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Conference Sessions

Following is a partial list of sessions to date. The full schedule will be posted in mid-July.


Fifteen Years in the Life of an Idea

Organized and moderated by Ruby Lerner, Founding Director, Creative Capital.

Presented by Jane Brown, President & Executive Director, Robert W. Deutsch Foundation; Hasan Elahi, Creative Capital Artist, Associate Professor of Art, University of Maryland; and Arlynn Fishbaugh, Executive Director, Montana Arts Council.

Creative Capital was founded as an experiment to rethink traditional philanthropy, borrowing venture capital approaches to invest in artists as cultural entrepreneurs. Now, 15 years later, we are asking ourselves what it means to support 21st-century artists and artistic communities, and how our institutions and support mechanisms need to evolve as artists’ practices change. We will explore this question by looking at groundbreaking artists who have built successful careers across varied media and sectors, organizations that have catalyzed local artist communities, and philanthropists who have used the arts as a lens for economic redevelopment. In addition to addressing lessons our panel has learned, we will ask you to share experiences supporting the changing landscapes of your own communities.


Getting Beyond Breakeven 2.0: Exploring the Opportunities and the Limits of Making Investments Toward Change

Organized and Moderated by Olive Mosier, Director, Arts Funding, William Penn Foundation.

Presented by Susan Nelson, Principal, TDC.

In 2009, TDC published Getting Beyond Breakeven, a study commissioned by the William Penn Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, which reviewed the capitalization needs and challenges of arts and culture organizations in Philadelphia. The study found weak financial health despite strong financial literacy, and identified two potential reasons for this disconnect: strategic plans ungrounded in market knowledge, and a chaotic market for philanthropic dollars that does not always encourage behavior that leads to financial health. Five years later, TDC has conducted a follow-up study that identifies trends in the arts ecosystem, including the contribution that funder activity made to increasing the competitive nature of the local marketplace. TDC challenges commonly held assumptions about how organizations can conceive of improving their financial position, and illuminates organizational factors that determine success.


Creativity and the Arts as a Portal to STEM Learning

Organized by Kerry McCarthy, Program Officer, Arts & Historic Preservation, The New York Community Trust.

Presented by Louisa Campbell, Professor, MFA in Design + Technology program, Parsons the New School for Design; and Katherine Moriwaki, Director, MFA Design + Technology program and Assistant Professor, Media Design, School of Art, Media and Technology, Parsons the New School for Design.

Led by presenters Louisa Campbell and Katherine Moriwaki of Parsons the New School for Design, you will learn by tinkering and completing a design-build challenge to make a gadget that unifies art with electronic circuitry. Their gadgITERATION workshops for teens encourage artistic and creative engagement with technology. Afterward participants will discuss the intersection of art and design with STEM, popularly known as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math), and explore key topics including:


Art and Tech—Bending New Technologies to Native Traditions

Organized and moderated by Reuben Roqueñi, Program Director, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Inc.

Presented by Raven Chacon, Composer and Artist, Postcommodity; Rose Simpson, Multi-Media Artist; and Kealoha Wong, Poet.

Contemporary Native artists have always been experimental. Tradition is a vital piece of cultural continuums but culture too is fluid; exploration, adaptation, borrowing, and necessity are as embedded within Native “arts” practice as a millennium of practical convention. Native peoples are not trapped in amber. In terms of contemporary practice, Native artists are investigating the intersections between art and science, between creation stories and the big bang, between ceremony and video games. We will explore these overlapping relationships and juxtapositions in conversation with three brilliant Native artists who are embracing new modes of production and expression, presenting a platform for conversation, acting as provocateurs (also a Native tradition) in redefining Native narrative, and just having fun.


Working at the Intersection of Arts and Community Health: Perspectives on New Research and Practice

Organized by Amy Kitchener, Executive Director, Alliance for California Traditional Arts; and Maria Rosario Jackson, Senior Adviser, Arts & Culture, The Kresge Foundation.

Presented by Sunil Iyengar, Research and Analysis Director, National Endowment for the Arts; Maria Rosario Jackson, Senior Adviser to the Arts and Culture Program, The Kresge Foundation; and Amy Kitchener, Executive Director, Alliance for California Traditional Arts.

Health foundations, arts funders, the Department of Defense, and more than a dozen federal agencies have a stake in the arts. We seek to further understand how the diverse array of activity at the intersection of arts and health impacts individuals and communities and can be mutually reinforcing. By sharing on current national and local initiatives and research, we will explore a range of arts impacts in the health arena, lessons learned from cross-sectoral collaborations between the arts and health sectors, and the prospects for continued collaborations. We will also share national perspectives drawing on the NEA’s Interagency Task Force activities and on research impacting health, including recent work with the military. Finally, we will share lessons and examples from its pilot place-based work in collaboration with the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities, including case studies on Boyle Heights in Los Angeles and the rural East Coachella Valley.


Fiscal Sponsorship: New Practices, New Solutions

Organized and moderated by Frances Phillips, Program Director, Arts and the Creative Work Fund, Walter and Elise Haas Fund.

Presented by M. Melanie Beene, Consultant, Melanie Beene Consulting; Dianne Debicella, Senior Program Director, Fiscal Sponsorship, Fractured Atlas; and Gene Takagi, Attorney, NEO Law Group.

Fiscal sponsorship can be a nimble and efficient way of serving artists, organizations, and their projects, but it is little understood and best practices are not always followed. Two seasoned fiscal sponsors and a nonprofit attorney who advises them and others will share stories of travails and triumphs that arise in the practice of fiscal sponsorship. What kinds of projects work best? What are some of the complexities that arise? What should grantmakers know and ask? You are invited to share your own stories for the speakers’ analysis and problem solving. This gathering also brings to light best practices in fiscal sponsorship according to the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors.


Funding Commercial Creative Businesses: Sell Out or Smart Strategy?

Organized and presented by Kerry Adams Hapner, Director of Cultural Affairs, City of San Jose; and Joe Smoke, Grants Director, City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA).

Creative entrepreneurs drive cultural vibrancy and the economy by working across sectors through individual practice, nonprofit organizations, and commercial creative industries. The cities of San Jose and Los Angeles, in partnership with the Center for Cultural Innovation, have started providing “investment-grants” to creative entrepreneurs with goals at the nexus of cultural and economic development. Our “GIA Inside Edition” talk show will attempt to reveal biases in art grantmaking that may be stunting our collective ability to cross-fertilize cultural arts with creative industry. Three audience members will be interviewed about how to stimulate their locales through creative entrepreneurs. Join in on the fun and get the inside scoop. You may even win a grand prize!


International Exchange: Sustained Engagement in a Global Age

Organized and moderated by Caitlin Strokosch, Executive Director, Alliance of Artists Communities.

Presented by Roslyn Black, Program Officer, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation; Barbara Lanciers, Director, Trust for Mutual Understanding; and Michael Orlove, Director of Presenting, Multidisciplinary Works, and Artist Communities; National Endowment for the Arts.

The arts can help facilitate genuine human connection that pushes the engine of mutual understanding. Many artists and arts organizations are expanding our boundaries and insight through cultural exchange work. Yet, developing long-term connections between cultures through sustained, bilateral cultural exchange is still uncommon. We will explore how grantmakers are approaching cultural exchange – from small-scale programs that focus on depth and long-term impact, to aligning activities with the State Department and other diplomatic strategies, to building unlikely partnerships across borders. We will also invite you to share your strategies for developing successful partnerships, meaningful engagement, and lasting impact through cultural exchange.


Making Art without a Net

Organized and moderated by Ken Grossinger, Chairman, CrossCurrents Foundation.

Presented by Nora Ligorano, Artist; Naomi Natale, Artist; and Paul Rucker, Artist, MICA/Center for Race and Culture.

Part art, part activism; artists who create art for social change are working without a net and taking great risks. They make work that is not always appreciated in the “art world” often with little or no commercial viability. These artists stake their names and reputations on projects that may or may not be understood by the public. Despite this, what compels them is their conviction and hope that their work will move the public and inspire action. We will have a behind-the-scenes discussion with three artists engaged in making art for social change. How do they conceptualize a work? How do they gauge its success or failure? How do they determine whether what they do is effective? The workshop will include video, slides, and a short performance.


Advancing Racial Equity in Grantmaking: A Long Table Discussion

Off-site session held at Holocaust Museum Houston.

Organized by Vickie Benson, Arts Program Director, The McKnight Foundation; Sharon DeMark, Program Officer, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners; Glyn Northington, Senior Group Manager, Community Relations, Target; and Eleanor Savage, Senior Program Officer, Jerome Foundation.

Moderated by Angelique Power, Senior Program Officer, Culture, The Joyce Foundation and Eleanor Savage, Senior Program Officer, Jerome Foundation.

Conceived by artist Lois Weaver, The Long Table is a hybrid performance-installation-roundtable-discussion-dinner-party format designed to facilitate public engagement among people with common interests. It experiments with participation by reappropriating a dinner table atmosphere as public forum, and encouraging informal conversations on serious topics. A long table will be set up with chairs and refreshments; everyone is welcome to the table – to ask questions, make statements, leave comments on the paper tablecloth, join the table, leave the table, or simply sit, watch, and listen. This Long Table is an opportunity to introduce and reflect on recent initiatives in racial equity, to discuss what/who the barriers are to this work, and to explore effective actions and strategies by funders and others.


Intermediary Intersections

Off-site session to be held at Dance Source Houston – The Barn.

Organized and moderated by Stanlyn Brevé, Director of National Programs, National Performance Network; and Steve Bailey, Chief Operating Officer, National Performance Network.

Presented by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin; Cristal Chanelle Truscott, Founder, Director and Playwright, Progress Theatre; and Sixto Wagan, Director, Center for Arts Leadership at the University of Houston.

Intermediaries intersect with many parts of the cultural landscape: individual and/or independent artists, smaller arts organizations, and artistic projects among others. Through regranting, fiscal sponsorship and direct services, intermediaries provide an avenue for socially conscious community-based artists, organizations, and projects to create work, build capacity, and develop capitalization strategies. Intermediaries also allow them to deliver community programming that can be at times innovative and challenging, and often deals with social justice issues. Using Claudia Bach’s recent study of the ecology of funders and intermediaries as a starting point, we will further explore the multi-faceted role of the intermediary in arts funding. Through several case studies and a participatory process, we will discuss the intersection of issues, services, and values promoted and provided by the intermediary. You should be prepared to exchange experiences working with, through, or as intermediaries.