ADDRESSING THE ECONOMIC CRISIS
New Jersey Arts at a Crossroads: Creative Solutions for Tough Economic Times
New Jersey State Council on the Arts
Arts organizations across the country are bracing themselves for the challenging economic times ahead. To address this important issue as a unified cultural community, New Jersey convened arts trustees and arts managers from across the state for a day of knowledge exchange. New Jersey Arts at a Crossroads: Creative Solutions for Tough Economic Times was framed with panel discussions by funders and lenders talking about the economic forecast, its ramifications for New Jersey's non-profit arts industry, and short-term and long-term financing options. The convening included breakout sessions that discussed contingency planning and budgeting; smart investing for nonprofit organizations; board roles, responsibilities and liabilities; funding prospect research; and creative collaborations. The symposium was organized by New Jersey's service organizations including the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, ArtPride New Jersey Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Dance New Jersey, South Jersey Cultural Alliance, New Jersey Arts Education Partnership and the New Jersey Association of County Cultural and Heritage Agencies. For more information, contact New Jersey State Council on the Arts Director of Communications Allison Tratner.
Nebraska Arts Council
The Nebraska Arts Council (NAC), in partnership with The Backwaters Press publishing company, honors Nebraska writers awarded an individual artist fellowship with a new writers reading series. Wednesday Words is a monthly lunch hour series at the NAC's offices in Omaha's Old Market District. The series is free and open to the public and features a new writer each month reading poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction. For more information, contact NAC Artist Services and Communications Manager J.D. Hutton.
DESIGNING LIVABLE COMMUNITIES
South Carolina Mayors' Institute for Community Design
South Carolina Arts Commission
The South Carolina Mayors' Institute for Community Design enhances the design and planning of South Carolina communities. Modeled after the national Mayors' Institute on City Design, the institute is hosted by the South Carolina Design Arts Partnership, a joint program of the South Carolina Arts Commission and Clemson University. The institute trains elected officials to be the chief urban designers of their hometown and ultimately establishes South Carolina cities as models of community design and planning. The year-long process starts when a small group of mayors participate in a retreat to discuss their community development needs, ideas and issues. Following this orientation, Design Arts Partnership staff and volunteers conduct site visits to develop a community profile and define design challenges. The mayors present these profiles at a colloquium and receive feedback from a resource team of community design professionals from around the country. For more information about the institute, contact South Carolina Design Arts Partnership Executive Director Lindsey Moore.
Enduring Traditions: The Culture and Heritage of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Driving and Walking Tour
Nevada Arts Council
To promote sites of natural, cultural and artistic interest, the Nevada Arts Council published Enduring Traditions: The Culture and Heritage of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Driving and Walking Tour. The guide focuses on the traditional arts, cultures, and significant destinations on the Nevada borders of Lake Tahoe. Authored by cultural anthropologist Penny Rucks, the guidebook lists museums, organizations, festivals and events and provides photographs and narratives that reflect the complex heritage of the region—from the Washoe Indians to Austrian and Hungarian influences in the ski industry, from vernacular architecture to historic estates, from the earliest settlers to emerging traditions. For more information or to order a copy, contact Nevada Arts Council Folklife Program Coordinator Patricia Atkinson Wells.
ACCESS TO THE ARTS
Big Yellow Bus Program
Massachusetts Cultural Council
A survey of public school principals conducted by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) reported that 9 out of 10 respondents planned to cut back on field trips in the coming year due to fuel costs. In September 2008, the MCC and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation launched the Big Yellow School Bus grant program. Inspired by Iowa's Big Yellow School Bus program, the Massachusetts initiative provides $200 grants to meet the costs of providing educational field trips to cultural institutions and events for grades Pre-K to 12. Learning at cultural institutions is critical to a child's academic development and helps to foster creativity and innovation. Field trips, says MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, "provide thousands of Massachusetts children their first or perhaps only opportunity to experience a live concert or play, or see a master work of art." Since the program launched on September 29, 2008, the MCC has approved 365 grants totaling more than $70,000. Of the 365 schools, 58% have a higher-than-average percentage of low-income and special education students. The program is funded with $50,000 in public funds from the MCC and $100,000 from Bank of America. For more information, contact Massachusetts Cultural Council Communications Director Greg Liakos.
NASAA's information-sharing depends on your participation. What are your most successful current initiatives? Have you launched any great programs, policies, services or partnerships? We want to hear about them! Contact NASAA Policy and Program Associate Jesse Rye (202-347-6352 x118) and include your name, your agency, a brief description of your project and whom to contact to learn more about it.
NASAA works continuously to keep you abreast of the latest trends in the state arts agency field and let you know about innovative state arts agency programs. The State to State column provides a sampling of state programs, products and services for you to browse for information and inspiration. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to this column.