NASAA Notes: January 2012


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Jonathan Katz

January issue
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January 11, 2012

Keeping State Arts Agencies Strong

At this time of reflection, I thought it might be useful to revisit a column I wrote about three years ago, as the latest economic downturn was gaining momentum and it was becoming clear that recessionary sales and production, the mortgage crisis and depressed property values, and high unemployment would be multiyear problems with major impacts on state government resources.

The column recommended that, in the context of the changing environment, state arts agencies review their missions and management, communication needs and activities, and cultural leadership agendas. I send it to you again with the idea that a staff discussion, council meeting, conversation with constituents, or other planning activity might include an assessment of (1) how the overall environment has changed in the past three years, (2) how your constituents have been affected by these changes, (3) what adjustments of programs and services you have made to help them adapt, (4) how your agency environment has changed, and (5) how you have adapted to those changes.

Some of the major forces influencing NASAA over the past three years include challenging state government environments that are increasing the demand from members for knowledge, policy development and advocacy services; the completion of a new NASAA strategic plan registering member desires for benefits and outcomes going forward; and the impacts of the 2008 national and state elections—including new leadership at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). NASAA fortified its role as a source of up-to-the-minute information relevant to state arts agency budgets, structure and placement in state government. We altered our pattern of national meetings and made available for members additional web seminars, website toolkits, and telephone conference calls that focused on key issues.

As the NEA wrote its own new strategic plan, NASAA successfully suggested language recognizing the value of partnership with state and regional arts agencies; as the NEA implements its new plan, NASAA is working in new ways to maintain and build on that partnership. NASAA and its members have strengthened their direct relationship with congressional decision makers, resulting in a reaffirmation of the mandate that 40% of the NEA grant budget is to be distributed through states and regions, and of the principle that federal-state consultation on federal-state issues is good public policy. The NEA was included as a recipient of $50 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and NASAA tracked the process, leading to 40% of that amount being directed to states and regions. NASAA has successfully explored new ways to collaborate with the Cultural Advocacy Group of national arts service organizations, with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and with Americans for the Arts.

NASAA’s ability to empower state arts agencies depends upon, in addition to the effectiveness of its staff, the active advice and engagement of its members. As we continue seeking to maintain and develop federal arts support resources, to expand the capacity of members to make their cases and develop resources at the state level, and to manage turnover in our field, I thank you all for your dedication and support, and look forward to our work together in the new year.

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

Executive Director's Column

Research on Demand




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