NASAA Notes: December 2022


December issue
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December 6, 2022

Member News and NASAA Resources

Arizona Leadership Update

Alex Nelson currently is acting executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Nelson has been with the Commission for the past 13 years, most recently serving as the agency’s deputy director. She develops programs, policies and procedures to serve Arizona communities through the arts. She directs staff teams, leads strategic initiatives and helps to oversee agency operations. Prior to serving as deputy director, Nelson was the agency’s arts learning director. In that role she developed programs and partnerships to support K-12 arts learning, creative youth development and creative aging. Nelson’s role as acting executive director is a short-term appointment. The Commission expects to name an interim executive director in the near future.

Jenna Green Is Director in West Virginia

Jenna Green has been appointed as the director of arts for the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History (WVDACH). She is responsible for overseeing the department’s arts programs, including all state and federal grants for West Virginia arts organizations, individual artists, schools and communities. Green was formerly WVDACH’s cultural facilities and capital resources grant coordinator, administering the division’s capital grants as well as creative aging, Fast Track grants and accessibility programs. Prior to her arrival at WVDACH in 2018, Green worked for the West Virginia Center for Professional Development as well as the state personnel office. She studied at West Virginia University, earning a bachelor of arts degree in art history, a bachelor of science degree in landscape architecture and a master of arts degree in communication studies. She also holds a Certificate of Applied Science in Sustainable Building Technologies from Bridge Valley Technical College. Green is a printmaker, pastel artist and painter.

DC Leadership News

Dr. Heran Sereke-Brhan has departed the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities (DCCAH) to pursue opportunities in the private sector. In her nearly three years of leadership, she helped to move the Commission forward in its transition to an independent agency. She first came to DCCAH as senior grants director in 2017 and was named executive director in 2020. Sereke-Brhan led the Commission in expanding access to the arts and arts programming throughout all eight wards of the District, focusing on prioritizing relief funding and stabilizing grant-making initiatives despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. During her tenure, a task force on equity, inclusion and belonging was convened, a new funding system for operating support was legislatively established, and the agency made initial steps toward new equity goals.

Following Sereke-Brhan’s departure from DCCAH, David Markey is serving as the agency’s interim executive director. Markey has worked for DCCAH for more than nine years in the roles of arts education manager and deputy director, with purview over the agency’s investment portfolio, planning and personnel. Prior to his service at DCCAH, Markey led the education department for Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the nation’s premier professional theatre organizations focusing on youth theatre, arts education and original playwriting. A search for a permanent DCCAH executive is underway.

Nebraska’s Suzanne Wise to Retire

Nebraska Arts Council (NAC) executive director Suzanne Wise will retire on December 31. Executive director since 2003, Wise has served on the NAC staff since 1988 managing grant programs, special initiatives and the 1% for Art program. She was part of the development team that established the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, a public-private partnership that raises and invests funds for NAC and Humanities Nebraska. During Wise’s tenure as director, NAC collaborated with the Nebraska Department of Education in developing the state’s first fine arts curriculum standards, reestablished the Nebraskans for the Arts advocacy organization and created an artist showcase gallery at the NAC offices in Omaha’s Old Market district. Wise has served on the boards of the Lincoln Arts Council, Sheldon Film Theatre (now Ross Media Arts Center), NASAA and Mid-America Arts Alliance. Her service to the field also includes serving on grant review panels at the federal, state and local levels and providing facilitation services for area colleges and universities. Wise has degrees in art history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Kansas. She held curatorial positions at Sheldon Art Museum in Lincoln, Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha and Block Gallery at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and has taught at Creighton University and the Lincoln and Omaha campuses of the University of Nebraska. She was awarded an Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Hixon-Lied College of Fine & Performing Arts. In 2018, Wise earned NASAA’s Gary Young Award, which recognizes an executive director who has exhibited exemplary leadership and made a significant contribution to public support for the arts at the state, regional and national levels. It is anticipated that a successor will be named in March.

‘Tis the Season for Giving

Are you looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Something that will be put to good use and have a lasting impact? Something that gives back and pays it forward all in one? Look no further! Your gift to NASAA checks these boxes and more.

Your gift directly supports NASAA’s advocacy and case-making tools—which state arts agencies use and depend on all year long to grow public support for the arts. Strong arts support at the federal and state levels inspires strong arts support in our local communities. So, you see, your support gives back to your community and helps ensure a brighter, stronger future. And the bright shiny bow on top of it all: your gift will be matched dollar for dollar up to $50,000 until December 31! Make your gift today and dedicate it to someone special in your life, or donate monthly to make your impact keep on going.

Breathe through the Holidays

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the end of the year. For many people, the holidays can be a time of great joy and great stress, sometimes all at the same time! Because life can get so hectic now, taking time to schedule some meditation practice can be truly beneficial—it helps reduce stress, manage expectations, and deepen gratitude and compassion, for ourselves and others. To support state arts agencies, NASAA offers meditation via Zoom three times a week, and all staff and council members are welcome to join in. These 15-minute sessions are led by Chief Advancement Officer Laura Smith, a certified meditation teacher who has experience helping creative professionals develop a mindfulness practice that supports their goals and well-being. Reach out to Laura via e-mail or phone at 202-347-7066 for more information or to be added to the e-mail list.

NASAA Assembly 2022 Proceedings & Photos


State and jurisdictional arts agency council members and staff met in Kansas City, Missouri, in September for a long-awaited in-person convening overflowing with valuable learning, inspiring artists and warm connections. Our NASAA Assembly 2022 proceedings include topical session materials, peer session notes, plenary videos and more. Revisit conference memories in our photo album. Thanks to our host, Mid-America Arts Alliance, for the collaboration that made all this possible, and to our sponsors for their support.

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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