Art Works Blog

Postcard from 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue....

Washington, DC

by Rocco Landesman

When I make the case for investing in the arts, I use just two words that have three meanings: "Art works."

"Art works" first refers to works of art themselves---the performances, objects, and texts that are the creation of artists.

"Art works" reminds us of the ways that art works on audiences to change, confront, challenge, and inspire us; to allow us to imagine and to aspire to something more.

"Art works" is a declaration that with two million full-time artists and 5.7 million arts-related jobs in this country, arts jobs are real jobs that are part of the real economy. Art workers pay taxes, and art contributes to economic growth, neighborhood revitalization, and the livability of American towns and cities.

Those three elements---the works of art themselves, the ways art works on audiences, and art as work---together are the intrinsic value of the arts.

This guiding principle of "Art Works" informs the work of the agency and is reflected in the NEA?s new Strategic Plan FY 2012-2016. (You can also view a presentation of the Strategic Plan by Sunil Iyengar, director of the NEA's Office of Research & Analysis.)

"Art Works" has also shaped the NEA's new Grants for Arts Projects guidelines, which will be released on January 13, 2011. You can now view a presentation of these guidelines by Director of Guidelines and Panel Operations Jillian Miller.

The NEA has also developed a new funding stream -- Our Town -- that will invest in partnerships among arts, cultural, or design organizations and local governments. This funding will be invested in planning, design, or arts engagement projects that contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. Please see the overview presentation on Our Town.

Hoon Kim, principal designer of Why Not Smile LLC created a visual representation of the three meanings of "Art Works," which you can now see throughout Here's a presentation by Hoon Kim (pdf) on how he developed this design.

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