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Elks Tower Ballroom
921 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
On January 12-13, some 100 artists, thinkers and advocates convened in Sacramento to a begin a conversation to help us deeply understand and powerfully articulate the role of the arts in the lives of individuals and communities in today’s California; identify the key questions and ideas to include in a series of statewide community conversations later this year, clarifying what we need to learn; and determine an inclusive process for wide engagement in the inquiry process—and spark the process!
This convening is not so much about finding new language to better describe or market what we do in the arts; this is about launching an unprecedented inquiry into what is needed for the arts to become an indispensable part of life to the diverse people and communities of California. Led by renowned arts educator and advocate, Eric Booth - see full agenda. In preparation, participants were asked to read two articles before arriving: 2008 National Performing Arts Convention: Assessing the Field’s Capacity for Collective Action by Elizabeth Long Lingo, PhD & Andrew Taylor with Caroline Lee, PhD and Expressive Life and the Public Interest by Bill Ivey.
10:00 Registration and Coffee
10:30 Opening Plenary Session -
DOWNLOAD: Arlene Goldbard's Opening Remarks (PDF)
DOWNLOAD: California’s Changing Demographics Changing CulturesPresentation (PowerPoint)
DOWNLOAD: Raw population and racial statistics for California 2000-2050, by County (Excel)
by E. San San Wong, Director of Grants, San Francisco Arts Commission
12:00 Lunch and Small Group Discussions
1:00 Afternoon Session
5:00 Conclude Discussions, Walk to Reception
5:30 Reception with Legislative Leaders
1201 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
7:30 Dinner on your own
8:00 Continental Breakfast
8:30 Morning Session
12:00 Working Lunch & Keynote Speaker
DOWNLOAD: Arlene Goldbard's Keynote Address:Sensing the Demand (PDF)
1:00 Arts Advocacy Day Legislative Briefing
2:30 Arts Advocacy Day Visits with Legislators
5:00 Travel Home
For more information about Arlene Goldbard, visit her website.
Eric Booth puts it this way:
“For 30,000 years the arts answered a variety of humankind's most basic needs. In recent decades something odd happened. We allowed the arts to become specialized, peripheralized. We allowed "the arts" to change their fundamental definition so that they resonate with relevance for a few. It isn't that the arts changed; it is that we lost the vital connection between the purpose of the arts as they are generally understood, and the human needs of the broader community of people they used to, and still can, serve.
It is time to stop and take a foundational look at what we are doing in the arts and why. We need to reground ourselves in purpose and relevance. We need to understand where the artistic heart of California lives today, and how to frame our offerings and innovations in ways that provide resonant meaning for a wide range of Californians. This opportunity to stop and reflect deeply is not mere tinkering with marketing language or revitalizing season repertoire, but reconnecting to the purposes of art. In an essay I recently wrote:
"Jim Collins was the keynote speaker at the 2008 National Performing Arts Conference in Denver, the largest gathering of the performing arts in U.S. history. Collins is a highly influential and credible business “guru”—the author, consultant, and leader of the best-selling “good to great” research on what makes businesses excel. I confess I was none too thrilled that a business leader was positioned as the keynoter for this historic arts gathering; part of me cringed that we would be asked to use a business model to come together as a field. But Collins has studied nonprofit organizations extensively, is an expert on what organizations must do in turbulent times (yes, that’s now), and he’s passionate about the arts—so I listened with an open mind. Lucky thing, because he made two points that haunt and provoke me with their significance.
Collins’s first point—not controversial—was that in turbulent times, an organization must get the right people “on the bus,” refocus on its primary mission, and experiment boldly to fulfill that mission. But his second point was a follow-up so challenging that many people didn’t take it in. He said that most of us in the arts have a completely wrong-headed idea of our true mission (or core values or beliefs, but let’s not get stuck in semantics). Collins argues that we mistakenly assume our mission is to present our particular and beloved artistic canon, the greatest artworks, old and new. He suggests our core values are exactly not that, that our favorite artworks are the means by which we have tried to fulfill the core values of art, and according to his research, that is exactly where we must experiment. To rediscover our purpose, to live long and prosper, we must let go of our focus on programming favorite artworks, old and new, and instead boldly experiment with engaging people in artistic experiences. We must reconnect with the human art instinct, and re-launch our arts organizations from bold experimentation that springs from the common ground of fulfilling essential human needs."
That is what we will do in our January days. We will brush past ideas of trends or fads. We will take a hard look at our efforts to innovate and find our audiences. We will seek the common ground from which we can evolve as our culture has evolved. If you believe the U.S. has become a culture that cannot embrace the arts wholeheartedly, skip this event. If you are looking for quick answers or snappy new advocacy campaigns, skip it. If you are willing to join dedicated colleagues in two days of delving deep into the awkward no-quick-answer domain that seeks a new bedrock upon which to build new arts activities, don't miss this kickoff to a process that will engage others around the state to change our understandings as much as our practices. We have allowed ourselves as a field to communicate in fitful, reactive, problem-solving focused, dialogue that has gotten tired and repetitive; we are discouraged, weaker as a field, and running out of time.
We will bring hard data to remind us of the facts we know. We will bring imagination that allows us to think of arts organizations as servants of the public good. We will have different people in the mix of this conversation, aiming at very different goals. This convening will establish the new bedrock upon which a statewide series of conversations can be built--the goal of which is engaging the widest possible range of answers to these foundation questions. We expect there to be a culminating convening, perhaps in 2011, after the statewide dialogue to pull together the exploratory inquiry process into a statewide vision of what is possible. This vision is highly likely to have dramatic potential for practical application to arts organizations, cities, artists, artistic innovation, advocacy, and even legislation throughout the state.
Of course this doesn't imply that we stop working our asses off in the meantime. We will probably have renewed vigor and fresh ideas for our advocacy and artistry as a result of beginning the conversation. The convening won't look like your usual conference. We will have only a hundred or so participants. We will undertake some modest preparatory work so that we can hit the ground running. We will work in small groups, delving deep, and building through several steps to get a group consensus of what the essential questions need to be to rediscover the heart of the arts for 21st century Californians.
If your gut tells you that this is the conversation you need to be in, then be there. Let's launch some history.”
We need your perspective and your voice to help us in this crucial work. Now is the moment to envision for our century what the role of the arts can be for every Californian and every California community.
At the close of our Visioning Retreat we invite you to participate in California Arts Advocacy Day, sponsored jointly by California Arts Advocates and California Alliance for Arts Education. Move directly to arts activism by attending a Legislative Briefing and going to the Capitol for scheduled visits with your legislators.
Please mail your conference fee of $150.00 to California Arts Advocates by January 5, 2010.
(Conference fee will cover hospitality, facilitator fees and conference materials).
California Arts Advocates
1663 Mission Street, Suite 525
San Francisco, CA 94103
Please make your own travel arrangements.
The following hotels are among those within walking distance of the Capitol:
1209 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
1230 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
700 16th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
1300 H Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
926 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
Retreat attendees traveling from 200 miles or further may apply for travel grants of $100.00, made possible on a first-come basis, by a generous grant from WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation). To apply, please email Lily Yang at CAA and state your location. email@example.com
For more information, contact Lily Yang, 415-430-1140 x13.