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NEA Podcast Series

My name is Raynel Frazier I am a first year Arts Management graduate student at American University and this semester I am very excited because I have the opportunity to continue my internship at the National Endowment for the Arts. One of my favorite things about the NEA is their podcast series hosted by Josephine Reed. The podcast features interviews of people working in the arts (artist, arts managers, etc.). Because I am a jazz trombonist and absolutely love Jazz I greatly enjoyed the podcast she did leading up to the 2012 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony and Concert; which featured interviews of this years’ class of Jazz Masters as well as previously named Jazz Masters. But whether you love Jazz like me or if your interest is in other arts disciplines the NEA podcast is a great place to visit.

Listening to the NEA podcast has been a great inspiration to me. The information I’ve learned by listening to artist and arts professionals talk about their lives has motivated me to continue to pursue a career in the arts. With Arts Advocacy Day and the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium coming up now is a great time to tune into the NEA podcast and maybe you will be inspired as well.

So, what podcast do you love to listen to? Let me know and I’ll defiantly check them out!

NEA Podcast (click this link to listen to the NEA Podcast online)

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Experiencing APAP NYC, what I am taking from the 2012 conference. – Day 3

Day 3:

Bolz Center students share their work

I started this morning with a session with our fellow arts management students at the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin.  The students involved, Joanna Simpson, Brian Hinrichs, Marcella Dover, Laura Blegen, Andrew Maxfield, and Danielle Boyke, presented this year’s edition of the Dawson Research Internship: Power Influence, and Performing Arts.  Bolz Center director Andrew Taylor moderated.  The research and presentation was designed to connect the dots between power and influence in policy-making and the arts.  Here is a brief summary of the two hour session:

  • Social Network Analysis – there are 4 steps to analyzing your network:
    1) Define the group
    2) Know your position in relation to the group
    3) Identify the connectors and bridges between you and a desired network connection
    4) Create a plan for how to change your position
    – Analyze your network to see the actual connections.  It is a great way to visualize what you need to do to further your connections and position (i.e. – get someone on the Rotary club so you can connect with a certain local businessperson).
  • Social Movement Theory –
    – How do they function?  The root idea is the base, then comes the mobilization of resources, then comes a cycle of cognition (recognizing smaller goals), coordination, and cooperation.
    – Arts fit in with social movements by providing communication, mobilization, solidarity, long-term impact, and emotional power.
  • Power in Politics – Economic power is the main source of power in the US (the 1% idea that has been brought forward from the “occupy” movements).  The “power elite” have a mix of social upper class, policy forming organizations, and corporate community.
    – How to make a change:  identify your “power elite” and find a way into the network.
  • Organizational behavior – the 6 source model from Influencer by Patterson, Grenny, et al.: shows different ways to affect change (this is a great companion book to Switch by the Heath brothers).

Ideas picked up from session participants and personal thoughts:

  •  Ticket buyers are an outcome, not a network.
  • An army of people camping on the steps of the capital is not as powerful as one person having a conversation with the chair of a congressional committee.
  • As far as advocacy, we arts people have such a large network, that the potential for huge clout is there; we just have to mobilize the network.
More info on the research can be found at bolzcenter.org/dawson

At 11:00, I attended the next plenary session, The Village Beat – Taking Action.  It was hosted by John Hearn, principal at SYPartners.

John Hearn

The towering consultant led the group in a discussion on connecting the organization to the community and its needs.  This doesn’t mean simply residing in a community and trying to lure its members in.  It means having a direct connection.  His four pillars of what constitutes a community’s situation are the individual, the community (group), change that is happening, and money.  The major questions to ask yourselves as an organization are:

  • How is the world changing for the community you serve?
  • What is the ideal that would answer your community’s most pressing needs?
  • How will you or your organization rise to this occasion?
  • What is the evidence that you can exercise this leadership?
  • How must you stretch in order to fully occupy your new role in the community?

Thoughts taken from this session:

  • Don’t think about your community in terms of art, because chances are it is not what they wake up thinking about.
  • Define your success as an organization based on the success of the community around you, not by looking at yourself in the mirror.

There was a lot of grand, eloquent thoughts and statements during this Village Beat session.  I can only hope that the arts leaders who made these statements will actually put these thoughts into action and not keep them on the shelf.

After a dinner at the famous Carnegie Deli, I headed over to the Broadway Comedy Club on 8th avenue to check out what Chicago City Limits had to offer.  It is a 6 member

Chicago City Limits

improvisation group that has 5 actors and 1 amazing improvisational accompanist.  I was not disappointed.  I know I said yesterday that 7 Fingers was my favorite….well, Chicago City Limits has now taken that position with a coup de force.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.  You know when you get to laughing so hard that they get high pitched and you start snorting……yep, that was me.  The troupe started with a song about a phrase that the audience came up with, which happened to be “Anything Goes.”  The lyrics were masterfully composed, and the actors really played off each other rhymes well. Then they performed a sketch about another crowd creation in multiple styles, which were also drawn from the crowd.  Another highlight was the “story time” sketch based off of a title that an audience member gave.  The actors passed the baton, so to speak, picking up the story and continuing to create it as the “director” pointed to each actor.  They also performed a long-form improv musical, and ended with a hilarious game in which one actor had to guess a regionalism phrase based on extremely vague clues given by the other actors.  I cannot even begin to do justice to the comical genius of the group in this blog.  I can only recommend that you look them up and plan to attend one of their shows.

Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

After that, I meandered down to 44th and 8th to the famous Birdland jazz club to listen to a set from the world renown and Grammy winning Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.  Each musician on the stage was a true master of his craft.  It was a delight to listen to such wonderful Latin jazz.  Once again, I recommend hunting them down and listening when you get the chance.

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

My Experience Interning at the NEA

National Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th – October 15th here in the United States. This year the National Endowment for the Arts hosted a Hispanic heritage month film screening for the staff. The film was Latin Music USA and it discussed the impact Latin music has had in America from jazz to rock; influencing many artist from Dizzy Gillespie to the artists listening to Santana at Woodstock. It was a remarkable film and I remember thinking how great it was that the NEA was showing this film for staff during work hours.

Since mid September of this year I have been interning at the National Endowment for the Arts in the performing arts division. My internship thus far has been very rewarding. In the past month I’ve been working with staff to help prepare for the NEA Opera Honors, the arts council meeting, and upcoming panels. With that being said my post today is not about my internship experience. Instead it is about the internal marketing at the NEA.

During class this semester we talked about the importance of internal marketing for an organization. All staff on all levels should understand the mission of the organization and have a clear sense of what they are doing for the community and why. So far in my experience at the NEA, they have a successful internal marketing strategy.

The showing of the film Latin Music USA for staff during work is an example of good internal marketing. By encouraging staff to take time off work and view a film it shows that the emphasis should be on the art. The NEA funds arts related projects and by taking time to appreciate art, in this case music it helps reinforce why the staff works so hard. They work so that great art is available to the community. By keeping the art at the forefront the NEA is showing staff where their priorities should be. Also, by showing the film during work they encourage the staff to take a break and enjoy the art they work so hard to fund.

As an arts management student and emerging arts leader I have found my time at the NEA to be a great learning experience. I hope in the future wherever I work that emphasis is always on the mission of the organization and that steps are taken for every staff member to understand that mission. When all staff and volunteers understand the mission they have a purpose and can relate better to their audience. What do you as emerging arts leaders hope your future job environment will be like? What is your experience now?

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