Beth Prevor on Diversity, Disability, and Feeling Alone in a Room of Peers

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This is a guest post from Beth Prevor, co-founder and executive director of Hands On, a non-profit that provides accessibility to arts and culture events for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.  At the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in November, Beth spoke eloquently about disability as an under-discussed aspect of diversity, and more generally of her feelings of isolation both at the conference and, in particular, when sitting in the diversity plenary session that I moderated. … [Read more...]

Art Within Bounds: When Is It Censorship, and When Is It Simply Saying “No Thanks?”

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In September, in advance of an Americans for the Arts training at the Sundance resort in Utah, I visited Salt Lake City for the first time and met with Caryn Bradshaw of Visit Salt Lake and Karen Krieger from the Salt Lake City Arts Council.  We toured the city a bit, and what we saw forced me to confront a bias that I didn’t realize I was harboring—I thought that Mormons must be anti-art. My relationship to the Mormon Church is at once one of long distance and of great personal … [Read more...]

To My Parents on the Occasion of Good News

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I found out a few days before Christmas that I’m going to be the new Vice President of Local Arts Advancement for Americans for the Arts.  The official announcement will be made in a few days, and when it's out there I'm going to post this.  I’ll be overseeing a team that generates and disseminates research, programs and services to help local arts agencies, service organizations and advocacy-minded arts groups and artists to put art back in its proper place as a driving force of betterment in … [Read more...]

Heal The World

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  I grew up maybe a half-hour from Newtown, Connecticut, in a town called Ridgefield that, today, became momentarily someplace you might know about when someone spotted someone with a gun (or something) near one of the schools and all of the schools in town went on lockdown.  That would have included Ridgebury Elementary School, where I went, high up on a hill in an out of the way part of town, surrounded by woods and bordered by a swampy area at the bottom of a grade that was great … [Read more...]

Standing Up for the Charitable Tax Deduction Is Standing Up for a Healthy Society; or Reframing away from giving a tax break to the rich

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In a comment on my post from last week about framing, John Carnwath honed in on a comment I sort of tossed off about the threat to the charitable deduction posed by the fiscal cliff.  Take a look at his comment, which is very well laid out—he notes that while the tax deduction for charitable giving is surely and important driver for the arts, he’s not convinced that, given the topic of the post, a frame that suggests favoring the wealthy with a “tax break” is the best idea.  He notes that, … [Read more...]

Nothing New Under the (Ever-Closer, Ready to Incinerate Us) Sun

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On his way out the door, Rocco Landesman lobbed one final, wonderful bomb out there in a conversation with his counterpart in France (who, by the way, receives $9 billion-with-a-B in annual funding whereas the NEA has about $150 million).  He was speaking at the World Arts Forum, and spoke about a “fundamental, visceral distrust of the arts” by the American public.  He called the NEA funding level “pathetic,” and who can disagree, and his blunt honesty about what he called the arts’ “cowboy … [Read more...]

First the Seed: Embracing Arts as a Means to and End

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As I head to TCG to moderate a panel with Diane Ragsdale, Diane Paulus and Chad Bauman on how to better integrate art and artists into a conversation about audience engagement, I feel a little like I'm walking into the set up for a joke and I don't know the end of it.  "An arts marketer and advocate walks into a bar full of artists and says, 'Maybe art is really a means to an end...'"  Then what? I've been thinking about this shift, from a mindset where the making of art is the center of the … [Read more...]

An Obsession with the Afterimage

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In June 2009, I was briefly in Washington, DC, visiting friends right after that year’s Theatre Communications Group conference in Baltimore, MD.  I was in their spare room, small and tightly packed, and it was humid because it was DC in the summer, and there was a CPU humming in the corner and various lights blinking under the desk, and I was on West Coast time still, I think—so I was checking Facebook.  Back then, I got a lot of different feeds—many more people than I see now, thanks to … [Read more...]

The Work of Presentational Art in the Age of On-Demand Technological Empowerment

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I have a friend who is getting his Ph.D. in linguistics by resurrecting a dead Native American language.  Working with one member of the tribe, and drawing mostly from hundred-year-old documents that attempted to transcribe a non-written language that has since died, he is recreating, based on educated guesses, other similar tongues that have survived and, well, I don’t know what—he is recreating a lost language from scratch. I was reminded of this effort as I listened today to the … [Read more...]

Funny, Catchy and Not Too Challenging, or “At some point, you’re just an elitist f*ck.”

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I was having a conversation with Arlene Goldbard about a month ago, and at some point I started getting a sour taste over some of the things we were discussing, but I couldn’t figure out why.  Our subject was the four interviews with patrons that I had conducted as part of our intrinsic impact research (which will be published, along with an essay by Goldbard, as part of the 450-page report out on the whole project, Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art, available March 1).  … [Read more...]

A Divided Country Still

  This post originally appeared on the Theatre Bay Area Chatterbox at http://www.theatrebayarea.org/chatterbox. As we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and remember the great strides that were made, despite tremendous resistance, in the 1960’s by King and many other brave men and women, it’s important to also note that, by and large, the theatre community continues to be a divided country. Our genre, at least in the United States, and at least in the more mainstream … [Read more...]

On (in)Appropriate Cultural Appropriation

Nakotah Larance in Totem, photo by Greg Horn.

Nakotah Larance in Totem, photo by Greg Horn.In the late 1800's, William Cody, more popularly known as Buffalo Bill, toured the United States and Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West, a production that featured sharpshooters, re-enactments of Indian attacks (it was said to have ended with a presentation of Custer's Last Stand) and, later (when the title was appended to include "and Congress of Rough Riders of the World"), feats of derring-do from people from the Middle East, Mongolia, Central … [Read more...]

Directing the Impact Echo

"CCC" by Dylan Boroczi from Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

"CCC" by Dylan Boroczi from Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.Yesterday, I attended the all-day Beyond Dynamic Adaptability conference put on by the Wallace Foundation as the culminating event of their involvement in the Bay Area.  There were lots of presenters, but across all of them there seemed to be this theme that we as arts professionals needed to be focusing not only on the work created, but on what researchers Alan Brown and Rebecca Ratzkin of WolfBrown called the “impact … [Read more...]

This Is Your Brain On Art (sizzle sizzle)

Photo: "O is for Occipital Lobe" by Eric on Flickr.  Used under Creative Commons license.

Photo: "O is for Occipital Lobe" by Eric on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.Kristin Shumaker is a closet neuroscientist masquerading as a lowly, hardworking production manager at Dell’Arte, a theatre and school in Blue Lake, California.  She spends most of her time now coordinating the busy production schedule of the Dell’Arte organization, but in a past life she studied biology, and she has remained fascinated with the physiological effects of theatre.  She wants to know what art … [Read more...]

The best art teaches us how we should behave

"Dancing With Mom" by Nagu Tron from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

"Dancing With Mom" by Nagu Tron from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.On Thursday of last week I finally caught up on all my blog reading, including Chad Bauman’s recent post on reconnecting with the art he was marketing by actually getting in and seeing a show.  I can relate to that feeling of drain, of forgetting the value of what we are doing (and what we’re doing it for) sometimes.  Especially with a new baby at home, and commuting 75 minutes each way to work each day, I find it … [Read more...]

Stirring the Pot – how do you support playwrights without having a million dollars?

I was sitting in on a meeting a few days ago trying to brainstorm how to better support and create functional infrastructure around new play development, and it got me thinking.  #newplay and Outrageous Fortune have cracked open a national conversation that is now being carried forward by the people at 2amtheatre and Howlround and others, and yet I often hear angst from both producers and writers that generally take the shape of an exasperated person, eyes rolled up and to the right, hands … [Read more...]