The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Nathan Slack, has announced that the council’s President & CEO Rena Blades will step down on January 15, 2018. Some of the major milestones during Blades’ tenure with the council include: the creation and execution of three separate strategic plans, the establishment of art&culture magazine that is now in its 11th year of publication and has garnered more than 25 publication awards, [and] increasing the county’s funding of arts and culture by $1 million+ annually. . . .
Jazz legend Sonny Rollins has designated a gift to Oberlin College to establish and maintain the Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble Fund at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Douglas McLennan of ArtsJournal recently sat down for a one-on-one interview with Janet Brown, reflecting on her tenure at GIA and some important issues for the field of arts philanthropy today. Read Janet’s insights on changes and challenges in the field, capitalization, funding models, racial equity, and arts participation in the latest issue of the GIA Reader.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced the first 10 recipients of its Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions, an $8 million commissioning initiative that is the largest of its kind in the United States. Reflecting the foundation’s longstanding commitment to sustaining artistic expression and encouraging public engagement with the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, 10 local nonprofit organizations will receive grants of $150,000 each to commission major new musical compositions from world-class artists in genres including chamber, electronic, jazz, opera, and hip hop.
In a letter to colleagues, Phillip Henderson announced his decision to step down from his role as president of Surdna Foundation:
I am very proud to have helped Surdna close out its first century with some notable achievements. We put pursuing socially just and sustainable communities in the United States at the heart of the Foundation’s mission. We found our voice in the pursuit of social justice particularly in communities of color across the country.
The latest issue of the GIA Reader includes an essay by Detroit writer and storyteller Marsha Music. “The Kidnapped Children of Detroit” tells the story of “white flight” in 1960’s Detroit and the racial dynamics that have shaped the city’s past and present. Marsha Music reflects on her personal experience as a Detroit native and offers a hopeful message as the city continues to change today.
Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced $3 million in additional funding for the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST), an organization that protects San Francisco Bay Area arts and cultural organizations from displacement. This three-year grant will help CAST realize an ambitious goal to acquire 100,000 square feet of space for arts groups by the end of 2018. With this funding, CAST will expand and prioritize its work in Oakland to create permanently affordable spaces for arts organizations, as well as continue its work in San Francisco.
A recent op-ed by Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch highlights partnerships between artists and local governments to "enhance awareness, knowledge, and discourse around issues; shift attitudes; promote effective participation and action; and improve systems and policies that ensure social justice.":
Last March, Mayor Duggan hired popular journalist Aaron Foley to be the city’s “chief storyteller,” embedded in, and employed by, city government. Believing that local residents deserve better and more diverse stories about their neighborhoods and the reality of living in the city, Foley created an online platform called The Neighborhoods, where these stories can be shared.
In a recent blog post, Barry Hessenius offers thoughts on GIA’s geographic and leadership transition:
At the closing plenary of the 2017 GIA Conference, Rip Rapson spoke on how The Kresge Foundation has reasserted its values and called on arts funders and cultural workers to continue to put their own values into action.