October 1, 2016
CEO Report to NASAA Members
I delivered the following report to NASAA members on September 17, at the Closing Session of Assembly 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
NASAA’s first meeting occurred on June 10, 1968, in San Francisco, California. Lyman Field was the first chairman of our Assembly; he was also chairman of the Missouri State Council on the Arts and a decorated World War II officer. At this convening of our newly formed North American Assembly of State and Provincial Arts Agencies, the leadership set a policy, placing the arts in context with contemporary developments in the United States. They passed this resolution:
In view of Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s death by assassination and the agonizing bewilderment for American society that this act provokes, the Executive Committee of the North American Assembly of State and Provincial Arts Agencies resolves to pursue the principles of awakening society to the potential of life that the arts offer.
Violence, bloodshed, and wasting of the human spirit in these times seem almost inextricably woven into the fabric of our society. This latest event adds another sickening stain to an unimaginable chronicle of tragedy.
The Assembly does not feel that these wantonly destructive acts can be answered, much less solved, by increased law enforcement alone as some have already suggested.
What is needed is more opportunity for the full potential of life to be realized, respected, and enjoyed. The Assembly feels that the arts can help man to understand what he is in order that he may realize what he can become. The arts and the encouragement of the arts by all segments of society may not cure the excruciating pervasive problems of our society. They can, however, start the communication of understanding between all men of how great a gift life is and how joyous it is to behold in others.
What an incredibly powerful statement made by our Assembly five days after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and two months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. America was in the midst of a deeply turbulent time in our history. The Vietnam War and the antiwar movement were cresting. Riots ignited across the country as civil unrest grew. We witnessed the struggle for civil rights, traumatized communities, police against citizens and citizens against police. We saw destructive political upheaval, and what we see across America today is painfully too familiar and just tragic.
State arts agencies (SAAs) and NASAA hail from strong and inspired stock. Our professional community’s response to Robert Kennedy’s assassination and those turbulent times was to remind America, in no uncertain words, that the arts help us communicate “understanding between all men of how great a gift life is and how joyous it is to behold in others.” In our Assembly’s first action, we championed: “What is needed is more opportunity for the full potential of life to be realized, respected, and enjoyed.”
NASAA’s earliest resolve was critical in 1968, and it is critical for us today. I appreciate the opportunity to share our agency’s first resolution and action with today’s members, and in particular with our current Governance Committee. Already working to lay a solid foundation for our future work in diversity, equity and inclusion, Governance is engaged in conversations not unlike NASAA’s first leaders, and I know that work will result in a vision and action for a more inclusive NASAA, and even more importantly, SAAs equipped and engaged in bringing more inclusive and equitable arts opportunities to all Americans, helping our nation see who we are, so that we can realize who we can become. I can hardly wait to continue this work. In the meantime, moving forward NASAA will support SAA considerations of equity and distribution patterns in grant making by providing new data analytics linked to population demographics, allowing SAAs to see more clearly the relationships between your grant making and the demographics of your communities.
NASAA’s new fiscal year will also bring heightened activities on our federal policy agenda. Our board recently approved four policy goals for our work with a new president and Congress; informed by needs and opportunities for state arts agencies, our goals aim for ample resources for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), maintenance of the federal-state partnership, arts education for all students and increased arts partnerships with federal agencies of all kinds.
Next year will also be dedicated to moving NASAA partnerships forward with existing as well as new partners. Alongside our colleagues at the NEA, we’ll work to develop beneficial tools for your use of state level Bureau of Economic Analysis data, telling the economic story of America’s cultural work force, state by state, in engaging ways. We’re also partnering with the NEA and the National Governors Association to take a fresh look at how states can benefit from smart strategies for rural development through the arts. We’ll also continue and mine new relationships formed with leaders from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency and the Small Business Administration, while beginning to explore opportunities at the Department of the Interior, with some emphasis on our jurisdictional members.
By now you’ve heard that we have launched a new strategic planning effort. Moving toward NASAA’s future, we expect members to approve a new plan at next year’s Leadership Institute (2017). Over the next few months, I strongly encourage you to make your mark on our new plan. Take advantage of the opportunities you’ll have to provide guidance and input. I am listening to you. In fact, listening to you is the most enjoyable part of my job. Our board is listening to you, and our staff is listening. Make your mark on our next plan, because through it, you’ll be making your mark on NASAA’s future and the future of SAAs.
Not unlike a democracy, NASAA is a membership association that requires your voice and your engagement. We know that as our American democracy strives, and sometimes struggles, to become a more perfect union, it is important for the people to lead; then the leaders follow and respond to the voices of citizens. At NASAA, your leaders are eager to listen to your voice and respond to your aspirations and needs, as we create a more perfect NASAA. Your voice and your participation will help us clearly see who we are, and together, we’ll realize who we can become.
In this Issue
State to State
- Kentucky: Artists Become Farmers Market Vendors
- DC: 202Creates Festival
- Colorado: Collaborative Grant Making in Support of Social Practice Projects
More Notes from NASAA
From the CEO
Research on DemandSubscribe
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