashville cohort. Get to know Mikayla Gary, Maya Brown, Grace Kim, and Paula Wilson.