National Council on the Arts Public Meeting, June 29, 2012

Uploaded by NEAarts on 19.08.2012

Good morning, everyone. I’m Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National
Endowment for the Arts and the 176th meeting of the National Council on the Arts is now
in session. And now gavel. I would like to welcome everyone this morning, Council members,
NEA staff, colleagues here in person and everyone watching online at For the record,
the Council members who are present are museum director James Ballinger; music director JoAnn
Falletta from Buffalo, New York and Norfolk, Virginia; our newest Council member Deepa
Gupta about whom I will speak more in just a moment; arts consultant Joan Israelite from
Kansas City, Missouri, my home state; arts patron Charlotte Kessler from Columbus, Ohio;
musician, band leader and composer and four or five other things Irvin Mayfield from New
Orleans, Louisiana; arts patron and attorney Stephen Porter from Washington D.C.; visual
artist Barbara Ernst Prey from Oyster Bay, New York and Maine where we just spent a day
together; and film industry executive that actually does understate it a bit, Frank Price.
Where’s Frank? There he is, okay, from Los Angeles, California. Joining us by phone are
Council members Miguel Campaneria, Ben Donenberg, Aaron Dworkin and Bret Lott. As you hopefully
saw last week, the president announced his intention to nominate Mas Masumoto to the
National Council. This means that in addition to Mas we have Maria De Leon, Agnes Gund,
Paul Hodes, Maria Rosario Jackson and Emil Kang in various stages of the Senate confirmation
process. But as I mentioned earlier we also have our newest Council member who has been
confirmed and is with us for her first meeting. So before we proceed further I’d like to
more fully introduce Deepa Gupta. Deepa joins us from the middle of an exciting career in
transition. Next week, she’ll be joining the Global Corporate Citizen Group at the
Boeing company as its director of education initiatives and strategy. But up until now
Deepa has been a program officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation where
she oversaw a $15 million program called the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective
Institutions and an $8 million arts and culture grant making portfolio focused on Chicago.
She also worked on special internal initiatives at the foundation, focused on developing institutional
frameworks for a strategic planning and program evaluation. Prior to MacArthur Deepa worked
on a range of issues that have included public policy, health, communications, and arts and
culture at organizations that range from McKinsey and Company to the U.S. Agency for International
Development. Deepa also serves as the business and marketing director for a theater company
in Washington D.C., Project Y, the first I knew of that. And then she went on to serve
a term as board chair. She’s still active on the board. Deepa has degrees from the Kellogg
School at Northwestern University, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University,
and the University of Chicago. Deepa, we are thrilled to have you with us. And even though
you are sworn to be able to participate in the preparations for today’s meetings I
now have the pleasure of publicly administrating your oath of office. Would you please stand?
Raise your right hand and repeat after me. I Deepa Gupta…
Deepa Gupta: Rocco Landesman: …do solemnly swear that
I will support and defend the constitution of the United States…
Deepa Gupta: Rocco Landesman: …against all enemies foreign
and domestic. Deepa Gupta:
Rocco Landesman: That I’ll bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
Deepa Gupta: . Rocco Landesman: That I take this obligation
freely… Deepa Gupta: .
Rocco Landesman: …without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
Deepa Gupta: . Rocco Landesman: And that I will well and
faithfully discharge… Deepa Gupta: .
Rocco Landesman: …the duties of the office on which I’m about to enter.
Deepa Gupta: . Rocco Landesman: So help me God.
Deepa Gupta: . Rocco Landesman: Ladies and gentlemen, please
officially welcome the newest member of the National Council of the Arts, Deepa Gupta.
Deepa, is there anything you’d like to say? I’d just like to say thank
you very much for the opportunity and I look forward to serving.
Great. While we’re doing welcomes, there are two other individuals
whom I would like to publicly welcome. Our new indemnity administrator Patricia Loiko.
There she is. And our new director of presenting and artist communities Michael Orlove.
We also have three retirements that I would like to acknowledge who together represent 85.5
years of public service. Our support services specialist Tom Alexander, our director of
administrative services, Kathleen Edwards, and our general counsel Karen Elias. Please
join me in thanking them for their dedicated service. Okay. Back to business, may I have
a motion to approve the minutes of ourMarch Council meeting?
Moved. Second.
Rocco Landesman: Okay. All in favor, please say aye.
Participants: Aye. Rocco Landesman: Any opposed? Thank you. Now,
we will move to the Council members votes and their application and guidelines review.
I would like to invite our deputy chairman for programs and partnership Patrice Walker
Powell to take us through this section of the meeting. Patrice.
Patrice Walker Powell: Good morning and welcome, Ms. Deepa Gupta. We now move to the application
review followed by the guidelines review sections of the agenda. We moved this section from
the end of today’s agenda to the beginning and as Council members Miguel Campaneria,
Ben Donenberg, Aaron Dworkin, and Bret Lott were unable to be here but have agreed to
join us for the vote by teleconference. As customary, the tally of votes will be announced
at the end of today’s session. The Council will be voting by ballot today on more than
100 award recommendations for nearly $7.8 million in two funding areas: first, Leadership
Initiatives and, second, Literature Fellowships for Translation Projects. These funding recommendations
are found behind the corresponding tab in your Council books. Please find your ballots
in the folders placed at your table. For the Council members that are joining this meeting
by teleconference, your ballots were mailed to you earlier this week. In order for votes
to be tallied you must be present at the time of the motion, discussion, and vote. As always
Council member affiliations have been recorded in the Council book and on your ballot and
each member has been provided an opportunity to update this information prior to the meeting.
Before voting Council members should review the list of recommendations and rejections
and add to the list provided in your folders any affiliations that may be missing. Council
members are recorded as not voting on applications with which they are affiliated. This ballot
becomes part of the agency’s official record. After brief summaries of the two funding areas,
Council members will have the opportunity to ask questions and/or discuss the recommendations
before voting by ballot. After you have completed your ballot, staff will collect your folders
and tally the votes. May I have a motion to consider the recommended grants and rejections
under the Leadership and Fellowships tabs in your Council book?
Woman 2: So moved. Patrice Walker Powell: Is there a second?
Man 2: Second. Patrice Walker Powell: Thank you. Now, I will
summarize the two funding areas on which you will be voting, pause for any comments or
questions from Council members and then ask you to mark your ballots for each category.
First, Leadership Initiatives. Leadership Initiatives support a wide variety of projects
of national and field-wide significance. At this meeting, the Council has requested to
approve funding for 87 projects in six arts disciplines and fields, totaling nearly $7.8
million. Continuing support is requested for two accessibility projects, including the
2012 National Accessibility Leadership Award and the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau
of Prisons, artist residency programs. Next, Shakespeare in American Communities, this
is an arts education initiative which will continue to bring performances and educational
activities to middle and high school students across America. The Mayor’s Institute on
City Design and 80 Our Town grant recommendations. One project in International Activities, the
Southern Exposure performing arts of Latin America initiative. Southern Exposure will
allow U.S. arts organizations to present contemporary and traditional dance, music and theater from
Latin America to communities across the United States. Film Forward, an international showcase
of films and filmmakers. And, finally, the NEA Jazz Masters awards. Are there any comments
or questions from the Council? If not, please mark your ballots. Literature Fellowships
for translation projects. This category supports translations of poetry, prose and drama from
other languages into English. This year 16 grants totally $200,000 are recommended. The
proposed projects will support the translation of poetry and prose from ten languages ranging
from French and German to Urdu and Swedish. Are there any comments or questions from the
Council? If not, please mark your ballots. Also, under the awards update tab there are
four 20 percent amendments totaling just over $104,000. These projects are brought to the
Council’s attention at this meeting but no vote is necessary. Thank you. Finally,
on to guidelines review and voting. At this meeting, the Council is asked to consider
three sets of guidelines. One, Our Town for fiscal year 2013; two, Research: Art Works for
2013 and finally, Literature Fellowships: Translation rojects for 2014. I will now
be joined by Jillian Miller, director of our Office of Guidelines and Panel Operations.
Jillian will summarize the guidelines up for a vote at this meeting.
Jillian Miller: Good morning. At this meeting, you’re reviewing three sets of guidelines
all of which contain updates to existing categories. Your first two sets of guidelines contain
only changes for clarification and those are for Research: Art Works and Literature Fellowships
translation projects. The Research: Art Works guidelines are for research projects that
analyze the value and impact of the arts in the United States, and the Literature Fellowships
Translation Projects guidelines describe the agency support for fellowships to publish
translations prose, poetry or drama from other languages into English. Your third and last
set of guidelines is for Our Town. These guidelines are for creative place making projects that
contribute to the livability of communities and place the arts at their core. And there
is one change to highlight for you here. We’re raising the maximum grant amount to $200,000.
Patrice Walker Powell: Thank you, Jillian. Are there any questions or comments from Council
members? If not, may I have a motion to approve the guidelines?
Ben Donenberg: This is Ben Donenberg. I have some questions about the Our Town guidelines.
Patrice Walker Powell: Thank you, Ben, go right ahead.
Ben Donenberg: I’m having a hard time hearing but I’m going to just kind of ask my questions.
My first question for the Our Town guidelines, is there any reference in the guidelines to
artistic excellence? I read them through a couple of times and I haven’t been able
to identify any way of particularizing the outcomes that are described in the guidelines
and aligning them with principles of artistic excellence. For instance, we’ve heard a
lot in our design presentations about the principles of universal design as a best practice
and as kind of aspiring to the kind of artistic excellence that makes things accessible and
inclusive, two dimensions of excellence that I believe are very important. I don’t see
any kind of reference in the guidelines for Our Town as it relates to design and universal
design. Patrice Walker Powell: Thank you, Ben. I believe
that Jillian Miller will first answer you and we’ll see if there’s any other…
Ben Donenberg: I can’t understand you. I’m sorry. It’s all very muffled.
Jim Ballinger: Ben, this is . Ben Donenberg: Sorry?
Jim Ballinger: Ben, this is Jim, can you hear me?
Ben Donenberg: Yeah, Jim, yes, I can hear. Jim Ballinger: Jillian is going to now address
your thoughts. Ben Donenberg: Okay. Thank you.
Jillian Miller: Thank you, Council member Donenberg. Artistic excellence and artistic
merit are required as review criteria. Ben Donenberg: I can’t understand her. Jim,
I could understand. Jillian Miller: Maybe I’ll use his microphone.
Ben Donenberg: You know what, I can take my answer offline, like a call in.
Rocco Landesman: Try this. Jillian Miller: Can you hear me now, Council
member? Ben Donenberg: Yeah, that’s better.
Jillian Miller: Okay. Artistic excellence and artistic merit are the two review criteria
that Congress required for all of our categories. And if you look at the review criteria for
this category we do, of course, evaluate both artistic excellence and artistic merit. And
with artistic excellence we’re evaluating the quality of the organization, the artists
and the works of art that are involved. Ben Donenberg: Okay. No reference to universal
design, though? Jillian Miller: There’s no specific reference
to universal design in our review criteria although that certainly is a legitimate project
type if an applicant wants to come in for something like that.
Ben Donenberg: But we wouldn’t require all of the designs to have that as a component?
Jillian Miller: No. Not all of the design projects would require universal design, no.
Ben Donenberg: Okay. Jillian Miller: Jason Schupbach is reminding
me that, of course, all of our projects that we fund are required to meet our accessibility
requirements that apply to all of our projects throughout the agency.
Ben Donenberg: I understand that. That’s kind of like checking the box. That’s not
excellence. That’s not like going above and beyond, going for the excellence. That’s
just checking a box, that's not exellence it's not going above and beyond
going for the excellence, it]s just checking a box, is what my concern is
about that. But, okay, I thank you for the answers. Jillian Miller: Okay. Thank you.
Patrice Walker Powell: Are there any other questions or comments? If not, I believe I
have a motion and a second to approve the guidelines. All in favor, please say aye.
Participants: Aye. Patrice Walker Powell: Any objections?
Ben Donenberg: Objection. Patrice Walker Powell: Thank you. Any abstentions?
Thank you all. I’ll turn the meeting back over to Chairman Rocco Landesman.
Rocco Landesman: Thank you, Patrice and thank you, Jillian. Rather than give a full report
of my travels since the March meeting, let me simply say that I’ve had some wonderful
experiences in Georgia, Maine with Barbara, Mississippi, South Carolina and Rhode Island.
All of those trips have been written up on the NEA Arts Works blog. And I encourage you
to read each of my postcards for I go through the people we’ve met and the organizations
we have visited. While you’re on the blog you might also check out the entry for the
Friday before Father’s Day. I wrote a piece about my Dad’s paintings, six of which are
hanging in my NEA office upstairs. I love them as those of you have read the blog know
and would be happy to show them off to anyone who would like to see them. I mean Deepa we
were talking yesterday and I was just thinking well come up to the office and take a look
at them. I love showing them off. But I digress. As you all know we also launched the Blue
Star Museum’s program this past May. We have over 1800 museums enrolled this year
which is quite a bit of progress from the 700 museums with whom we originally launched
two summers ago. Janet Rice Elman is with us today and will talk specifically about children’s
museums in a little bit so we’re looking forward to that. Janet has been there with
us on this project from day one and has been an incredible supporter of ours. Blue Star
Families continues to be our partner in this project. And this year I’m pleased to report
that we’ve also enrolled the Department of Defense as an official partner on this
project. They have helped us with the roll out of the program, as well as the ongoing
communications with members of the military and the family, and the families to help ensure
that the maximum number of eligible folks participate. Blue Star Museums has been a
springboard for our other work with the military. At the last Council meeting, we had a presentation
about the healing arts program at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center and the National
Intrepid Center of Excellence which focuses on brain trauma. And I’m thrilled to report
on two developments with this work. First, it appears that we will be able to expand
our work into other disciplines beyond literature. And, two, that we’ve put together a Council
of clinical researchers who are going to take a look at the research implications in a formal
way. This is a big step for us as we actually move into a research phase there. This extends
very nicely our ongoing work with our joint health and human services task force on the
role of the arts and human development across the lifespan. The NEA’s working with the
National Institute on Aging as well as the National Academy of Sciences to produce a
formal workshop this September. The workshop will present five originally commissioned
papers that will explore the existing research around this topic and lay out priorities for
future exploration. This workshop is the first step towards a program announcement which
would announce NIH funding available for arts research. And think about that for a second,
that would be, I think, a watershed for the NEA to have any NIH funding for the work that
we’re doing. Sometimes arts research is seen as not being as rigorous as that produced
by the National Academies or the NIH. I think this will be a big step forward in addressing
that. Finally, I would like to just briefly mention arts education and that’s been a
subject we talked quite a bit about yesterday inside our Council meeting. Ayanna Hudson
joins the agency formally on Monday as our new director of arts education. I’m excited
to focus on arts education for the balance of this year and see what conversations we
can start springing from the research that James Catterall presented at the last Council
meeting. And the work that I’ve seen happening where whole schools embrace the arts as part
of their overall reform strategy. The A plus schools, the whole schools in Mississippi,
the President’s Committee work with their Turn Around art schools, L.A. County Arts
Commission's, Arts for All, the regional collaborative which Ayanna herself oversaw, the Lusher school
of New Orleans, the Drew School in Atlanta, the Cape program in Chicago and on and on.
Look for a fair amount of activity and attention from us this fall. Okay. I ran through a lot
of materials fairly quickly but I was eager to get to our three presentations. First up,
I’d like to welcome Richard Hawks and Shelley Mastran. Richard and Shelly have been running
the NEA Citizen on Rural Design for the past two decades and have come to the end of their
formal tenure with us. Richard’s day job is being chair of the Department of Landscape
Architecture at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science
and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. Richard is also active with the Landscape Architecture
Foundation and the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board. He recently stepped down
as American Society of Landscape Architects vice president for education. His partner
in crime Shelley Mastran is a consultant and community development regional planning and
heritage preservation as well as the visiting assistant professor in natural resources and
urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech. Shelley is a member of the American Planning
Association and the board chair of the Reston Historic Trust. I’m thrilled we have this
opportunity for Richard and Shelley to talk about their work over the past 20 years. And
that the Council will have an opportunity to thank them publically for it. Let me turn
things over to Richard and Shelley. Shelley, I think you’re up first. Thanks.
Shelley Mastran: What is Your Town? Well, first of all it’s a rural compliement to
the Mayor’s Institute on City Design. It is an effort to bring design excellence to
rural communities and rural communities exist in about two thirds of the counties across
the United States and about 15 percent of our population live in them. We want to teach
rural leaders about the role of design in shaping the future of their community. Recently
the emphasis of the program has been on creative place making. Overall, we have done over the
20 years of the program, we’ve done seventy workshops in 33 states and here is a map of
those workshop locations. You’ll see that there’s quite a cluster there in Mississippi.
We’ve done six workshops in Mississippi. Three of those were funded by FEMA after Katrina.
Over the years we’ve experimented with two different workshop models. One of them is
a series of regional workshops which bring people together from across multiple states
to focus on design problems of a hypothetical community which is based on a real community.
More recently, we’ve been working on sort of real town charrettes, working with one
community focusing on their-- that community’s particular design issues. Both of these models
have worked. This is a typical Your Town schedule. The workshops last about two-and-a-half days.
They’re very much like the Mayor’s Institute. We try to bring people together and kind of
lock them up for two-and-a-half days if possible and get them to really focus on those design
issues. Richard and I are going to show you three case studies. These are workshops where
we really feel the outcome has been a success in all three cases. I’m going to talk a
little bit first about Elkhorn City, Kentucky and then Douglas Michigan. This is Elkhorn
City, Kentucky. It is a community of about 1,000 people right on the Virginia/Kentucky
border, very, very inaccessible. You can see here a river runs right through the community.
This is the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River. It’s a former coal community that
has experienced a lot of job loss and out migration. It’s, however, right next to
an interstate park and it’s in these absolutely beautiful mountains. The workshop there in
2005 focused primarily on trail building, pedestrian, bike, water trails, in an effort
to bring in heritage tourism. The workshop focused on providing access to the Russell
Fork River which believe it or not there was very little of at that time. Planning trail
networks through the town and building on heritage tourism. And since 2005, there have
been quite a few trails constructed that connect Elkhorn City to other long distance trails.
There’s now tremendous pedestrian access to the Russell Fork River. It’s actually
quite a white water destination. There’s a public art plan that has been developed
for the community and an artist collaborative theater just recently was established in Elkhorn
City using local talent. And the town has also funded a feasibility study for a downtown
water park. So Elkhorn City is like the little town that could. It’s done so much with
very limited resources. And a lot of this came out of the Your Town workshop. So let
me talk a little bit about Douglas, Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. This is Douglas.
You can see this sinuous Kalamazoo River running through the community. To the north of the
river is Saugatuck; to the south is Douglas. There’s a very large four-lane highway cutting
near Douglas. And then there’s another smaller highway that also cuts right through the middle
of town. This is a seasonal resort town very much focused on the arts, both Douglas and
Saugatuck. There’s actually a long-standing painter’s school that was established in
Saugatuck. And the two communities have just a long history of drawing artists. A lot of
the workshop, though, focused not just on art but also dealing with this difficult highway
that cuts through the middle of town and makes walking and bicycling across it very difficult.
So the workshop focused on how to tame the traffic on the highway, how to slow it down,
how to narrow the highway, how to increase pedestrian and bicycle access. Dan Burden
of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute was sort of the main guru at the workshop.
He kind of led the community through the various issues. Another of the focuses, though, was
to try to provide opportunities for artists, primarily, live/work, space located along
the Kalamazoo River. This is the little town of Douglas. It’s a town that has done a
lot to make itself quite attractive. And you don’t see a lot of people on the street
here. This is early in the morning. But on a summer weekend, it’s quite crowded. The
workshop, the Your Town workshop, held a community picnic meeting to share the design ideas that
people had come up with. Participants saw the town with fresh eyes. People worked together
who had never worked together before and that was probably one of the most enlightening
outcomes of the workshop, discovering new partners in collaboration. Since 2010 which is when
the workshop took place 24 painters from both Douglas and Saugatuck have worked together
to create a painting that honors that arts school I was speaking of. They entered this
painting in a competition in Grand Rapids last winter. And it’s really made the artist
across the river collaborate anew. The town also developed a master plan for slowing traffic
on the highway and increasing bicycle and pedestrian access. As a matter of fact, they’ve
been working with the Michigan Department of Transportation. This summer there’s going
to be the effort to actually take that four- lane highway and make it a two-lane highway
through Douglas with bike lanes on each side. They’re also developing a waterfront park
with panoramic views. And all of these efforts that I’m showing you right here really came
out of the Your Town workshop. Richard. Richard Hawks: Good morning. The third workshop
we’d like to talk about is really quite different than the first two. In this case,
we were working with a region. And the region was the Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana.
If you know this area it’s about 60 miles long, south of Missoula. It’s an incredibly
majestic valley. Everybody that has ever been there it’s a memorable landscape. And all
of the people that live there live there partly just to be in that landscape. And in this
case, we were approached by seven communities, the seven communities within the valley. So
as a group they realized that the valley was the common theme that they had but that they
individually had to collectively make decisions about how to preserve and protect the valley
into the future. They couldn’t do it individually in other words. They were struggling to retain
the identity and the social fabric that they had had. They’ve had an intense period of
growth. And so the workshop in 2009 focused on cultural fabric of the valley, the models
of connectivity, heritage tourism and economic development were a huge discussion because
they wanted on one hand to bring more and more people to the valley to appreciate it.
But at the same time they don’t want to destroy the very valley that they’re coming
to see. Community identity was big. How can each of these communities, these seven communities,
define a discrete design vocabulary that expresses who they are, but at the same time recognize
that they’re in the valley together. So one of the things I’ll just go through one
of the exercises, for example. We created these huge maps, probably 12 feet long. And
we asked everybody to go up there and put stickers on the things in the valley that
they felt were the most culturally significant and naturally significant places. The sacred
places they felt. That night we put all of this information into a computer program,
a GIS system, and we mapped it. And there was two things that, I think, came out of
this that were very important. One is we superimposed their dots onto water sheds. And the reason
was we thought that they needed to talk about the fact that political boundaries aren’t
always the best way to talk about natural areas and sometimes you need to talk about
particularly in an area like the west where water is so important how does the valley
breakdown in watersheds? And how might that be a different way for them to look at the
valley? The second thing was the red areas and the yellow areas, the red areas are where
the most dots were. And this is often one of the more significant things we find with
community groups. So many times people think their opinions are unique and that there’s
no common values. Or they assume beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. When they see
a map like this they suddenly realize, you know, we have a lot in common. We live in
different communities. Some of us have lived here longer than others. But it’s incredibly
important for them to understand that these are the places we all think are important
and that’s the first step in trying to design a future that protects those areas, enhances
them. Each of the communities also got a chance to talk about themselves as a community, talk
about their uniqueness because, again, we don’t want to lose that. And finally, we
ended up with a process that it’s common in some Native American communities called
the talking stick in which you can’t say anything unless you’re holding the stick
and everybody got to talk around in a circle about what were the things in the workshop
that they found were the most important. But most importantly and this is something we’ve
really learned over the years, this was the time when people had to commit themselves
to the future and being active and what was the role they were going to play in making
whatever we came up in the workshop materialize. Since the workshop I’ll just highlight
a couple of things. The Bitterroot Cultural Heritage Trust through the Montana Council
Entrepreneur Market they got 32 artists together that learned best business practices and they
talked about ways in which they as a group of artists could enhance the visibility of
art within the valley. Another thing we worked a lot on was there’s a major highway, Highway
93, going down through the middle of the valley. And we worked a lot about how do we two things?
One is how do we identify each of the towns and give them a little greater visibility
through signage and landscaping. But at the same time, how do we have each of the signs
and other things identify the fact that you’re in the Bitterroot Valley? So it’s this duality
between we’re all part of the same landscape but at the same time we have individual characteristics.
Since the workshop they’ve received a number of funds that have to do with main street
programs and other kinds of things. Again, there’s been an awful lot of work done.
What we’re really looking forward is the NEA has been willing and it’s fortunate
for this community. We’re going to do a follow-up workshop this coming fall. And we
haven’t had the opportunity to do that very often. But this is going to be a way to keep
the momentum going. Another thing that happened this year we found incredibly useful. For
the first time in 20 years the NEA funded a research evaluation of the program from
RMC Research. And what they did was something we had never done and that was they systematically
and objectively went back, not to all of the communities, but over 60 of the participants
and did a large scale interview. What did you learn in the workshop? What have been
the results in your community? And we think that it’s been probably the most important
thing we did this year because it gave us a chance to really reflect on the program
itself. I won’t go over all of the findings in detail but there were seven major findings
and a number of recommendations. But I think there’s a few things that I’d like to
highlight. First of all, Your Town fulfills a need. These are generally very small communities.
They have very little resources financially and expertise. When they talked to the communities,
the communities continually said if it wasn’t for Your Town we didn’t have anything else
we could turn to for this advice. So it fills a niche that’s incredibly important. The
second thing is that we’ve found that we’ve designed different workshops, regional, local,
all kinds. And we find that all of them tended to be effective. That there wasn’t one size
fits all. It was impossible. The program needed to customize it’s program and workshop every
single place it went. Building on social capital and design education, again, time and time
again people told us that learning about the vocabulary of design, the importance of design
and community were the key things that they carried away because they could be advocates
for design in the future. Strong social context. What we found was that over the years that
we had to embed ourselves in these communities. Shelley and I each always went to each community
at least twice. But the most important thing was getting to know the local people and not
bring in experts from the outside necessarily to tell them what to do. What we had to do
was listen a lot. We also had some issues. Participation, for those of you who have ever
worked in the local communities getting somebody to come for two-and-a-half days is not that
easy. Sometimes we couldn’t get the government and business partnerships that we wanted.
It’s hard for a main street shop owner to close their shop for two days. So we did all
kinds of creative ways to bring them into the loop from having daily newspaper articles
to having evening things, keynote speakers and other things that would encourage them.
When we worked in one town last year we did all of the workshop in vacant stores on main
street and people knew in town could just simply walk in when they wanted to and at
least overhear what was going on. The final thing is the structured steps that I mentioned
earlier. Every workshop has to end with a game plan and a strategy for where the community
wants to go in the future. And we’ve been pretty rigorous about trying to demand that
at the end of each workshop and not leave it too open ended. I’d like to thank the
NEA on behalf of Shelley and myself and all of these 70 communities we worked with. This
is a very unique program and we’re really happy that you’re continuing it and we look
forward to its future. Thank you very much. Rocco Landesman: Thanks, Richard and thanks
Shelley. Thank you both for today’s presentation and truly for all of your work. CIRD would
only have been possible with your generosity and time and spirit over these years. Jason
Schupbach has told me how many hours you have given to this work, most of them as an in-kind
contribution in what has largely been a labor of love. Thank you both.
As Richard and Shelley mentioned, after 20 years they have decided it is time to hand off the Citizen’s
Institute on Rural Design to a new set of folks to steward going forward. I’m thrilled
to announce that beginning next week the Citizen’s Institute on Rural Design will be operated
as a partnership among the NEA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Project for Public
Spaces along with the Orton Family Foundation and the community matters partnership. CIRD
will continue to gather local leaders together with experts in planning, design and creative
placemaking to assist with locally identified issues. In its new configuration CIRD will
also introduce pre-workshop training calls, post-workshop follow up and online resources.
I’m thrilled with all of our new partners and want to especially acknowledge the Department
of Agriculture which has all ready been a great partner in increasing the number of
applications to the NEA from rural communities. I look forward to working together more formally.
I would also like to acknowledge two of our new project partners here today. Cynthia Nikitin
from the Project for Public Spaces and Rebecca Sandborn Stone from the Orton Family Foundation.
Are they in the audience? You can stand up. Thank you both and we’re looking forward
to working together. Next up as I alluded to earlier, we have Janet Rice Elman who is
the executive director of the Association of Children’s Museums. Janet has overseen
a remarkable transformation at ACM from a volunteer run organization to a professional
institution that works to strengthen children's museums to be essential community anchors
by establishing standards for professional practice, convening interactive conferences,
collecting research and best practices, and initiating national and international partnerships.
Each year, children's museums in the country serve more than 31 million visitors. And this
summer, they will also serve an increasing number of military families, since they are
so well-represented in our Blue Star Museums program. Children's museums sometimes have
a difficult time in NEA panels because they are not 100 percent dedicated to art. Many
children's museums embrace creativity and play broadly. So I'm especially eager to have
this opportunity to showcase their work. Janet, take it away.
Janet: Good morning, Chairman Landesman, and members of the National Council on the Arts.
Thank you so much for this opportunity today to share with all of you what we do in children's
museums. I am here today representing 300 children's museums that are essential community
anchors, where play inspires creativity and lifelong learning. I first want to say how
proud we are to partner with NEA to serve military families. A few years ago when Bob
Frankel approached ACM to join forces on the Blue Start Museums program, we saw
an opportunity for our children's museums to make an impact. This photo shows the launch
of this summer's Blue Star Museums at Please Touch museum in Philadelphia. I'm proud to
say that this summer, as in other years, children's museums from across the country, nearly 100
of them, will be helping military families to have fun and learn together while making
lasting memories. Memory-making is a powerful experience. Over time, childhood experiences,
which become memories, help write a person's story of who they are, where they belong,
what they find joy doing, where their talents are, what might be possible. We have a terrific
opportunity to help create lifelong learners, imaginative and healthy global citizens. Parents
view children's museums as one of the most trusted resources for childhood development.
In an increasingly complex world, parents need an ally. Now what exactly does that mean?
Well, let me tell you a story that came to me from Jeri Robinson, and you can see
Jeri Robinson in the upper left-hand corner. Jeri is Vice President for Education and Family
Learning at Boston Children's Museum, and I will share that Jeri has been at Boston
Children's Museum for 40 years. It's mid-afternoon in Play Space, which is the museum's interactive
gallery for children ages zero to three, and their caregivers. There's a tree-house
climber, which you can see in the middle that has bridges and a slide; an extensive interactive
train landscape; a messy area, and I think you can even see in the lower right, a see-through
painting wall. Jeri is there walking the floor and checking out what's going on. And the
gallery is alive with the sounds of play and children. And she sees a young mother near
the slide, whose body language and facial expression conveys stress. So Jeri walks over
to the mother, and this is what we do on the floor in children's museums. We interact with
our visitors. And she asks, "What's going on? What's going on today?" And the mother
nods to her son whose playing on the slide over and over. Up the steps and down the slide
and says, "He's in some kind of loop. And I can't get him to play anywhere else. Do
you think he has some kind of developmental delay?" Yeah. So Jeri takes a moment,
and she watches with the mother. And she goes up to the little boy and she starts a conversation
with them. He engages with her, he makes eye contact, he smiles, he tries the climber on
Jeri's suggestion, but then he goes back to the slide. So Jeri returns to the mom and
she says, "He just likes the slide. He's a smart little boy. He's friendly. He can put
together simple sentences that indicate a sequence of events that's right on track for
his age. Often kids 18 to 24 months are really into testing themselves. They want to master
their small and large motor skills. And what you're seeing is his persistence to master
the slide. He'll just move on when he's ready." So this might seem like a small moment, but
what Jeri did for that mother, and for that little boy, was important. She made sure that
they knew that they were having a great experience that day. And now that experience becomes
part of that little boy's story. Because children ask, "What was I like when I was little? What
did I do?" And we know that many of our childhood memories come from parents retelling these
stories. And you can hear that mom saying, "You've always been so determined, even the
people at Boston Children's Museum saw that when they saw you play. And you loved the
slide, it made you really happy." This story illustrates just a microcosm of what happens
daily in a children's museum. So what are children's museums? Children's museums are
places where children learn through play and exploration; an environment designed just
for them. How and what children and families learn in children's museums is amazing diverse.
And let me share just two examples that illustrate how children's museums are meeting the needs
of families. Sorry, I got a slippery slope here on the podium. Kindergarten is not what
it used to be. Not only are children expected to know the alphabet when they get there,
they must recite their address, be able to sit still for circle time. Their parents are
also expected to play a major role in day-to-day learning. Now what if you're the parent and
you didn't go to kindergarten, and what if you and your child primarily speak Spanish
at home? In Truckee, California, the Kids' Zone Museum makes sure that its Kids Reach
staff are all fluent in Spanish. Staff go to social service centers to find families
because the families aren't going to necessarily find them. Because many of the parents have
low literacy skills and don't have a car, museum staff found these families about three
bus rides to the museum. Staff even meet families in their homes to make sure that these children
don't miss a day of programming. So this is a children's museum that makes house calls.
And here's another example. Dinner is not what it used to be. working families are harried,
and sometimes, fast and convenient foods go from once-in-a-while to habit-forming. And
why is everyone so tired all the time? When do healthy habits start? They start in childhood,
and the Children's Museum of Manhattan has collaborated with National Institutes of Health,
and several other organizations to age down the NIH's "We can" curriculum, which has shown
to be effective in decreasing obesity in teens. And what are the essential elements needed
to make this an effective program for children at Children's Museum of Manhattan? Play! Earlier
this year, "Eat, Sleep, Play" opened at the museum. And it provides an arts and literacy
rich environment where kids can be silly while learning about food groups and food portions,
digestion, and how play is actually more fun when you get enough sleep. Plans to disseminate
the "Eat, Sleep, Play" programming, which has been field tested in the South Bronx and
in New Orleans is currently under way. And if you've noticed, these last two examples,
both in Truckee, California, and in New York City have begun in much the same way. Something
is not what it used to be. There's been a change. Whether it's in our education system,
our population, our culture. Change, and how you adapt to it or not, is what determines
the success of an individual. And how an institution adapts to change is part of its success story.
Our flexibility to meet our audiences where they are, to speak their language, to listen
to their expectations, and perhaps, even more importantly to try to meet their unspoken
desires for their future, that's how we evolve. And this leads me to our Reimagining Children's
Museums initiative. Funded by MetLife Foundation, this a project that is an exploration of what
it means to experience a children's museum in the 21st Century. We launched this three-year
project formally just a few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon at a special leadership conference.
On the horizon, we have identified five areas: community, design, collaboration, change and
sustainability that will fundamentally impact children's museums and the families they serve.
These five areas will, and already have informed how the field of children's museums reimagines
its future. A few years ago when Madison Children's Museum in Wisconsin was planning to relocate
downtown, they knew they couldn't just build a LEED-certified building. They needed to
reimagine what a children's museum should be in one of the greenest cities in the United
States. The result is a sweeping commitment that all of its buildings and operations are
locally sourced and locally informed. The museum's only local policy required that every
item, every exhibit component, every contractor be locally sourced within 100 miles. Think
about this, all of the museum people in the room, think about this, how do you build a
world class children's museum from sources within 100 miles? And the answer was artists.
Local artists built this museum and you can see the results. And here's another reimagining
children's museum question: What is our evolving role in our communities? The response to this
question by the founders of Mississippi Children's Museum in Jackson was to embark on a state-wide
initiative to improve children's literacy. And Rocco, I believe you were just visiting
this museum last month. Rocco Landesman: Absolutely.
Janet: Yes. Mississippi has one of the lowest literacy rates in the US. So with the goal
of making both reading and thinking a compelling tool for exploration and discovery in all
of its work, the museum incorporated a literacy priority throughout its programs, exhibits
and outreach efforts. By developing both state and national partnerships with organizations
dedicated to improving literacy, the museum is on a mission to help children become readers,
writers and tellers of their own stories. They are serving as change agents. They have
reimagined the boundaries of their community. They are active collaborators. We are excited
by these examples of reimagining children's museums for the future. We are working on
issues ranging from childhood obesity, to parenting skills, to literacy, to sustainability.
And I didn't even get to STEM today, that's another presentation. Woven through
all of these content areas is the "how." Our methodology is play. And we use the arts in
our play. Play is how children learn. And our partners are all of you. Everyone in the
community who cares about children. And I know around the Council table this morning,
the cities that you all represent are cities from which we have wonderful children's museums,
so I hope that you'll visit. We know that in order to reimagine the field, we need to
share our stories, and embrace outside perspectives. And, as always, we need to listen to the children.
So I leave you with a segment filmed at Oregon's Portland Children's Museum, and the Opal Museum
School that is located inside the museum.