Welcome to UCA's new events blog!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Around the Country Compiled by Americans for the Arts

State & Local News
Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon treated elementary school students to a concert. The school’s music teacher had seen Simon play banjo on television and decided to reach out. Simon was introduced by the school’s principal Nathan Kochanwoski who shared with students that “(Simon) acts as the governor’s point person for education reform. Which is why she’s here — she loves school.” Simon discussed her lieutenant governor duties with students before playing songs such as “La Bamba" and "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.” “I’m also a big advocate for arts in education,” Simon said. “You need to make sure we do our reading, math and (other studies), but the arts put it all together.”

As the first action of MASSCreative's new Third Friday Advocacy Day series, the organization is seeking signatories for a petition asking Governor Devall Patrick to boost the Massachusetts Cultural Council's (MCC) budget by $3 million to $12.5 million "to help build vibrant and connected communities across the Commonwealth.'' Through July, the governor, the state Senate and House of Representatives will debate how to distribute an estimated $32 billion in state revenue. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson is asking members and supporters to use social media and their smart phones to encourage people to sign the petition which will be delivered to Patrick before Jan. 18. In 2013, the MCC funded more than 2,000 arts and cultural organizations, helping to create "exciting and accessible programming across the state,'' according to Wilson.

One in five New York City eighth-graders in public schools graduated from middle school last year without completing the state’s basic requirements for arts education. That data point is one of many contained in the city’s Annual Arts in Schools Report. Department of Education officials emphasized that schools’ time devoted to and money spent on arts instruction held steady or increased since last year, but they said that improvement is needed in middle schools. Equity of access also has arts advocates concerned. Eric Pryor, executive director of the Center for Arts Education, said, “the opportunity gap that exists in city public schools has barely budged, leaving far too many students without access to quality instruction in the arts.”

The Vermont Arts Council is asking the state to double its funding for the arts come January. The Council awards grants to arts organizations and artists every year but state funding has remained level for the past two decades. In 1991, the Arts Council’s budget was $479,153 and in 2012 that number has only increased to $507,607. Had the funding kept pace with inflation, the Council would have a budget of more than $810,000. Alex Aldrich, executive director of the Vermont Arts Council, has shared that this year the Council will be asking for a $500,000 increase. What happens if the Arts Council receives level funding for another year? The Council would lose about $250,000 resulting from an inability to match federal funding.

A unique program that pairs musicians from the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra with Dayton school children will be expanded to include more students. Q the Music provides string instruments to about 25 third-grade students who signed up for the new program this fall at an elementary after-school program. The program is free to the students and has received funding from local businesses and private donors. Q the Music is based on El Sistema, a music education movement that began in Venezuela in 1975. The plan calls for expanding the program to more students at the school next year, while these participating third-graders continue in the program as fourth-graders.

In California, 2010 and 2011 tax forms had a check box for the California Arts Council as one of 18 options for targeted giving to various state-funded causes. The box will not exist on the 2012 tax form because state law that added the grant-making Arts Council to the mix for the two years specified that the box would vanish if the option didn't bring in at least $250,000 from tax returns filed for the 2011 tax year. Through the end of November, the yield was $164,330 chipped in by 15,940 taxpayers. Craig Watson, the arts council's director, was not surprised that the check-off yield fell short of the bar it was required to meet. Next to the check box it said "Arts Council Fund.” He’s hoping to see new legislation passed that will bring the check box back, and the next time around, the label next to the box should say something like "Arts for Kids," with a provision that all the money raised from tax forms would indeed go to children's arts education.

The University of Indianapolis hosted an arts forum titled, “Why Arts? Why Indy?” to respond to the reduction of arts education in public schools and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s fall work stoppage. Michael Kaiser, President of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, was a featured speaker. He identifies himself as a proponent of institutional marketing rather than program marketing, Kaiser advises organizations to, “surprise people,” which applies to how an arts organization presents itself over time to its community, and not to rely on programmatic novelty lacking follow-through. Arts organizations tend to overestimate how well-known they are, he said, which leads them to ignore the need to market themselves. When they run into financial trouble, programming becomes more conservative and the organizations are less attractive to the public, he said.

The impending rollout of Common Core State Standards in all but four U.S. states has advocates for arts education worrying about whether the rigorous standards will squeeze arts instruction out of school curricula. David Coleman, an architect of the standards and incoming president of the College Board, claims the arts will continue to have an important role in education after the adoption of Common Core State Standards. Coleman said that "the arts have a central and essential role in achieving the finest aspects of the common core," as quoted in Education Week's Curriculum Matters blog. A mapping project accompanying common core standards provides a framework of suggestions for incorporating works of art, music and film into lessons that support common core standards at various grade levels. English language teachers could team with art or music teachers for the projects, the guide suggests.

Digital technology has transformed the arts in America, but the details of that change weren’t widely available until the release of a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The think tank surveyed 1,244 art groups across the United States to learn how the Internet, social media and mobile connectivity have changed the arts experience for patrons and presenters. Kristin Thomson, the main author of the report, assessed the survey results in a prepared statement released by Pew Research Center: “The majority of arts organizations have embraced social media tools and, on balance, think they are worth the investment of staff time and capacity,” she said. “In fact, many survey respondents reported clever ways they are using social media to not only promote their work, but also to involve audiences in programming decisions and art-making itself.” Click here to view the full report.

Comic books are now listed as reading material for students in the new common core standards being adopted across the country, even though some naysayers still question their value in the classroom. Comic book sales have increased by nearly 40 percent over the past 10 years and public libraries have seen significant increases in circulation after adding such material to their collections. "You're always going to have the traditionalists say comic books aren't real literature, and I guess to a certain extent they have a point," says Karen Gavigan, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina who has focused her research on graphic novels, "But my point is that it is different literature. It is visual literature, and I'd be failing my kids if I didn't train them for all the visual reading they do today." Gavigan said graphic novels help students develop language skills, reinforce vocabulary and develop critical thinking skills.

Tech Talk
In this webinar hosted by Nonprofit 911, Katya Andresen will delve into five areas of fundamental change that are critical to understanding how to engage with your supporters in 2013. They include the rise of mobile technology, the growth of peer networks, the increasing personalization of marketing and communications, the upside of slacktivism and new discoveries about how people think about our causes. She’ll feature a panel of nonprofits like yours who have embraced these shifts successfully. Hear the stories, get the facts and learn how to adapt.
Attend this webinar to kick off 2013 with a technological wake-up call and take away the following:
§  How to use technology to amplify the various messengers in your organization
§  Why you should avoid writing off slacktivists (and also learn how to cultivate them to encourage more action over time)
§  What you can do to put the donor at the center of your story and raise more money

Transforming Communities Through Apps: Part II
Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 2 PM EST
Interested in discovering more about developing apps to transform your community? Join Tech Soup for a webinar designed especially for nonprofits and libraries!  This webinar is the second part of a series on apps, as part of the App It Up project: Transforming Communities. We'll feature guests from nonprofits and libraries who will share their hands-on experience with you.

Webinars Hosted by Americans for the Arts:
A Look at the Future of Dynamic Pricing
Monday, January 21, 2013 at 3 PM EST
Recent studies argue that there are too many venues and arts organizations are struggling with capitalization. All of this, plus other bottom-line issues, puts more pressure on earned income. Many arts organizations have begun to use dynamic pricing to help boost earned income, but it is often a blunt instrument. We will discuss best practices in dynamic pricing that go into deeper analysis, show how small changes can bring large gains, and how outside influences such as consumer psychology, management of the customer experience, internal and external communications, and price elasticity all play a part in sophisticated, successful dynamic pricing strategies.
Are you an organization or agency that makes grants? Then join us for this series that showcases arts funders who are refreshing, modifying or changing grantmaking policies and strategies to support the full cultural ecosystem of their cities, towns and regions. Learn how LAAs are shaping grant programs to stimulate and support arts creation and participation in response to shifting demographics and cultural landscapes.
§  The Evolution of Local Arts Grantmaking: Addressing Shifting Demographics - Equity and Access?
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM EST
§  The Evolution of Local Arts Grantmaking: Technology, Systems, and Capturing Data.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM EST
§  The Evolution of Local Arts Grantmaking : Leveraging Investments in Creativity – What’s Next?
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 3 PM EDT

Bulletin Board
Americans for the Arts is teaming up with American Girl to help promote the arts in U.S. schools through the Elevate the Arts School Grant Contest and Saige Learning Guide. This partnership dovetails with American Girl’s introduction of its 2013 Girl of the Year, Saige Copeland. Elementary schools throughout the United States with students in grades 3-6 can submit entries to support their art program through the Elevate the Arts School Grant Contest. Each entry must contain two components: a digital image of artwork and a written essay. Entries should be submitted between January 1 and May 31, 2013. They will be evaluated on originality, creativity and how effectively it demonstrates the school’s enthusiasm for art and its positive effect on its students. Grants will be awarded to 13 schools and awardees will be announced in October 2013 to coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month.
The Saige Learning Guide is a free, downloadable arts-based curriculum designed for teachers to inspire their students to explore their creative side. To complement this resource, Americans for the Arts is offering additional tools that parents can use. These supplementary tools can be found on Americans for the Arts’ website.
Further details regarding the Elevate the Arts School Grant Program, including specific contest rules and regulations, and the Saige Learning Guide can be found here.

National Endowment for the Arts Announces Funding Guidelines Available for Fiscal Year 2014 Grants
Art Works is the NEA's largest funding category, supporting the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. The deadlines for Art Works applications are March 7 and August 8, 2013.
The Challenge America Fast-Track category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations -- those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. These grants feature an expedited review process with approximately six months from application to notification. The deadline for Challenge America Fast-Track is May 23, 2013.
The 2012 election has made a dramatic impact on Congress with more than 80 new members of Congress taking office in early January. The 113th Congress will renew the focus on reducing the federal deficit through program cuts and revenue raisers that could detrimentally impact nonprofit arts organizations. It is imperative that arts advocates work together to help educate members of Congress about the role the arts play in spurring economic growth and job creation. Register Now!

The Americans for the Arts 26th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall
Washington, DC, April 8, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
Grammy Award®-winning musician Yo-Yo Ma will deliver the Americans for the Arts 26th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy. Receive two free tickets to the lecture with your Arts Advocacy Day registration or reserve your general admission single ticket online today.

The Big Read Returns for 2013
Deadline: February 5, 2013
The Big Read is accepting applications from non-profit organizations to develop community-wide reading programs between September 2013-June 2014. The Big Read is a national program designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment. Organizations selected to participate in The Big Read receive a grant, educational and promotional materials, and access to online training resources and opportunities. Approximately 75 organizations from across the country will be selected. To review the guidelines and application instructions, visit The Big Read website.

SphinxCon, an inaugural convening on diversity in the performing arts, will be held February 15-17, 2013 at the Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit. Attend to be inspired by leaders from the world of business, academia, and the arts as they share strategies to address issues of diversity in their communities and across all disciplines. Come share, inspire, and promote your ideas! Be sure to register by January 13 to lock in the special room rate!

Spotlight on... South Dakotans for the Arts!
South Dakotans for the Arts is a non-profit corporation advancing the arts in South Dakota through service, education and advocacy. Three statewide organizations, South Dakotans for the Arts, the South Dakota Alliance for Arts Education and the Community Arts Network of South Dakota share programs, members, offices and staff.
The partnership of South Dakotans for the Arts, the SD Alliance for Arts Education and the Community Arts Network is a national role model for rural states. Members are kept informed of through the newsletter, ARTS ALIVE, with information about artists, local arts organizations and the South Dakota Arts Council. Members also receive CANmail, a weekly E-newsletter with updates on advocacy issues and events. The South Dakotans for the Arts Day is held biennially to heighten awareness and appreciation of the arts for our legislators and features the Children’s Capitol Art Show, an exhibition of artwork by students from every legislative district. In alternate years, the Governor’s Awards are presented recognizing the state’s finest artists and supporters of the arts. This year the Governor’s Awards will be presented on February 6, 2013. For more information about South Dakotans for the Arts visit their website, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

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