Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 01, 2009



Hello everyone.

“And the beat goes on.................“


Dear Readers:

Never before has the National Endowment for the Arts been more important to the health and vibrancy of art & culture in America, and not for some time has the Endowment been poised to expand to its fuller potential. Yet at the same time, deeply entrenched partisan politics and contentiousness on issues large and small may again make the Endowment a convenient target to attack.

For quite some time, we have been talking about the development of a national policy for arts & culture in America. Perhaps the time has come to ratchet up that dialogue and move towards action steps in finally arriving at a consensus for such a federal policy.

Beginning Tuesday, September 15th I am pleased that Barry’s Blog will host one of the longest and largest online forum discussions of national arts policy, (and specifically the role of the National Endowment of the Arts in the life of nonprofit arts organizations and artists of every discipline) yet attempted within our sector. We have invited a veritable Who’s Who of arts leaders, private sector companies with a direct or indirect stake in the arts, and artists from across the country to participate in a major discussion and dialogue of a wide panoply of the issues that consideration of a national arts & culture policy and the role of the NEA suggests. Over forty of these leaders and artists will participate over a six week period.

The purpose of this unique and unusual blog forum is to promote a national dialogue on what the Endowment ought to be, what it might become under the Obama Administration, and what rethinking as to its structure and priorities might yield in terms of its growth and relevance. Indirectly its purpose is to begin to flesh out the principal elements that might make for the foundation of a national policy on arts & culture in America.

There are strong opinions within our sector as to what the priorities of the Endowment ought to be, about what should be funded and what shouldn't. There are different thoughts as to the role the Endowment ought to play (if any) in expanding access to the arts, in promoting arts education in the schools, in preserving cultural legacies, in supporting individual artists, and in such things as training arts administrators, developing next generation leadership, research and data collection, providing marketing support, audience development, and facilities expansion as well as convening leaders within and outside the arts sector.

While, as a field, we agree on many issues, we disagree on many others including, for example: 1) where the balance might properly lie in terms of allocating federal funds on equal discipline, geographic, and other criteria; 2) which types of programs and / or initiatives should be the agency's priority; 3) the proper division between funds for arts organizations and for individual artists; 4) whether the Endowment should spend more money on avant garde artistic expression and innovation or keep the emphasis on the more traditional Anglo mainstream arts of our past; and 5) what the role of the agency should be in the nurturing, incubation and growth of various multicultural arts expressions, legacies and histories.

Of course underlying such a discussion of the Endowment is really a broader discussion of a Federal arts & cultural public policy, and all of the questions that topic suggests:

• What should be the role of arts & culture in the economy, in foreign affairs, in education, in health services, in civic life?

• How can the various federal agencies that have some role in arts funding or otherwise coordinate their efforts, and where and how should the arts be represented in the White House and in formal policy making – or should it?

• How do we best nurture and develop all the multicultural arts traditions of a diverse society?

• How do we create equal access to arts & culture for every citizen?

• How do we build bridges between the "for-profit" and nonprofit arts industries and promote cooperation and collaboration where it is to the mutual benefit of both parties, or to the larger society?

And what should be the role of the Endowment in any of this? In terms of a national arts policy, what do we want for our artistic community in America, and what do we want from it?

We hope to have a frank, open and respectful discussion as to what various interests and constituencies within our sector think the Endowment is doing right, what it is doing wrong, and what directions it might go. In the process we will undoubtedly be touching on national cultural policy. We hope to offer thoughtful and well meaning suggestions and advice as the new Chairman arrives, as to how the Endowment might be improved for the benefit of all, and, as importantly, how we might rally increased support within the sector and the general public for the Endowment and its mission. And we hope this will begin a sustained national conversation within our sector and the wider society as to the development of a meaningful and workable cultural policy that can help guide public and private efforts to support art and creativity as a national asset, and that help bring sustainability, increased capacity and greater predictability to the public support for the arts.

We recognize that the Endowment means different things to different constituent groups and that its relevance and importance likewise has different meanings and interpretations. We also note that different interest areas want different things from the agency and that some sectors are satisfied while others are not. We want this discussion to have representatives from all the various camps, to include diverse voices, representing our various disciplines, organizations of all sizes from all geographic locations, all political persuasions and different generational perspectives. We have tried to invite people that fairly reflect all those groups.

We very much want your voice as part of this historic discussion, and we will need your help in participating as commentators over the course of this forum to make sure all voices are heard, and we encourage all of you and all those connected to your organization to join with our national leaders in this forum.

• We will host six separate four day sessions over as many weeks.

• Each week Anthony Radich (Executive Director of WESTAF) and I will ask that week's panelists several initial questions about the role of the Endowment. Those questions will have bearing to that week’s participant’s field of expertise and those initial questions and answers will be posted on the blog as of 9:00 am on the Tuesday of that week.

• Over the next three days, we will ask follow up questions of that week’s panel and they will respond to those follow up questions and may comment on one or more of the observations of their fellow panelists, or even ask questions of them.

• After the Tuesday posting of each week, all of the participants from all six weeks are free to offer their comments, opinions, ideas or thoughts at any time. Each week's questions will build, to an extent, on the previous week's participant responses.

• YOU – the readers are encouraged to join the discussion by entering your own comments, reactions, thoughts, ideas or submitting questions of your own at any time during the full six week run.

We recognize that time constraints will not allow people to monitor the comments on a daily basis, but hope that the exercise will be of sufficient interest and importance that all of you (and our participants) will check-in to view each weekly post and chime in to the extent you feel so motivated throughout the entire process.

Here is a breakdown of the six week’s panels – the dates and the focus of each, and the panelists participating.

(we may still add people to the panels, and we are in the process of finalizing the participants in the last two panels – those from the private sector and artists from across the country in various disciplines, and will provide those panel lists shortly.)

WEEK #1 – September 15 – 18 Former NEA perspectives:

The first week launch of the discussion will feature participants who have previously worked at the Endowment, along with a couple of national leaders who have long standing relationships with the agency. The focus of this first week's discussion will be on the agency's organization, culture, priorities and initiatives so as to set the context for subsequent week's discussions.

Olive Mosier – Director, Arts & Culture Program, William Penn Foundation; former Deputy Director NEA.
Diane Mataraza – Independent Consultant; former Director Local Partnership, NEA
Tony Chauveaux – Deputy Director the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; former Deputy Director, NEA
Peter Hero – Vice-President, California Institute of Technology, former member National Council on the Arts, former Executive Director Silicon Valley Foundation
Steven Tepper – Associate Director Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy, Vanderbilt University

WEEK #2 – September 22 – 26 National arts leaders perspectives

The second week will feature national arts organization leadership, including the various sub-sector discipline and interest areas (e.g., the presenting community, state arts agencies, theater, dance, music, and visual arts etc) and will focus on the needs of the field, whether or not the Endowment is meeting those needs and how the agency might better address those needs.

Bob Lynch – President & CEO Americans for the Arts
Jonathan Katz – Executive Director, National Association of State Arts Agencies
Patrick Overton – Director, Front Porch Institute
Sandra Gibson – Executive Director, Association for Performing Arts Presenters
Anne Katz - Executive Director Arts Wisconsin, Immediate Past Chair, State Arts Action Network
Don Adams – Cultural Policy Analyst
*new - Brad Erickson – Executive Director, Theater Bay Area
*new - Celeste DeWald - Executive Director, California Association of Museums

WEEK # 3 – September 29 – October 2 Funders - public & private - perspectives

The third week will feature the funding community -- major foundations together with state, regional and local arts agencies (and the relationship of those agencies with the Endowment) and will focus on the economic climate, the limits and opportunities for funding strategies and how an ecosystem for collaboration and cooperation with the Endowment might be structured in the future

Ben Cameron - Program Director for the Arts, Doris Duke Foundation
Daniel Windham - Director of Arts, The Wallace Foundation
Janet Brown – Executive Director, Grantmakers in the Arts
Moy Eng – Program Director, Performing Arts, Hewlett Foundation
John McGuirk – Program Director – Arts, Irvine Foundation
Frances Phillips - Program Director, Arts & The Creative Work Fund, Haas Foundation
John Killacky – Program Officer, Arts, The San Francisco Foundation
Victoria Hamilton - Executive Director, San Diego Office of Arts & Culture
Laura Zucker - Executive Director, Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Director of the Masters in Arts Administration program at Claremont Graduate University
Loie Fecteau – Executive Director, New Mexico Arts

WEEK # 4 – October 6 – 9 Arts Education leaders, Academia, Emerging Leaders, and 
Consultant perspectives

The fourth week will include select national nonprofit arts consultants, emerging young arts leaders from the field, academic representatives from universities offering degree in arts administration programs, and arts education leaders and explore those perspectives.

Andrew Taylor – Director BOLZ CENTER for Arts Administration / UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN – MADISON SCHOOL OF
BUSINESS; author of The ARTFUL MANAGER blog. Invitation pending
Jodi Beznoska – Communications Director Walton Arts Center
Ian David Moss – Blogger Createquity.com
Shannon Daut – Deputy Director, WESTAF
Neil Archer Roan – Independent Consultant
Doug McLennan – Founder / Publisher ARTS JOURNAL
Cora Mirikitani - Director Center for Cultural Innovation
Hollis Headrick – Founding Executive Director, The Center for Arts Education, New York, New York; Program Director Arts in Education New York State Council on the Arts
Steven Lavine – President, California Institute of the Arts

WEEK # 5 – October 13 – 16 Private Sector / Stakeholder perspectives

The fifth week will include business, trade and corporate representatives from the private sector entertainment and high tech industries, and focus on the possible intersections between these potential stakeholders and our sector, how the Endowment might facilitate those relationships, and the policy implications of those intersections.

Kristen Madsen – Senior Vice-President – The Grammy Foundation
Terri Clark – Executive Director, The Television Academy of Arts & Sciences Foundation
Cary Sherman - President RIAA (Record Industry Association of America)
Mary Luehrsen - Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations, NAMM (National Association of Music Manufacturers)
We have invited representatives from companies such as Google, You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and others from the high tech industries. Full list of confirmed participants soon.

WEEK # 6 – October 20 – 23 Artists perspective

The sixth week will include artists – new and established – from various disciplines and geographic areas around the country and focus on the relationship between working artists and the Endowment.

We have invited a dozen artists to participate. Full list of confirmed participants soon.

NEXT WEEK I will provide you with some of the questions and topics of discussion that are being provided to the participants and which we sincerely hope will be touched upon and included during the course of the six week discussion. Please feel free to email me any suggestions you many have for topics or questions of any of our panels which you think we may have overlooked.

Because this type of discussion is likely to yield as many questions as answers, The seventh week will be a follow up synopsis of some of the main themes of the discussion, including a summary of reader comments and thoughts, and include suggestions for future consideration and the major issues the field ought to prioritize.

This blog has 10,000 subscribers. Often that number increases if people pass on the word that something is on the blog that others might find interesting. For this discussion, we would like the largest possible audience, and ask if you would please consider advising your staff, boards, client bases and affiliated constituent groups of this forum discussion and post a link to the site – www.westaf.org/blog We would be greatly appreciative of anything you can do to publicize this important dialogue and encourage people to follow along and participate.

CORRECTION from last week’s blog: I erroneously listed Anne Katz as still the chair of the State Arts Action Network. The new Chair is Donna Collins of Ohio Citizens for the Arts. My apologies.

Thank you very much

Have a good week

Don’t Quit.

Barry Hessenius
Anthony Radich