NASAA Notes: January 2014


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Jonathan Katz

January issue
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January 6, 2014

Year-End Review

In 2013, after four years of recession-driven decrease, state appropriations to state arts agencies (SAAs) increased by $19 million. Appropriations are expected to increase another $30 million to $308 million in fiscal year 2014. The recovery among SAAs is broadening, too, from 28 state increases and 11 flat fundings in FY2013 to 38 state increases and 7 flat fundings in FY2014. Arts advocates have much to be proud of, sustaining the public value of funding for the arts at the state level through two major multiyear recessions, and increasing the investment in SAAs as the economy improves.

Highlights for the year included the enthusiastic response from NASAA members and friends to the $50,000 matching grant from the Windgate Foundation, which required individual gifts and ultimately led to a total of $105,000 in support for NASAA programs and services. The NASAA 2013 Leadership Institute in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was attended to capacity, generously and capably hosted and sponsored, and made successful by wonderful presentations and energetic, thoughtful participants. As the complex environment for state arts agencies continued to evolve uniquely in each state, NASAA staff continued to respond to a high volume of requests for knowledge-based services, and to offer a series of well-attended web seminars.

NASAA continued direct conversation with members of Congress and their staffs about the good work done by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the importance of the federal-state arts-support partnership—with particular emphasis on the value of federal-state collaboration in the development of arts education policy and programs. Having clarified characteristics that state arts agency leaders view as desirable in the next NEA chair, NASAA followed a policy of sharing those characteristics with potential nominees and maintaining contact with White House staff on the progress of the process. For a more thorough overview of NASAA accomplishments for 2013, please see Action Plan Highlights.

Here are some additional state and federal themes that marked 2013.

Poetry Out Loud
What are its limits?

The national recitation contest, created by the NEA and The Poetry Foundation and administered in collaboration with the state arts agencies and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation since 2006, continues to grow in scope and quality, engaging 375,000 high school students in 2013. Poetry is shared extensively on the Internet and several brilliantly edited websites provide daily poems to those who register or visit. These include Garrison Keillor’s site, The Writer’s Almanac, the Poetry Foundation’s site, and the site operated by the Academy of American Poets. However, the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) found that the portion of adult population reading at least one work of poetry during the previous 12 months fell from 12.1% in 2002 to 6.7% in the course of a decade, a drop of 45%. This may reflect the overall decline of print media and the general demise of independent book stores, but in any case demands strategic consideration. Given 14.8 million U.S. students in grades 9-12, is getting Poetry Out Loud participation to 500,000, or even double what it is now, primarily a matter of additional staff capacity to recruit additional schools?

Engage: State Communities of Practice in Arts, Health, and Aging
Is this project the start of a national movement?

The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) launched the pilot year of a three-year initiative to create state networks of people who care about and effectively advance creative aging. With support from the NEA and NASAA, NCCA brought together representatives from 13 states to map baseline resources and activities, begin setting state-specific goals, and explore how the national partners can be of assistance. Project activities will focus on developing state-by-state asset maps and a resource guide to help all states build partnerships in the arts, health and aging.

STEAM Gets Rolling
How can we help the new caucus to be influential?

In February 2013, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) announced formation of a Congressional STEAM Caucus, strongly supported by the Rhode Island School of Design. The practical purpose of the group is to add art and design to federal programs that target the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The America COMPETES Act, known as the STEM bill, was signed into law in 2007. It authorized $151 million to help students earn degrees in the STEM subjects, help credential math and science teachers, and align K-12 math and science curricula to prepare students better for college. Current efforts focus on recruiting caucus members and supporting House Resolution 51, which expresses the general idea that adding art and design to STEM fields encourages innovation and economic growth. On November 19, 2013, STEAM Caucus cochairs and 26 additional members of Congress sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee requesting that the value of integrating the arts and design with STEM teaching, research, funding and federal activities be recognized in the writing of legislation that is now under way to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act. NASAA will communicate with and monitor the work of the Congressional STEAM Caucus and alert members when participation can be meaningful.

The NEA Awaits a Chair
Meanwhile . . .

During 2013, the Obama administration did not nominate a chair for either the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities. At the end of calendar 2012, Rocco Landesman stepped down as chairman of the NEA, stating, “we have been able to accomplish more than I had ever thought possible: sparking a national movement around creative placemaking, forging significant relationships with other federal agencies, creating an unprecedented healing arts partnership with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and increasing both the scope and impact of our research office.”

  • Moving along on the back of continuing resolutions that have maintained federal agency budgets for the past three years, the NEA has sustained a priority investment in the Our Town program that carries its flag for creative place making. ArtPlace America, the creative place-making not-for-profit supported by 13 major foundations, has now made 134 grants to 124 organizations in more than 79 communities for a total of $42.1 million. According to its website, “ArtPlace America also seeks advice and counsel from close working relationships with various federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education, and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.” Jamie Bennett, former NEA chief of staff and director of public affairs, takes over there as executive director this month. Our Town and ArtPlace America have now demonstrated investment in communities of all sizes, from the smallest towns to the largest cities. The term creative place making has come to embrace and overlap with the diverse array of creative economy, community development, cultural planning and cultural district development activities that state and local arts agencies have long advanced. For instance, during 2013 NASAA Notes spotlighted Louisiana’s creative communities program; Mississippi’s blues trails; Massachusetts’s Listening Tour on Arts & Tourism; percent for art programs in Hawaiʻi, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma and NASAA’s summary of percent for art policies and procedures in the 25 states with active programs; and Kansas’s creative economy project support program.
  • The NEA is at the forefront of the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military, a consortium of federal agency, military, nonprofit and private-sector partners working together to advance the policy, research and practice of arts and arts therapy as tools for health in the military. The initiative just released a white paper, Arts, Health, and Well-Being across the Military Continuum, on integrating the arts into health care for members of the military and their families. NASAA’s briefing session on The Arts and the Military at the 2013 Leadership Institute featured SAA leaders Margaret Hunt (Colorado), Lynn Martin Graton (New Hampshire) and Robert Booker (Arizona), as well as Marete Wester, director of arts policy for Americans for the Arts, who works on behalf of the National Initiative. In 2013, NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced an expansion of the partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense to bring art therapy to military patients at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital’s satellite center of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Fairfax County, Virginia.
  • In 2013, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the NEA reported that arts and cultural production accounted for 3.2%—or $504 billion—of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011. According to the BEA and NEA, “this is the first federal effort to provide in-depth analysis of the arts and cultural sector’s contributions…. In comparison, BEA’s estimated value of the U.S. travel and tourism industry was 2.8 percent of GDP.” BEA is widely considered a definitive source for economic data; the same day as the BEA/NEA announcement (December 5), The Wall Street Journal featured an article headlined U.S. Arts Sector Is Bigger Than Tourism Industry. For progress on the NEA research agenda, much credit is due Joan Shigekawa in her roles as both senior deputy chairman and, during 2013, acting chairman.

And a 2013 NASAA Notes Stocking Stuffer

At the end of each NASAA weekly staff meeting, the staff member whose turn it is to facilitate presents a “moment of inspiration.” Here are the three most recent “moments”:

Enjoy these—with best wishes from the NASAA staff for a happy, healthy, peaceful and artful 2014.

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

More Notes from NASAA

Executive Director's Column

Research on Demand




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