Is tech a creative medium for artists?
NEA + Knight, Ford foundations report says yes
The National Endowment for the Arts announces the release of the report Tech as Art: Supporting Artists Who Use Technology as a Creative Medium, the result of a two-year field scan, an initiative of the Arts Endowment in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
The field scan and report explore the multi-faceted practices of artists who engage with digital technologies in both the creative and functional aspects of their work. The report also looks at the training and exhibition infrastructure that tech-centered artists have developed to pursue their creative practices, and diagnoses a critical need for funding to advance the field.
A key finding of the study is that even with the willingness of audiences to move to digital spaces for arts and cultural programming during the pandemic, many cultural organizations lack capacity and the resources to adequately support the growing needs of tech-centered artists and their audiences. At the same time, these artists have demonstrated their unique ability to respond creatively to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by engaging with audiences and responding to calls for greater equity and inclusion.
“Tech-centered artists can be invaluable partners for leaders in the arts and non-arts sectors alike,” said National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Ann Eilers
. “Not only are equity and inclusion increasingly embedded in their artistic practice, but they also explore ethical issues around technology, such as data privacy and artificial intelligence, presenting complex ideas through a creative and accessible lens.”
A virtual launch event celebrating the culmination of this work featured arts funders and artist/technologists discussing key findings of the report. Panelists for the virtual event were Refik Anadol, Amelia Winger Bearskin, Stephanie Dinkins, Ruby Lerner, Omari Rush, and Eleanor Savage with moderator Hrag Vartanian. The event will be archived and available on the Media Arts impact page.
In addition to featuring more than a hundred artists and organizations in the report, Tech as Art
includes nine case studies offering a more in-depth look at leading tech-focused artists and practitioners. Case study artists are 3-Legged Dog
, Refik Anadol
, Design I/O
, Stephanie Dinkins
, Darcy Neal
, Processing Foundation
, Lance Weiler
, and Amelia Winger-Bearskin
. Videos created from the case studies are in a YouTube playlist
. Finally, the recommendations in the report are expanded upon by ten commissioned essays
Key findings from the report include:
The report’s recommendations include:
- Code, computation, data, and tool-building are fundamental to tech-centered artists, enabling them to create works across artistic forms and contexts.
- Because the field is so diverse and dynamic, more traditional arts organizations and funders often have trouble engaging with tech-centered artistic practices. Since these artists create projects within and between virtual and physical spaces, they require distinct approaches to presentation, public engagement, accessibility, and archiving.
- Tech-centered artists have successfully established peer organizations, regional hubs, exhibition spaces, festivals, information networks, and academic departments across the United States. However, there are also significant resource gaps which inhibit the growth of artistic and professional development.
- Career pathways for tech-centered artists are highly varied, though as a group these workers encounter many of the same obstacles as artists in general. Despite formal education, tech-centered artists describe themselves as largely self-taught and reliant on artist-founded organizations, community hubs, and online resources.
- Expanding technical expertise and capacity among cultural organizations working with tech-centered artists.
- Reviewing programs and outreach plans from grant makers, arts service or presenting organizations, and traditional arts institutions to ensure that funding program guidelines and documentation requirements align with, and welcome, tech-focused artists and projects.
- Lifting barriers to collaboration across arts and non-arts sectors to encourage relationships to exchange information, seed partnerships, and launch initiatives.
- Embedding technology assets in the broader arts and cultural infrastructure to address the lack of funding for digital capacity-building; existing digital divides across geography, ethnicity, race, and gender; and inadequate access to high-speed internet.
- Increasing project development, presentation, and exhibition opportunities.
- Deepening public understanding of the value and impact of tech-focused artists by conducting further research and education that supports greater public recognition of artists’ creative approaches, innovations, and contributions.
In addition to publishing this report, the Arts Endowment has deepened its commitment to supporting activities at the intersection of arts and technology through the agency’s major funding program, Grants for Arts Projects. In the Media Arts discipline, organizations from any artistic discipline can apply for support of arts projects that use new media, creative code, and emergent forms. The Arts Endowment also provides technical assistance to prospective applicants and connects tech-centered artists with other grant makers, arts organizations, policymakers, educators, and tech companies.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov
to learn more.
About the Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation
is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit www.kf.org
Furman student presents at prestigious conferences
Furman undergrad getting noticed for research
Furman University senior Beth Fraser of Shelby, North Carolina, has won the respect only few undergraduate-level researchers receive in the world of literature and Romanticism.
This summer, Shelby (right) presented her research at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment held at University of California, Davis, and at the International Conference on Romanticism hosted by The University of Manchester, England.
Both conferences are known for discriminating audiences, researchers, and equally scrutinous research review committees.
At the two meetings, Fraser presented “Poesy breaths in all: Ecocritical Explorations of Romanticism’s Omnipoetic Universe.”
Born of Fraser’s interdisciplinary project examining ecoacoustic avian telemetries, the paper explores naturalistic figurations of birdsong by Romantic poet John Clare, who was described by his biographer as “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced.”
The opportunity to present at both conferences was a pleasant surprise for Fraser. “I scarcely dared to hope that either would accept me, and yet here I am with the beautiful opportunity to present at both,” she said.
Mentor Michele Speitz
, Furman associate professor of English literature, said that many graduate students and faculty members submit work to these conferences without success. “So for Beth to be selected as the only undergraduate to present at two major professional conferences is truly remarkable,” Speitz said. “She is not only presenting her work in front of an exacting audience, but is speaking as an expert, as someone with something important to share with people in the know.”
Fraser said Furman’s Office of Undergraduate Research and the Furman Humanities Development Fund encouraged and supported her investigations.
An English literature and art history double-major, Fraser specializes in 19th-century British literature and early 20th-century painting with particular interests in Romanticism, ekphrastic poetry, the Simultaneous movement, aesthetic theologies, ecocritical theory, and the intersection of art and literature.
Fraser is especially interested in Romantic-era metaphysics and ecocritical art history. She is co-writing an article with Speitz entitled “Avian Telemetries & the Audible Anthropocene: Romantic Ecoacoustics, Transdisciplinary Ecologies, Sympoetic Worlding.”
Following graduation next spring, Fraser plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Romantic literature or modern art on her way to becoming a professor in the field.
Fulbright grant sending Furman musicologist to Russia
Laura Kennedy, Furman University associate professor of musicology, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to conduct research in Russia during the 2019/2020 academic year.
For her research project, “Ballet in a Waning Empire: Shostakovich, Lopukhov, and the Search for Soviet Dance,” Kennedy will work in music and dance archives in St. Petersburg and Moscow. She will research costumes, set designs, choreographic notes, musical scores, photographs and other materials from early Soviet ballet productions written in Leningrad in the 1920s and 1930s, a formative period of experimentation in the Russian arts.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright honor represents a national competition across the humanities, arts, sciences and education. Grantees undergo a rigorous peer-review process, in which proposals are evaluated in both the U.S. and destination countries and are finally selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
“I’m thrilled with the opportunity of this Fulbright and with the chance to pursue new research on Russian ballet. My goal is to author the first book ever written on the ballets of Dmitri Shostakovich: The Golden Age, The Bolt, and The Limpid Stream,” said Kennedy. “These early ballets set the direction of Soviet dance, ensuring ballet’s place as a central expression of Soviet cultural achievement and diplomacy in the 20th century.”
This latest Fulbright award marks Kennedy’s second grant to study in Russia. Her first Fulbright was awarded to conduct research in 2006/2007 on Shostakovich when she was a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan.
“The Fulbright Scholar award combines my expertise in Shostakovich’s music and manuscripts with my work on dance,” said Kennedy.
“I’m grateful to the Department of Music, the Research & Professional Growth Committee, and the Humanities Development Fund at Furman for generously supporting the opportunities that have shaped my scholarship in music and dance. And I’m equally grateful to the Fulbright program for the unique experiences it has afforded me as a scholar,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy joined the Furman faculty in 2012. She coordinates the music history curriculum and teaches courses on music and dance history. With Patricia Sasser, director of Furman’s Maxwell Music Library, she also co-directs the department’s study away course to Paris and London: “Rites of Spring: Paris, the Ballets Russes, & the Arts of Modernism.”
Her work has been published in Fontes Artis Musicae, Notes: The Journal of the Music Library Association, the Journal of Music History Pedagogy, and Information Literacy in Music (A-R Editions).
She holds a bachelor’s in music from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in historical musicology from the University of Michigan.
For more information, contact the Furman News and Media Relations office at 864.294.3107.
Arts-rich S.C. schools score above national mean in hope, engagement
Gallup research in 2018 shows arts’ impact on key indicators
This morning at the South Carolina Arts Advocacy Day breakfast, S.C. Arts Commission Education Director Ashley Brown released exciting new findings from a 2018 study that found high levels of engagement and hope in arts-rich South Carolina schools.
The S.C. Arts Commission
(SCAC) and Palmetto State Arts Education
(PSAE) partnered with internationally recognized analytics firm Gallup
to participate in the annual Gallup Student Poll. It measures student engagement
, entrepreneurial aspirations
, and career and financial literacy
and, in the past 10 years, surveyed more than 6 million students. According to Gallup data from 2016, engaged and hopeful students are more than twice as likely to report they get excellent grades and are twice less likely to report they missed a lot of school than their actively disengaged peers.
In each of the four indicators on the poll, the students in South Carolina’s arts-rich schools outperformed the national mean.
The research also showed a direct correlation between a school’s length of time as a arts-rich and an increase in student engagement and hope. And most importantly, students surveyed in arts-rich schools with free/reduced lunch program participation of 75% or greater scored higher than the state and national mean.
Brown said schools are considered arts-rich when they are “committed to the arts at the cellular level.” She said both Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project and Distinguished Arts Program (DAP) sites are required to have an arts strategic plan and, in both, the arts “are simply part of the fabric of the school.” SCAC and PSAE conducted the Gallup Student poll in arts-rich schools throughout South Carolina at a mixture of ABC Project and DAP sites.
“This is the first time in its history the Gallup student poll has been used to look specifically at arts-rich environments
, and it is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the connection between the arts and engagement,” Brown said.
The items on the Gallup Student Poll where students from S.C. arts-rich schools scored the highest above the national mean
- The adults at my school care about me
- I have at least one teacher who makes me feel excited about the future
- I have a great future ahead of me
- I know I will find a good job in the future
- I will invent something that changes the world
- I plan to start my own business
The arts are integral to a well-rounded education that allows students to achieve the knowledge, skills, and life and career characteristics outlined in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate
. From creativity to problem solving, perseverance to critical thinking, learning in and through the arts is proven to equip students with the skills necessary to be engaged citizens.
ABC Project and SC Arts Alliance submitted amendments and adjustments to H.3759, proposed by House Speaker Jay Lucas
(R-Darlington) and currently working its way through the S.C. House committee on education and public works, to ensure the arts are embraced and advanced to help every student achieve the standards set in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.
The findings from the Gallup Student Poll reinforce what those in the arts already know:
From creativity to problem solving, critical thinking to perseverance, learning in and through the arts supports students as engaged and hopeful citizens of the world. This information will inform requests for additional funding in the arts, arts advocacy, and the role of the arts in education reform. This PDF of the findings from the Gallup Student Poll
can be shared with community and education leaders, legislators, and educators.
To learn more about this important research, visit https://www.palmettoartsed.org/gallup.html
Six findings from Amplify Columbia
From ColaToday (10/1/2018):
Back in January, the City + One Columbia announced that they were enacting a cultural arts planning process called Amplify in Columbia: an 18-month project that would kick off with focus groups + surveys to discover how the arts could better serve our city – and vice versa – and end with a formalized draft of a cultural section of the City Planning Department’s Comprehensive Plan in-the-making, Columbia Compass: Envision 2036.
Now, Amplify is in its tenth month of its 18-month planning process. So – what has the Amplify team found out about cultural needs, wants, barriers + opportunities in Columbia? And how can that be written into Columbia Compass as future public policy for our city?
Data collected from 70 public meetings in 59 places across Columbia has uncovered a few things, and identified six themes that have come from people who attended. (The S.C. Arts Commission was the site of one such meeting, and Amplify's lead consultant served on the panel that reviewed applicants to our biggest grant program: General Operating Support for Organizations
- 96% of survey-takers feel Columbia needs more arts activities and events
- 50% feel that increasing public space for interactive experiences is a top priority
- Other top priorities included focusing on the preservation and support of Columbia history and continuing to add more public art
- Columbia has artists who are willing to teach in their communities
- Columbia's citizens define culture + art beyond visual creations, including food, festivals and more
Additionally, six themes
emerged from the public hearings, discussions + forums:
Head over to ColaToday
- Valuing Artists
- Art Learning and Mastery
to read more about the process and the findings to this point.
Can arts therapies improve health for military PTSD patients?
A new study funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) reveals that art work created by military service members as part of their medical treatment for psychological health conditions conveys valuable information for doctors.
This benefit is especially important for patients who struggle to express their thoughts and feelings. In another research development, the NEA is posting a framework document that maps new research priorities for the agency’s Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. Both the new study and the research agenda aim to extend knowledge about how, when, and why creative arts therapies improve health for patients coping with the effects of their wartime experiences. The NEA is announcing these two resources as the nation recognizes PTSD Awareness Day on June 27.
"The newly published study exemplifies the type of practical research that the Creative Forces network will pursue over the next five years," said Sunil Iyengar, director of Research & Analysis at the NEA. "The researchers will continue to examine how creative arts therapies can inform diagnoses and treatment options for the range of patients experiencing these complex psychological illnesses."
One of the masks included in the study that demonstrates dentification with military unit (depiction of sense of belonging to a military unit, for example, explosive ordnance disposal badge, also known as the ‘crab’).
The study, Observational study of associations between visual imagery and measures of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress among active-duty military service members with traumatic brain injury at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, examined masks created by 370 service members in creative arts therapy sessions that were part of their integrative care. Researchers identified and correlated themes observed in those masks with psychological diagnoses.
The observational study was led by Girija Kaimal, EdD, of Drexel University, and Melissa Walker, of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence and is being published by the British Medical Journal, an international peer reviewed medical journal. Dr. Kaimal noted, “Few studies in art therapy have linked visual symbols with existing standardized clinical measures. This helps us see if there are patterns of visual representations that relate to psychological states.”
During the creative art therapy sessions, service members are asked to embellish a blank mask of a human face using a variety of art supplies in a way that reflects how they feel. The researchers then created an inventory of themes represented in the masks and matched those themes with data collected previously in questionnaires from those patients. The questionnaires measured levels of depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD.
The study found that masks that included symbols of the patient’s identify in relation to a military unit or other social group correlated with lower levels of psychological distress. This indicates that the capacity to imagine oneself as part of something larger than one’s individual experiences is associated with lower PTSD, depression, and anxiety scores. Conversely, masks that included fragmented objects, like broken gear or faded camouflage, were tied to higher levels of anxiety, while masks that showed psychological pain matched with patients dealing with more acute PTSD.
To enable more research such as this, the National Endowment for the Arts developed the Creative Forces Clinical Research: A Strategic Framework and Five Year Agenda. The research completed as a result of this framework will strengthen the Creative Forces network as well as the military medical and creative arts therapy fields, enhancing the quality of care for military patients.
Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the state arts agencies that places creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at 11 military medical clinics across the country. Visit the NEA’s website for more information on Creative Forces and information on additional published research and clinical practice papers associated with Creative Forces.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more about NEA.
Healing and development from… the arts
This afternoon, The Hub would like to draw your attention to the (positive) effects arts participation has on the human body. Exposure is certainly nice, but we focus specifically today on the actual doing. And before going further, these come by way of NASAA – the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
Without being overly general, all it takes is a look at a professional dancer to know dance is, at least physically, good for you. But recent data from Australia shows that older adults who participate in dance classes see “increases in physical, cognitive and emotional well-being and as well as a general sense of achievement.” See study here
Closer to home, those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease can seek symptom relief through participation (there’s that word again) in dance classes from Ballet Spartanburg (right, dancer Charlotte Lanning). The company received the 2018 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts yesterday in part because of offering its community classes like this, which can also help those who have experienced a stroke or disorders like autism, dementia, or multiple sclerosis. Ballet Spartanburg offers the only course of this type in the Upstate, and it's led by Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo.
Winifred Walsh, who leads a Parkinson’s support group in Spartanburg, had this to say about the course in her support letter for the company’s Verner Awards nomination:
To receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease at age 53 is a life-changer ... A friend urged me to join Spartanburg’s PD Support Group and the Dance for PD class offered by Ballet Spartanburg. I went and I was horrified at first look. I thought, ‘I am not like those people!’ But curiosity got the better of me and I stayed and have stayed for some nine years now. And guess what? I am exactly like those people, people with Parkinson’s who are not wasting time on self-pity ... Ballet Spartanburg Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo has set the bar high for our teachers who find joy in our attempts, who rejoice with us in our successes, who laugh with us often ... Outreach seems such a simple term for such complex blessings to me and to others who have movement and balance disorders. We offer gratitude to Ballet Spartanburg for improving our lives through dance, and also through love. We are not merely people with Parkinson’s. Ballet Spartanburg has made us dancers.”
Learn more about the additional benefits of this program by clicking here
The National Endowment for the Arts is talking music training, which is how people get ready for … participation
(that’s a hat trick). Two recent articles “find that music education not only strengthens creativity but also improves brain functions related to language development, attention, visuospatial perception, planning and other executive functions, and short-term and working memory.”
Music training can be found, almost literally, everywhere. But lessons can be costly, to say nothing of other potential barriers. But four of the professional orchestras the South Carolina Arts Commission helps fund offer the interactive Link Up program
from Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute. Link Up partners orchestras with schools (home, private, and public) or school districts to offer an interactive musical curriculum in schools that teach students lessons in theory and can teach them how to use the recorder. The program usually culminates with a trip to see the professionals perform locally, with a twist: during the Link Up concert, the students can play recorders along with the musicians on stage!
The four South Carolina orchestras that offered Link Up concerts during the 2017/2018 school year are the Aiken and Charleston symphonies and South Carolina (Columbia) and Spartanburg philharmonics.
Arts Commission to release economic impact report next week
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
31 January 2018
COLUMBIA, S.C. – With Arts Advocacy Day at the State House in Columbia as a backdrop, the S.C. Arts Commission will release a new economic impact report on South Carolina’s arts sector Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018.
- Economist, researcher Doug Woodward to present report at legislative luncheon
- Statewide arts advocates to gather at State House in support of sector
The new report, the first since 2010, will show the arts’ impact on the S.C. economy with detailed employment and total impact numbers, among other things. It was commissioned by the Arts Commission and completed by Doug Woodward, Ph.D.
, an economist, researcher, and professor at the USC Darla Moore School of Business who examined 2014 data from the Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. As the keynote speaker at the 1 p.m. legislative luncheon at the Capital City Club (1201 Main St., 25th
floor, Columbia), Woodward will give a presentation on his findings and be available for media questions.
“We expect the report will show that the state’s investment in the arts translates to a significant impact on the state’s economy, from jobs created and maintained to the ripple effects of people then transferring wages to other sectors through spending,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May
said. “It’s certainly appropriate for state leaders to pay attention to the arts as a viable economic driver just as they do agriculture, manufacturing, and other key sectors.”
Arts Advocacy Day is organized and presented annually by the S.C. Arts Alliance. Festivities begin shortly after 11 a.m. on the State House steps as 300 choral students from Richland School District 2
in Columbia sing on the building’s Gervais Street steps. Arts advocates then move inside for a rally, enthusiastically greeting members of the House and Senate arriving for the day’s sessions, before moving across Gervais Street for the 1 p.m. luncheon honoring the S.C. Legislative Arts Caucus.
ABOUT DR. DOUGLAS P. WOODWARD
Dr. Douglas P. Woodward is the director of the Division of Research and professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. He earned his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Texas in 1986. Dr. Woodward's primary research interests are in regional economic development. He has published numerous academic articles in economics and regional science journals.
Dr. Woodward has conducted sponsored economic research in the United States, China, Morocco, South Africa, Kenya and elsewhere. Over his career, Dr. Woodward has received many grants and awards. He has testiﬁed before local, state and national government committees and has presented his research at many conferences around the world, including the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzer- land. Dr. Woodward has been quoted frequently in the national press and has often appeared on television and radio programs discussing economic development and related topics.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS ALLIANCE
The South Carolina Arts Alliance is dedicated to advancing the arts for all South Carolinians through advocacy, leadership development, and public awareness. Based at the Younts Center for Performing Arts in Fountain Inn, S.C., the SCAA works across the state with artists, arts administrators, educators, creative entrepreneurs, community leaders, and arts supporters to strengthen the creative sector in South Carolina. More information can be found at SCArtsAlliance.net
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION
The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances.
Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three areas:
- arts education,
- community arts development,
- and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com
or call (803) 734-8696.
The geographic divide in American creativity
From The Washington Post
Article by Christopher Ingraham
Urbanist Richard Florida popularized the term "creative class," describing the millions of workers in fields such as the arts, sciences and technology whose work largely involves coming up with new ideas and innovating on old ones.
The creative class has, for better or worse, primarily been associated with big American cities along the coasts: out of Richard Florida's top 20 creative-class cities in 2015, only one — Dublin, Ohio — was located in a non-coastal state.
But new data recently released by the National Endowment for the Arts suggests that there's an awful lot of creativity happening far inland from America's coastal tech and arts hubs.
Among other things, the NEA worked with the Census to poll residents of all 50 states on their participation in the arts, particularly whether they performed or created works of art in 2014.
Those data reveal a somewhat surprising pattern: America's Great Creative Divide isn't between the coasts and the center, but rather between North and South. Take a look.
Nationwide, 45 percent of American adults said they personally performed or created artwork in 2014. "Art," in this case, was defined by a wide variety of activities. Rather than recite all of them, I'll just leave the definition, from the NEA's report, here:
As you can see from the map, the study found a surprisingly wide range of arts participation between states. At one end of the spectrum, folks in places such as West Virginia, Oklahoma and Florida seemed to have little interest in doing art — participation levels there hovered around 30 percent.
By contrast, people in states such as Colorado, Vermont, Montana and Oregon were roughly twice as likely to personally create or perform artwork.
You can see that the states are heavily sorted by geography, with the dividing line at parallel 36°30' (by chance, the line that delineated the boundary between new slave and free states in the Missouri Compromise).
In no state to the south of that line do a majority of people say they personally create or perform art. Conversely, in only three states above that line — Kentucky, Delaware and West Virginia — do fewer than 40 percent of residents create or perform art.
What's driving these differences? A separate analysis by the NEA has some answers. Education is a big part of it. The percent of state residents with a bachelor's degree or higher is positively correlated with creating artwork: in other words, more education, more art.
This relationship is even stronger in some of the other categories the NEA looked at, such as attendance at art exhibits or performing arts events.
Conversely, poverty rates are a strong negative driver of arts participation. If you're working three minimum wage jobs, you're probably not going to have a lot of time to indulge in crochet or creative writing.
Of course, education and poverty are big drivers of each other, too. States with more money can spend more on better education, which leads to higher wages, which leads to more education, in an ongoing virtuous cycle. Unfortunately, the reverse holds true as well.
Rates of participation in the arts are a powerful and under-appreciated proxy for human well-being. "Self-actualization," including creative activities, are all the way at the top of Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs. If you're able to spend the time and resources necessary to, say, practice with the local theater group or join the local community band, it's highly likely that you've got all the basics like food, shelter and safety taken care of.
The NEA numbers suggest that a lot of folks in Southern states are falling behind their Northern counterparts on some of those measures. This mirrors what researchers see in other domains too, such as child well-being.
Geography, again, is destiny. Statistically speaking, a kid born in a state such as Florida is likely to have a harder time reaching the pinnacle of Maslow's pyramid than one born in, say, Minnesota.
In the digital age, young kids need classical music more than ever
From The Huffington Post
Article by Claire Fallon
There’s a sticker on the plastic-wrapped CD I’m holding that reads, “Produced by Phil Ramone.” The late, great producer, who died in 2013, has a name brand that few other music producers can rival: He worked with Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Madonna and Sinéad O’Connor. This album, though, is a little different. It’s classical music, curated for children.
“He actually started as a child prodigy violinist,” said Marc Neikrug, a renowned classical composer who collaborated with Ramone on the album, "Sunken Cathedrals," after being introduced by Dr. Rock Positano, a podiatrist with a special interest in music’s value to medicine. “The three of us were all very, very interested in promoting classical music to children, for many reasons.”
Parents have heard about the specific benefits of classical music for developing minds and calming babies for decades -- imagine a mother playing Mozart through headphones stretched over her pregnant belly -- but the scientific debate has continued to rage.
In an age when children develop surrounded by constant stimulation and distraction, however, Neikrug sees a very particular value in classical music. “I’m concerned about a world in which there is an almost corporate, aggressive move to lower people’s attention spans, so that your brain actually can’t focus for more than half a minute on anything without needing some other stimulus,” he told me. “That’s terrifying. How do you even absorb and learn things? How do you expect kids to do well in school?” With TV viewing consistently on the rise, including among very young children, some studies have suggested that frequently watching television as a small children or infant can harm attention spans later in childhood.
Where does classical music fit into this landscape? “I think it’s really important to let kids, at the earliest age, build some kind of ability to focus,” Neikrug said. “Great music can do that, because you’re drawn into what you’re listening to.” A two- or three-minute waltz may not seem so long to concentrate on, but it’s “a good attention span, for kids,” he said. “We picked the pieces very deliberately to be not too long.”
The pieces are calm, beautiful, and simple, the sort of music that won’t rile a kid up or throw up constant distractions. Much like reading aloud to a child, calm classical compositions engage a child in a form of entertainment that’s low-stimulus and substantive.
All of the pieces on the two-part album are unadapted, complete works of classical music, either solo piano or piano with violin, from Schubert to Schumann, Mozart to Debussy. “Both Phil and I, and Dr. Rock, were completely convinced that we need little, short, beautiful pieces for kids. They happen to be really good for adults, also,” he points out, though the words “Classics for Kids” on the cover might scare some grown people off.
The ability to fully enjoy classical music later in life, Neikrug argued, is one of the potential benefits of playing classical music for a child. “If you listen to classical music at an early age, even if at the age of say, eight or nine to 20, they go off into that world if you come back to it, it’s the same as learning another language early,” he said.“They come back to it.”
This doesn’t mean you should toss all of your Raffi albums or trash all the screen devices in your home. “I’m not an advocate for disregarding the reality of living in this world,” Neikrug said. “I just don’t think it’s mutually exclusive. I would say someone who grows up able to focus for an hour and equally able to text under the table with one hand, is fine.”
So how does one get modern adults to pick up an album of classical tunes that might benefit their kids? “In the end, I think it’s the people,” said Neikrug. “Phil Ramone was one of the great record producers, and it’s two very respected people in the classical music world. It’s not Yanni. It’s not 'Sesame Street.'” Parents who grew up on Ramone’s music -- from Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga -- can let their babies do the same, even from infancy. Maybe, along the way, those babies will fall in love with the quiet joys of classical music.
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