Think back to your favorite teachers. Were they teachers who sat at their desk and had you read while they nodded their head and hoped you were understanding? Were they teachers who stood in front of a chalkboard and just read from a book while you looked dazed and confused? Or were they one’s who gave you information and then began to story-tell in different ways such as having you create a play based on a topic, or took you to a museum to explain great art? Most likely it is the latter. I am positive not all teachers want to be just a talking head, they want to be memorable so you learn! However, teachers often need to learn themselves in order to not just be a talking head, and that is why programs like the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Arts Integration Institute are so important.
by Colleen Cook
As a graduate student studying arts administration, one of my professors posed a question that has stuck with me ever since:
“Why do the arts matter?”
The professor argued that, if we couldn’t answer that question, we should change our degree track. Every day of our professional life, we’d be answering that question in one way or another, whether we were seeking funding for a program, trying to sell a ticket to a show, or simply sacrificing higher pay in Corporate America for a meager non-profit salary. Yet, despite the fact that everyone in the room had been engaged with the arts for decades, the question is not exactly an easy one to answer.
Many of the students began to answer by sharing our own experiences with the arts. The spoke of high school musicals, favorite pieces, art shows, and friendships formed as a result of creating art together. Nearly every person shared a memory of a relationship formed through the creation or experience of art.
As we drilled down beyond “why do the arts matter to me?” the conversation turned to, “why should the arts matter to anyone else?” The conversation revolved around the economic benefits of the presence of arts in a community, what the arts can do to support education, healthcare, tourism, and business. Every one of those conversations felt like it gave greater weight to the conversation, however, it still seemed incomplete.
Here’s why I believe the arts matter:
The arts are unique in their ability to put us in touch with our own humanity, and the humanity of others. Because the arts communicate through story, and the human brain is hardwired for story, we are able to learn and grow when we experience art – be it visual, dance, music, theatre, or writing. The arts have the power to change what we think, how we feel, and lend us a perspective outside of our own paradigm.
When we experience these paradigm shifts, we applaud it and we eagerly share that experience with those we love. (“You have to read this book/see this movie/get tickets to this play!”) The arts offer us a point of connection to those around us, a sense of belonging, and a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. In a divided world, the arts knit us back together.
That’s something worth sacrificing for, worth tirelessly working towards, worth investing in.
by Colleen Cook
High schoolers are often expected to determine their career path at the ripe old age of 16, planning out colleges, programs of study, and future careers they’d like to take up in their adult life. In some cases, students have a broad exposure to a wide field of employment, but students are human beings who tend to follow the paths that are familiar. When choosing their future careers, they consider those of their family members, mentors, and idols. They think about what they enjoy doing as a teenager and translate that into a profession.
When I was a high school student, I loved to sing. I enjoyed the camaraderie of being in a musical or an ensemble, and I had been mentored by my music teachers, so naturally the career path I chose was music education. I might have chosen music performance, but music education seemed like the more viable career option of what I thought were two choices in the music field.
Years later, I discovered the field of arts administration, along with many other careers, and I’ve often wondered: if I was aware of these career paths when I was in high school, would I have pursued something different?
Arts and culture as an industry contributes $704 billion to the economy in annual revenue. There’s a wide range of careers and jobs in the arts, and many creative local economies are beginning to shift to an arts and culture-based model from an industrial economy.
In an effort to build awareness about careers in the arts, we’ll be doing a multi-week series of blog posts about the various career paths one can take in the arts in the coming weeks. You’ll hear from people working in the field as entrepreneurs, administrators, artists, and more. We can’t wait to share with you the depth and breadth of this fulfilling field.
You have to wonder to yourself sometimes, “who is the person who runs the Renaissance social media?” Well, this person is the same person who’s name you see in the top left corner of most of our blogs and who is asks all the questions to interviewees during podcasts. Marketing and Communications Director Colleen Cook is an innovative digital marketer, invested wife and mother, and someone who is constantly thinking about how to improve herself and the world around her.
Colleen’s path to a career in arts marketing was a little different than most. She received her undergraduate degree in Music Education from Ashland University. After graduation, she took up a job as a music teacher in an Ohio school district. Following that, she chose to pursue a master’s degree in Voice Pedagogy from Shenandoah Conservatory near Washington D.C. in Winchester, VA. She always had a nack for arts management, but didn’t know one could obtain a degree in it.
“A friend said to me why aren’t you doing a masters in Arts Management?” Colleen said. “I responded that I hadn’t even heard of the field!”
After speaking with the advisor to those pursuing degrees in arts management, Colleen chose to add a Master of Science in Arts Management to her course load and was able to get an on campus internship that helped her hone her skills. She then interned for Americans for The Arts, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. who’s mission is to serve, advance, and lead the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Colleen was placed in the Leadership Alliances department where she assisted the organization with their artist committee, administration for the National Arts Awards, the Nancy Hanks lecture and dinner for Arts Advocacy Day, and several development-related tasks.
“When successful artists and celebrities come to D.C. to testify on behalf of the NEA, or to do anything pro-arts, this is the department they go through,” Colleen said. “I was fortunate to meet a number of well known arts leaders through this internship, and I learned a lot about how a successful national-level nonprofit does business.”
Colleen said her internship with Americans for The Arts helped her learn how to do things the right way in the field of development because Americans for The Arts has to works with some of the biggest philanthropists in the United States. The experience taught her the ins and outs of the fundraising process she may not otherwise have learned.
After concluding her internship, a friend who was performing at the Renaissance at the time reached out to her about an open Assistant Development Director position. She and her husband had talked about wanting to move back to this area, and Colleen knew the Renaissance Theatre would be a good fit for her. She still had classes left to finish, but interviewed for the job anyway. She got it, and moved back two weeks later. The next year, Colleen became the Development Director and helped to reorganize the development practices at the Renaissance. After three years in that role, she made a lateral move to work as the Director of Marketing and Communications, having thoroughly enjoyed being able to tell the story of the Renaissance through her role in Development.
Meetings with various individuals are also a part of Colleen’s schedule, as is working closely with Assistant Director of Marketing and Graphic Designer Steven Au on the numerous print and digital ads the Renaissance runs for each show. Colleen develops the marketing plan for each show, partners with numerous media outlets, creates the majority of the written content the Renaissance produces, which includes web management, news releases, social media management, and numerous print pieces.
“I love that my job allows me to be creative and productive each day. We work with some of the most incredible people in our region at the Renaissance and I feel so grateful to have built relationships with so many brilliant and hardworking leaders here. It’s my pleasure to tell the Renaissance’s story each day,” she shares.
Each year, we welcome thousands of children into our theatre. Some of these children are participants, while others walk through our doors as supportive spectators. We understand that fostering an appreciation and an affinity for the arts at a young age will have a lifelong impact. Involvement in the arts has the ability to help children in unique ways as they grow and prepare for the future. Here are just a few ways the arts foster growth:
- The Arts Develop Math and Reading Skills
The arts help children learn that they can be rewarded through hard work, practice, and discipline. These are important skills to develop while children are in school. Dr. Richard Letts, Executive Director of the Music Council of Australia is one of many researchers who have concluded that participating in the arts has the ability to help students improve their skills in a range of academic subject areas, such as math and language. “The earlier a child comes to grips with music, the more the brain growth will be influenced,” writes Letts, “It sets them up for life.”
- The Arts Breed Confidence
From concerts to writing contests to theatrical productions, the arts help children put themselves out into their community through showcasing work they have done. Participation in the arts develops a student’s skills in a specific area they they are passionate about, like singing or writing. Rehearsal and editing processes help children realize they won’t always get everything right the first time and that working well with the other artists around them can help them reach their goals.
“Playing in a group, working together and developing negotiation skills are complex processes you have to work through to build a certain confidence,” said Margaret Bradley, a music expert with the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities.
Inevitably, mistakes will be happen. The mistakes made have the ability to ingrain in children that failure is not final and practice brings about progress, helping to build their confidence in themselves to succeed.
- The Arts Build Relationships
The arts have the power to bring people together who may not otherwise meet one another. An avid sports fan with a love for music composition may become best friends with a theatre enthusiast who has developed a passion for singing. A first time musical participant may become friends who someone who has been doing shows since he/she was in grade school. In the article “Why Music Listening Makes Us Feel Good,” Dr. Rebecca Sena Moore explains that that many researchers have found that listening to music has a positive effect on our brains.
“When we anticipate and then actually experience a pleasurable response while listening to music, our brain reacts in distinct and specific ways to release the “feel good” chemical dopamine,” writes Moore.
Playing music with others also adds to the release of dopamine that takes place in our brains, strengthening bonds among musicians and each other, as well as their audience members. Friends can become family and lives can be changed through the growth children see in one another while rehearsing for a show or concert, participating in an art festival, or showcasing their talents during a small get together.
- The Arts Teach Perseverance
Picking up a guitar, tickling the ivories, or playing notes on a clarinet may open a child’s eyes to seemingly endless possibilities. Throughout life, perseverance is essential to any and all success.
“First comes interest. Passion begins with intrinsically enjoying what you do…Next comes the capacity to practice. One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday…Third is purpose. What ripens passion is the conviction that your work matters…And, finally, hope. Hope is a rising-to-the-occasion kind of perseverance,” writes Angela Duckworth in her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”
Exposing children to the arts shows them that passion for something can take them far in life. First, their heart and mind have to be in it and then they have to work hard even when challenges present themselves.
These are just four of many ways that the arts enhance a child’s life. From musical instruments to live productions and more, the opportunities for children to learn, grow, and discover more about themselves and others through the arts is endless. If you are interested in learning more about our programs for youth and students, click here.
When approached by our marketing department to write about the Renaissance membership program, I was delighted to have an opportunity to share content about what makes this program so special. To be honest, my mind couldn’t quite pinpoint exactly what areas of the program I should highlight due to the expansive nature of the program and all the good work that transpires from the donations the Renaissance receives from our members. “Where should I start”, I began to wonder.
First, I thought, “should I discuss that the historic Renaissance Theatre (once the Ohio Theatre) will soon be celebrating its 90th Anniversary and our members made that rare accomplishment a reality?” It’s true. Accounts of opening night on January 19, 1928 report that despite “blizzard-like” conditions, thousands flocked to the theatre to see Clara Bow in “Get Your Man”. When built, the theatre was billed as “a temple of amusement for the benefit of the people of Mansfield” and that legacy continues today. Our base of over 350 members (and growing) provide revenue to maintain historic preservation and facility operations to the majestic theatre.
Then I began thinking “should I write about the amazing performances their membership supports?” It’s hard to believe that the Renaissance is home to over 50 performances annually and over 40,000 (including 15,000 children) attend performances ranging from Broadway Musicals to comedy shows, and country music concerts to youth theatre shows. Our members make all these great productions happen.
Next, I thought, “should I discuss the economic impact that the Renaissance Theatre provides our community?” Below are a few statistics that prove that arts organizations like the Renaissance are economic drivers.
- According to the last U.S. Census, arts and cultural production make up 4.2% of our country’s GDP and supports nearly 231,000 jobs in the state of Ohio.
- Arts organizations like the Renaissance infuse more than $3.4 billion dollars into annual tax revenues in Ohio alone
- The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector is a $704 billion-dollar industry, which represents 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP – a larger share of the economy than transportation and agriculture.
- Arts strengthen the economy. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue. – American for the Arts
- Arts are good for local merchants. Attendees at nonprofit art events spend $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Attendees who live outside the county which the arts event takes place spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42) – valuable revenue for local businesses and the community. – American for the Arts
Later, my thoughts went to the community outreach the organization provides to children, veterans, and adults recovering from illness. Our education department visits schools to assist students with creative writing development; provides free sensory-friendly performances to children on the autism-spectrum line; smaller ensembles of our symphony musicians perform intimate concerts for patients at hospitals who are too sick to attend our concerts; and invites our country’s veterans to free art therapy programs with trained professionals. Again, our membership makes these things happen.
These thoughts endow wonderful insight into what Renaissance Memberships support, but it didn’t provide me the answer to what motivates someone to support our organization. Finally, I thought “Jessica, why are you a member of the Renaissance?” It didn’t take me long and my former high school teacher’s lecture on philanthropy popped in my mind. It feels good to give!
Being an adult carries so much responsibility and at times it can be over-whelming. Even on my toughest days, I still feel good when I give. Being a member of a group of like-minded individuals who wish to improve the quality of life in Mansfield makes me happy.
Why is that? Is there any science to prove that giving is good for your health?
Yes, there are plenty of science-backed studies that provide evidence that giving is also good for the giver. This sensation is referred to by psychologist as the ‘helper’s high’. It’s based on the theory that engaging in charitable giving produces endorphins in the brain that places many givers in the state of euphoria. According to Dr. Scott Bea of the Cleveland Clinic, there are several physical and mental health benefits to giving:
- Greater happiness
- Longer life
- Increased self-esteem
- Lower blood pressure
- Less depression
- Lower stress levels
In the next few weeks, I’ll be renewing my annual membership to the Renaissance Performing Arts Association. There are so many amazing performances scheduled for our 2017-2018 Season, several community outreach programs transpiring, expansion of our education department boosting economic development in Mansfield, and a 90th Anniversary Celebration for our theatre! It’s humbling to know my membership will make all those great ambitions a reality. I hope you will join me.
To learn more about the Renaissance’s membership program, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (419) 522-2726 Ext: 203.
by Colleen Cook
It’s easy to think of the arts and entertainment as something that happens when you’re not working. After all, the “weekend” as we know it was birthed out of the Industrial Revolution when suddenly workers had time off and expendable income to spend on entertainment. This spurred on expansion of Vaudeville circuits throughout the country, followed by cinemas, and later performing arts centers. So, it makes sense that we separate the way we think about “jobs” and the “arts,” but in reality the arts are an incredibly effective economic driver.
“While America is in a time of deep political division, there is little disagreement about the importance of supporting jobs and strengthening the economy. Research by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows that the nonprofit and for-profit arts is a $730 billion industry that directly employs 4.8 million arts workers. This represents 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP—a larger share of the economy than transportation, tourism, and agriculture. Arts organizations are resilient and entrepreneurial businesses. They employ people locally, purchase goods and services from within their communities, and market and promote their regions. Arts businesses are rooted locally. These are jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.” – Americans for the Arts, Statement on Arts, Jobs, and the Economy
There’s been a lot of conversation about the importance of the arts, since President Trump announced his plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts from the federal budget. It’s easy for us to talk about the intrinsic, personal benefits of the arts – we could have that conversation all day long, every day. But, decisions about federal spending aren’t necessarily viewed through the lens of how meaningful the results of that funding are, they’re viewed through the economic return of that federal investment. When we have that conversation, it’s evident that federal arts funding has an remarkable impact on the economy:
“The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is the largest national funder of nonprofit arts organizations in America. Every $1 of NEA funding leverages $9 in private and public dollars and fuels a dynamic cultural economy and generates millions of American jobs. A pennies per capita annual investment has helped to leverage a nonprofit arts industry of almost 100,000 organizations strong serving millions of citizens in every part of America. Nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences today generate $135 billion of economic activity that supports 4.1 million arts and non-arts jobs throughout their communities.”- Americans for the Arts, Statement on Arts, Jobs, and the Economy
The NEA funds the arts in all 50 states, and Ohio is the second-highest recipient of that funding. The NEA’s entire budget is just 0.004% of the entire National Budget, with an incredibly high return on investment. We as a country can’t afford to lose that investment in our country’s arts and culture. Arts = jobs, period. If you would like to take action, here’s a simple way to do so.
Read the full Americans for the Arts, Statement on Arts, Jobs, and the Economy here, and check out their Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study as well.