Back to About Peer Groups
Q: What are peer groups?
A: Peer groups are “job-alike” groups of individuals within the state arts agency field who share similar roles or responsibilities. In addition to meeting in person at NASAA Assemblies, most peer groups hold virtual gatherings on a regular basis. Check the Upcoming NASAA Events Calendar for information on your peer group’s next meeting. Peer groups also stay in year-round contact with one another through dedicated listservs.
Q: Is there a peer group for council members?
A: Yes! In addition to peer groups for various staff positions, NASAA offers a group for volunteer leaders (state arts agency chairs and council/board members). This group meets regularly to discuss policy and governance issues and to explore the roles of volunteer leaders as advocates.
Q: Is participation in a peer group required?
A: Peer group participation is entirely voluntary, but highly recommended. Peer groups are often cited as one of the best benefits of being a NASAA member. Peer groups provide a strong professional community that can be a source of information, advice and moral support. Active participation in a peer group builds your knowledge, strengthens you as a leader, and provides valuable opportunities for you to compare strategies and perspectives with a national network.
Q: How often do peer groups meet?
A: All peer groups meet during Assembly years—even-numbered when the complete NASAA community gathers for a large meeting. Most peer groups also hold virtual gatherings year-round on a regular basis. See the Upcoming NASAA Events Calendar for scheduled meetings.
Q: How are peer group meetings at NASAA conferences organized?
A: Peer groups are organized on a volunteer basis. This means that individual groups elect to gather, set their own agendas and lead their own sessions. This not only makes it operationally feasible for NASAA to host many peer group gatherings, but also ensures that the agendas stay highly responsive to the current interests and needs of the field. Visit NASAA’s Peer Groups page to read notes from past peer group sessions held at conferences. NASAA urges peer session organizers to consult with their colleagues around the country for agenda input. If you have suggestions to offer, please contact your group coordinator(s).
Q: How are peer groups chosen?
A: New groups that can demonstrate the ability to organize themselves and engage a critical mass of participants are welcome, pending a discussion with NASAA about the group’s goals. If you are part of a new group that is considering a gathering, please contact Eric Giles for more information.
Q: What is the People of Color Affinity Group?
A: The People of Color (PoC) Affinity Group is a NASAA member-led group open to all state arts agency and regional arts organization staff and council members who identify as persons of color. The PoC Affinity Group recognizes that people of color working in organizations that have a majority-white demographic can benefit from spaces where race and ethnicity can be explicit experiences and topics of conversation, unmediated by white culture and privilege. The PoC Affinity Group connects people of color within the state arts agency field with each other and ensures a safe and brave space within the larger body of NASAA membership for members of color to speak and participate openly in identifying, recommending and leading the changes necessary to achieve true inclusivity for all.
The PoC Affinity Group was launched and is supported by NASAA. Its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is articulated within its policy statement, which affirms the importance of ongoing reflection, dialogue and learning to accomplish this work authentically and alongside state arts agencies. The PoC Affinity Group recognizes that the voices and efforts of people of color within the state arts agency network are powerful and necessary to advance racial justice. To this end, the affinity group is designed to be a key advisory voice in further shaping NASAA’s DEI activities, policies and programs.
Q: I am a White ally who is very interested in supporting my BIPOC colleagues. May I join the People of Color Affinity Group?
A: The PoC Affinity Group is designed exclusively for state arts agency and regional arts organization staff and council members who identify as persons of color. It connects people of color within the state arts agency field with each other and ensures a safe and brave space within the larger body of NASAA membership for members of color to speak and participate openly in identifying, recommending, and leading the changes necessary to achieve true inclusivity for all.
Q: Do I have to choose just one peer group?
A: Many state arts agency staffers are wearing multiple hats, so you are welcome to participate in more than one group. To make this easier, NASAA does our best to avoid scheduling virtual meetings at conflicting times. During an Assembly, when several peer groups meet simultaneously, agencies should try to bring as large of a team as possible to cover the maximum number of sessions. Individuals may elect to split their time among multiple peer sessions.
Q: Is travel support available to attend peer sessions?
A: NASAA does not provide any direct travel funding or registration offsets for meeting attendance, but does offer team discounts to make staff and council member participation more affordable. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has generously supported arts education and folk & traditional arts peer group gatherings at most NASAA Assemblies. State arts agencies are encouraged to take advantage of these travel funds—which NASAA manages through cooperative agreements with the NEA—during years when they are available.
Q: How do I participate?
A: Make sure that NASAA has your correct contact information, including your title, job function and areas of interest, so that you are included in the appropriate rosters. These rosters are used by NASAA and by peer group volunteer leaders for communications.