NASAA Notes: September 2023


September issue
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September 6, 2023

Member News and NASAA Resources

Leading in the Face of Disaster

Valerie Hagerty, Autumn on The Hudson Valley with Branches, 2009

Unexpected circumstances—from severe weather conditions to technology failure to unspeakable violence—can cause devastating loss for communities and the organizations that serve them. State arts agencies can be leaders in the event of disaster. Join NASAA and your colleagues for the next session in NASAA’s 2023 Learning Series, Leading in the Face of Disaster, taking place September 14, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern (12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Pacific). You’ll hear from three state arts agencies about their experiences and learn ways to help ensure you and your constituents are not caught off guard when tragedy strikes, but rather can step into action and help restore community well-being. All staff and council/board members from state and jurisdictional arts agencies and regional arts organizations are encouraged to participate. Register today!

Pacific Island Leadership Transitions

Angie Rose Querry Taitague currently serves as the acting director of the Guam Council on the Arts & Humanities Agency (CAHA). She was appointed in May and is leading the agency’s efforts in arts recovery following Typhoon Mawar. Prior to joining CAHA in 2016, Taitague had a career at the Guam Department of Education. In addition to her nearly 25 years of government work, Taitague actively engages in community service as a member of the municipality planning council in her village, Inalahan (the only village on Guam that is listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places). Given Guam’s multicultural environment, encompassing indigenous CHamoru, Micronesian, Asian and other Pacific Islander communities, Taitague is dedicated to preserving the cultural traditions of Guam and other cultures that have made Guam their home. She is committed to providing more opportunities for artists through programs and initiatives that enhance the quality of life for Guam residents.

Former CAHA Executive Director Sandra (Sandy) Selk Flores stepped down in May 2023, after leading the agency since June 2021. During her tenure, Flores led efforts to open a new office and gallery, to serve as an exhibition and education center for both contemporary and traditional Guam artists. She also renewed Guam’s public art policies and distributed pandemic relief funds.

The Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture (CCAC) in the Northern Mariana Islands is undergoing a leadership transition as well. Until she was named as interim director this spring, Gloriana Teuira served for 10 years as CCAC’s folk arts coordinator, facilitating cultural preservation programs. In addition to leading typhoon recovery efforts, she recently produced the 2023 Flame Tree Arts Festival, a significant celebration of Northern Marianas culture.

Former CCAC executive director Parker Yobei had served in that capacity since 2016. During his tenure, Yobei was instrumental in developing programs to expand markets and enact tax exemptions for visual and performing artists. He recently led the development of a new strategic plan for the Council.

Laura Curry Is New ED in Idaho

Photo by Ellen Hansen

Laura von Boecklin Curry has been appointed executive director of the Idaho Commission on the Arts, effective August 7. Curry joins the Commission with over a decade of executive management experience with arts and human service organizations. Most recently, she was the executive director of Ballet Idaho for four seasons, helping successfully guide the company through the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, she was the executive director of the College of Western Idaho Foundation. Before moving to Idaho in 2017, Curry served low-income residents and senior citizens during her tenures as the executive director of Lift-Up of Routt County and of Routt County Council on Aging, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Curry holds a B.A. in English with a minor in public relations from Southern Methodist University, Dallas. She is the board vice president of Idaho Concerts in Care, an organization that presents professional musical performances to enrich the lives of residents in care homes. Curry succeeds Michael Faison, who retired in June after 16 years with the agency.

Florida’s Curtis Young Named Director in Kansas

Curtis Young has been named director of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC). Young is an experienced arts administrator who has spent the past nine years with the Florida Division of Arts and Culture, most recently as operations manager. He earned his master’s degree at Florida State University and his bachelor’s degree at the University of Memphis. Young started his new position on August 21, when he took over the reins from KCAIC Interim Director Kate Van Steenhuyse, who has been promoted to KCAIC assistant director.

Adele Bauman Appointed Director in New Hampshire

Adele Bauman joined the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts on August 25 as its new director. Known as a gifted collaborator and compassionate leader, she comes to the arts council after 16 years at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, where her work focused on the youth sector, including mental health services. While there, she was instrumental in developing the Magnify Voices Expressive Arts Contest, which provides expressive arts therapy experiences to young people in the state. Bauman’s experience in state government includes working with elected officials, developing long-range strategic plans and navigating the budget process. She holds degrees from Northeastern University, Boston College and the New England School of Photography. Bauman succeeds Ginnie Lupi, who served as director of the arts council for nine years.

Mara Manus Steps Down in New York

After seven years with the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), Executive Director Mara Manus departed the agency last month to embark upon her next professional chapter. Manus spearheaded transformative work during the agency’s strategic planning process, resulting in a rapid shift in orientation toward service to the field and improved access to NYSCA’s resources. This work laid the foundation for NYSCA’s new mission and values, which prepared staff to be highly responsive to the urgent needs of the field during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The governor and state legislature’s unprecedented funding increases during Manus’s tenure enabled NYSCA to implement the most significant overhaul of the grant-making process in the history of the agency. Under Manus’s leadership, NYSCA streamlined the application process, enabling greater access to NYSCA funding for artists and small organizations and resulting in an unprecedented $222.5 million in grants awarded in fiscal year 2023. A search for her successor is underway.

Joshua Blanchard Leads Colorado Creative Industries

Joshua Blanchard has been appointed director of Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), effective September 5. Blanchard most recently was a Summit County [Colorado] commissioner, where he focused on policies including economic development, housing, sustainability, water and child care. He represented the county on local and regional boards including The Summit Foundation, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, and the Northwest Council of Governments. Prior to his election as commissioner, he served on the Lower Blue Planning Commission and the county’s zero waste advisory group and as a board member for Lake Dillon Preschool. Blanchard was the executive director of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, now named Theatre SilCo. He has experience and membership in a variety of artistic organizations, including Americans for the Arts and Actors Equity Association. Blanchard recently served on the 2015 National Alliance for Musical Theatre Fall Conference Committee and cochaired the National Fall Conference in New York City in 2017, where his work focused on equity, diversity and inclusion. He was recognized with the True West Culture West Award as an actor in 2012, as an administrator in 2017 for Theatre SilCo and as an honoree in 2021 for keeping theater alive during the pandemic years. Blanchard succeeds CCI Deputy Director Christine Costello, who had served as interim director since November 2022.

Workplaces as Engines of Psychological Health and Well-being

In 2022, the first-ever U.S. surgeon general’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being outlined five categories for workplaces to consider and prioritize:

  • protection from harm
  • connection and community
  • work-life harmony
  • mattering at work
  • opportunity for growth

To assess the state of these five areas, the American Psychological Association (APA) has conducted its 2023 Work in America Survey. In line with the surgeon general’s framework, psychological well-being is a top priority among employees; 92% say it is important to work for an organization that values their emotional and psychological well-being and provides support for employee mental health. 95% also say it’s important to feel respected at work and to work for an organization that respects boundaries between work and nonwork time. Notably, those who feel satisfied with how much control they have over their work schedule (i.e., how, when and where they work) are much more likely (79%) to report their mental health as good or excellent than those who are unsatisfied (44%). The full report addresses areas of improvement (still a ways to go), types of mental health supports available, and more info and perspective on the changing expectations around workplace mental health.

To support state arts agency staff and council members’ well-being, NASAA offers short meditations three times a week. Chief Advancement Officer Laura Smith, a certified meditation teacher, leads these 15-minute Zoom sessions (camera-free), and all are welcome to attend. Reach out to Laura via email or phone at 202-347-7066 for more info or to be added to the email list.

Support Your Community

We know how important it is that you have a professional community you can turn to. That’s why NASAA connects you to your peers. One member said it best, “When you’re the only one in your state that has this certain role, it’s great to meet others across the country to share ideas, experiences, support—it builds a little hope and excitement.” Through NASAA, you’re not alone. Together we find strength, inspiration, perseverance and hope with each other. Your personal support of NASAA provides you and your peers with more opportunities to connect, network and learn from and with each other. Please give today or set up monthly gifts to become a NASAA Champion! 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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