NASAA Notes: June 2021


June issue
Back to all issues
June 2, 2021

Member News and NASAA Resources

Alex Nelson Is Interim ED in Arizona

Alexandra Nelson has been appointed interim executive director for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, following the departure of Jaime Dempsey. Nelson has been with the commission for more than 12 years, most recently as the deputy director. In that role, she worked in partnership with the executive director to develop, implement and evaluate programs and services in support of the agency mission and facilitate the agency’s ongoing efforts to prioritize racial equity and geographic parity across its policies and practices. She leads a team of seven grants and programs staff, supports strategic initiatives, and helps oversee agency operations. Prior to serving as deputy director, Nelson was the agency’s arts learning director; in that role she developed special initiatives such as the Strengthening Schools through Arts Partnerships grant and AZ Creative Aging, a multiyear initiative to advance the creative aging field in Arizona, for which the agency received substantial private funding. In her time at the agency, Nelson has worked on a number of special initiatives, including Arizona ArtTank, Community Catalyst Grants, the Joint Arts Education Conference and AZ Creative Communities. She has served as a member of Arizona’s State Policy Pilot Program team, an arts education policy initiative of Americans for the Arts; as chair of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Arts Education Working Group; and on the boards of ArtAbility Arizona and Emerging Arts Leaders Phoenix. Nelson has worked as a teaching artist and production manager. She is a graduate of Arizona State University with a B.F.A. in dance and an M.A. in creative enterprise and cultural leadership, with an applied project emphasis on organizational cultures and practices that drive racial and cultural equity within arts funding institutions.

Delaware’s Paul Weagraff to Step Down Next Month

After 24 of years of service to the Delaware Department of State, Delaware Division of the Arts Director Paul Weagraff will leave the Division at the end of July to explore new opportunities. In the past 14 months, Weagraff led the Division of the Arts during the global pandemic, ensuring that arts organizations in Delaware had the tools and resources to survive. Weagraff came to the Division of the Arts in 1997 as the arts in education coordinator. In that capacity, he worked with schools and arts organizations throughout the state to develop partnerships that seek to build arts curriculum and learning. In 2001, Weagraff assumed the position of deputy director, assisting in the management of the agency’s internal projects and programs. While retaining arts education responsibilities, he also coordinated technology use within the Division. In 2006, Weagraff was appointed to succeed Laura Scanlan as Division director. Prior to 1997, he taught history for 17 years in the Delaware Valley and served as dean of students for three of those years at a private school in Philadelphia. Weagraff is active in the music and theatre community in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, having performed with many choral groups and theatres throughout the area.

Wayne Martin to Depart North Carolina Arts Council in December

Photo by Sandra Davidson, North Carolina Arts Council

Wayne Martin will step down from his position as executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council at the end of 2021. He began his career at the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources in 1977 in the newly created Office of Folklife Programs, where he worked to organize the 1978 North Carolina Folklife Festival. In 1980, the North Carolina Arts Council hired Martin to administer the Visiting Artists Program, which he expanded to include traditional artists. From 1982–1988, Martin worked as an independent performing musician and record producer, and cocreated the Piedmont Council for Traditional Music (PineCone). In 1988, he returned to the Folklife Program, which had since become part of the North Carolina Arts Council. He codeveloped the North Carolina Heritage Award, which honors the state’s traditional artists. In 1996, Martin collaborated with HandMade in America, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to explore the potential of heritage tourism for the entire region, inviting partners in Virginia and Tennessee to join with North Carolina to create a network of heritage trails that would crisscross the region. These include Cherokee Heritage Trails and Blue Ridge Music Trails. While overseeing completion of the heritage trails, Martin worked with partners in western North Carolina to make the case for the designation of 25 western counties as a National Heritage Area. The effort led Congress in 2003 to create the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. As a force behind one of the first heritage areas to foreground community cultural traditions, Martin was chosen to receive the inaugural Preserve America Presidential Award on behalf of all of the project’s partners. Martin became director of the Creative Economies team at the Arts Council and worked with partners to design and implement African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina. The heritage trails projects influenced a new N.C. Arts Council initiative, SmART Communities, which uses the arts to transform downtowns and fuel sustainable economic development. In the early 2000s, he and staff folklorist Sally Peterson created Traditional Arts Programs for Students. Martin became executive director of the Arts Council in 2012. Since then, the Council’s annual budget rose from $7.1 million to $9.7 million. Working with board and staff members, Martin created the North Carolina Arts Foundation, which has received more than $3 million from the private sector to support A+ Schools, the SmART Initiative and pandemic relief efforts for artists. Learning from his earlier collaborations with tribal communities and communities of color, Martin made diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion the agency’s priorities when he became executive director. He has overseen an increase in diversity among Arts Council staff and has advocated changes to bring more funding equity to grants programs. Martin plans to continue work in the arts and cultural sector in North Carolina and the southeast region after he leaves his post in December.

Arts and Recovery Research Appears in Governing has just published an article that highlights research commissioned by NASAA on the power of the arts to bolster resilience. To Accelerate Our Economic Recovery, Look to the Arts, coauthored by former New Orleans Mayor and former Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu and NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux, tells the success story of how the creative sector in Louisiana catalyzed recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The article helps the elected officials and other public leaders who read Governing to understand the value of the arts in rebounding from both natural disasters and economic shocks. Please share the article far and wide!

Register for Creative Aging Institute

NASAA is pleased to announce our inaugural Creative Aging Institute, part of our joint initiative with Aroha Philanthropies to advance creative aging across the United States. The Creative Aging Institute takes place online via Zoom on July 20 and 21 and July 27 and 28. Ashton Applewhite, nationally renowned anti-ageism activist and author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto against Ageism, is the keynote speaker. You’ll hear case studies of creative aging programs from state arts agencies, practice policy-influencing communications strategies and meet national creative aging partners. All state and jurisdictional arts agency and regional arts organization staff and council members are invited to participate, as are state and national partner organizations with an interest in creative aging. NASAA is waiving registration fees for this event, to make information on current trends and best practices in creative aging widely accessible to all. Register today!

Catch Up on NASAA Learning Series

The NASAA 2021 Learning Series continues through October, with free sessions designed to empower the work of state arts agency staff and council members. Remaining sessions examine new paradigms for supporting artists and ways to make arts funding more equitable, and we conclude this year’s Learning Series with a Business Bash Celebration. Recordings and resources are posted after each session—be sure to check these out: Arts and Economic Recovery | New Advocacy Messaging Strategies | Will Audiences Come Back?

We’re Extending Our Spring Campaign—Join Us!

Thank you to everyone who’s donated to NASAA’s spring campaign so far! Your generosity is helping us advocate on Capitol Hill to increase funding for arts and culture in the federal budget and every recovery package. If you haven’t donated yet, there’s still a chance! We’re extending our spring campaign through June. The world is moving at such a fast pace and time gets away from us—we want everyone to have a chance to help us reach our $25,000 goal! Every gift of every size matters. Give now or make it easy on you and your budget and donate monthly. Thank you!

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




To receive information regarding updates to our newslettter. Please fill out the form below.