Monday, August 7, 2006

August 07, 2006

Table of Contents:
I. The Election
II. Changes in the Hessenius Group schedule & format
III. Youth in the Arts Study
IV. Bits & Pieces - handy internet links

Hi everybody.

"And the beat goes on..................."

I. The November Election:
"Tossing and Turning all night..............."

The November election is less than 90 days away. It promises to be one of those major elections that denote a sea change in the political fortunes of the two parties and a change of power - not just in Washington, but perhaps across the country. If the Democrats don't win the House, THAT will be as dramatic as if they do.

So what are the arts doing to position themselves to reap the rewards of new leadership?

I know there are efforts - some new, many ongoing - to make the case for the arts, to promote the value of arts education, to urge reinstatement of previously cut funds, or to provide new funding, to create arts task forces and so on, but I am talking about politics - involvement in campaigns, including financial contributions to candidates -- and the access, influence and relationship that involvement brings.

Are we involved in the candidate campaigns in any way? Have we made the case to candidates, gotten them to take a stand on supporting our positions, even made our positions known? Have we done anything to convince candidates that we are a voting bloc with some power?

Have we submitted candidate questionaires seeking them to take a stand?

Have we written editorials and sent them to newspapers?

Have we circulated email petitions urging candidates to take a public stand in support of the arts?

Have we held their "feet to the fire" as it were intimating to them that if they want our support (and they should), they need to publicly address our issues?

Have we hosted candidate fundraising events that are attended by arts supporters?

I'm asking because I don't know. I haven't seen much of any involvement we might have in this arena, and I wonder why? If we're not invovled, then we're crazy for passing up this opportunity. If it is going on, why haven't I heard about it? I'm not exactly a hermit.

Please let me know what is going on out there in terms of the arts developing relationships with potential new elected officials, and I will pass that info along. I think it important that we all know if there are efforts being made so that we can build on what is being done. There isn't much time left, but it is enough time to act, and for us to take advantage of this important election.

Is it worth doing? What if the U.S. House had 291 arts supporter members of the arts caucus? Two thirds. Enough to override any veto, enough to make the NEA budget $250 million. Ditto various state houses around the country? If the Governor of California wanted to increase the CAC budget to $100 million (absent a recession) HE (or SHE) COULD ABSOLUTELY GET THAT DONE. We've given our elected officials enough reasons to understand and appreciate the value of the arts, but have we given them reasons why they should make it their agenda? Have we given them any reason to carry us to the finish line - when support for anyone, any idea, any group or cause, of necessity, must come at the expense of someone, or something else -because the pie just isn't big enough to support everything?

Next month's Hessenius Group will consider this issue, but I would love to hear from all of you out there as to what you know we are doing, what you think we should do, and what you think we can do at this point in time.

And again, I urge you to join the Arts Action Network - the only national PAC the arts have. Click here: href="">

Someday maybe arts people will run for office themselves. Here's an interesting link to information on a general outline of How to Run for Office -

II. Changes to the Hessenius Group
"Cha, cha, cha changes.........................."

Beginning next month (September) I am making some changes to the Hessenius Group online discussions of the major issues facing the arts. So as to more realistically accommodate the group member's schedules, we will do eight discussions per year - taking off January and the summer months of June, July and August. Starting in September, each month's online group discussion will last only two days - making it easier for the participants and for you to follow along, and hopefully, that change will also make it flow quicker with the dialgoue moving faster. (And I'm considering making it a single day event if two days seems too long).

Finally, I will be adding six new members to the group so that we continue to have new blood and fresh ideas and insure an even wider representation of thoughts, ideas, positions and areas of the arts sector. And also inviting more guest participants month to month.

The subscriber list for the Hessenius Group continues to grow and I want to thank all of you out there for helping us to spread the word so that as many people within our sector as possible might have access to these ongoing discussions of the major issues that we all face. My purpose is to promote a national dialgoue that is otherwise absent, and to build a sense of community within our ranks. We have tremendous strength in the brainpower of our field if we can only 'tap' into it and share it as widely as possible. Please continue to help us by spreading the word, putting a link to the site on your website or otherwise letting your constituency know of this resource. I really appreciate it very much.

III. Youth Involvement in the Arts Study
"We were young with all of our might....................."

I have been doing a study for the past year on Youth Involvement in the Arts considering the questions of how our sector is faring in terms of involving young people in our organizations - including the generational succession issue and how we are recruiting, retaining, training and integrating young people into our governance structures (as staff, board members etc), and as potential advocates, financial supporters, and audiences as well as our efforts to support the next generation of young artists.

A final report on this study - commissioned by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation - will be published late next month. The Report will include a mapping of current efforts - focusing on California as a microcosm of the national efforts, an analysis of what programs are working, where opportunities exist but are not being exploited, and a comparitive analysis of what the environmental field of the nonprofit arts sector is doing in the same area and what lessons we might learn from that sector's efforts. The findings should be of great interest to our field, and Moy Eng and I hope to disseminate the Report as widely as possible so as to encourage debate and discussion on what the arts might do in the future to address the critically important issue of involving young people. I hope you all might help us to distrbute the Report. An electronic pdf file will be available to everyong - and a limited number of hard copies will be sent to organizations across the country.

IV. Bits & Pieces:

Link to article in New York Times on arts education study:

Here's a great little site that can calculate the miles between the major cities in the world.

And here's a site that provides FREE telephone conference calling. Just sign up (no obligation) and get a contact telephone number and a pin number and then as many people as you would like can engage in telephone conference calls - the only charge being whatever toll charges apply for each individual participant on THEIR telephone bills to call the dial in number in St. Louis. (And lots of people now have telephone plans that permit unlimited national long distance calling so they would pay nothing).

Have a great week.

Don't Quit!