Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium

+ ART.


Watch it.

EALS 2016: + ART Theme & Poll

The EALS Committee is excited to present the EALS 2016 theme: + ART! As arts leaders, we often have to make the case that art is an important factor in every aspect of life. + ART is about including art in the pertinent conversations happening in our society today whether it’s about open data, social justice, or what happened at the VMA’s. This year, to start these conversations before the Symposium on March 6th, we’re launching EALS Polls. Every Friday, we want to hear directly from you about current trends you care about in the arts field and the larger communities in which we serve and operate. Can’t wait to hear what we all have to say! Continue reading “EALS 2016: + ART Theme & Poll”

Taffety Punk Theatre Company @ EALS!

We are so excited to welcome Taffety Punk Theatre Company next week as the opening act for our closing keynote address! A stirring combination of live music, theatre, and dance, the Taffety Punks will perform a portion of their acclaimed adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Rape of Lucrece.”

Taffety Punk, “The Rape of Lucrece” by William Shakespeare, at the Black Cat, Washington DC. 28 June 2013. Photo by C Stanley Photography.

The Mission of the Taffety Punk Theatre is to establish a dynamic ensemble of actors, dancers and musicians who ignite a public passion for theatre by making the classical and the contemporary exciting, meaningful, and affordable.

Check out the making of “The Rape of Lucrece” and then get your tickets for the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium!

See you at EALS on March 23, 2013!


Through out the past years, EALS has recorded panels, speakers, and seminars for the future use of anyone interested. And the same will be done this year.

Now, EALS will have a dedicated podcasts category for anyone interested in listening to these. We will also be uploading them to iTunes for your mp3 playing enjoyment. More info to come on that.

For now, you can head over to our official website podcast page for past panels and speakers from the Symposium. And check out the “Podcasts” link on the menu above for other speakers and event throughout the year.

Friday Fluff

So my bff and I are enormous Stumble fans. We discovered this amazing tool back in college and now, not a day goes by that we don’t text/email/gchat/etc about the strange and wonderful things we’ve found on the internet. It is still, by far, the best time waster I’ve ever utilized and can often lead to some pretty amazing articles. I suggest you join immediately but you have been forewarned: if you find your self easily addicted to that which feels good… you may lose all stumbling control.

I’ve been resisting the urge to “stumble” these days due to a desire to rejoin society as a productive individual who shows up for work, school and friendships instead of feasting upon an endless array of internet memes and musings. But upon waking up this Friday morning with a case of the blues, I found my mouse heading back to that little red “Stumble!” button and clicking on through looking for a perk up.

So, great rationalizer that I am, I’ve limited myself to an hour of aimless stumbling in order to bring you the best little bits of internet I’ve found. So, enjoy:

Time for Three Mixes Classic With New

Classical music rocks! Especially when played by young, cute, and extremely talented violinists. Check out NPR’s Art Beat Interview with Time for Three as they get ready to make their Carnegie Hall debut this coming Tuesday! And don’t miss their “Stronger” music video below. Remember friends, art triumphs over a**holes.

Slutty Brownies

I have no idea who this blogger is nor her raison d’être for blogging (something to do with London?) but I agree, these brownies look like the best in the world:

Image from The Londoner

Now when it comes to baking, I’m a bit of a culinary snob. I like my baked goods to be from scratch, thank you very much, and consider using a mix “cheating” (much like I consider using photoshop to make “art” cheating. It’s just an opinion, not necessarily the truth). HOWEVER I’m all for cheating when it means easy steps and quick results of the gooey perfection pictured above. All you need is a box of cookie mix, a box of brownie mix, and 2 packages of Oreos and you’re ready to get baking. If you try the recipe leave your your taste-tested reviews in the comments.

Prettiest Words: All of Them

Blogger Sesquipedaedalus, (10 poins for name ipseity!) has come up with a list of 1,028 of the prettiest words. While their blog may not be the prettiest (deepest apologies, Sesquipedaedalus, tis the truth), the list reads  a bit like an epic Eliot poem. For any language lover, trying to read all of this is like gorging oneself on 25 pans of double chocolate brownies with chocolate fudge ice cream. It’s simply too much of a good thing. But taking a sampling here and there lends to some beautiful discoveries.

My favorites so far:

Cynophilist: dog-lover, one who loves or appreciates dogs

Limerence: extended infatuation or crush, contrast love

Cascarilla: West Indian shrub with aromatic bark, typically used in incense or tonics

The Rap Board

Birdman’s pigeon noise, without fail, makes me crack up. Kind of like poor Booba in his yellow sneakers. Without fail he makes me laugh. I pity and love him.

Click many at once and get a cacophonous range of music video worthy catch phrasings. Or perhaps next time your mother calls chose one at random and see how she responds.

Or maybe not.



Apparently this stuff is magic at covering up tattoos (on Caucasians. Human beings, like jelly beans, come in my flavors, Dermablend). Most of this post is boring but the video at the end, fascinating! My favorite part is when he wipes the make-up off.  Check out the video here:

The GOOD 30-Day Challenge: Art Every Day

Consider this, arts managers, when was the last time you participated in the arts? In the CREATING part? I know that between all my commitments, finding the time to paint feels like a luxury I just don’t have.  It’s almost as if when I gave up on being an artist, I gave up on every having the time to make art again. Forsooth! This is not true! So with that I’m going to take the 30-day art challenge. Some of their “task” ideas are quite cute, so take a moment to consider.

Feeling too commitment-phobic to commit to a whole month? Just for today try one of the art challenges: 10 minutes of doodling while on a boring conference call, capturing a couple images on your phone while walking to the metro… Think of it as a mind stretching exercise to keep the brain and imagination limber and post any further artistic suggestions below.

Happy Friday!

Lone Nut -> Leader

Leadership just may be overrated. It takes guts to be a follower. As Sivers says, “the first follower is actually an underestimated form of leadership in itself. It takes guts to stand out like that. The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader. So show some hutzpah and be one of our first benefit ticket buyers.

APAP NYC videos and pictures

Here is the opening Plenary speaker, Carol Coletta, speaking on owning the road ahead of you. (link will take you to video on APAP website)

JazzConnect: NEA Jazz Masters & Jazz Futures: Paying It Forward

More videos will be added as updates to this post as they become available to me.  So check back.

– Steven Dawson
“The world needs art, not so they can escape, but so they can embrace.”

You Don’t Have to Save the World. Change it.

Can art change the world? French street artist inspires. Enjoy his accent and sweet shades. Take his ideas and SPREAD your artistic-brain-wings, go forth, be inspired. Join up

About This TALK from TED:

JR, a semi-anonymous French street artist, uses his camera to show the world its true face, by pasting photos of the human face across massive canvases. At TED2011, he makes his audacious TED Prize wish: to use art to turn the world inside out. Learn more about his work and learn how you can join in at

National Council on the Arts: RECAP

So just got back from the National Council on the Arts public meeting. Though a little long  it was CHOCK FULL of inspiration. Some pretty incredible individuals got a chance to speak about themselves, the work they do, and most importantly, what inspires them.

Watch it HERE (skip to about 5:39 to get past the “please stand-by” part, you’ll know you’re there when you see Rocco in his red St. Louis hat).

After the swearing in of the fabulous Aaron Dworkin, NEA’s fearless leader, Rocco Landesman, shared about his travels across the world from his Art Works Tour. Be sure to check out his reflections on his trip to Alaska and Australia, really fascinating discoveries on the power of indigenous art, the importance of creative peacemaking, and the exploration of how “art works” so differently across the country and the world. He spoke of how across his travels he found in so many places where this incredible intersect of arts and daily life takes place for the benefit of all.

The Arts Journalism Initiative was discussed by the council, a relatively new initiative by the NEA and Knight Foundation that seeks to address the problems with declining arts coverage and the decline of professional arts journalists in favor using regular staff.  Landesman identified fives types of arts coverage that the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge addresses:

  • Factual information about arts
  • Casual discourse
  • News coverage and investigative reporting
  • Criticism within historic and current context
  • Academic writing

It was found that increasingly arts organizations are making the push to distribute factual information about their arts events themselves removing the need for journalistic contribution and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have created a platform for casual discourse between fans (of which Opera fans are apparently the most vocarious ) allowing for discussion and personal analysis of the work. Academic writing has soared with more MFAs and PhDs in art and art history than ever. But what was missing was the initiative to support local arts coverage that is both accessible and professional.

Landesman pointed out that for the arts to flourish, arts criticism must be active. After all, “if art happens and no one covered it, does it have impact?”

The winning project ideas shared two common solutions of the problem of lagging art journalism: crowd sourcing and community creativity. This cute video summarizes the winning ideas:

Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge Finalists from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

If you can’t/don’t want to check out the video now check out my quickly tapped out iPhone notes summary:

  1. Charlotte, NC: Charlotte arts alliance to train journalists and provide coverage content free for alliance outlets. Keep it all in single online place
  2. Detroit, MI: Lack of dialogue interactive mobile video booth iCritic record video reviews as they leave event. Reviews instantly available
  3. Miami, FL: arts spot Miami, crowd financing journalist pitch ideas to public. Winning ideas will be funded. Engaging public to select
  4. Philadelphia, PA: Drexel embed arts journalists into Daily News, partnerships, curate stories from both editorial teams. Leveraging existing resources
  5. San Jose, CA: Tech economy. Encourage better understanding using map based technology app plan will enable interactions with arts venues via map. Analyze to understand people’s understanding

Funding will be given to these winning ideas to develop “action plans” which will detail how exactly each idea will be launched, sustained and maintained. The winning action plan will receive $80,000 in implementation funding. The council asked questions two of which I found most applicable and fascinating.

The first concerned sustainability: will these projects be sustainable after the one time grant? The second, professionalism: some of the projects seem as if they may fail to elevate the arts journalism medium and instead provide a tool for  magnification of what discourse is already occurring on Internet.

It’ll be interesting into see how the action plans incorporate ideas for sustainability; many are addressing the needs for creating new types of revenue such has crowd sourcing.
As for the citizen journalist vs professional writer: many conversations that make sure of social media will be curated by professionals who through guiding the conversation and selecting the shows/areas in which they bring participation ensuring an increased level of professionalism. In the case of arts journalism it seems the difficultly is increasingly how to  determine whose voice will be heard and if all voices worth of being heard. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but are some more valid than others?

The Opera Panel and Research presentation were incredible. Favorite quotes include: “If you’re embarrassed by emotion you won’t like opera” and “to love the opera, you cannot be afraid of passion.” I suggest to watch the webcast for the truly interesting discussion between opera panelists and check out the Art Works blog and press release  for some great content about Artists in the Workforce.

The session concluded with a talk by dynamic couple: FloydFest producer, Kris Hodges and director, Erika Johnson. These two were dynamite and I was disappointed the Chairman had to leave to catch a flight before they made their presentation.

Have a little listen of the this past 2011 Floydfest lineup HERE.

Hodges and Johnson took turns describing the unique aspects of creativity and community that has made the festival such a success these past 10 years. While they weren’t shy sharing about the trails, tribulations and debt they struggled with to keep the festival running, one couldn’t help but be inspired by their pride in their community and desire to share the incredible Floydfest experience with everyone.

Born out of a combination of  “teamwork and dreamwork” (sounds familiar to anyone whose worked in the arts) and working with the ingredients on hand, Floydfest developed out of the natural and creative fertility of the land and people in the community. Hodges talked about being attracted to the “spirit of the community of creative thinkers and doers” where a pre-existing (and surprising) alchemy of tradition and open-mindedness allowed for a rich platform on which the festival could develop.

The environment of a self-sustaining community and place of pride meant Floydfest receives a lot of local support from organic markets (the couple started their own organic restaurant pre-Floydfest which they sold in order to keep the festival going) and has remained an event where authenticity, quality and sincerity are valued above all (nice-huh? Sincerity and the arts, nearly forgot about it). Despite getting some big name headliners, Hodges and Johnson say they treat all musicians in their line-up the same, as “fiercely independent artists looking to cultivate their art.”

It was nice to be reminded that “arts will exist even if there is no money behind it” because, after all, “people [ultimately] want to make art”, and will make often even without a financial goal in mind. This is what makes arts funding so tricky. Our organizations need the money, yet to make art is so basic and human, that no matter how much you cut our funding, the arts will never be quelled.

Check out a great video of the 2011 festival here and let me know if anyone wants to road trip from DC for Floydfest 2012:

Is beauty adaptive?

As arts managers we’re in the business of beauty. Aesthetics are important to us. Preserving them, understanding them, honoring them, honing them, creating them, accessing them… we may not all agree about what is beautiful, but we certainly know much of art, whether it is making cultural commentary or seeking shock value, gives us pleasure to behold.

Denis Dutton speaks in this incredible TED talk (with help from the absolutely amazing Andrew Park. If you haven’t seen it already, his latest video of Iain McGilchrist’s “The Divided Brain” is amazing) about beauty and the incredible history of the artistic need for creating and celebrating beautiful art objects. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s a gift, according to Dutton, deep within our minds handed down from ancestral celebration of human intelligent skills and an emotional connection that pre-dates language. As arts managers we are important, arguable essential, in the preservation and innovation of beauty.

As an arts manager what do you think of Dutton’s Darwinian theory of beauty? How can we use this understanding of beauty and it’s connection to our emotional center to protect and advocate for our arts organizations?

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