Yes/And — tackling racial diversity by looking to the things adjacent


Today, in DC, people are sporting red shirts and red scarves, red hats and pants, socks, one assumes underwear--and many of them are wandering toward the Supreme Court, where today there is hope that nine people dressed in black will carry forward a message of equality.  There's a buzz here, and it has encouraged me to think about diversity more broadly, to understand that tackling the issue of whiteness that has disseminated so widely through the blogosphere (and been discussed so eloquently … [Read more...]

Giving Shape to Whiteness


Roberto Bedoya has asked some amazing questions lately, all designed to interrogate the concept of whiteness in the arts.  He’s asked a few bloggers to think about the questions he has raised and write back (so watch for posts in the coming weeks on Jumper, Createquity, Barry’s Blog, Engaging Matters, Museum 2.0, etc), and this is mine.  Or at least my first attempt. Before going into it though, I think it’s important to say that I feel a little like a lamb in the woods on this diversity … [Read more...]

Stages of Life

Seth and Cici

A small break from all the discussion of diversity.  Adam Thurman from Mission Paradox will be guest-posting later this week on that--in the meantime, some thoughts on the fear that comes with change, and doing it anyway. Last night, my husband, Seth, and I were curled up on the couch binge-watching Downton Abbey.  As it got later, I kept warning Seth that we wouldn't be able to fully catch up before I had to go to sleep, and at the end of each episode, mimicking our daughter, he would look … [Read more...]

All the People


Over on Facebook, my co-worker Sam Hurwitt reports an audition listing in San Francisco that requests “No obvious ethnicity” for a role.  His friends, when asked, guessed that statement meant everything from “mixed” to “white” to my favorite: “‘whitable’ or ‘passable’ or ‘non-threatening ethnic looking person’.” The Bank of Canada recently released a new $100 bill as part of an overhaul of their currency. Per this article: An earlier, uncirculated version of the $100 note, illustrating … [Read more...]

The weight of white people in the world


Before I knew her, Tina, one of my best friends growing up, was made to stand in front of a room full of her white elementary school classmates on a Connecticut school day.  In an effort to teach children about race, the teacher instructed the white kids, all sitting behind their desks, to look at Tina, who was Korean, standing in front of them, and to point out the things that made Tina different.  She did not then put a white kid up there and afford Tina the same opportunity. I think about … [Read more...]

Diversification as Disruption


Over at Museum 2.0, I’ve been sparring with Nina Simon and others about the new guidelines and funding strategy at the James Irvine Foundation, all emerging out of the revelation from Nina Simon that the Irvine folks are having trouble getting great proposals that align with their new “participatory” strategy.  Take a look there for more of the specifics, and if you really have some time read my long and academic dissection of Irvine’s new policy and how it’s problematic over at Artivate, but … [Read more...]

Quantifying Diversity


This is the first in a series of posts I'm planning to write about measuring and understanding goals around diversification of our boards, staffs, artists, art and audiences.  I'm using this as an opportunity to work out thoughts, and I'm very much hoping you'll help me -- please give me your thoughts in the comments, as I'm writing this report and muddling through some very hard questions that need answers.  Thanks - CL I am deep into analyzing a giant dataset that combines data from our Arts … [Read more...]

To My Parents on the Occasion of Good News

family portrait 8 by 10 web

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...]

Margy Waller on What’s In a Frame


I've been reading The Victory Lab lately, an absolutely fascinating look at how elections are won and lost.  And more than it's about anything--even more than it's about technological advancement--it's about messaging, and framing, and rhetoric.  Amidst many exciting, soaring scenarios about changing the landscape of public good will towards the arts that have flitted through my head while I read about the rise of modern politics, I've had this constant buzzing of "never gonna happen unless we … [Read more...]

Heal The World


  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...]

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


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...]

Helping Someone Get to Second Base Is Not Mission Fulfillment


Before getting to the actual entry, a couple places I encourage you to visit. (1) I was humbled to learn earlier this week that I was selected as one of the 50 Most Powerful and Influential People in the Non-Profit Arts in Barry Hessenius' annual rundown. I'm honored, and thank everyone who reads this blog for the kind attention. (2) A few months ago now, I was equally humbled to learn that a paper of mine, "Shattering the myth of the passive spectator: Entrepreneurial efforts to enhance … [Read more...]

Why You Should Care About Jonah Lehrer’s Great Fall


I discovered Jonah Lehrer in 2008 as I was browsing around the internet looking for interesting, accessible blogs about the brain for non-brain-people.  Back then, Lehrer’s blog was hosted on a relatively obscure (given where he ended up) blog sharing site called Science Blogs, but regardless of where he was, it had the same name as the subsequent, heavily-trafficked blogs he moved to afterward:The Frontal Cortex.  The frontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for most of our higher … [Read more...]

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


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...]

Ordering the Threads: “interpretive artistic mediation” and accessibility in art


Lately, I’ve had to take a break from this writing in order to catch up a bit on my day job and my more domestic duties.  It is interesting, in the absence of being able to write about my random threads of thought, to watch my brain rev and churn on certain ideas without truly having a chance to sort them out.  For me, writing this blog helps align the many different strings of thought about the arts (because I’m one of those guys who seems to be constantly thinking about art) into something … [Read more...]

Fiddling with the Believing Machine

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I have had some trouble getting up the energy to be upset about the Mike Daisey problem otherwise known as #DaiseyGate.  This became obvious to me as I sat at lunch at one of my stops on the Counting New Beans tour with a bunch of mid-twenties junior staffers at major theatres and heard them rail against Daisey and his lying lies, voicing the betrayal they felt as staffers who are sometimes put in the position of lying to an audience, either knowingly or unknowingly, in the service of the art … [Read more...]