So it seems that the Big Government blog and Big Hollywood blog have been making big noise in the blogosphere about the NEA, the White House and artists. They have turned a small conversation to encourage “volunteerism in America” into a conspiracy of grants for political support. Of course, anyone who has any real working knowledge about the NEA knows how distorted and false these allegations are.
Barry Hessenius asked me and several others to answer some questions about the role of the National Endowment for the Arts. He's running this multi-week huge series in his blog at WSTAF's site. There are interesting ideas and thoughts by many people lots smarter than me. You can read it at Barry's Blog.
In the work done by Helicon Collaborative this spring for NW area funders and for GIA’s summer Reader, Holly Sidford reported that grantees wanted arts funders to provide leadership. One of the areas where leadership is needed most, in my opinion, is in management evaluation and development for grantees. As I wrote last week, we are a field with no certification or degree requirements for management.
Recently, I attended a meeting of Seattle-based funders and Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser. One of Kaiser’s points as he travels around the country on an “Arts in Crisis” tour, is the need for greater competency in management of nonprofit arts organization. His point that we spend a great deal of resources training artists in this country but very little on the training of managers rang pretty true to me.
August 28, 2009 is the deadline for early bird registration for the GIA conference in October. Join our “community of practice” and register today.
“Community of Practice” is a term created by anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger in the 90s. Wenger defines it as “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” There is, of course, more to this than one sentence, but that’s the essence of it.
In the total scheme of things, last week was darn exciting for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Rocco Landesman was confirmed by the Senate as the new Chairman and Joan Shigakawa, past Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) board member most recently with the Rockefeller Foundation, was appointed Senior Deputy Chairman. To top it off, I was in a meeting with Anita Decker at the NEA when she received the Senate committee confirmation notice.
I recently spent time meeting, learning and sharing information with arts grantmakers in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington DC. It was one of those plane, train, train, train, and plane trips. Weather was glorious, evidently the only week it didn’t rain in June on the east coast.
Today we launch the 2009 GIA conference registration site. The “Navigating the Art of Change” national conference of arts philanthropists will take place in Brooklyn, New York, October 18-21 at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge (one stop in from Manhattan). It is the only opportunity for arts grantmakers from around the country from all sectors to come together, learn from one another and share their challenges and solutions in what has become a very difficult year for philanthropy. I hope you will join us.
Having served on the board of directors of Americans for the Arts during the 90s, I looked forward to seeing many friends and colleagues in Seattle. I was not disappointed. The arts community came to the glorious northwest in solid numbers to debate, share, learn and drink a little Seattle coffee. They came from all corners of the arts world – from private foundations to local and state arts agencies, from community activists to politically savvy advocacy leaders. There were artists and directors of theatres, dance companies, and consultants.
About six years ago, Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) opened its membership to public agencies and became the only national association for all organizational grantmakers in the arts. The “big tent” analogy is a good one. Our members include private and community foundations, corporate funders, national, state and local government arts agencies and any nonprofit organization that supports artists and arts organizations through a grant process.