Monday, September 7, 2009

September 07, 2009



Hello everyone.

“And the beat goes on...............“


Next week, on Tuesday, September 15th, we will launch the six week forum discussion on the role of the National Endowment for the Arts in the nonprofit arts field, and the wider American society, and in the process begin a dialogue about what a national policy for arts & culture might look like. [Scroll down to last week’s blog entry for a complete description of this ambitious experiment including the six panel schedule, focus of each, and the panel members participating.)

Note addition of new participants Brad Erickson & Celeste DeWald and Sixth Week Private Sector Panel members (so far)].

• It is our hope that all of you out there will make a little time in your busy schedules to check out this ongoing dialogue and discussion over its six week run, and will chime in with your thoughts, opinions and comments when and where you think appropriate.

• We also hope you will help us to spread word of this forum discussion among your colleagues, clients, constituent bases, boards, supporters and audiences via your email newsletters, website link or otherwise so that as many people as possible might be aware of the issues that are involved in rethinking the NEA and a Federal Arts & Culture Policy framework. Use this link:

Below is a listing of just some of the issues that may be touched on in this forum; it is by no means meant to be exhaustive of all the issues on our collective table. Our purpose here is to stimulate analysis, thinking, problem solving and consensus building as to what the NEA might be doing and how it might be doing it. It is not our purpose to simply be critical, but rather to foster positive suggestions for how we, as a field, move forward to address the myriad issues and challenges that face us. The NEA is a valuable national asset. We are a very diverse field, and we have differing opinions and ideas about what our priorities should be and how we should best deal with the problems and challenges we face. We believe an open, frank and ongoing discussion involving as many of us as possible will move us forward as we grapple to make things better.

If, in review of the topics we have identified there are other topics or subject areas you think need to be addressed, please enter your ideas as a comment – either to this blog or one of the future panel discussions.


The following are topics / subject areas that we hope might be touched on over the course of the six weeks of this forum discussion. These are primarily guidelines just to stimulate thinking among our panelists who may address any or none of them as they so choose.

Each week’s panel will be asked to respond to five specific questions tailored to the panelists that week – and those questions will likely be culled from the questions and subject areas below. All panelists and you can comment on any issue or topic at any time by entering a comment at the end of that week’s blog.

All panels will be asked the first question under the Advice subset (as one of the five required questions for their week):

"What would you like to see the Endowment accomplish? What policies should govern its actions? What should be its priorities? If you were to advise Rocco Landesman on what the agenda for the NEA should be --what would you tell him?"


(and how should that role be properly manifested in terms of specific actions or programs – i.e., in initiating, facilitating, funding, brokering, sponsoring or otherwise supporting or enabling Endowment involvement in these areas?)

a. Advocating with government, the media and the general public as to the value of the arts, including regional, state and city efforts to gain governmental support for the local arts sectors?

b. Research and gathering data and information useful to the nonprofit arts sector.

c. Brokering active partnerships, collaboration, and cooperation between the nonprofit arts and other sectors (e.g., academia, the private business sector, the “for profit” arts and entertainment industries etc.)

d. The provision of training for arts administrators in basic business skills and management – from fundraising and marketing, to budget planning, personnel issues, board relations, etc.

e. The promotion and creation of greater public access to the arts – including direct support for the presenting community?

f. Establishment of sequential, curriculum based K-12 and college arts education with standards and assessment?

g. Promotion and support of international programs by and between the arts & culture sectors of other countries and the arts & culture sector of the United States.

h. As a catalyst, energizer , incubator and nurturer for new art and artists?

i. In the preservation and growth of multicultural arts in America.

j. In fostering collaborative and cooperative efforts between private foundations and funders and government funders of the arts?

k. In the periodical and regular convening and gathering of arts leadership in various cities, regions, and states?

l. What other kinds of initiatives should the Endowment launch or support?


a. Should the NEA return to providing grants to individual artists, and what should be the balance be in allocation of funds between artists and arts organizations?

b. Should geography, artistic discipline, organizational budget size, multicultural or other categorical designations be part of the criteria for the distribution of the total of the NEA’s available funds so as to achieve some sort of equity in allocation? How important should artistic excellence be in the overall determination of the allocation of grants?

c. Due to likely continuing limited funding, is it time for the NEA to reposition its funds to assist with the development (preservation) of the infrastructure of the field, and substantially reduce the funding of art programs?

d. Should a percentage of funds be allocated to special initiatives addressing needs such as the kinds set forth in Question #1 above and if so, what would be the proper balance between funding those kinds of projects and providing operational grants to organizations and creative grants to individual artists?

e. What kind of funding should the Endowment allocate, if any, to expanding public access to the arts?

f. Do the programs and services the Endowment currently offers reflect the best use of its money? Do you think the NEA has (is) doing enough to promote and nurture smaller arts organizations and newer, more cutting edge art? What about its support for multicultural arts? What should the NEA do to ensure that it makes provision for these kinds of arts and arts organizations? Where should the proper balance lie between support for traditional Anglo America arts forms, arts expressions and legacies, and arts organizations, and both multicultural arts and newer, more avant garde artistic expressions of younger generations?

g. If, and when, the Endowment’s budget is increased by Congress, what should be the priorities in terms of allocation of the additional available funds?

h. By law, the NEA allocates approximately 40% of its funding to the states and regions.

i. Should this formula be maintained or changed?

ii. Can (and should) the NEA do more to direct these funds in a way that would stimulate stronger growth and development of the state and regional arts organizations and the geographic areas they serve?


a. What should the basic pillars of a national arts & cultural policy be?

b. Should such a policy be basically a simple, declarative statement (even somewhat nonspecific) or should it be detailed and specific? (e.g., a national arts education policy might be: The United States of America values and seeks to have standards and curriculum based, sequential and comprehensive arts education provided to all children – K through 12 and as part of the college and university offerings. Or it might be much more detailed and specific – setting out how each of the parts of this declarative statement might be achieved and why each is crucial).

c. How can we arrive at a consensus based national arts & culture policy and what are the first steps in an attempt to put such a policy into words?


a. What would you like to see the Endowment accomplish? What policies should govern its actions? What should be its priorities? If you were to advise Rocco Landesman on what the agenda for the NEA should be --what would you tell him?

b. What do you think are the major challenges and obstacles facing the Endowment and how should they be addressed?

c. What untapped opportunities do you think the Endowment should pursue?
If you have other topics you think the panelists for this six week long online Forum should address, please enter your comment below.

And please pass on information about this Six Week Online Forum to your colleagues, friends and anyone else you can so that we have as large an audience as possible for this important discussion. Pass on this link

Thank you very much.

Have a good week.

Don’t Quit!