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Conference Sessions

Following is a partial list of sessions to date. The full schedule will be posted by late July.

A Thousand Points of Light: The Trajectory of an Art Work

Organized by Esther Grisham Grimm, Executive Director, 3 Arts; and Sacha Yanow, Director, Art Matters

In an art world that increasingly calls upon artists to be entrepreneurs and to manage every aspect of their creative production, from fundraising to audience development, what does it take to make art work? This session features three artists in conversation, each revealing the trajectory of a single work of art as it is fueled by grants, professional development, partnerships, and elbow grease while they share the challenges, risks, and responsibilities of bringing their art to life. Following the presentations, an open exchange with session participants will delve into the ways that funders can become more entrepreneurial to help the creative process along, beyond the provision of money.


Artful Aging: How the Arts Are Transforming Aging

Organized by Teresa Bonner, Program Director, Vitality + Arts, Aroha Philanthropies

The creative aging movement is building momentum at the local, regional, and national levels, and successful programs are emerging and growing. This year, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Center for Creative Aging hosted the Summit on Creative Aging in America, a preconference to the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. Also this year, Aroha Philanthropies convened two groups of grantmakers in Palo Alto and Minneapolis to learn about the emerging field of artful or creative aging and to discuss what the field needs in order to thrive and how philanthropy can accelerate its development. This session will showcase the latest cross-sector partnerships and philanthropic efforts that are leveraging the creative arts to improve the quality of life and health of older adults. As part of the session, a master teaching artist will create an interactive arts learning experience drawn from successful programs created for older adults.


Building Cash Reserves in Arts Organizations

Organized by James Herr, Program Officer, California Community Foundation

In 2012, the California Community Foundation began a pilot project, Building Equity in the Arts, to help arts organizations build cash reserves through technical assistance and training, cohort support, and a matching grant opportunity. Five small to midsized Los Angeles arts organizations participated in what was to be an eighteen-month project. This session will reveal what happens when real life intervenes and disrupts the best of intentions. Is it possible to build reserves amid unanticipated challenges and turns in the road? Learning about the project design, the process, the unexpected, and the surprising results will make for an engaging and enlightening discussion. The session will also explore the question, Where do we go from here?


Building Collective Capital: A Funders’ Collaborative Approach to Capitalization

Organized by Tere Romo, Program Officer, Arts & Culture Program, San Francisco Foundation

What does capitalization look like for small and midsize organizations? Funders in the San Francisco Bay Area have come together to build the sustainability of these vital sectors of the arts ecosystem. Along with sharing information regarding individual funder’s strategies, which include targeting organizations of color, the session will present the benefits and challenges of this unified approach. Presenters will include program officers from family, corporate, and community foundations as well as a city arts commission. Session attendees will learn about this still-evolving collective process and interact with presenters regarding the viability and challenges of this model for supporting small and midsize organizations, including organizations of color, in their portfolio.


Cultural Equity and Public Funding

Organized by Edwin Torres, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; and Anh Thang Dao-Shah, ACLS Public Fellow, Policy and Evaluation, San Francisco Arts Commission

As part of a five-year strategic plan that aims to improve the effectiveness and capacity of the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) to respond to the dynamic needs of a diverse population, SFAC has commissioned a review of twenty years of data from its Cultural Equity Endowment Grants program. In January 2015, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) announced its planned study of the diversity of its cultural organizations as one part of its embrace of the NYC’s equity agenda. Within the context of the ongoing discussion about diversity and equity nationally, these studies point to the importance of the intersection of cultural equity and public funding. This session will bring together the directors and commissioners of the local arts agencies of NYC and San Francisco to discuss how equity is an important and productive framework for public grantmaking in the arts as well as the importance of using data to measure the impact of cultural equity grantmaking. A brief presentation of each agency’s approach to cultural equity will be followed by an interactive discussion about the role of public funders in cultural equity grantmaking.


Cultural Policy and Local Arts Agencies: At the Nexus of Cultural, Economic, and Community Development

Organized by Randy Engstrom, Director, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture; and Kerry Adams Hapner, Director of Cultural Affairs, Deputy Director of Economic Development, City of San Jose

US urban centers are seeing a number of interesting trends, placing the network of local arts agencies (LAAs) in a critical role of strengthening American communities. Having been historically in the business of cultural investment through grantmaking and public art, agencies now see an increased focus on broader policy issues. Often driven by comprehensive cross-sector cultural planning, the work of LAAs has expanded greatly into areas including arts education, placemaking, tourism, economic development, health, transportation, diplomacy, environmental stewardship, and cultural equity. Participants will join panelists representing three public agencies for an interactive exploration about the future of the urban arts landscape and the role of the arts at the nexus of cultural, economic, and community development.


Environmental Sustainability: How Are Arts Funders Engaging?

Organized by Grantmakers in the Arts

Many arts grantmakers are recognizing that issues of climate change and environmental sustainability are too important to be left to the environmental sectors alone to solve. On the environmental side, many funders and activists are recognizing the power of art and culture to provoke thinking, stimulate compassion, and motivate change in ways that other strategies do not. The session will present highlights from recent research, undertaken by Helicon Collaborative for GIA, about compelling practice in this area by art funders. Three funders will share elements of how they are approaching their cross-sector work. Participants will then be invited to engage in a discussion about their own interests and challenges in this area. The goal will be to understand what is motivating or hindering work at this intersection, and what could be done to support more of it.


Equity and Demographic Data: A Question-Centered Approach for the Future

Organized by Beth Tuttle, President & CEO, Cultural Data Project; and Arin Sullivan, Director of Programs & Client Services, Cultural Data Project

Sweeping demographic change is raising questions about how to achieve greater equity in access to services, employment, and funding. As arts, cultural, and philanthropic organizations seek to align their business practices, programs, and services with changing communities, reliable data are needed to paint a true picture of where they are today and to develop a strategic vision for change. Plans for field-wide data collection — on leadership, workforce, audiences, and constituencies — must begin, however, from a shared understanding of goals and needs. This session will combine lessons learned from early demographic data collection initiatives with World Café–style conversations to discuss objectives and key questions about equity that data can help answer, as well as next steps for data-gathering approaches.


The Evolution of a Leadership Fellows Program

Organized by Scott Stoner, Vice President, Programs and Resources, Association of Performing Arts Presenters

In partnership with University of Southern California’s Arts Leadership program, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters launched a new Leadership Fellows Program, for which curriculum content and context are based on a series of think tanks held with artists, presenters, agents-managers, funders, and other stakeholders in the presenting field. The Fellows Program codirectors will present what was learned and integrated into curriculum modules about key challenges and issues: trends and movements in the external environment; adaptive thinking around inclusion, equity, and access; strategies around aesthetics, curating, and the role of community in artistic practice; and continuous change management necessary to become a learning organization. Information will also be presented about action learning projects based on a complex challenge identified for each fellow’s organization.


Leveraging Pop Culture to Change the World

Organized by Maurine Knighton, Senior Vice President, Grantmaking, Nathan Cummings Foundation

Artists and culture bearers have produced work that addresses social justice for many years. A compelling theatrical piece or a song may affect individuals or communities deeply; however, bringing the work to a scale sufficient to power movement building is challenging. As funders, artists, and NGOs seek to learn more about promising practices, some are tapping into popular culture. Pop culture ¬— TV, Hollywood, books, video games, graphic novels, and so on — is emerging as a powerful and strategic narrative tool to catalyze change. The session will explore case studies showing how artists, cultural organizers, and funders have leveraged popular media to impel social change movements along a continuum, from awareness to engagement to action. Participants will also discuss this area of work as an opportunity for cross-sector collaboration.


The Long and Winding Roads in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles

Organized by Sydney Sidwell, Associate Director, Ingenuity; Marinell Rousmaniere, Senior Vice President, EdVestors; and Denise Grande, Director of Arts Education, Los Angeles County Arts Commission

For the past decade, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles have engaged in efforts to expand and stabilize arts education in their respective school districts. Each city has brought artists, arts partners, funders, and city policy makers together to call for universal access to arts education for all students. Philanthropy has been essential to the progress in each city not only through traditional grantmaking but through philanthropic mechanisms that incentivize and support participation at the school and district level. Participants will learn how each city developed a comprehensive strategy unique to their school district and arts education sector. There will also be opportunity to discuss the different roles philanthropy can play: catalyzing, organizing, sustaining, and, at some moments, leading from behind. The panelists will also provide a template of the shared components of each city’s initiatives so other funders can begin a diagnostic of what is currently in place in their own city and what they might need to build the conditions for systemic change.


Planting the Seed: Cultivating Cultural Networks through Community Supported Art (CSA)

Organized by Rebecca Chan, Program Officer, Robert W. Deutsch Foundation

Community Supported Art (CSA) programs are an emerging trend, appearing in a handful of cities across the United States. Like their agricultural namesakes, CSAs connect a cohort of local artists with a group of shareholders through an interactive series of presentations and selection events. Simple yet sophisticated, they cultivate a local culture of art buying and supporting individual artists by establishing relationships between artists, patrons, and community. The session will present an overview of CSAs across the country and describe the impact of one program in Baltimore, provide a breakdown of program planning and logistics, show how programs can complement placemaking activities, discuss the successes and challenges of the program to date, and offer ways to tailor the program to individual communities.