Updated NASAA Member Directory

Thursday, September 2, 2010

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Executive Director's Column

Open Dialogue 2010: The Association of American Cultures

Guest Author: Mayumi Tsutakawa, Manager, Grants to Organizations, Washington State Arts Commission, and Chair, The Association of American Cultures

My thanks to Mayumi for agreeing to report to the NASAA membership on issues and events at the recent national conference of The Association of American Cultures (TAAC) in Chicago. State arts agency leaders were prominent in the founding of TAAC and have always been centrally engaged in its activities. As she mentions, NASAA is updating its cultural diversity self-assessment tool and will benefit from TAAC's advice in the process. Jonathan Katz, NASAA CEO

The Association of American Cultures (TAAC) held its 12th Open Dialogue symposium recently in Chicago, hosted by the Illinois Arts Council in partnership with Arts Midwest, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Joyce Foundation. The purpose of the Open Dialogue symposium was to provide a unique space to discuss issues, challenges, successes and perspectives of arts organizations and artists serving communities of color.

Keynote speaker Kenny Leon, director of the multiple Tony-awarded Fences, by August Wilson, inspired everyone with his rendition of characters in an Athol Fugard play. He commented, "Stop apologizing for the arts! They are as necessary as water. Arts inspire the living of life." In addressing pluralism in the arts, he said, "if you want diversity in the audiences, you must value it in your productions, and we must even support the things we do not understand." In discussing the focus on a financial deficit in America, he stated, "But what about the cultural deficit?"

More than 200 leaders of diverse organizations and cultures from across the country attended Open Dialogue to discuss equitable funding, changing demographics, cultural policy and emerging generations of arts leaders. Sessions included Philanthropic Principles of Pluralism: Institutional Capacity and Undercapitalization; Equity & Access; Collaboration to Engage Community Empowerment; Raising More Money to Support the Good Work that We Do; DIY: Cultural Arts in the 21st Century; Capacity Building: The 21st Century Cultural Organization; Maintaining Legacy while Moving Forward; and Equity in Data Collection. Seven vibrant Chicago area bands and performing ensembles—plus one from Chiapas, Mexico—added excitement and content to the three-day symposium.

Additional supporters included Americans for the Arts, The Boeing Company, Chicago Community Trust, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, National Museum of Mexican Art, Native American Public Communications, Nebraska Arts Council, Ohio Arts Council, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Washington State Arts Commission and Western States Arts Federation.

TAAC, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2010, is led by a national board of directors, including three members who work for state arts agencies. It provides leadership in achieving equal participation in policy making, equitable funding for all cultural institutions, an elevation in multicultural leadership and essential networks that have an impact on cultural policies. In the next year, TAAC will be contributing its perspective to NASAA's new cultural diversity self-assessment survey tool for state arts agencies. For additional information regarding Open Dialogue 2010, contact Illinois Arts Council Director, Community Arts Development Programs, Jennifer Armstrong, 312-814-4993.