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2011 Advocacy Days in Washington, DC

posted by Linda Downs

Humanities Advocacy Day took place on March 6–8, 2011, and Arts Advocacy Day on April 4–5, 2011. Five members of the CAA Board of Directors represented CAA: Linda Downs, Barbara Nesin, Judith Thorpe, and Jean Miller, who contribute reports below, and Andrea Kirsh. CAA’s development and marketing manager, Sara Hines, also joined the ranks of attendees, which ranged from seasoned arts administrators, artists, scholars, curators, and educators to young students aspiring to enter these fields.

Humanities Advocacy Day

Linda Downs is CAA executive director and recently became secretary of the National Humanities Alliance board of directors.

On March 8, I represented CAA during Humanities Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), this three-day event gathered advocates from across the country to meet on Capitol Hill to inform their senators and representatives about the importance of the humanities in their districts and to support federal funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Advocates usually don’t meet their representatives directly, but their staffers tally every visit and report on messages sent.

This year, more than two hundred people from colleges, universities, professional associations, and state humanities organizations visited 107 House and Senate offices representing thirty-four states. Participants asked that Congress maintain the NEH’s enacted level of $167.5 million for fiscal year 2010. The strong attendance indicated how important this annual event is and, in particular, that an increasing number of art-minded citizens were highly concerned about the proposed Congressional budget reduction that would eliminate the NEH. With colleagues from the state of New York, I targeted new members of Congress to inform them about the importance of the humanities in their districts.

Preceding Humanities Advocacy Day was the NHA annual meeting, which took place March 6–7 and included advocacy training, a workshop on finding grants, and panel presentations. In his keynote address, David Skorton, president of Cornell University, emphasized the importance of humanities education for cultural understanding and for the security of the United States. During a luncheon, Leslie Berlowitz, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, announced the launch of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, which will bring together scholars and corporate leaders to propose steps to strengthen the humanities nationally. On one panel, three individuals demonstrated how effective, important, and creative current humanities research is: Ashley Marshall, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, uses digital statistics to reinterpret eighteenth-century studies; Tara McPherson, associate professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, established the Vectors Journal at her school, an online venture that introduces an interactive publishing platform to humanities scholars; and Damon Dozier, director of public affairs at the American Anthropological Association, described the association’s RACE project that explores all aspects of the concept of race and has attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers  over the past three years.

The humanities community made a strong impact on Congress this year. At this time of writing (late April 2011), the NEH remains in the Congressional budget, albeit at a reduced amount.

Arts Advocacy Day

Barbara Nesin is an artist, a professor and department chair of art foundations at the Art Institute of Atlanta in Georgia, and the president of the CAA Board of Directors.

Sponsored by Americans for the Arts, Arts Advocacy Day offered a full day of training followed by a second day of meeting Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill with the aim of preserving federal funding for the arts during an especially challenging economic period. During my first time attending the event, I learned how to speak about not just the intrinsic value of the arts, but also their real economic value in this country and the importance of the arts in education. In training sessions hosted by Americans for the Arts, my colleagues and I were given the voting history and committee work of our representatives and, when in conversation with them later, were told to highlight how the arts function as a business magnet, create jobs and tax revenue, attract tourism, and foster the country’s creative advantage internationally. We didn’t neglect education, as the arts strengthen academic performance in a variety of disciplines, such as science, technology, English, and math, and contribute to an innovative, competitive workforce.

This year, advocates had to prepare a unified message that was pertinent to current budget and political realities. Furthermore, those of us who wear more than one hat—for me, being a CAA board member, a professor and administrator, and a resident of Georgia—needed to understand the context of each position in relation to the overall mission for the day. We had to make a strong case to save the NEA’s budget for fiscal year 2012 and to maintain $40 million appropriated for the Department of Education’s Arts in Education programs and grants.

Americans for the Arts provided me with a wealth of information about pressing state issues, identifying key politicians with critical influence and importantly emphasizing that now is not the time to point out disparities in federal support between, for example, the visual and performing arts. What was the right approach? A consistent, nonpartisan message supported by facts and real-life examples, practical solutions, and a convincing, definite ask.

Before coming to DC, I had consulted my home institution’s public-relations department to determine appropriate topics and strategies. I also reviewed issues close to CAA’s heart, ready to share information about tax reform in the arts: preserving incentives for charitable giving, extending the IRA Charitable Rollover, and rejecting attempts to create a hierarchy for deductions to nonprofits that discriminates against the arts. I also wanted to ask for support for the Artist–Museum Partnership Act—something CAA has advocated for many years—which would allow artists to deduct from their federal income tax the fair-market-value of works of art donated to and retained by nonprofit institutions. (Currently artists can only deduct the cost of their materials used to make the work). Improving the visa process for foreign guest artists was also on my list of topics.

Even though representatives from Georgia raced to attend emergency meetings regarding the difficult budget negotiations that threatened to close down the government that very week, my group managed to meet several of them and speak to the staff of others. In some cases, staffers invited us to leave informational materials provided by Americans for the Arts, which outline major funding issues and, through maps and statistics, pinpointed concentrations of arts-related business in each representative’s district—with actual dollar amounts.

Since my school has already cultivated excellent relationships with several Congressional leaders in my state, I built on that firm groundwork by sharing a sincere “thank you” for the specific ways in which each had already supported the arts, regardless of his party or voting record. These representatives—whether recognized friends of the arts or not—responded supremely to people from their own district, whether by residence or place of employment. On that local turf, there was not one who had not made some effort to demonstrate their concern for arts education and some type of arts programming to their own community. From that point, conversations went one of two ways.

To those who had previously opposed arts funding, I emphasized the significance of the arts to economic development—that is to say, I talked jobs, jobs, jobs. Armed with hard figures that proved how the arts generate substantial employment and investment in specific districts and nationally, I made the case that opposing arts funding puts many people out of work and damages local economies that depend on the arts to attract employers and business activity. Keep in mind that even a single arts event generates not only sales of tickets or art objects, but also uses numerous surrounding services and accommodations, including printers, web designers, restaurants, and hotels. These are not insignificant dollars, and no politician wants to be viewed by constituents as opposing much-needed, economically healthy free enterprise. In addition, staunch supporters of cutting taxes listened with interest when my group spoke about implementing tax benefits that would have a real impact on estates and museum collections. If such representatives were at all concerned about swing votes in their district, it would not cost much in real dollars for them to support some form of arts funding. Even a slight increase would have a dramatic and highly visible effect—something investors might call an attractive “rate of return.”

In the offices of strong supporters of the arts is where I successfully addressed other issues that CAA has been working on. Staffers in Representative John Lewis’s office told me that orphan works was not on their radar before but will be now, promising to research the subject and bring it to Lewis’s attention. Finally, we offered ourselves as resources to these elected officials and asked them for advice on what we could do to assist them.

I was gratified to see a good number of graduate students among the five hundred plus attending Arts Advocacy Day. As a CAA member and an art educator, I was keenly interested in what students had to say, especially when speaking from their personal experience. One young woman finishing her master’s in arts administration made an impassioned plea for assurance of jobs when she graduates. When I described CAA to them, several students in programs of social policy and arts administration were excited about becoming actively involved in the organization, particularly in the area of advocacy. CAA needs to continue building these connections.

As the largest organization for the visual arts in the country, CAA has significant membership numbers—more than 12,000 individuals and 1,800 institutions—that amplify considerably when counting those who belong to the affiliated societies, making us a potentially powerful voice. Congress listens to voting constituents. Although CAA doesn’t vote, it does represent an exponential body of voters. If we want the visual arts better represented on a national level, CAA is an ideal body to do so year round.

This year’s was a success: participants helped preserve federal funding for the arts in large measure, with much smaller cuts than originally proposed, and saw first-hand our full potential reach and influence. I encourage as many members as possible to attend future Arts Advocacy Days.

Arts Advocacy Day

Judith Thorpe is an artist, professor of photography, and head of the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. She is also a member of the CAA Board of Directors.

Two years ago, riding on the recent election of Barack Obama and the promise of increased funding for the arts and humanities, participants in Arts and Humanities Advocacy Days felt vibrancy and excitement in the air. The atmosphere in Congressional offices during Arts Advocacy Day in 2011 contrasted with that optimism tremendously. Facing budget and partisanship battles daily, federal legislators threatened once again to not just reduce but extinguish all NEA initiatives and Department of Education programs for Arts in Education. In the end, Congress did not axe the endowment as feared and returned $25 million to Arts in Education for fiscal year 2012. Truth be told, these amounts are so small that their impact on the national budget is negligible. These annual skirmishes, however, continue to reflect the raging ideological battles regarding the arts in this country.

Events of a week in which Congress canceled appropriations hearings and a budget stalemate nearly closed down the federal government subdued advocacy meetings with senators, representatives, and their aides. My group from Connecticut found it difficult to advocate more than flat funding for the NEA, but we asked the offices of Senators Joseph Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal and Representatives Rosa L. DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, Jim Himes, and Chris Murphy to renew their commitment to the arts and to join or continue serving on the Congressional Art Caucus and the Senate Cultural Caucus.

In order to benefit the arts and humanities—and the interests of CAA in particular—we must develop a means to send advocates to meet specifically with key members of Congress during the annual Arts, Humanities, and Museums Advocacy Days. CAA’s vast number of professionals in academia, museums, and elsewhere should be heard in a focused manner, and members of the CAA Board of Directors may need to get more involved in organizing participation in the three national advocacy days.

Attending this year sharpened my awareness of how members of Congress perceive the role of the arts differently in this country. That said, I was heartened to see bipartisan support for the arts and encouraged to advocate continued and greater support for the arts. It was quite a civics class!

Arts Advocacy Day

A member of the CAA Board of Directors, Jean Miller is associate dean of administrative affairs of the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas in Denton. She also oversees her schools Design Research Center in Dallas.

I became acquainted with Americans for the Arts and attended Arts Advocacy Day for the first time in 2009 as a representative of CAA’s Professional Practices Committee and a resident of the state of Maryland. This year, I represented CAA as a board member and cochair of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) Advocacy Task Force. Now a Texas resident, I also made efforts to cultivate a relationship with members of Texans for the Arts.

Although Arts Advocacy Day has a similar structure and comparable messages from year to year, the underlying sense of urgency during the 2011 proceedings made it markedly different from those of 2009. This was due in part to the possibility of the government shutting down during the budget talks. All advocates intensely felt the charged atmosphere during the Americans for the Arts–sponsored Congressional Arts Breakfast and later on Capitol Hill when meeting representatives and their staff.

Like my colleagues above, I was impressed by the record attendance of over five hundred advocates from around the country, gathering to communicate a consistent message about the value of art and culture in our lives to Congress. Actors Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin and several other celebrities joined attendees over the course of the two days to lend their voices in support of the arts and artists. As they spoke candidly about their mentors and career opportunities, these individuals served as great moral support and inspired us to strategize together to position the arts better in the national budget conversation.

To help frame discussions with legislators and their staff, advocacy leaders urged us to take a practical, bipartisan approach to all conversations. At the same time, they also encouraged us to send a clear, strong, and persistent message to Congress about sustaining NEA funding—not increasing it as we had asked in the past—and to share stories about how the NEA has had a strong impact on our communities and states.

Were we successful? I believe that yes, as a committed group of arts professionals and students, we took the time to study current issues, applied an advocacy framework to discuss important points, and stood up as citizens to increase visibility for the arts locally and nationally. Was it enough? Unfortunately no. What else could CAA do as an organization? Perhaps we can strengthen ties with its affiliated societies, which in sum represent over 300,000 people, and use a large collective voice in support of advocacy efforts. With the affiliates, CAA can design strategies to reach the political leaders who are in positions of making the tough budget decisions. With many CAA staff and board members involved in strengthening connections to affiliated societies and working on advocacy and outreach, I think this is entirely possible.

CAA’s Positions for Arts Advocacy Day

posted by Linda Downs

At Arts Advocacy Day 2011, CAA representatives from five states—Connecticut, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas—will meet congressional staff to advocate for the visual arts in higher education. Organized by Americans for the Arts, of which CAA is a member institution, the annual event will take place April 4–5, 2011, in Washington, DC. CAA delegates will address the following issues of critical importance and invite you to register and get involved.

As the leading association in the world that represents professional visual-arts practitioners, CAA endorses government support of creativity and innovation that has made this country great.

CAA seeks support for artists and art historians who work in colleges, universities, and art museums, as well as for independent artists and scholars. The federal government must support professionals in the visual arts like it does for practitioners and scholars in other arts, such as dance and music. The professional practice, study, and teaching of the visual arts deserve further support because of the power these disciplines have to educate, inspire, and stimulate independent thinking.

CAA also believes that public and private partnerships should expand not only between schools and communities but also among the academic community in colleges, universities, and art schools.

CAA fully endorses the creation of an art corps comprising professionally educated artists and art historians who will work with students in urban schools on community-based projects, raising an awareness of the importance of creativity and professional artists. CAA also encourages government-sponsored projects such as Americorps and Vista to emphasize the visual arts. Young artists are eager to work on environmental programs that involve community-organized design projects such as, for example, mine-reclamation endeavors in which community recreation centers are established near cleaning pools for toxic mine runoff to help redevelopment the land.

CAA would like to emphasize that, in order to champion publicly the importance of arts education, America must support the preparation of artists and art historians who teach on a primary, secondary, and college/university level. The visual arts are integral to core curricula in each grade and at every stage of education.

CAA fully supports increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Library and Museum Services. Specifically, professional artists must supported on individual bases. CAA strongly recommends that the NEA reinstate Individual Artist Fellowships, so that visual artists can pursue and develop their work. Similar grants in other areas of the arts and humanities far exceed federal and private foundation grants to professional visual artists, who are often forced to abandon their own work to support themselves and their families. Professional artists desperately need government support.

CAA supports legislation to change tax laws for artists. The organization has worked hard—and will continue to work hard—to support the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, first introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in 2005. The proposed act would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the costs of materials, when they make charitable contributions. Not only has the current tax laws been harmful to artists, the creative legacy of a whole generation of American visual artists has been lost.

In addition, CAA supports legislation that would allow scholars to publish so-called orphan works, which are copyrighted works—such as books, pictures, music, recordings, or films—whose copyright owners cannot be identified or located. The House of Representatives and Senate has previously introduced orphan-works bills, and CAA hopes Congress will pass one in the coming session. The lack of clear laws and procedures regarding the issue has prevented many art historians from publishing orphan works, causing a great detriment to scholarly publishing and research.

CAA supports cultural diplomacy by enhancing international opportunities, through agencies such as the United States Information Agency, for professional visual artists and art historians to exhibit, teach, research, and lecture. CAA’s international membership testifies to the promotion of cultural understanding that occurs through international cultural exchange. Every year CAA seeks funding to support the travel of international art historians and artists to our Annual Conference. Current Homeland Security laws and a lack of government funding make it difficult for foreign art historians and artists to present their work and research at conferences, symposia, and exhibitions. CAA endorses streamlining the visa process and providing government support for international exchanges of graduate students and professional artists and art historians.

CAA supports providing healthcare to independent artists and scholars—a major concern for those professionals who are not associated with a college, university, or art museum and who attempt to work on their own to support themselves. Each state creates its own health-insurance legislation, and thus differences in laws regulating insurance companies prohibit professional organizations such as CAA from offering national healthcare coverage.

Americans for the Arts sent the following email on February 10, 2011. CAA urges you to join the fight to save funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Americans for the Arts Email

Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives will bring to the House floor, a Continuing Resolution (CR) appropriations package that proposes to cut dozens of federal agencies and programs for the balance of the current 2011 fiscal year (March 5 through September 30). Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee revealed details of what some of the cuts will be in this CR package and they include cutting the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) budget to $155 million this year. That’s a substantial cut from its currently funded level of $167.5 million.

The battle begins next week when the House CR appropriations package comes to the floor. Each and every one of your Representatives will be voting on possible amendments attempting to make even deeper cuts to the NEA’s budget, beyond the $155 million level. It is quite possible members of the Republican Study Committee will offer amendments to fully eliminate the NEA during floor consideration. We need you to send a message to your Members to vote against any amendments to further cut the NEA.

Because of these threats in the House, we are simultaneously working on the Senate strategy; where there may be a better chance to approve a higher funding level for the NEA and counter the cuts in the House version of this bill. By taking two minutes today to send a customizable message via our E-Advocacy Center, we will automatically send letters on your behalf to both your Senators and your House Representative. This will ensure that your voice will be heard by Members of Congress (especially freshmen members), who are now assessing their constituents’ viewpoints on these budget cuts.

Also be on the lookout for our alert on President Obama’s official FY 2012 budget submission to Congress on Monday, February 14. While that budget is for a different fiscal year than the CR that we’ll be dealing with next week, it will signal to the House and Senate the President’s funding intentions for the very same agencies that Congress is considering cutting.

Help us continue this important work by becoming an official member of the Arts Action Fund. If you are not already a member play your part by joining the Arts Action Fund today—it’s free and simple.

Jessica Jones Irons, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), emailed the following Humanities Action Alert on February 7, 2011. Founded in 1981, NHA is a nonprofit organization that works to advance national humanities policy in the areas of research, education, preservation, and public programs.

Humanities Action Alert

Dear Colleague,

As you know, we face a tough fight this year to defend federal funding for the humanities. President Obama has announced that he will release the FY 2012 budget proposal the week of February 14th, with significant reductions expected for many agencies and programs to meet the Administration’s deficit-reduction goals. In Congress, leaders of the House Republican Study Committee and Senate Steering Committee have introduced legislation calling for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities (among other programs), in order to reduce discretionary spending by more than $2.5 billion over the next ten years. Meanwhile, the House is expected to vote soon on a measure that would roll-back non-security funding in the current year (FY 2011) to 2008 budget levels.

Members of the new Congress need to hear from humanities advocates now. Please take a few minutes to ask your elected representatives to support continued funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Click here to send a brief, customizable electronic message from the Alliance’s online action center.

We need to let Congress know that continued federal investment in the humanities has never been more important. As one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the US, NEH provides critical support for research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities through grants to a wide range of educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and scholars nationwide. NEH grants help support the nation’s education and research infrastructure for a broad range of fields, including history, languages, literature, law, government, philosophy, cultural anthropology, the study of religion, and other subjects. The knowledge and competencies represented by these fields are critical to a broad range of US interests, including: fostering a globally competitive workforce, strengthening civic engagement and understanding, preserving our cultural heritage, and developing expertise to meet local, national, and global challenges.

Thank you for making your voice heard. Working together, the humanities community can make a difference.

Jessica Jones Irons
Executive Director
National Humanities Alliance

The Executive Committee of the CAA Board of Directors adopted the following statement on December 7, 2010. At the bottom of the page is information about a special session at the upcoming CAA Annual Conference, chaired by Jonathan Katz, a scholar and the cocurator of Hide/Seek.

CAA Statement

The College Art Association regrets the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly (1987) from the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, on display at the National Portrait Gallery. It was taken out on November 30 by G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in response to outside pressure. CAA further expresses profound disappointment that the House speaker–designate, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and the incoming majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, have used their positions to question future funding for the Smithsonian Institution.

CAA applauds the National Portrait Gallery for its groundbreaking exhibition, which presents the long-suppressed subject of same-sex orientation. Furthermore, CAA commends the thorough, pioneering scholarship and the challenging curatorial judgment made by the organizers of Hide/Seek—David C. Ward, a historian at the museum, and Jonathan Katz, director of the Visual Studies Doctoral Program at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. That the work of everyone involved has been heedlessly compromised is deeply troubling. The pressure brought to bear on the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian sounds a familiar note from 1989, when direct federal funding to artists was ended due to political pressure. Then as now, CAA strongly protests such tactics.

Government has a long tradition of supporting universities, museums, and libraries—institutions that have produced research that expresses a variety of positions on all subjects. Freedom of expression is one of the great strengths of American democracy and one that our country holds up as a model for emerging democracies elsewhere. Americans understand that ideas expressed in books and artworks are those of their makers, not of the institutions that house them, and certainly do not represent public policy.

CAA urges all members to let your senators and representatives know of your support for the exhibition, its curators, and the National Portrait Gallery. You may also use advocacy tools provided by the National Humanities Alliance or Americans for the Arts.

Special Conference Session

This week CAA invited Jonathan Katz, cocurator of Hide/Seek, to chair a special Centennial session at the 2011 Annual Conference in New York. He will present “Against Acknowledgement: Sexuality and the Instrumentalization of Knowledge” on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 9:30 AM–NOON in the Rendezvous Trianon Room at the Hilton New York. Please check the conference website soon for a list of panelists, their institutional affiliations, and topics of discussion.

In the past week, numerous art and museum associations, advocacy groups, nonprofit and commercial galleries, art critics, and newspapers have spoken out against the removal of an artwork by David Wojnarowicz that was on view in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. CAA is compiling a list of organizations, companies, and people who have published official statements, editorials, and letters to the editor.


Critics, Journalists, Scholars, and Curators

Museums and Galleries

Press and Publishing

Social Networking and Web Resources

The above list will be cumulative. If you would like to send CAA a link to an official or organizational statement, please write to Christopher Howard, CAA managing editor.

On November 30, G. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, ordered the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly (1987) from display at the National Portrait Gallery. In addition, incoming Republican leaders in Congress urged that the entire exhibition, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, be closed. Thankfully this did not happen.

Our government clearly needs to hear from you. At this critical time of federal budget planning—when sufficient funding for the Smithsonian museums may be in doubt—it is crucial that you let Capitol Hill know about your support for the visual arts, humanities, and art museums. CAA encourages you to register and take part in three upcoming events this winter and spring in Washington, DC: Museums Advocacy Day, Humanities Advocacy Day, and Arts Advocacy Day. At each, participants meet their senators and representatives in person to advocate for increased federal support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Previous lobbying experience isn’t necessary. Training sessions and practice talks take place the day before the main events—that’s why, for example, Arts Advocacy Day is actually two days, not one. Participants are also prepped on the critical issues and the range of funding requested of Congress to support these federal agencies. It is at these training sessions where you meet—and network with—other advocates from your states. The main sponsoring organization for each event makes congressional appointments for you.

You may have mailed a letter or sent a prewritten email to your congressperson or senator before, but legislators have an algorithm of interest for pressing issues, in which a personal visit tops all other forms of communication. As citizen lobbyists, it’s also important to have a few specific examples about how arts funding has affected you: don’t be afraid to name-drop major cultural institutions—such as your city’s best-known museum or nonprofit art center—in your examples of why the visual arts matter in your state.

If you cannot attend the three advocacy days in person, please send an email or fax to your representatives expressing your concern about continued and increased funding for the visual arts. If you don’t know your representative or senators, you can look them up at

Museums Advocacy Day

The American Association of Museums (AAM) leads Museums Advocacy Day, taking place February 28–March 1, 2011, with support from numerous other nonprofit organizations. AAM is developing the legislative agenda for this year’s event. Likely issues will include federal funding for museums, museums and federal education policy, and charitable giving issues affecting museums. The entire museum field is welcome to participate: staff, volunteers, trustees, students, and even museum enthusiasts. Museums Advocacy Day is the ideal chance for new and seasoned advocates to network with museum professionals from their state and to meet staff in congressional offices. Register online now.

Humanities Advocacy Day

The National Humanities Alliance (NHA) sponsors Humanities Advocacy Day, to be held March 7–8, 2011, in conjunction with its annual meeting. Scholars, higher education and association leaders, and policy makers will convene first at George Washington University for the conference and then on Capitol Hill for congressional visits and a reception. The preliminary program includes NHA’s annual business meeting for voting members, commentary on the postelection landscape, discussion of humanities funding and other policy issues, a luncheon and keynote address, and presentations of current work in the humanities. Learn more about registration.

Arts Advocacy Day

To be held April 4–5, 2011, Arts Advocacy Day is the only national event that brings together America’s cultural and civic organizations with hundreds of grassroots advocates, all of whom will underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Sponsored by Americans for the Arts, the event starts at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on the first day, before advocates head to Capitol Hill on the second. Registration is open now.

According to a new report published by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Americans who participate in the arts through the internet, television, radio, computers, and handheld devices are almost three times more likely to attend live arts events than nonmedia participants (59 percent versus 21 percent). Users of technology and electronic media also attend, on average, twice as many live arts events—six versus three in a single year—and see a wider variety of genres.

The report, called Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation, looks at who is participating in the arts through electronic media, what factors affect their participation, and the relationships among media-based arts activities, live attendance, and personal arts creation. Audience 2.0 has determined that media-based arts participation appears to encourage—rather than replace—attendance at live arts events. Among the conclusions:

  • Education continues to be the best predictor of arts participation among adults, both for live attendance and through electronic media. Survey respondents with at least some college education were more likely than respondents with a grade-school education to have used electronic media to participate in the arts
  • For many Americans—primarily older Americans, lower-income earners, and racial/ethnic minority groups—electronic media is the only way they participate in arts events
  • The 15.4 percent of US adults who use media only to engage with the arts are equally likely to be urban or rural
  • Twenty-one percent (47 million) of all US adults reported using the internet to view music, theater, or dance performances in the last twelve months. Twenty-four percent (55 million) obtained information about the arts online

Audience 2.0 expands on the research published in the NEA’s 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). This survey, conducted in partnership with the US Census Bureau and released last year, is the nation’s largest, most representative study of arts participation among American adults. Since 1982, SPPA has measured American adult participation in activities such as visits to art museums or galleries and attendance at jazz and classical music concerts, opera and ballet performances, and musical and nonmusical plays. SPPA categorizes these as “benchmark” activities, providing a standard group of arts activities for more than two decades of consistent trend analysis. Audience 2.0 takes a closer look at how audiences use electronic media to engage in these benchmark activities.

In an agency first, the new report is being released only in an electronic format that includes multimedia features. Chairman Rocco Landesman’s video greeting is accompanied by a video commentary on the report from Sunil Iyengar, NEA director of research and analysis. Additionally, each chapter will open with videos from arts organizations that represent each of the benchmark disciplines tracked by the report. Arts organizations can use findings from Audience 2.0 to better understand their audiences’ uses of technology and electronic media.

As part of its ongoing analysis of SPPA data, the NEA is making raw data and detailed statistical tables available to researchers and the public. The tables highlight demographic factors affecting adult participation in a variety of art forms.

NEA Appoints New Director of Design

posted by Christopher Howard

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced on April 14, 2010, that Jason Schupbach will join the endowment as director of design at the end of May.

Schupbach brings to the NEA an impressive background of support for the creative economy and the design field, along with experience working with local, state, and federal agencies. He currently serves as the creative economy industry director for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where one of his primary focuses is the growth and support of all types of design businesses. Schupbach has also worked as capital projects manager for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and director of Boston’s ArtistLink, an organization that creates a stable environment for Massachusetts artists as they seek workspace and housing.

Schupbach will manage the NEA’s grantmaking for design and its design initiatives, such as the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, as well as the proposed Our Town, which is part of the NEA fiscal year 2011 budget request and would provide funding in recognition of the role that the arts can play in economic revitalization and in creating livable, sustainable communities.

After receiving his BS in public health from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Schupbach earned his master’s degree in city planning with an urban-design certificate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Read more about him on the NEA website. Judith H. Dobrzynski of the ArtsJournal blog Real Clear Arts worries that his appointment is leading toward a more commercialized NEA.

Any serious reckoning of how Americans participate in arts and cultural activities must account for demographic and geographic diversity. Prior National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) publications, including the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, already have examined the age, race and ethnicity, gender, and education and income status of arts-goers.

Another way to understand arts participation is by asking where it takes place. Come as You Are: Informal Arts Participation in Urban and Rural Communities is the NEA’s first research publication in several years to examine the “informal arts”—such as playing a musical instrument, attending an art event at a place of worship, or visiting a craft fair. This finding is part of new research from the NEA, announced earlier this during a visit by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman to Chelsea, Michigan, as part of the NEA’s Art Works Tour. The publication provides an analysis of arts participation in rural and urban areas.

Come as You Are: Informal Arts Participation in Urban and Rural Communities is available in print and pdf on the NEA website.

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