Monica's blog

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Executive Director Philip Horn to Retire

In a letter from its board chair, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) announced that Executive Director Philip Horn will retire from his position effective January 2018:

Philip came from California to become Executive Director in 1993. Under his leadership the PCA has gained a reputation as a national leader among state arts agencies through a range of achievements and innovations, including:

Developing the PCA’s Regional Partnerships and Initiatives to form a robust statewide arts infrastructure through the decentralization of PCA grants, teaching artist residencies, and services through an engaged network of partner organizations.

Report: Approaching Community Health through Heritage and Culture

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) and The California Endowment (TCE) have released the first report in a series exploring the connections between traditional arts and cultural practices and community well-being. The report is a case study examining Engaging Cultural Assets Pilot Project in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, work funded by TCE and conducted by ACTA.

Houston Arts Alliance Appoints John Abodeely as New CEO

From the Houston Chronicle:

The Houston Arts Alliance has hired a nationally-known figure with a strong background in arts education as its next CEO.

Board chair Philamena Baird announced that John Abodeely, former acting executive director for the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, will become the alliance's new leader on Nov. 6. His "experience, skill and high energy" are just what the city and the alliance need, she said.

During his four years with the President's Committee, Abodeely oversaw strategy and operations for four pillar programs, managed a $4 million fundraising program, and directed the first bilateral government delegation to Cuba. He also co-designed an innovative program that integrated arts to boost academic achievement and increase student engagement.

Scientists Explain How Watching a Ballet Performance Affects the Brain

The Washington Post has published an interactive and multimedia article that explores what happens in the human brain when watching a ballet performance:

Scientists studying various aspects of the arts believe certain components especially excite the brain. Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran proposes several universal laws of art, or common patterns found in works of art across time and cultures. These principles powerfully activate our visual centers. In theory, they tap into evolved survival responses.
Flynn Center Executive Director John Killacky to Step Down

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts announced that its executive director, John Killacky, will step down from his role in June 2018. Killacky previously served on the board of Grantmakers in the Arts and as program officer for arts and culture at The San Francisco Foundation. As reported by Seven Days:

During his tenure [at the Flynn Center], the organization flourished, "growing to a $7.7 million operating budget while maintaining the organization's commitment to presenting exceptional artistic, educational and community engagement programs."
Alice Walton Announces New Foundation to Increase Access to Outstanding Artworks

Arts patron and philanthropist Alice Walton announced the formation of Art Bridges, a 501(c)(3) foundation focused on sharing outstanding works of American art. Collaborating with museums and institutions of all sizes and in all regions of the country, Art Bridges will help create and fund exhibitions, bringing together art from museums, private collections, foundations, and a collection established as a part of Art Bridges.

“Our country’s significant works of art should be available for all to see and enjoy,” said Walton. “Outstanding artworks are in museum vaults and private collections; let’s make that art available to everyone, and provide a way to experience these cultural treasures.”

Earl Lewis to Step Down as Mellon Foundation President

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President Earl Lewis will step down in March 2018 after five productive years at the helm. At the completion of his five-year term, Lewis will return to the academy, and launch a new initiative, The Center for Social Solutions, to focus efforts on three core areas of concern — race and diversity; water; and the future of work. He expects to announce more details in the new year.

Ontario Arts Council to Receive $20M Budget Increase

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) will receive a funding increase to its current base of $60 million, bringing it to $80 million over four years by fiscal year 2020-21. Over the next four years, this added investment to OAC programs will ensure that Ontarians have increased access to arts activity throughout the province and ensure that they see themselves represented in the arts. Two-thirds of the increased granting budget will be used to augment operating grants to arts organizations.

NEA Report Reveals Findings about the Arts and Health in Older Adults

Older adults who create art and attend arts events have better health outcomes than adults who do neither is one of the conclusions in a new report published by the National Endowment for the Arts. Staying Engaged: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Engage in the Arts presents the first detailed look at arts participation habits, attitudes toward the arts, and related health characteristics of adults aged 55 and older.

Darren Walker: A Call for Moral Courage in America

In a recent blog post, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker reflects on recent political events and the need for moral courage in America:

Like so many of you, I am bewildered, almost daily, by the onslaught of dispiriting, sometimes debilitating news. Just this week, a new, politicized (and heartless) assault on young, mostly Latino immigrants—the cancellation of DACA—has left me reeling. When I travel to visit the organizations we work with in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, friends and colleagues express shock about America’s leadership and standing in the global community.

While we’ve endured challenging times before, I have always maintained an unwavering faith in America’s promise and, more broadly, in our democratic values—and I still do. I have always believed that progress is cumulative—that, as more people and communities win their place in the circle of American equality and opportunity, this circle will continue expanding, in a virtuous cycle.