NASAA Notes: January 2009


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Jonathan Katz

January issue
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January 8, 2009

Executive Director's Column

What a time we live in—so much challenge and so much hope! I hope you have on your calendar NASAA’s Web seminar, “Contending with Economic Uncertainty: State Arts Agency Strategies and Perspectives.” This members-only session, which is free to state arts agencies, takes place on Thursday, January 22, from 3:00-4:15 p.m. EST. We’ll explore:

  • How are state arts agency budgets faring?
  • How can state arts agencies help their constituents through these tough times?
  • How can state arts agencies strategically adapt to shrinking budgets?
  • What advocacy approaches are most effective during recessions?

All state arts agency staff and council members are encouraged to participate, and will have an opportunity for questions and discussion during the seminar. This seminar is free for state arts agencies. (All you need to log in is a telephone and an Internet connection.) To R.S.V.P., please send your name, your agency’s name and your phone number to NASAA Learning Services Manager Eric Giles. Participants will receive a confirmation with connection details prior to the session.

NASAA’s second annual Executive Director Bootcamp is scheduled for January 26-28 in Washington, D.C. Because state arts agency leadership requires a special blend of multidisciplinary expertise in the arts, planning, policy, public management, grant making, assessment, collaboration, resource development and communications, NASAA provides this introductory leadership development opportunity for agency directors with tenure of three years or less. For more information, contact NASAA Chief Program and Planning Officer Kelly Barsdate. We always view the convening of the National Endowment for the Arts Partnership Agreement Panel, which is open for observation, as a learning opportunity, so Bootcamp participants will be taking advantage of that. NASAA encourages other members to do the same, which you can now also do by telephone. For more information on the NEA Partnership Agreement Panel, contact NEA State & Regional Specialist Andi Mathis.

The big event in January is, of course, the presidential inauguration. The transition team has been operating at full tilt in downtown D.C. offices for several weeks now. Bill Ivey, who chaired the NEA from 1998-2001 and now directs the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, has responsibility for the arts on the transition team, along with Anne Luzzatto, whose federal agency experience includes work with the National Security Council and the Council on Foreign Relations. On behalf of the NASAA membership, I met with Bill and Anne on December 16 to discuss the future of the NEA, the relationship between the NEA and the state arts agencies, and federal support for the arts. I appreciated being asked to prepare a page of bullet-point items that we could discuss and that would remain with the team. Here it is:

Agenda for the NEA with Special Emphasis on Federal-State Partnership

  1. Articulate a set of priority outcomes related to participation in the arts in the United States and link strategic roles for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to each. The NEA should adapt its grant programs following a process of asking whether current program areas are right, catalyzing dialogue and research on goals for each area, identifying parties and roles to achieve goals, and deciding on NEA leadership roles such as research, convening and organizing stakeholders, encouraging collaborations, and enlisting new support. The NEA should extend its leadership and partnerships to enhance the accessibility and quality of participation in the arts provided in not-for-profit, for-profit and amateur contexts.
  2. Integrate artists and arts organizations into the policy priorities of the Obama administration, including universal health insurance and public service corps.
  3. Implement the priorities of the Obama campaign’s arts policy committee, which include cultural diplomacy and a comprehensive approach to arts education.
  4. Establish a communication plan with priority messages to target audiences about (a) the arts and (b) the NEA. Advance nationwide understanding of the arts as a multisector industry that contributes to employment, a healthy economy and a creative, competitive work force; as essential to American democratic practice and community life; and, therefore, as part of basic American education. Help the First Family portray the value of arts participation.
  5. Play an active role with the White House, Congress and other federal agencies to (a) address cultural policy issues and (b) draw upon and support artistic resources to help achieve their program goals.
  6. Cultivate a strong federal-state arts support partnership:
    1. Continue targeting 40% of NEA total program funds to state arts agencies (SAAs), with funds not tied to initiatives;
    2. Engage the SAAs as strategic partners through their association designed for the purpose, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA);
    3. Consult NASAA before action on program guidelines and budget decisions that (a) affect SAAs, (b) are intended to have statewide impact, or (c) impact 5(g) funds (the state and multistate set-aside);
    4. Operate communications as partners (see item 4 above);
    5. Let SAAs help with and benefit from NEA visits;
    6. Partner with NASAA to engage Congress, governors and state legislators;
    7. Maintain the critical NEA-SAA arts education partnership and the national Arts Education Partnership coalition co-funded with the U.S. Department of Education;
    8. Build on or adapt Poetry Out Loud literary activity;
    9. Collaborate with SAA international relationships to foster cultural diplomacy;
    10. Work with NASAA and SAAs to broaden other federal agencies’ use of arts resources.

I hasten to add that because an item appears on this list does not mean it is not happening now. Like friendships, policies need explicit attention to remain strong.

As I’m sure you are aware, the Obama transition team has asked governors for their input on the use of economic stimulus funds. On December 31, NASAA Legislative Council Tom Birch sent you a memo listing the federal assistance programs where funding is most likely to be extended. Your work in explicitly identifying arts organizations who can participate in these programs can be very influential within your state. Tom is networking with his Cultural Advocacy Group legislative colleagues and I am meeting with the CEOs of national arts service organizations to keep current, get you the best information to act on, and represent state arts agency interests at the national level.

My favorite wish for you as we head in to the new year is Good Health, Good Friends, Good Fortune and Good Government in 2009!

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

Executive Director's Column

Did You Know?

Frequently Asked Questions




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