Heard NY

Some time ago I commented [Engaged Mission: I], in response to a NY Times article, that social practice art–art with an explicit social service intent, while admirable, is not the only way to approach community engagement. It's a good and valuable way to engage, but it is not the sole means to do so. When I discuss community engagement I talk about the "issue" being addressed by a project, but an issue need not be a problem or something in need … [Read more...]

The Buggy Whip Lesson: Recognizing a Mission Crisis

BuggyWhip

In a summer's over "manifesto" of sorts, here is why I am so adamant about the need to more fully engage with our communities. Business schools and “common knowledge” both tell stories of the crisis faced by “buggy whip manufacturers” with the advent and then the transportation victory of the automobile. As the horse and buggy faded from the scene, the need (and market) for buggy whips plummeted. The companies that remained totally or largely … [Read more...]

Diversity Definitions

The Arts and Science Council in Charlotte has been involved in some serious work to promote diversity, access, and inclusion. I attended a session at last June's Americans for the Arts conference in Pittsburgh in which Robert Bush, now Interim Director of the Council, described their efforts. In the twenty years from 1990-2010, the population of Charlotte rose from 500,000 to 1 million. In the same period, the city had the among the highest … [Read more...]

In the Vineyards of Diversity

Vineyard

In July, Barry Hessenius posted an Interview with Aaron Dworkin, on Barry's Blog. Mr. Dworkin is founder and President of the Sphinx Organization, "the leading national arts organization that focuses on youth development and diversity in classical music." I was aware of Sphinx's work in identifying and supporting young people of color who aspire to careers in the classical music world. The desire to make our orchestras (in particular) less … [Read more...]

Why We Do It

JimmyEllisAtAndys-Seated

I love Chicago. I love jazz. I love jazz clubs in Chicago; and one of my favorites is Andy's, a place my wife and I discovered because it has a show that begins before my bedtime. (Being a jazz lover and not being a night owl creates some real challenges for me.) We were recently in the Windy City and had the pleasure of hearing saxophonist Jimmy Ellis's quartet. (Click here for an article about him.) Mr. Ellis is in his 80's and is a legend in … [Read more...]

Not “Or”, “And”, but . . . .

NotOrAndBut

A recent Op-Ed piece by Peter Singer in the New York Times, “Good Charity, Bad Charity”, has been the subject of considerable discussion in the arts world. Singer's premise is that a way to make choices in charitable giving is to evaluate social return on investment. He specifically compares "health and safety" giving to "arts, culture and heritage" contributions and comes to the conclusion that the former yields greater benefits for society. … [Read more...]

Benefits of the Arts Follow-Up

A commenter on Benefits of the Arts asked a great question: observing the similarities between the Rand Corporation’s Gifts of the Muse intrinsic/instrumental categories, wasn't my core/ancillary division simply a re-naming? (And Ian David Moss's later comment was in a similar vein.) Here was  my semi-immediate response: While the whole concept is still baking, I’d say no on two grounds. First, the rationale for the core/ancillary distinction is … [Read more...]

Listening to Serve

In AftA Thoughts (2013): II, I suggested a question that can aid the transition to a community-oriented approach to the work of the arts: "How can we help?" In the aftermath of the June's Americans for the Arts conference in Pittsburgh and the One State Together conference in Moline, another "way of thinking" phrase that has potential for guiding us toward greater relevance has been crystallizing in my mind. In my Mainstreaming Engagement … [Read more...]

Benefits of the Arts

Half-Baked

One of the best things about blogging (especially in the summer when so many of my colleagues in academia are paying less attention) is the opportunity to experiment with ideas that are, shall we say, not fully baked. Careful (and long-time) readers of this blog may recall that in my post Art for Art's Sake? There's No Such Thing, I expressed some discomfort with the notions of intrinsic and instrumental benefits of the arts. That construct … [Read more...]

Two Tribes

CatDog

While this post was inspired by the recent Americans for the Arts Conference in Pittsburgh, I'm not labeling it as AftA Thoughts like my other two because it's inspired by 1) a session I did not attend and 2) a post-conference gathering of NASAA's (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies) Community Development Network. In the former, Holly Sidford was interviewed about her research. While hearsay is a notoriously unreliable way to gather … [Read more...]