Coming off last week’s GIA Conference I am left with several thoughts: 1. My respect for, and empathy with, the funding community continues to grow. These are smart, dedicated people who care deeply about the health of the fragile arts ecosystem, and are earnestly trying to figure out ways to address the big challenges the whole field faces.
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Two sessions today. Cultural Policy and Local Arts Agencies: At the Nexus of Cultural, Economic and Community Development — featuring the work of the Tucson Pima Arts Council (Roberto Bedoya — Director of Civic Engagement) — shifting policy from grant making to serving the community directly; the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs (Kerry Adams Hapner, Director of Cultural Affairs, Deputy Director of Economic Development) — moving on the challenge of cities to develop talented workforce pools; and and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture (Randy Engstrom, Director) — emphasizing arts education as a “Creative Advantage” program.
The first day of any of our art conferences seem to always be the longest. Janet Brown opened the conference with the reminder that the three operating principles of GIA continue to be: Inclusiveness, Collaboration, and Curiosity. Recent GIA Conferences have featured IDEA LAB — short TED-like presentations by a trio of different working artists. And Monday’s IDEA LAB artists were all excellent. The one that caught my attention was Yuval Sharon, founder and artistic director of The Industry, an L.A. based experimental opera company that produces performances that can only be categorized as way outside the box.
Once again I am covering the GIA Annual convening of the nation’s arts funding community as they gather in Los Angeles. Completely SOLD OUT, this conference is apparently the largest conference in the umbrella organization’s history. Congratulations! There is a long list of issues that challenge those funding the arts. Two years ago I listed a Top Twenty of those issues, and having reread that post, I think all those issues are still on the table for public and private funders alike.
When I first got into this field, the dominant buzz was all about PARADIGM. Irrationally, I grew to hate that word. Over time our lexicon changes. Here is a summary of the GIA Conference in BUZZ WORDS (all of which I heard repeatedly during the three days).
This day-long preconference was intended for newer program officers, trustees and foundation executives – but the reality was that the attendees were split between newbies and those who are recognizable names in the philanthropic community with long resumes. The combination of the two made the questions throughout the session very interesting and relevant.
I. Session: Funding Commercial Creative Businesses: Sell Out or Smart Strategy? The City of San Jose (CA), in partnership with the Center for Cultural Innovation, has started providing small “investment grants” to creative entrepreneurs with goals at the nexus of cultural and economic development. Basically this project is still in its infancy, as only two rounds of funding have been completed, and only a total of $40,000 has been awarded in total to 12 grantees, with the $40,000 third round coming up.
Day Two was long and full of sessions and content worth reporting on. I have a very early flight, want to be thoughtful, and so I will be posting several blogs beginning tomorrow and through the weekend. It was a very good conference and I feel fortunate to have been able to share it with so many smart people. Safe journeys home.
There is no way I can possibly cover all the material I absorbed in today’s sessions and do justice to it all tonight. So, I am going to hit a couple of highlights and then come back later in the week and cover the rest, together with some personal comments and insights. And that is likely to be my approach tomorrow as well. I also plan on a separate post on the GIA Preconference on the Unique Practice of Arts Grantmaking this weekend. I. Session: Getting Beyond Breakeven 2.0: Exploring the Opportunities and the Limits of Making Investments Towards Change
Good morning “And the beat goes on……………………” Breakout Sessions: I. Who Are Our Constituents? This session was based on the proposition that clarifying one’s constituency can change the approach to grant making. I think the reality is not so much … Continue reading