In much of what I’m involved with these days from discussions of improving arts education and the under-capitalization of the nonprofit world to increasing the value of the arts for average Americans, the word consensus keeps coming up. Mostly it comes up and then, like a hot potato, it gets thrown out. It’s a word that we’re hesitant to use as funders. Why is that? I have a couple of theories. Firstly, we in the arts want to be pretty open to all voices and respectful of one another’s uniqueness. This is a good thing.
On June 24th, Grantmakers in the Arts and Grantmakers for Education hosted a group of private and public foundations and corporations to discuss the barriers inhibiting arts learning in K-12 urban public schools. Cyrus Driver, Ford Foundation, set the stage with comments titled “Can the Arts Become Part of the “Basics” of our Public Education?”
(6-14-10) I’ve been executive director of Grantmakers in the Arts for 18 months. During that time I’ve learned so much about the dedication, courage and passion of our members for improving the state of artists and arts organizations. Our members believe strongly in their work and actively advocate for the arts within their own institutions, which represent state and local government, private and community foundation presidents and boards and corporate decision-makers. It’s a big and sometimes stressful job these days.
(5-26-10) Like so many of us, I’m concerned about what’s happening in Arizona. I’m concerned for a couple reasons. First, I believe the law they passed is unconstitutional and poor public policy. It is evidence of a state attempting to make national policy. There are already some pretty poor laws on state books as examples of this. State thinks its legal, the fed thinks its not. Makes great business for lawyers on both sides.
(5-11-10) So they don’t call Tennessee the “Volunteer State” for nothing! Although the national media has already moved on to the latest stock market twist and political scandal, the artists and arts organizations of Tennessee are recuperating, rebuilding and performing. The Nashville Symphony, although their hall is damaged, has designed a “traveling” season and has already performed. But there is much work to do, artists to help and organizations that will need support rebuilding.
Grantmakers in the Arts sponsored a session entitled “Hip Hop Arts in Education” at the Council on Foundations conference in Denver, April 25. This was a repeat of a session presented at our own conference in Brooklyn that packed the session room and was the talk of the conference. (Thank you Claudine Brown and the Social Justice committee.) Two of the spoken word artists, Carvens and Ceez were catapulted from the session to the plenary stage at the spur of the moment.
(4-13-2010) Grantmakers in the Arts begins a new series of Web Conferences in May designed for emerging leaders and veteran grantmakers alike. You can see the six sessions we’ve put together on the GIA website. They are free to members and pretty inexpensive for nonmembers. This is an opportunity for colleagues from the same department, office and organization to share a learning experience on various topics offered up by some pretty smart people in the field of philanthropy and nonprofit arts.
(4-7-10) I had a conversation with a graduate student of mine from Goucher College last night who is writing his final paper on general operating support by private foundations and local arts agencies. It’s a very complicated topic and I’m always a torn about it.
(3-31-2010) Last week I attended Katrina@5, a conference for funders sponsored by the Association of Small Foundations. Grantmakers in the Arts was one of the several association partners that helped plan and promote the conference. The goal was to share the successes and mistakes of the philanthropic response to the catastrophe that was hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the breaking of the levies.
(3-16-2010) I’m going to the Katrina@5 conference in New Orleans hosted by the Association of Small Foundations, March 22-24. Many funding affinity groups have partnered on this conference whose main purpose is to look at the lessons learned during Katrina and how the philanthropic community can respond efficiently and effectively in the future. Since there is no scarcity of emergencies and disasters in the world, this is a pretty good idea.