NASAA Notes: June 2023


June issue
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June 7, 2023

Member News and NASAA Resources

Michael Lange Stepping Down as Wyoming ED

Wyoming Arts Council Executive Director Michael Lange will depart the agency at the end of June to begin a faculty appointment at Laramie County Community College, where he will direct the fine and performing arts programs. Lange has worked at the Arts Council for 11 years, the past 9 as executive director. Among the accomplishments during his tenure are the Arts Council’s assessment of programs on arts and health and development of Wyoming’s Creative Aging Program. The program reaches across the state, has trained many artists and librarians, and provides sequential arts learning activities for aging adults. The Wyoming Independent Music Initiative was created under Lange’s leadership as a way to strengthen artistic output, business understanding and connections to industry leaders for independent musicians across the state. Programs such as the Native Art Fellowship, expansion of the Folk & Traditional Arts program, the Arts Access Project Grant, and the significant work of providing relief funds to artists and arts organizations during the pandemic are a few of the agency’s external facing actions to advance equity. In addition, the Council’s new framework for continued strategic advancement of equity will help arts organizations across the state move forward in more equitable ways. Lange has served on the Western States Arts Federation. The Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources is conducting a national search to fill the executive director position for the Wyoming Arts Council, with the hopes of having someone in place by early July.

NASAA Welcomes Meghan McFerrin and Debritu Mekonnen

Meghan McFerrin

In May, NASAA welcomed Meghan McFerrin in the role of arts education project manager. Meghan coordinates NASAA’s professional development services for arts education staff. Working collaboratively with members and the National Endowment for the Arts, she supports the annual Professional Development Institute and organizes NASAA’s peer networking programs for state arts agency arts education managers. Meghan is an arts educator with experience teaching in K-12 classrooms as well as in higher education, museum and community arts settings. From 2017 – 2022 she worked for the Georgia State Department of Education. She supervised the state’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) certification system, helping schools integrate the arts into their instructional strategies and develop community arts partnerships. Meghan also worked for the High Museum of Art as a coordinator of school services and as a teaching artist. She has developed numerous programs focused on accessibility, including a museum engagement program designed to support the needs of students with developmental disabilities. Meghan’s personal passion for the arts is evident in her work as a visual artist and a potter.

In addition, NASAA is pleased that Debritu Mekonnen has joined us to provide temporary executive support for the chief program and planning officer and the NASAA office. Debritu is an experienced executive assistant who last worked at Discovery Communications for more than a decade. She supported multiple senior executives on Discovery’s Global Business & Legal Affairs Team and Production Management Department. Debritu has a strong background in legal affairs, with over 20 years of experience as a legal assistant at Discovery Communications, Giant of Maryland, SAIC and Base Technologies Inc.

Learn How to Retain Public-Sector Employees

Public-sector employers have always found recruitment and retention a challenge, and the last few years have been especially difficult. State arts agencies and other public-sector organizations are built on the skill, experience and loyalty of their employees—and when retention rates are low, they suffer. Join NASAA for the next online session in our 2023 Learning Series, Retaining PublicSector Employees, to learn what makes government employees want to leave their jobs and how state arts agencies can help retain their valuable staff.

Advocacy Tools at Your Fingertips

Arts advocates come from many walks of life: state arts agency staff and council members, regional arts organizations, artists and arts businesses, state and local arts advocacy organizations, arts patrons, and many more. NASAA makes it easy for anyone to flex their advocacy muscles with handy tools like these refreshed guides from our ongoing series, The Practical Advocate:

Visit NASAA’s website for additional advocacy how-tos and info!

Congratulations to 2023 Poetry Out Loud Winners

At the 2023 national Poetry Out Loud competition were (from left) NASAA CEO Pam Breaux, NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, National Finals Runner Up Edward Wilson Jr., National Champion Sreepadaarchana Munjuluri, Third Place Winner Madison Harris, Poetry Foundation President Michelle Boone and Poetry Foundation Program Manager Justine Haka. Photo by James Kegley

NASAA congratulates the winners of the national Poetry Out Loud competition, held in Washington, D.C., in May. Sreepadaarchana Munjuluri, a junior at Columbus [Indiana] North High School, is the 2023 Poetry Out Loud National Champion. She garnered a $20,000 award for taking the top prize among the more than 158,000 student-competitors nationwide who participated in the program this year. Runner-up and third place went to Mississippi’s Edward Wilson Jr. and Maryland’s Madison Harris, respectively. This is the 18th year that the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with state and jurisdictional arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry—both classic and contemporary—through memorization and recitation. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.3 million students, 76,000 teachers, and 19,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated in Poetry Out Loud. The Poetry Out Loud National semifinals and finals were administered by Mid Atlantic Arts.

Thriving, with Leah Smart

LinkedIn News has a podcast and newsletter called In the Arena; it’s hosted by Leah Smart and covers various aspects of human potential. In Here’s One of the Most Effective Ways to Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Overwhelm, Leah talks with Deborah Rozman, president and co-CEO of HeartMath Inc., about research around the intelligence of hearts. This article introduces some ideas, offers a practice to help you feel better and support your decision making, and suggests a few resources if you want to learn more. Truly astonishing work! Leah covers other aspects of well-being and thriving, including goal setting, caring for your mental health, understanding procrastination, the power of fun and more.

To support arts leaders, NASAA offers short meditations via Zoom (camera-free) three times a week. Laura Smith, NASAA chief advancement officer and certified meditation teacher, leads these 15-minute sessions, and all state arts agency staff and council members are welcome to join. Reach out to Laura via email or phone at 202-347-7066 for more information or to be added to the email list.

There’s Power in Numbers

Don’t miss the opportunity to show your support for your agency and professional community during our spring campaign. We all have a stake in NASAA’s mission to strengthen state arts agencies. When we all participate, we all thrive. And when state arts agencies thrive, so do our artists and arts organizations, our schools, our economies, and our communities. Please do your part by making a gift to NASAA today! 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




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