Want-Need: “Them”?

Them(Ant)

Two of my favorite bloggers, Nina Simon and Diane Ragsdale, have recently weighed in on the want vs. need argument. Since this is a topic I have addressed a couple of times before, I wanted to expand upon the discussion a bit from my perspective. It is reasonable to assume we know some things the general public does not about how the arts can address their needs. For instance, if there is a need to address issues surrounding race relations, … [Read more...]

Enrich @#!*$@

EnrichNo

Rant du jour: the word "enrich" in mission statements. Yes, it is important to enrich people's lives–make them more enjoyable, more fulfilling, more meaningful. However, so often when the word is used in mission or vision statements, that's the only reference to interacting with the public. It is, of course, better than focusing on the art to the exclusion of the community, but stopping at "enrich" sells the arts short. If the arts are only … [Read more...]

Inside/Outside

MondaviWinery

This is yet another example of how it's nearly impossible for me to get away from things that tie in to the content of this blog. In September, during my trip to California to work with James Irvine Foundation grantees, I took some time to "play" in Napa Valley. One stop was at the Robert Mondavi Winery. We took an official tour led by one of Mondavi's wine chemists. This was a man whose passion and life work is great wine. He knows his stuff and … [Read more...]

Irrigate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oePXcW6axk Springboard for the Arts has been developing buzz in the creative placemaking world of late. I've heard presentations about their work at several conferences this year. At the Americans for the Arts conference in Pittsburgh in June I got to meet Laura Zabel, Springboard's extremely energetic ED. Springboard began life as a resource center for individual artists. It has expanded its work to find … [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...]

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...]

AftA (2013) Thoughts: II

In AftA Thoughts (2013) : I I began to debrief on my Americans for the Arts 2013 Conference experience. On the second day I had a moment of cognitive dissonance worth exploring. Two back-to-back sessions were inspiring. The Town Hall meeting featuring Bill Strickland of Manchester Bidwell Corporation highlighted wonderful work utilizing the arts to improve communities. A breakout session following gave examples of similar good things being done … [Read more...]

R E S P E C T

RESPECT

Warning: Rant Alert! Adam Huttler of Fractured Atlas fame recently blogged about data mining and preference discovery a la Amazon and Netflix as having important (although as yet unrealized and little examined potential for the arts). [Is House of Cards the Future of Cultural Programming?] This is vitally important territory, but as a self-acknowledged underachiever when it comes to research, I'll let others dig into this vital work. What … [Read more...]

Balanced Learning

BalanceScale

I am just back from two weeks on the road. I spoke and "workshopped" in Toronto and Austin. (Temperature contrast! The highs in Toronto were in the teens; in Austin, in the 70's.) Thanks to everyone in both places for great hospitality and the opportunity to field test the ideas I've been developing around audience and community engagement. And, as usually happens, due to this work a new thought is creeping into the equation. Anyone in the … [Read more...]

Overcoming Artcentricity

CenterOfUniverse

In Shifting the Center I began a consideration of transforming the way we think about the relationship between art and community. Many of us in the arts see the world from the perspective of our arts discipline, and that discipline–along with the work that is its expression–is a value unto itself. Our commitment to art can be nearly all-consuming. But this is a hindrance to relationship building. It gets in the way of engagement. We cannot and … [Read more...]