For nearly 60 years, Americans for the Arts has held an annual convention for arts and community leaders to network and discuss strategies for building stronger towns, counties, and cities through the arts. Nashville was chosen host city because it is a city of innovation where unlikely partnerships yield amazing results; where communities intermingle and surprise each other; where people wear their art on their sleeves; and where music, sculpture, and imagination inform every interaction.
“Participants had unprecedented access to new ideas and strategies for better serving local audiences,” said Dr. Susan Edwards, member of the local host committee and executive director of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. “Outside the conference halls and walls, visitors witnessed how Nashville’s leadership has recognized and promoted the concept of economic and civic prosperity grounded in the allure of creative enterprise.”
Nashville was host to the group June 11-15 as the 2014 annual convention for Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit for advancing the arts and arts education, welcomed more than 1,000 arts professionals; leaders in community, government, and business; students; artists; and supporters of the arts to the city for its main convention and pre-conferences.
“There was a main convention, but it was preceded by three pre-conferences: Public Art, Arts Leadership, and Arts Education Advocacy,” said Graham Dunstan, senior director of marketing and communications for Americans for the Arts.
The opening keynote, entitled ‘The Power of Art to Transform People,’ officially kicked off the convention with a thought provoking journey through musician and arts education activist Ben Folds’ personal history and perspective on the transformative nature of the arts, which has allowed him to witness the power of arts education in transforming the lives of young students.
“The Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Pre-Conference was a great exploration of collective impact as a framework to increase access to arts education for more students,” said Ayanna N. Hudson, director, Arts Education, National Endowment for the Arts.
“Collective impact is tackling and solving a complex problem by working with partners (including those that can’t be considered your ‘usual suspects’) instead of working alone,” Hudson said. “We saw this in action at the conference by learning about Nashville’s Music Makes Us initiative and a site visit to the Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School which is taking part in this program to ensure high quality traditional and/or contemporary music instruction music to all 82,000 kindergarten through grade 12 students in Metro Nashville Public Schools.”
“It was wonderful to be able to spotlight Nashville’s thriving arts and culture community for our national colleagues at the recent Americans for the Arts conference”, said Laurie T. Schell, director, Music Makes Us, Metro Nashville Public Schools. “I am particularly excited about the participants’ enthusiastic reaction to Metro Schools Music Makes Us initiative and the state-of-the-art recording studio and student run record label at Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School.”