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

that thing or tell other people about it, kind
of spread the news. We’re engaged in the conversation that’s happening, sometimes
when you’re really excited that you’re going to get to learn about this one thing that you
really want to be learning, I guess your brain goes into this like state of shock, you’re like,
Yes! finally! I’ve been waiting for this all year and you’re just so excited that you don’t
care what you’re doing during outdoor break or lunch, you’re just Oh yay!, math is coming,
science is coming. History is coming. Yes, I can’t wait! Your brain sort of clicks
into a mode where it’s only you and your work and now and again a friend or a teacher a friend
or a teacher, you just want to keep going until you’re done and then you want more.
The wonder of learning can be so many different things: it can be a light that goes off in
your head making you get it. Or it can be the click mode where your brain can be … or
it can be the questions that you have or the excitement you have when you get an answer together. The kind of wonderful about learning, like how wonderful it is to learn different
things. Or is it like when you’re wondering about what you’re learning. It’s kind of like
an excitement and a question. But then again you can’t wait to do it but you still have a
question mark on the other side. Oooooh I get it! It’s sort of like all the
things we said put together in a Kapow! summed up in everything you just learned and lighting
up in your brain putting light on something else and it finally makes sense. The wonder of
learning is like a big puzzle trying to put each little thing that you learn into a big
picture. Well, I like to play to learn and when I’m playing I don’t want to stop. Playing IS learning. The wonder of learning is having fun.
Rocco Landesman: Janet, thanks. We’re moving with warp speed today, which is really great. And I thought I would maybe take advantage of that to open up for any questions of Janet
that anybody might have, or any from the Council, from anybody, we have time.
Council member: I just want to say, just awesome, it’s great!
Rocco Landesman: I second that emotion. Janet: Thank you, and I think you’re from
New Orleans, yes? So you have a wonderful children’s museum right downtown on Julia
Street, so I encourage you to visit! Cuncil member: Janet, are there significant collaborations
between children’s museums and then other arts organizations in cities? I mean, is it
a trend across the country? I know they’re not always isolated, but those of us working
where we work don’t see quite often a larger universe.
Janet: Yep. Children’s museums are highly collaborative in their culture, both as a
field as well as in their own communities. They are highly partnered with social service
organizations, early childhood organizations, and the other arts institutions in their communities,
whether it be the museum community in a particular location, or the broader arts, dance, design
community. Pittsburgh Children’s Museum is a wonderful example of community collaboration
where that museum has led the creation of the Charm Bracelet Project, and anyone from
Pittsburgh has probably heard of the Charm Bracelet Project, which is stringing together
all of the cultural entities in Pittsburgh to provide comprehensive exposure to the arts
to the community. That museum has also led the redevelopment of the park across the street,
the theater next door, and now currently an old Carnegie Library building also adjacent.
So there’s a lot of arts partnerships in that example. They also house some social service
agencies, and a research and evaluation organization from University of Pittsburgh in their building.
So they’re a great example of the myriad ways that children’s museums are connected to other
institutions, both cultural as well as learning oriented.
Council member: I just wanted to say I’m from Chicago, and I feel almost overwhelmed. I have four
great children’s museums. Janet: You have the ring of children’s museums.
Council member: I have a ring of children’s museums. I wondered if you could talk a little bit
about what role you think children’s museums are playing these days, especially given how
interactive you are with families. And how that links into all of the efforts that are
happening within schools and education. Janet: You know, one of the unique facets
of children’s museums is that we do reach the whole family in a way that’s non-threatening
and non-judgmental. So in the school setting, you’re reaching the kids, and then parents
through Backpack Meal, or through the once a year parent/teacher conference. In children’s
museums there’s this wonderful opportunity, and I think a lot of these examples today
demonstrated the way children’s museums are using their connection to families to really
message about a variety of subjects, whether it’s STEM learning, or whether it’s about
healthy choices and healthy habits. There’s the opportunity to make that message fun,
and engaging for the entire family group together. Rocco Landesman: Janet, thanks very much.
Janet: Thank you. Rocco Landesman: Finally, I’d like to invite
up the NEA’s Director of Folk and Traditional Arts, Barry Bergey. As you hopefully all saw,
we announced the latest class of NEA Heritage Fellows, who’ll be celebrated this October
3rd and 4th in Washington, D.C. I’ve asked Barry to speak a bit about this latest class
of Fellows, as well as the past couple years of celebrations. Barry, take it away.
Barry: Thank you, Rocco, and good morning. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the
NEA National Heritage Fellowships, our nation’s highest form of federal recognition of folk
and traditional artists. Over the years, we’ve honored more than 360 musicians, crafts people,
dancers, storytellers and keepers of cultural traditions, who are as one book title puts
it, “Extraordinary Ordinary People.” Just a couple of illustrations. Merv Griffin, a
former talk show host, tells a story about traveling in Ireland in the 1970s. And in
a small village pub, he noticed a photo mounted in a prominent place behind the bar. And it
was someone who looked familiar to him. He asked, “Who is that?” The bartender replied,
“Why, that’s Joe Heaney, he’s the greatest singer of Ireland’s old songs. But he lives
in New York now.” Merv Griffin thought to himself, “Yes, and he just happens to be the
doorman and the elevator operator in my apartment building.”Joe Heaney received a
National Heritage Fellowship in 1982, the first year of the program. In 2009, we were
holding the ceremony for the Heritage Fellows in the newly opened Capital Visitors’ Center.
Our photographer was scouting around in the lobby for a good place to shoot a group photo
when he encountered a bank of scaffolding. His eyes wandered up to see what was going
on, and there was Nick Benson from Rhode Island, a Heritage Fellow, inscribing a quote on the
lintel of the Visitor’s Center. Benson had been honored two years earlier for his stone
carving and letter design, carrying on a tradition as a head of a stone-carving shop that was
founded in 1705, one of the oldest continually operating businesses in the United States.
Nick had worked with his father on engraving the names in the Vietnam Memorial. And more
recently, had designed and carved the lettering on the World War II Memorial and the Martin
Luther King Memorial. The National Heritage Fellowship program allows us to shine a light
on individuals and their work.

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