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NASAA 2021 Learning Series

Join your colleagues from all of the states and jurisdictions for this year’s premier professional development event. Convened virtually from March through October, the NASAA 2021 Learning Series is tailored to the current needs of state arts agencies. Together we’ll explore topics relevant to advocacy, economic recovery, equity, resilience and more. Sessions offer state arts agencies a valuable opportunity to learn with and from one another, sharing an abundance of ideas to inform, inspire and energize our work.

All staff and council/board members from state arts agencies and regional arts organizations are encouraged to participate. Sessions will occur about once a month, ensuring timely content without overloading your calendar. Details will be published in stages in the coming months, so check this page often for the latest developments.

To make this program accessible to all members, NASAA has waived all registration fees for this series. We look forward to seeing you online!

Arts and Economic Recovery

March 11, 2021

NASAA recently released two research reports focusing on the role of arts in economic recovery. A study by Prof. Doug Noonan at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis provides empirical evidence that the arts and cultural sector can improve—not merely reflect—the health of the broader economy. A companion study from the Western States Arts Federation looks at data and communities from across the country to tell the story of how the arts build local economies. We kick off the NASAA 2021 Learning Series with a synopsis of key findings from each study, and a discussion of effective strategies state arts agencies can use to make the arts a relevant part of state economic development plans coming out of the COVID-19 crisis.

MODERATOR Ryan Stubbs, Senior Research Director, NASAA

SPEAKERS David Holland, Director of Public Policy, WESTAF; Karen Mittelman, Executive Director, Vermont Arts Council; Doug Noonan, Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs, O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; George Tzougros, Executive Director, Wisconsin Arts Board


New Advocacy Messaging Strategies

March 31, 2021

Dive back into the Arts and Creativity Strengthen Our Nation: A Narrative and Message Guide with this special training on how to garner support for the arts from conservative, centrist and progressive policymakers alike. This training session offers a wealth of evidence based advice on narrative framing, helping us to understand the advocacy power behind certain language and ideas. Tune in to learn how to use key messages and respond to common objections—and watch an advocate put the messaging into action!

SPEAKERS Eric Friedenwald-Fishman, Creative Director/Founder/CEO, Metropolitan Group; Rob Sassor, Vice President, Metropolitan Group


Will Audiences Come Back?

April 21, 2021

Research shows that what cultural organizations do and stand for is as important as ever in our pandemic-impacted world. However, the conditions have changed drastically since the beginning of the pandemic last year. What does this mean for cultural organizations aiming to move forward while vaccinations are rolling out but the coronavirus is still rampant? This session focuses on current conditions and provides data that will help both exhibit based and performance based cultural organizations—and the state arts agencies that support them—understand shifting sentiments regarding safety and attendance during this unprecedented time.

MODERATOR LaVon Bracy Davis, Chair, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs

SPEAKERS Colleen Dilenschneider, Chief Market Engagement Officer, IMPACTS Experience; Jim Hekkers, Chief Strategy Officer, IMPACTS Experience


Refilling the Well

June 2, 2021

Resilience is our innate capacity to bounce back from difficulties, but prolonged stress can leave us feeling depleted—many of us were exhausted even before the pandemic! Fortunately, there are practices we can explore to help refill our reserves and replenish our strength, energy and flexibility, both physical and mental. Join us for this participatory session, which includes a roundtable discussion with grant makers on workplace well-being, followed by breakout sessions that demonstrate a variety of techniques you can use in your agency or with constituents, such as movement, mindfulness meditation, drawing, etc.


New Paradigms for Artist Support

August 26, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Eastern

Artists energize communities by offering solace and inspiration, facilitating transformation, fueling the creative economy and helping us to imagine solutions to crucial problems. To do this important work now and in the future, what structures, skills and resources do artists need? Can the events of the past year serve as a turning point for new models of support? A diverse roundtable of experts addresses obstacles that artists—especially BIPOC artists—face when trying to access resources and offers ideas for improving support systems in the future.


Making Operating Support More Equitable

State arts agencies devote significant dollars to general operating support grants. But these funds may not reach all communities equitably. BIPOC and rural groups, especially, face many barriers to accessing operating grants. Learn how state arts agencies are changing their policies and recalibrating their funding to achieve greater equity. More details will be announced soon.

Business Bash Celebration

Wrap up the NASAA 2021 Learning Series in style! This gathering will feature reflections from NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux, a little bit of business and a whole lot of camaraderie. More details will be announced soon.

For questions about the NASAA 2021 Learning Series, contact Learning Services Director Eric Giles.


This program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Arts and Economic Recovery: Courtesy of Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office