Blogging on the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference, Part One

It’s Columbus Day morning in San Francisco. A great city to visit is what I always think upon arrival and when departing for home.

So, it’s 5:00 in the morning, and since I am on eastern time, I thought, what the heck, I might as well post something, perhaps some preliminary thoughts on the 2011 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference. This year’s conference theme is “Embracing The Velocity of Change.” To be honest, I’ve never paid a ton of attention to any conference theme.  Every conference has one these days, but how much one thinks about the theme is a good question.  But since the conference hasn’t really started yet, don’t worry, it will in about two or so hours, it’s worth thinking a bit about this particular theme and what it says about how this community is viewing the world in which it lives.

Can any of us remember a time where so many things were changing all at the same time? I am not so sure it’s the velocity of change that I find most remarkable, but rather the sheer mass of what’s been tossed up into the air, all while we wait for it to fall to the ground so we can begin to understand what it all really means. That’s right, it feels to me like we’re trying to understand things while they are still up in the air. Think about it, the economy, the politics, the technology, the Arab Spring, nations on the verge of default, at least one decade long war, and more. It’s a time where business models are challenged, relevancy is called into greater question than ever before, the charitable contribution is scrutinized, and issues of equity rise no matter who you define the term or to which particular context you place it. You have a Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. You have those calling for an expansion of K-12 curriculum while creating and implementing policies that accelerate the narrowing.

It’s quite the crazy kaleidoscope. And, it never really stops turning or churning.

So, there’s your backdrop to this brand of yearly national convening of Grantmakers in the Arts. What are folks feeling? What’s coming up in the plenaries, presentations, salon sessions, and while people sidle up to the bar?

Those are the things I hope to be able to share with you as a conference blogger. Of course, as just about every blogger in this situation will tell you, you can’t be at every session, and even if you could, you’ve got to see the forest for the trees. Wish me luck.

Back at you later in the day, this Day One at GIA, and all the days until it’s over.

Click here for a bit of physics: Does Mass Change with Velocity?