In2010, NAMAC tookon issues of devel-oping leadershipand building orga-nizational capac-ity across the me-dia arts field in ourpublication
Now,with our NationalConference,
we’rebringing this workup to date and ex-tending it for today’s challenges. More than a decadeof leadership work has taught us that artists increas-ingly lead our member organizations. Recognizing thatmany of the original founders of media arts organiza-tions were artists as well, we wanted to explore thisreemergence. And where better to do it than at ournational conference?More and more, artists have stepped into organiza-tional leadership — in policymaking, programming, andadministrative roles. This is true for many of our mem-ber organizations, as well as for NAMAC itself. We’veseen throughout the creative sector how artists havebecome a driving force in fieldwide planning, organi-zational development, public policy input and the cre-ation of political action agendas. Related to this, theentrepreneurial creativity, skills, and experience thatprofessional artists apply to their own small business-es often translate well into creative sector leadershippositions. While many artists are bringing their busi-ness expertise to organizational boards and staffs, asa whole we rarely take the time to consider the impactof artist-leaders on our sector.
al-lows us to pause and examine how artists are leading,innovating, and changing the way our organizationsthrive in these challenging times.National arts policy has increasingly focused over thelast decade on “creative placemaking.” Tracing its ori-gins to Richard Florida’s controversial book
The Riseof thew Creative Class
, this subject has led to a tug-of-war among various discourses. On one side is thevoice of economic development, which seeks to usecultural organizations as anchors of economic revi-talization for economically underperforming or de-pressed areas, both urban and rural. On the otherside is bottom-up placemaking, in which communi-ties work collaboratively to ensure the heterogeneityof neighborhoods—economical, cultural and residen-tial—while working through the arts to achieve social justice ends like workforce development or telecom-munications equity. Between these poles exist manyvariations and examples that integrate both modes.The Twin Cities have long been at the forefront of cre-ative placemaking. Through municipal and regionalplanning, philanthropic initiatives, and public–privatepartnerships, Minneapolis and St. Paul serve as re-gional models for community building, integrating thearts into community life. We look to the way the TwinCities’ cultural landscape continues to be shaped bypolicies that support artists’ live-work neighborhoods;private and corporate foundations funding both artistsand innovative community projects; and waves of im-migrants who bring vital energy and ideas to the cul-tural environment. The recent voter-approved Minne-sota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund legislates newtax revenues for clean water, parks and recreationfacilities, as well as arts and cultural heritage, en-suring capital for statewide creative placemaking overthe next 25 years. These initiatives hold great promise,inspiring all of us in our separate communities to fos-ter creative, cultural change that stays rooted in ourhumanity.We last convened as a field in 2009, a year into a newadministration in Washington. Hopes then were highthat finally our input would be heard on telecommu-nications policy, federal funding, and the role of thearts in America, contributing to a more just Fed-eral government. We reconvene noting how little haschanged. Funding remains scarce, policies continue tobe shaped by private industry interests, and the artsare frequently caught in the political crosshairs (wit-ness, for example, the Smithsonian’s removal of Da-vid Wojnarowicz’s
A Fire in My Belly
after conservativeCongressional pressure was brought to bear). But let’sremember that we have victories to celebrate. Perhapsmost notable this year was the elimination of duallyrestrictive bills in Congress—the Stop Online PiracyAct (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IntellectualProperty Act (PIPA) in the Senate.Recognizing the importance of policy work in oursector,
sprinkles policy speakersacross various panels. Our hope is to remind you of theinterdependency of government policy and the work wedo in our ever-evolving digital environment—and howthis may touch your organizations in ways you have notyet considered. This conference offers us the oppor-tunity to explore these broad themes—as well as thetime to drill down on the consequences rippling outfrom them.
We wish to inspire, illuminate, and activateyou so that you can return to your communities rein-vigorated.
As a network, we flourish on the exchangeof ideas and on collaboration. Use this time to engage,envision and thrive!