Partnering Anew

By Michael Orlove

Michael Orlove by Cathy Edwards.jpg

man smiling in front of National Endowment for the Arts sign

Photo by Cathy Edwards.

Happy spring everyone! April 1st marked my first official day ‘on the job’ as the director of State, Regional and Local Partnerships. And after more than six years of working as the director of Presenting and Multidisciplinary Works, Artists Communities and International Activities, I now embark on a new chapter here at the National Endowment for the Arts and I couldn’t be more excited.

In my tenure here at the agency, I have learned a great deal about the fundamental role the regional, state and local arts agencies play in serving and sustaining the vitality of the arts across the country. I had the great privilege to work and learn alongside the previous director, Laura Scanlan, and from the stellar (current) staff of Andi Mathis, Jennifer Lindow Eskin, Lara Holman Garritano, and Mary Sellers. I enter this role with plenty of ideas, enthusiasm, and curiosity but also knowing I have a great deal to learn. I welcome the opportunity to absorb as much as I can from colleagues across the country and look to friends at Americans for the Arts, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and others to be thought partners and collaborators along the way.

My path to the National Endowment for the Arts originated around the work I had the good fortune of being a part of in my hometown of Chicago at the Department of Cultural Affairs (now DCASE). Public service and the arts always seemed to be a natural fit for me. I learned, first hand, about the obligation to community, the importance of championing artists, the responsibility of equal access to the arts, and the overwhelming innovation and creativity that exists throughout our communities. I believe that so much of what we talk about at the national level starts locally and is what makes cities and towns across America so incredibly distinctive, inspiring, and functional. Our collective work is vital in order to advance the critical efforts around access and making sure that all citizens have the ability to experience, practice, and participate in the arts.

As I begin my new role, there is so much to be energized about within the Partnerships division. The most recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis state findings shows us that 13 states had an average annual growth rate above the national average of 5.9 percent, as measured over the three-year period of 2014 to 2016. The new Rural Prosperity through the Arts and Creative Sector study highlights that rural America has found new life through smart public policies that boost the creative sector. And Poetry Out Loud is right around the corner with the finals taking place here in Washington, DC. So much to share…

Before I run out of space, I want to make sure to recognize the outstanding efforts of the entire Partnership team for guiding this important work over the past 18 months. I have an enormous amount of respect and appreciation for this cohort of colleagues and consider it a real honor to be able to work alongside all of you in the future. Perhaps the quote by Degas is a summative charge for us all: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”