NASAA Notes: August 2017


August issue
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August 8, 2017

NASAA News and Current Information

Your Feedback Wanted

Many thanks to all who have been part of NASAA’s strategic planning process in recent months. Hundreds of state arts agency staff and council members―as well as leaders from other sectors and networks―generously shared their thoughts, aspirations, candid concerns and bright ideas about the future of state arts agencies and NASAA. Based on your input, a new strategic plan is now available for public review. Please take a moment to read the draft and tell us what you think. Send a message to Kelly Barsdate or phone the NASAA office at 202-347-6354. We appreciate your feedback!

It Only Takes a Minute

NASAA’s one-of-a-kind advocacy, research on demand and leadership training programs are supported in part by individuals like you. A gift to NASAA strengthens state arts agencies and helps them better serve artists, schools and communities in every state. If it’s important to you that state arts agencies keep enriching the lives of everyone through the arts, please make a one-time or monthly donation to NASAA. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

 Closing the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap

A new report from the Building Movement Project, Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap, investigates why less than 20% of nonprofit executive directors and CEOs are people of color. The report, based on a survey of more than 4,000 respondents, attributes this imbalance mostly to unconscious and under-recognized biases. This observation counters a common “theory of change” that suggests that closing the racial leadership gap is a function of finding and convincing qualified people of color to take on leadership roles. The report recommends that nonprofits focus on implicit biases embedded in their structures, policies and practices.

Evolving Strategies for Public Funding of the Arts

In a new report, Recalculating the Formula for Success, Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) considers how state arts agencies and local arts agencies are adapting to changing demographics and environments by rethinking longtime practices and developing new strategies. It also considers the evolving approaches of arts funders supported through voter-enacted tax initiatives and “united arts funds,” which are underwritten by individual, corporate and/or foundation donors. The report finds, among other things, that board leadership is crucial for grant-making innovation, that many grant makers are moving away from formula based funding and that there is growing interest in supporting newer and smaller arts groups.

State Tax Revenues Report

The Rockefeller Institute of Government’s latest State Revenue Report, which focuses on the fourth quarter of 2016 but includes forecasts for 2017 and 2018, shows that overall state government tax revenues are growing at an “extremely slow pace.” It attributes this in part to weak consumption of durable and nondurable goods, declines in corporate income tax, falling oil production, and taxpayer uncertainty about possible changes to federal tax policy. The report includes tables showing sources of tax receipts for every state.

 Joshua Davis Is Acting Executive Director in Illinois

Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA) Deputy Director Joshua Davis began serving as acting executive director on August 1. Davis has been active in the Chicago theater and the nonprofit sector for a number of years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and his master’s degree from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Having been with IACA for more than eight years, he will work closely with Chairman Shirley Madigan to continue the agency’s mission: to build a strong, creative and connected Illinois through the arts.

 New NASAA Staff: Connie Souto Learman and Feby Varghese

Connie Souto Learman has joined NASAA as special assistant to the CEO. In addition to providing direct day-to-day support to NASAA’s CEO, she is responsible for programmatic, administrative and advocacy tasks as assigned. These include working with the CEO to support the board of directors, Executive Committee and Governance Committee, as well as member support. Souto Learman most recently served as community development director at the Mississippi Arts Commission, where she worked directly with community leaders, arts councils and event planners, among others. Prior to that position, she worked for the Mississippi Industries for the Blind as a human resources manager, acquiring a deeper understanding about implementation of ADA regulations. Originally from Brazil, Souto Learman has worked actively with arts festivals and cultural organizations and for arts fundraising events inside and outside the United States. She received her master’s degree from Millsaps College – Else School of Management (Jackson, Mississippi) and her doctorate degree in political science from Universitat de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain). She graduated in law at the Universidade Católica de Pernambuco (Recife, Brasil).

Feby VargeseFeby Varghese is NASAA’s special projects manager. In this new position, she supports and coordinates NASAA’s arts advocacy efforts, analyzing data to develop effective messages about the impact of the arts and organizing on-line federal case making efforts. Before joining NASAA, Varghese founded an artist management company in India and led public relations initiatives for Sangeet Natak Akademi (National Academy of Performing Arts) under the Ministry of Culture in India. She has been a congressional fellow at the office of Congressman Jim McDermott. As a Fulbright scholar, Varghese has two master’s degrees, in arts management and English literature, and a postgraduate diploma in copywriting. She speaks more than five languages and has worked in three capital cities of the world as a cross-cultural arts manager.


In this Issue

State to State

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA

From the CEO

Legislative Updates

Research on Demand




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