Copyright and You!
As an arts lawyer, I often advise on a variety of copyright issues. Many artists realize copyright law is crucial to protecting the value of their work, but beyond that, the details of how exactly to use copyright gets lost in the shuffle. I’m hopeful this post will clear up some common areas of confusion! Copyright is an intellectual property right, or an intangible, nonphysical right. Put another way, copyright is separate and distinct from the personal property right to a physical work of art. Fortunately, copyright protection is easy to obtain: As soon as you create a work of art, that work is automatically protected by copyright! The key here is that, for your work to be protected by copyright, it must be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” In other words, your work must be committed to some tangible, perceivable, reproducible form. This “fixation” is required because copyright protects the expression of an idea, not simply the idea itself.
The Art of Social Change
One can only wonder what Marshall McLuhan, who coined the phrase “The medium is the message,” would have thought about the Rest Stop Theatre Project, a novel outdoor mobile experience that takes place in the back of a beat-up pickup truck. Produced by Benjamin Rexroad and Kyle Jozsa of Wandering Aesthetics (an Akron, Ohio-based storytelling theatre company), Rest Stop Theatre featured a cast of four actors running through compelling non-partisan scenes designed to increase local voting participation in the 2016 presidential election. The rollicking performance included a bit of improv, sketch comedy, and audience participation—which Wandering Aesthetics has earned a reputation for. They put on 10 performances across different parking lots and neighborhoods in Akron, exploring the many facets that make up the culture of voting.
Collaboration in the Classroom and Beyond
Recently I’ve been reflecting on my long career in education and am grateful for the many and varied opportunities. I’ve always been intrigued by collaboration in education, and if I had to select something that has the greatest influence on my work, intertwined with every job, it has been collaboration. About 10 years ago, I realized how much focus is put on collaboration and how little intentional action/planning/understanding is put into it. We expect adults and students to collaborate, but we don’t unpack that as a group or individually to make a greater impact on the success of the work. One guide for preparing students for the world is most often directed today by “the 4C’s” which includes critical thinking & problem solving, creativity and innovation, communication, and collaboration. I think it’s time to put some effort into unpacking collaboration before jumping into a partnership or expecting students to work in a group.
The Arts Expand our World. So Why Define Arts Narrowly?
Let’s start with an irrefutable statement: The arts broaden our perspective and enhance the world around us. No one should disagree with that. Now for a simple follow-up question: If the arts—which include all of music, the visual arts, performing arts, and more—are so very broad and so very expansive, why do we insist on using restrictive labels to define them? The term “Fine Arts” is used across all educational levels to cover the spectrum of arts offerings. Fine Arts is a very narrow definition that is too restrictive. We should stop doing it. We should leave the term back in 2019. Our goal in the new decade, at least as it concerns our ability to appreciate the aesthetic, economic, educational, and human impact of the arts, should be to expand our view of the arts, not restrict it. The arts are limitless in their potential to reach, teach, motivate, and energize. Why put limits on something that is limitless?
How cinema can become a catalyst for social change
While many people go to the theater to relax and be entertained after a busy day, the moviegoers at The Nightlight Cinema go there not to get away from it all—but instead are seeking community engagement. Opened in 2014 in Akron, Ohio, this art house’s mission is to create a place where cinema and community exist in tandem. Open nightly, it provides a classy nightspot where patrons can enjoy the cinematic art form and explore new ideas as part of a thoughtful community. For instance, after the screening of Inside Akron’s Tent City, a locally produced documentary that premiered at the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival, The Nightlight Cinema added extra show dates at its theater to keep the homelessness crisis at the forefront of people’s minds. The film resonated with the city in many ways and helped people empathize with those who are homeless.
Artist Legislator
I believe my artistic practice parallels legislative actions. Moving bills from drafting to committee deliberations onto floor votes in both the House and Senate also is an iterative collaborative process informed by myriad voices: stakeholders, advocates, community members, and other legislators, in addition to the governor. Bills constantly evolve and change. Compromise may be the best that can be achieved, given conflicting input, needs, and resources. In politics, as in art, vexing problems are best tackled from multiple perspectives with stakeholders involved. Resiliency and adaptability are also essential for best outcomes in life, art, and politics.
The 10 (plus two!) most read ARTSblog posts of 2019
As we ring in 2020, it’s the perfect time for a little hindsight (get it?)—so let’s get the year started with a look back at the most-viewed ARTSblog posts from our last trip around the sun. I know what you’re thinking: “It’s 2020 … you still have a blog?” We do, dear reader! Competition for online attention is fierce, and most virtual conversations (civil or not) seem to be happening in the comments of social media posts—and yet, ARTSblog clearly is still a valued place for our field to share experience and expertise as we navigate the varied complexities of what it means to work in the arts. There is no better place to learn from your peers, whether you’re an artist, administrator, educator, city planner, arts marketer, or countless other careers that intersect with the arts—and we’re grateful for all of the writers and readers who continue to make ARTSblog both a vibrant and practical space.
Getting an answer to the question of value
“How do I know my value?” That was a question posed by an artist in a recent workshop around Artists Statements, and if you stop for a moment, the question is profound. On one hand, there is a practical answer, one that we at Springboard for the Arts have been seeking to help artists answer for years. In our Work of Art: Business Skills for Artists curriculum, there is a whole section on pricing your work. You, as the artist, have to know what your target income is from your creative work, what the costs of your materials and labor are, what your overhead costs are. It takes research, and yes, you’ll have to do some math. But that question of value is even more than knowing how to price your work and where it might fit in to your market and economy. The question of value is inherently one about belonging and identity, and about being seen for the work you do.
NAMPC Newbie Takeaways
The 2019 National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Miami, FL was my first arts administration conference and I had a wonderful time! As an individual artist cultivating diverse audiences as well as an entrepreneur serving clients across the arts ecosystem, #NAMPC was the most ideal professional development for both my artistic and administrative growth. 
Arts integration brings added value to development
When I moved to Brentwood, Maryland in 2004, I had no idea it was an arts district. As it turned out, the Gateway Arts District is a two-mile stretch of US Route 1 starting on the border of Washington, DC into Maryland, running through four municipalities (Mount Rainier, Brentwood, North Brentwood, and Hyattsville). Long before I moved here, a group of folks including local artists, community leaders, and elected officials came together to create a vision for future development along Route 1. They knew that these working-class neighborhoods, although overlooked by developers at that time, would someday be appealing. For years the story has only been, “Artists move into a neighborhood and make it attractive, and then the developers come in and move the artists out.” But because of the high concentration of artists located in these neighborhoods for years, the community put its energy towards cultivating “arts-driven economic development” to attract developers that would embrace the artistic community and keep what was so attractive: the arts itself.
Getting to Know Mary Anne Carter: Q&A with NEA’s New Chairman
I’ve always been involved in public service, working alongside governors, senators, and other public leaders. My passion for the arts really derives from my daughter’s experiences. My daughter has dyslexia, and struggled when it came to traditional methods of teaching and learning. But she became a completely different student when arts were integrated into the classroom. She began to thrive instead of struggle. As a parent, there’s no greater gift than to see your child reach their full potential. As chairman, I hope to make sure all Americans have the same opportunities for success that my daughter has had. Our agency wants to ensure every American in every community in every state has the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the arts.