NASAA Notes: November 2020


November issue
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November 3, 2020

NASAA News and Current Information

Congratulations, 2020 NASAA Leadership Awards Winners

2020 NASAA Leadership Award winners (clockwise from top left): Nola Ruth, Gary Gibbs, Carla Du Pree, Colorado Creative Industries, Deonté Griffin-Quick

Congratulations to the 2020 NASAA Leadership Awards winners! These awards recognize exemplary leadership and showcase best practices of state arts agencies and regional arts organizations.

This year’s award winners are:

  • Gary Gibbs – Gary Young Award
  • Nola Ruth – Distinguished Public Service Award
  • Colorado Creative Industries – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Agency Award
  • Carla Du Pree – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Individual Award
  • Deonté Griffin-Quick – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Individual Award

The innovative and exceptional efforts of these winners have made a major impact on the state arts agency field and inspired us all. We’re honored to celebrate their amazing achievements and contributions! Check out videos of the award presentations (here and here), learn more about the winners and join us in congratulating each of them.

A Big Win

Over the past year, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, NASAA has been there for you, providing the unique data, resources, guidance and connections to help you through. We put our fundraising on hold because of the terrible uncertainty of these times, but now it’s time to resume—and we need your help. A board member has pledged a $25,000 matching gift if we raise $25,000 by December 31, which means $50,000 for NASAA! This is a great opportunity for you to make a BIG impact when it’s needed most. Make your gift now to double your impact and ensure you keep getting the support you need in the year ahead. Thank you!

New NASAA Board Members

New 2021 NASAA board members (from left) Ruben Alvarez, LaVon Bracy Davis, Christian Gaines, Abigail Gómez and Lorén Spears

NASAA is pleased to announce the election of five new members to its board of directors. As part of a rigorous national nomination process, state arts agencies elected these exemplary leaders at NASAA’s 2020 virtual Business Bash in October. The new members are:

  • Ruben Alvarez. Commissioner, Arizona Commission on the Arts
  • LaVon Bracy Davis, Chair, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs
  • Christian Gaines, Executive Director, Western States Arts Federation
  • Abigail Gómez, Chair, Virginia Commission on the Arts
  • Lorén Spears, Council Member, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

We look forward to working with and learning from these experienced arts leaders. Learn more about NASAA’s 2021 board team.

New Nationwide Creative Aging Initiative

Young@Heart Chorus, photo courtesy of Young@Heart; explore their concert footage on YouTube

In partnership with the nation’s 56 state and jurisdictional arts councils, NASAA and Aroha Philanthropies have launched Leveraging State Investments in Creative Aging, a joint initiative to raise awareness and expand the scope of creative aging programs nationwide. The initiative will help state arts agencies elevate the importance of creative aging while activating networks, training teaching artists and expanding state level capacity to serve older adults. NASAA and Aroha Philanthropies will support these advancements by:

  1. providing grants to state arts agencies to deepen or expand creative aging programs at the state level,
  2. offering technical assistance and professional development to state arts agencies, including a two-year online Creative Aging Institute, and
  3. initiating national and state partnership activities to reinforce support for creative aging as a policy priority.

Wisconsin’s Karen Goeschko Wins Gard Foundation Leadership Award

During NASAA’s recent Creative Placemaking Virtual Convocation, Karen Goeschko of the Wisconsin Arts Board received the prestigious Robert E. Gard Foundation Leadership Award. The award recognizes leadership in facilitating healthy communities through community arts development. Goeschko, who has worked for the Wisconsin Arts Board since 1997, began her state arts agency career at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. She has worn the community development coordinator hat proudly since 1989. Congratulations, Karen!

Cynthia Steele Is New RAO National Coordinator

Cynthia Steele has been named national coordinator of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. The six regional arts organizations partner with the National Endowment for the Arts and their constituent state arts agencies on planning and program delivery. Steele is a consultant and independent contractor in the arts, having worked in the arts and orchestra management industry for more than 25 years. Prior to starting her consulting business, she held positions at the League of American Orchestras, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Florida Orchestra before serving as orchestra manager of the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for more than 12 years. During her tenure at the National Symphony, she led the orchestra on many successful tours, which included performances in 33 foreign cities, as well as the organization’s signature American Residencies Program, which brought the orchestra to a different state each year for performances and educational, outreach and arts advocacy activities. She also managed notable projects such as the National Conducting Institute, and the orchestra’s live television broadcasts on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol for Memorial Day and July Fourth. Steele has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Gordon College and a master’s degree in flute performance from the Boston Conservatory. In addition to her work in the arts, she also produces and manages live and virtual events, both in the arts and in other industries. Steele, who can be reached at, succeeds Mary Margaret Schoenfeld, who stepped down last month.

Indiana’s Lewis Ricci to Retire in Fall 2021

Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) Executive Director Lewis Ricci will retire in fall 2021, after more than 15 years of service. Under Ricci’s leadership, IAC has been recognized as a national leader with groundbreaking work in emerging artist development, cultural district development and arts and community engagement strategies and research. Programs including PACE, Arts in the Parks and State Historic Sites, and Indiana Arts Homecoming were developed during his tenure. The commission will spend the next year searching for Ricci’s successor.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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