NASAA Notes: January 2018

January
2018

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Pam Breaux

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January 3, 2018

Happy Anniversary to the NASAA Family!

2018 marks NASAA’s 50th anniversary. In 1968, state arts agencies united by creating the North American Assembly of State and Provincial Arts Agencies. Members included the provincial arts councils of Canada and the state arts councils of the United States and Mexico. Our first official board of directors meeting took place on Friday, June 7, 1968, in San Francisco, California. In its earliest actions, our association espoused the value of the arts by asserting, “the Assembly feels that the arts can help man to understand what he is in order that he may realize what he can become.” During a difficult social and political moment in American history, NASAA set an aspirational tone to affirm the importance of the arts in public life; we resolved that the arts “start the communication of understanding between all men of how great a gift life is and how joyous it is to behold in others.”

In celebration of NASAA’s history, throughout this year I’ll share inspirations, facts and stories from our past. Certainly, much has changed during our 50 years, yet I’m confident our core mission of strengthening state arts agencies is just as critical today as it was in 1968. When we all gather in Baltimore, Maryland, this fall for Assembly 2018, we’ll celebrate our association’s anniversary, legacy and successes, and we’ll ring in our next 50 years.

As we greet our 50th year, here is a glimpse of what’s new and happening at the NASAA offices in Washington, D.C.:

  • We’re primed for NASAA’s first press briefing at the National Press Club on January 23, where we’ll affirm and showcase the importance and impact of public investments in the arts for American communities. The briefing will be webcast at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, so please stay tuned; we’ll soon post logistics on our Facebook page.
  • NASAA’s research team is hard at work on several fronts, including our partnership project with the National Governors Association and the National Endowment for the Arts. “Engaging the Arts to Strengthen Economic Development in Rural Communities” is well under way. With our literature review complete and a field scan in progress, you can look forward to a summertime webinar to bring you up to speed on the project, its collateral materials and how the work is positioned to connect to governors across the country.
  • We’re also in fifth gear preparing for next month’s boot camp for new state arts agency (SAA) executive directors. We look forward to providing training for approximately 14 new directors. With NASAA membership from 56 states and jurisdictions, this means we’ll be training 25% of SAA executive directors. That’s a remarkable and unusually high percentage of SAAs in executive transition. As SAAs change and work toward a new day, NASAA is doubling down on its commitment to provide relevant and meaningful services with an eye to the future.
  • In keeping with our diversity, equity and inclusion policy and portfolio of work, NASAA has taken its first steps toward developing a pilot program for mentoring SAA staff members of color. I look forward to sharing our progress with you soon.
  • On a related note, you may recall that new NASAA policy charges us to “empower SAAs to uphold diversity, equity and inclusion in their policies, practices and programs, including, but not limited to, equitable funding practices.” I’m pleased to share three ways NASAA is meeting this goal in 2018:

» The “Visualizing Grant Diversity: The Demographics of SAA Grants” project is off to a great start, with 19 SAAs already signed up for (or having participated in) a customized demographics-in-grant-making session.

» Later this fiscal year, we’ll develop and distribute a new self-assessment tool to help SAAs diagnose equity and bias in grant-making practices.

» NASAA Treasurer and South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May and I are participating in a national steering committee dedicated to exploring best practices in equity in grants panels. I’m certain the experience will allow us to bring new ideas to the table for SAA consideration.

As you gear up for a successful 2018, remember to call on NASAA as needed. Whether your question is related to a program area listed above or is based on any challenge or opportunity you face, your extended team here at NASAA considers it a pleasure to respond to your call. In the meantime, please accept our warmest wishes for a happy new year.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

Announcements and Resources

Legislative Update

State to State

Research on Demand

More Notes from NASAA

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