NASAA Notes: May 2023


May issue
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May 1, 2023

Member News and NASAA Resources

Aaron Myers Joins D.C. Agency as Executive Director

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities has appointed Aaron Myers as its new executive director. Myers, a renowned jazz vocalist, pianist, educator and activist, brings a wealth of experience in the arts and a passion for community engagement to his new role. He has been an active member of the D.C. arts community for over a decade, serving as the artist-in-residence at venues across the city. He is the founding board chair of the Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation, serves on the board of governors of the DC Recording Academy and has been recognized for his work in arts education. In addition to his extensive background in the arts, Myers is known for his advocacy for social justice and community engagement. He has served as a community organizer and principal organizer of the DMV [metro D.C., Maryland and Virginia region] Music Stakeholders, a grassroots effort to center relief and resources for members of the music community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and served on the Executive Committee of the D.C. branch of the NAACP. Myers assumed his new role on April 1.

Susan Evans McClure Is New ED in Vermont

The Vermont Arts Council (VAC) has named Susan Evans McClure as executive director, effective May 8. Evans McClure comes to VAC after serving as executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum since 2019. She also serves as the chair of the board of directors at the Addison County Economic Development Corporation and as a trustee for the Carpenter-Carse Library. She is a graduate of the Snelling Center for Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute. Previously, Evans McClure served as executive director of VSA Vermont (now Inclusive Arts Vermont), which focuses on arts accessibility for all, and was director of programs and audience development at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where she led a team responsible for major arts and cultural initiatives. She also launched the museum’s Food History Program and managed on-site educational opportunities for visitors. Evans McClure has worked in the education departments of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and Shelburne Museum and in marketing at Magic Hat Brewing Company. She holds an undergraduate degree in drama and theatre and a master’s degree in arts education. Evans McClure succeeds Deputy Director Amy Cunningham, who has been serving as interim executive director since former Executive Director Karen Mittelman stepped down last October.

Idaho ED Michael Faison to Retire

Photo by Ellen Hansen

Idaho Commission on the Arts Executive Director Michael Faison will retire on June 30. Since he began his role as executive director in 2007, Faison has established several partnerships that have allowed the Commission to advance larger public policy imperatives. Over the past two years, a partnership with the Idaho State Board of Education directed nearly $2 million in grants to under-resourced rural Idaho schools to support their arts education curricula. In partnership with the Idaho Division of Veterans Services, the agency established creative aging residencies in the Idaho State Veterans Homes. And in a burgeoning partnership with the Veterans Administration (VA) regional office in Boise, the Commission is looking forward to supporting the VA’s use of creative arts therapy for veterans’ community reintegration. Also during his tenure, Faison found ways of making limited grant resources more valuable by increasing their reliability and decreasing transactional costs. When planning revealed that constituents needed more than grants to thrive, the agency increased its non-grant services to meet those needs. Prior to 2007, Faison served as the Arts in Education Division director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, assistant director of the Oregon Arts Commission, executive director of the Center for Arts Management and Technology at Carnegie Mellon University, and information technology consultant for Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a high school art educator, teaching advertising design in Austin, Texas, and has extensive experience as a commercial illustrator, printer, prepress camera operator and photographer. Faison serves on the boards of the Western States Arts Federation and NASAA, and is an avid motorcyclist.

Join FEMA in Developing Resilience Guidance

Communities are increasingly facing challenges, from natural disasters, pandemics and cyberattacks to chronic stressors like aging infrastructure, environmental degradation and persistent poverty. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is developing national resilience guidance and resources to help stakeholders understand and fulfil their roles. The agency is gathering input from a variety of stakeholders by soliciting stories of resilience and hosting a series of listening sessions that continue through May and June.

Taming Digital and Information Overload

Although reports vary, research finds that Americans spend as much as 17 hours a day interacting with their screens. We cope with an overwhelming amount of information every day, so much more than we can possibly process. This level of digital and informational consumption can cause fatigue, indecisiveness, sleep disturbance, irritability, even a sense of hopelessness or despair. Two good overviews of the issue include Information Overload: Definition, Causes and How To Avoid It, by the editorial team at Indeed, and Digital Overload: Read This If Your Screen Time Is Out of Hand, by GoodRxHealth. One good tip for preventing or relieving eyestrain is the 20-20-20 rule: taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away. You can find other suggestions and insights for managing digital and information overload in Sheena Iyengar’s 5 Ways to Overcome Information Overload in the Workplace and Kamala Alcantara’s 10 Mindfulness Exercises to Reduce Cognitive Overload. Speaking of mindfulness, NASAA offers short meditations via Zoom (camera-free) three times a week. Chief Advancement Officer Laura Smith, a 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 e-mail or phone at 202-347-7066 for more information or to be added to the e-mail list.

Thriving Together

You’ve heard the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” right? For NASAA, you are part of that collective sum—and you make us infinitely greater! Everything you do—everything every individual state arts agency does—adds up to a meaningful impact on people and communities across the country. The more we support each other and our professional community, the more we achieve.

NASAA’s spring campaign is happening now. Please join us by making a gift today, or make an ongoing difference with monthly gifts. Your support will spring forward our collective work so we can build on each other’s success, navigate challenges with more resilience and all thrive together. 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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