2017 GIA Conference
Detroit, MI   October 28–31
Legacy and Leadership

Conference Sessions

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

Advancing Solutions to Critical City Challenges through Public Art

Organized by Anita Contini, Program Lead, Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies.

When public art creates strategic partnerships between artists, cultural organizations, and city government, it can become a powerful platform for catalyzing change. This session will focus on the successes and challenges of a citywide art project in Spartanburg, South Carolina, that built stronger relations between residents and police officers. A winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge, this project demonstrates how temporary public art can be an effective approach to addressing critical city issues, strengthening communities, and engaging artists to develop creative ideas for their cities. Presenters will discuss how they structured the multistakeholder partnership that anchored this initiative. Participants will be asked to share their approaches to and questions about facilitating cross-sector public art collaborations.


Arts & the Civic Agenda: A Case Study of Innovation

Organized by Michael Norris, Vice President of External Relations, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

As the leading arts advocacy organization in southeastern Pennsylvania, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has been successful in getting elected officials and civic leaders to understand the economic impact of arts and culture. But it has struggled to educate people about the many social and community impacts the arts also have. In this session, attendees will learn about a new initiative the Alliance and two of Philadelphia’s leading corporate arts funders have launched to better align Philadelphia’s cultural sector with the city’s civic agenda by highlighting the importance of the arts in early childhood education. Building on the Alliance’s advocacy mantra of "Data + Stories = Proof," the report “AGENDA: Pre-K” summarized research on the positive impact of the arts on young children. The report was supplemented by an array of online resources, a comprehensive communications campaign, a deep network of community partnerships, and a special grant program for cultural organizations and pre-K providers. Together these efforts resulted in an advocacy model that can be used with any aspect of cultural impact and replicated in other places.


The Arts Approach to Building Connections between Muslim and Non-Muslim Communities: Creative Solutions from the Field

Organized by Zeyba Rahman, Senior Program Officer, Building Bridges Program, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

The exponential rise in Islamophobia is fueling a backlash against Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) communities across the country. How can funders play a greater role in supporting artists, arts organizations, and other key stakeholders using a creative approach to advance knowledge, understanding, and relationships between American Muslim and non-Muslim communities for mutual well-being? In this workshop, attendees will have an opportunity to learn about unique solutions that academics, artists, and presenters have conceived to knit communities together through multidisciplinary cultural initiatives at the local and national levels.


Arts Education Assessment and Grantee Capacity Building for the Greater Good

Organized by Wendy Liscow, Education Program Director, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

What if one were able to create a learning culture around data collection that serves one’s foundation and grantees and helps the arts education sector tell a collective story of impact? The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has developed data collection dashboards for grantees and school district partners, and survey tools for collective impact assessment. Through these tools combined with group and one-on-one assessment training, grantees have developed new practical evaluation skills. Presenters will demonstrate the tools, share the success of these efforts in Trenton, Newark, and across New Jersey, and preview new online training curriculum that builds grantee evaluation capacity.


Capitalizing Small Cultural Organizations in Pittsburgh: A Pilot Funding Collaborative

Organized by Janet Sarbaugh, Vice President, Creativity, The Heinz Endowments.

In 2013, a group of funders and cultural organizations in Pittsburgh attended Grantmakers in the Arts’ Conversations on Capitalization workshop. The dialogue sparked research and conversation about the inadequate access to resources faced by small to mid-sized cultural organizations in the region. In response, a group of funders — The Heinz Endowments, McCune Foundation, Pittsburgh Foundation, Benedum Foundation, and Benter Foundation — invested $1.7 million in a pilot program to strengthen the stability and resiliency of local organizations. Presenters will share early lessons from this collaborative experiment, discussing the financial challenges and investment needs of small organizations, readiness for capitalization planning, challenges of pooled grantmaking, and benefits of a local-national consulting partnership. Participants will have the opportunity to share lessons from their own experiments in capitalization and to discuss the potential application of new models in their communities.


Creating Funding Opportunities for Artists with Disabilities

Organized by Beth Bienvenu, Accessibility Director, National Endowment for the Arts.

The current conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts has addressed inequity in terms of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. But is our field truly inclusive if the conversation does not address disability? Artists with disabilities face numerous challenges in their careers, including misperceptions about ability, barriers to training and employment opportunities, and a lack of accessibility. Join three funders to learn about how they have addressed these barriers through targeted funding opportunities for physically integrated dance companies, disabled playwrights, and artists and writers with spinal cord injuries. This interactive discussion will address how funders can better serve their communities and increase their progress toward diversity, equity, and inclusion by providing opportunities for artists with disabilities.


Creating a New Framework for Arts and Culture in Rural America

Organized by Susan DuPlessis, Program Director, South Carolina Arts Commission.

In a new initiative called The Art of Community: Rural S.C., the relevance of arts and culture as a leavening agent in rural community development is examined through the perspectives of a national community development leader, a state arts program director, and a local artist/educator working in a rural community. These three perspectives will amplify the power of arts, culture, and placemaking as tools that build relationships, connections, and community in South Carolina’s rural “Promise Zone” region. What has been learned? Topics addressed will include how local citizens reimagine place and address community issues through the lens of creativity, arts, and culture; how a grantor changed its approach to get different results; and the resulting array of cross-sector partnerships and resources.


Desegregating the American Dream: Storytelling and Social Change

Organized by Elizabeth Méndez Berry, Director, Voice, Creativity and Culture, Nathan Cummings Foundation.

The picket fence is in peril. Society is living in a moment of polarization and paranoia — of attacks on the truth ( “alternative facts”) and, equally chilling, attacks on the American imagination (artists and the National Endowment for the Arts). The Beltway is buzzing with storytelling strategies. But when political insiders consider narrative, they rarely include actual storytellers. In this session, attendees will hear from a group of storytellers whose work shifts narratives, from those who have worked closely with campaigns, to those who have shifted perceptions in less obvious but equally important ways. The thesis: if we want a new world or a new country, someone has to imagine it first. This panel will also offer suggestions for how arts funders can advocate for artists’ pivotal role in changing the national discourse.


Grassroots Organizing: The Impact of Neighborhood Art Movements

Organized by Christina deRoos, Director, Kresge Arts in Detroit; and Ryan Myers-Johnson, Assistant Director, Kresge Arts in Detroit.

For this off-site session, participants will visit locations in the Brightmoor and Old Redford communities on Detroit’s northwest side. Located outside the city center, these communities embody the oft-mentioned challenges of systemic disinvestment, land speculation, and blight. Simultaneously, within these communities resides an intricate network of gardens, farms, and grassroots art spaces that serve as community and cultural hubs. Participants will experience and explore the intersection of art, environment, and community organizing through the lens of Detroit artists leading place-based interventions in residential houses and public spaces, including neglected parks and abandoned lots.


Holding Ourselves Accountable

Organized by Margaret M. Lioi, CEO, Chamber Music America.

Over the past year, Chamber Music America’s (CMA) board and staff embarked on a process to incorporate the principles of diversity, inclusion, and equity into the fabric of the organization. With the support of Justin Laing/Hillombo LLC, they developed a Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity which includes specific success indicators to measure equity outcomes in the distribution of benefits to ALAANA artists and ensembles. This session will share CMA’s experience of development and implementation. Attendees will learn the specifics of those processes, the challenges inherent in building consensus, and strategies to communicate the commitment to stakeholders.


Investing in ALAANA Cultural Organizations: Reflections from the Community Leadership Project

Organized by Amy Kitchener, Executive Director, Alliance for California Traditional Arts.

This session shares perspectives from a foundation partner, an intermediary, and a grantee in the Community Leadership Project, a seven-year, $20M initiative that strengthened small and mid-size organizations serving low-income communities of color in California. This initiative, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Lucile Packard Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation, seeded collaborations, making general operating grants and supporting leadership development and technical assistance for hundreds of organizations. Drawing on the grantmaking approach and community of practice developed by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA), which focused on a capitalization strategy, implemented ethnographic listening, and built upon inherent strengths of the culturally based organizations, grantees developed and integrated the practices of sustainability, renewable income, and shared leadership within traditional cultural frameworks. Highlighting the experience of grantees illuminates what funders can learn about the challenges and negotiations for ALAANA-based organizations in developing models.


Perspectives in Place-Based Arts Engagement

Organized by Sigal Hemy, Program Officer, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation; and Jodee Raines, Vice President of Programs, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.

Immersed in research studies, implementation manuals, webinars, and grant guidelines, funders can easily lose sight of two important questions: Why engage in place-based arts strategies? and Whom do they benefit? In this participatory session, a funder, nonprofit president, program director, and community member will present an honest examination of the opportunities that place-based arts programming presents, as well as challenges in implementation. Presenters will describe their reasons for engaging in this line of work and the impact that it has had on their organization and community. This session will reflect on such questions as, What impact does the sector’s focus on placemaking have on arts organizations and the communities they serve? and What groundwork needs to be laid for organizations to successfully operationalize place-based arts initiatives?


Teaching Artistry: From Fragmentation to Unity

Organized by Jessica Mele, Program Officer, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Regional fragmentation in the teaching artist field can lead to students experiencing inconsistent teaching quality, and artists receiving inconsistent compensation and training. Many models for training teaching artists and for quality assessment exist nationwide, but rarely do proponents of those models work with each other. Teaching Artists Guild is trying to change that by pulling together a cross section of leaders to determine a national model for teaching artist quality. Participants of this session will hear from existing members of this national partnership and will contribute to the ongoing conversation. This session is for arts education funders interested in getting beyond pockets of excellence and getting real about a national model for teaching artist quality.