Justina Crawford-Williams & Christina Oi Ying Nip: A Conversation

This week we will be featuring conversations with leaders working in communities. Justina Crawford-Williams is a musician, educator and arts administrator dedicated to mentoring others to realize their potential. Christina Oi Ying Nip is passionate about community-based public health work who's happiest working in, with and for her community. Both are Creative Community Fellows. Creative/cultural work makes communities thrive. Creative/cultural work makes communities connect. Creative/cultural work makes communities healthy.   Summary … [Read more...]

Laurelin Kruse & Rachel Reynolds Luster: A Conversation

This week we will be featuring conversations with leaders working in communities. Laurelin Kruse and Rachel Reynolds Luster are members of our Creative Community Fellows program. Laurelin is an artist, entrepreneur and founder of the Mobile Museum of American Artifacts.  Rachel is a folklorist, artist and organizer working to promote community renewal and sufficiency in the Missouri Ozarks. The following is a reconstruction of a conversation that took place over a series of phone calls and e-mails. Laurelin: Well, I guess we should start … [Read more...]

Creative Placemaking & Cultural Entrepreneurship

One of the perks of working at NAS is the number of incredible leaders we get to talk with on a regular basis. The last several weeks have been no exception. In fact, we've been talking and listening quite a bit. Part of the recruitment for our Creative Community Fellows program has been a series of conversations with young cultural entrepreneurs about their work and their communities. It's been an eye-opening experience. Next week we will begin to share some of the stories of these amazing leaders. Today we want to share what we learned from … [Read more...]

Building Communities, Building the Field

At NAS, we have seen many examples of what happens when arts and culture works to create positive change in the social, economic and cultural well-being of communities in the US and around the world. This work has been going on for many years, and now is coalescing in the range of approaches and attitudes as creative placemaking – a field of imaginative ideas, committed practice and dedicated practitioners. In many communities, webs of organizations and individuals work in this way, integrated into the heart/soul of their neighborhoods, … [Read more...]

Creative Placemaking: A Conversation


Let’s talk about creative placemaking. In those five words, I’ve probably lost the attention of 40% of our field. It’s likely about 25% are now busy rolling their eyes. Another 15% might be asking, “What is left to discuss?” Yes, in many ways creative placemaking has become an often-cited cultural sector panacea. And yes, it’s a great phrase for grant proposals (and who doesn’t relish a good grant proposal?). But seriously, let’s talk about creative placemaking. Forget for a moment the capital C, capital P proper noun. Let’s talk about … [Read more...]

The Young and the Restless: Taking the Right Career Path

As an emerging leader, the road to professional success seems long and confusing. We experience the daily tension of being where we are with where we want to be. Particularly in a recovering economy, more young leaders are in jobs where they feel over-qualified and underpaid. It can be frustrating, but are we really as far off as we feel? If you’re like me, you can envision the perfect career in your mind, but you face the challenge of making it a reality. Or your frustration may come from not knowing what you want to do, but knowing you … [Read more...]

Skunk Works: A Place for Innovation

What happens when you try to create something new in your organization? You might be lucky enough to be able to go off in a corner and sprint through the design work without any disturbances. But more likely, you are encumbered by some pesky obstacles otherwise known as policies and procedures. You work tirelessly, are just inches from a reaching a Eureka! moment, only to have one of the following happen: You get thrown out of the conference room because you didn’t sign up for the time slot You get dragged into staff meeting You need … [Read more...]

On the Value of the Arts

Why do the arts matter at all?  For some, the special characteristic of the arts and humanities to teach us to hold more than one truth in our heads at the same time (Martha Nussbaum identifies this as training in the Socratic Method – an essential skill for a functioning civil society) is reason enough.[1] The uniquely vicarious experience that experiencing a great work of art gives us allows for a particular kind of empathy – an understanding of how someone else views the world.  And surely we need that now. Last year a study was released … [Read more...]

Sinéad Cusack, An Ode in Prose

In honor of Arts Advocacy Day, we at NAS are pulling back the curtain a bit and share our own thoughts on why the arts matter? We're continuing where we started last week with posts by members of our team. We invite you to add your thoughts as well. As a 14-year old boy at school in Alexandria, Virginia, I had an embarrassment of riches: the chance to see as much theater as I wished by merely signing my name on a piece of paper at school. For a short time, I decided to ignore this in favor of more important pursuits like buying a fake ID … [Read more...]

Bringing People Together to Improve the Place They Love

Before coming to National Arts Strategies, my office was a shady spot under a mango tree in the front yard of my compound in Ati Atovou, Togo.   Days in Ati-Atovou passed mostly in the same manner as they do in my DC neighborhood: people wake, do good work, laugh with the people they love and nourish their bodies with favorite local dishes. When I made the decision to spend over two years in Togo as a Peace Corps volunteer, I was worried that I was turning my back on a career in the arts that I was so passionate about.  What could Togo offer … [Read more...]