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Full STEAM Ahead – Arts and the Innovation Gap

The San Diego business leader and arts patron Harvey White is calling for a broader education focus that adds the arts to all the talk of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills. He began talking about it as board chair of the local economic development corportation. Now he's formalized his call with an article in today's San Diego Union-Tribune. Here's a sample As a non-STEM trained executive in technology companies for many years, I had firsthand exposure to how they operated and what level of success, if any, they … [Read more...]

Can we talk?

California Arts Advocates, of which I'm VP, begins a statewide visioning initiative with a first convening in Sacramento this week. We describe our goal this way:This convening is not so much about finding new language to better describe or market what we do in the arts; this is about launching an unprecedented inquiry into what is needed for the arts to become an indispensable part of life to the diverse people and communities of California. In California we are past the shock of having our state arts agency budget cut by 95%. This may be a … [Read more...]

Hillary Clinton Sings Our Song

Two weeks ago Secretary of State Clinton spoke at Georgetown University about issues of Human Rights. The final question from the audience concerned the role the arts can play in advancing Human Rights. The Secretary's fantastic answer - and the one any artist or arts advocate might have tried to write for her - can be seen at minute 56:50 on this C-SPAN video.She starts with this:I think the arts and artists are one of our most effective tools in reaching beyond and through repressive regimes in giving hope to people.Thanks to Gary for sending … [Read more...]

Music by, for, and of a Community

I had the great good fortune of attending one of the LA Phil's last West Coast Left Coast concerts two weeks ago. It had the intimacy and ambiance of a community event unlike most orchestra concerts I attend. I came away understanding more than ever how effectively the LA Phil plays the role of community convener for its city.I went to hear William (Bill) Kraft's "Timpani Concerto No. 1" because he'd been the composer-in-residence at San Diego Youth Symphony during my first year as CEO. I knew from working with him that he'd been the Phil's … [Read more...]

Loving Where You Live is Important to the Economy

A colleague shared this Soul of the Community Knight Foundation/Gallup Poll research with me. It has fantastic findings for arts and culture advocates. My two favorites are After interviewing close to 28,000 people in 26 communities over two years, the study has found that three main qualities bind people to place: social offerings such as entertainment venues and places to meet - the top factor in 21 of 26 communities, openness (how welcoming a place is) and the area's aesthetics (its physical beauty and green spaces). Access to quality … [Read more...]

Arts Education is a Social Justice Issue

In just a few hours I will introduce the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory's "Celebration of Music Education" concert. It is the one time in the year when all of our 500 students perform on a single concert. We annually honor a local music teacher for a lifetime of acheivement and provide free tickets to private, school, and university music teachers. We're actually honoring one of our alumni from the 1950s, JoAnn Ford, for her years of teaching music in the schools and privately.  This year, the local public radio … [Read more...]

Talking Structural Overhaul at Every Turn

Last week we had the California Arts Advocates lobbyist in San Diego to present a briefing on the current political realities in Sacramento. The message I took away was simple: change is coming because every aspect of state government is broken. This is echoed in our California headlines about the need for prison reform, education reform, water infrastructure investment, and budget reform. Even the infamous Prop. 13 of thirty years ago is up for reexamination because of the state's chronic budget crisis in good times and bad.The … [Read more...]

Finding Your Inner Arts Advocate

Becoming an arts advocate really takes little more than getting over the hurdle of one's own reluctance. My friend and colleague Victoria Saunders articulates this very well in a piece she recently wrote for Americans for the Arts about accepting the role as leader and hub for our local efforts to save the San Diego City School District's Visual and Performing Arts Department. I documented the effort earlier this year here and here. If you are passionate about the arts you are an arts advocate. All you need to do is … [Read more...]

An Artist Activist Takes On Globalization

While leaders from the G-20 nations met in Pittsburgh this weekend to further pave the road to globalization, Michelle Obama shared the arts with her fellow spouses, and protesters tried to interrupt the meeting, one artist quietly and clearly detailed the relationship between free markets, democracy, genocide, and middle-class consumerism. If you only know Arundhati Roy through her Booker Prize winning novel "The God of Small Things" then you only know half her talent. She is a remarkable commentator on the subjugation of people in the name of … [Read more...]

Manufacturing Discontent 2

Update: Thanks to Leonard Jacobs for commenting and prompting me to check out his tracking of the anti-NEA campaign at the Clyde Fitch Report. He also links to several other bloggers from the arts world working to unravel the NEA conference call reality. Check out Ian David Moss' Shocking(ly tame) NEA audio and transcript released.CultureGrrl has today's statement from Rocco Landesman explaining the facts behind the recent conference call that resulted in the reassignment of Yosi Sergant within the NEA. If you read the transcript or listen … [Read more...]

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