Summit at Sundance on arts innovation

2014 NAPR Final Report FINAL-2 cover
National Arts Policy Roundtable 2014 report

Last year I wrote a report about an annual gathering of some of the most prestigious names at the forefront of arts and innovation. Americans for the Arts convenes an impressive group each year at Park City’s Sundance Institute (where Robert Redford joins them) for a weekend of sessions of brainstorming and discussion.

Throughout the summit artists, entrepreneurs, and policymakers—many of the talented individuals are all three—presented TEDx-style on initiatives and outreach that are cutting new paths for public art. It was exciting to showcase these new ways to engage audiences around the country.

Highlights from the 2014 event directly addressed the issue of community:

  • Ben Folds and his manager talked about the viral social media campaign to save an historic RCA Victor recording studio in Nashville—at one time the home to Elvis, Dolly Parton, and the Beach Boys and among the first to record African American artists. Folds’s heartfelt outreach via his 1.5 million followers on Facebook and 840K Twitter following—while he was on tour in Europe—started a wave of support to ultimately #SaveMusicRow from demolishing and development. But it also built a community of activism and preservation in the city and beyond.

  • MIT researcher Sasha Constanza-Chock discussed how online social movements, media, and communications affect local and global communities. He shared his work on VozMob, a mobile media project created for and by immigrant and low-wage workers in the Los Angeles area.
  • Etsy VP Matt Stinchcomb shared how the founders integrated technology into their business model to help translate the Maker Movement into a vast online marketplace.
  • Kerry Adams Hapner talked about San Jose’s “creative place-making strategies,” and initiatives that arose from uniting nearby Silicon Valley’s groundbreaking technologies with local artists and arts organizations—which flooded the local economy with $20 million in revenue.
  • Katherine Oliver addressed the Mayor Bloomberg’s role in marketing and advancing the arts and technology in New York City, leveraging politics, education, and the economy.

A panel with a lively discussion on the integration of technology into public art—including the merits of technology’s sake—featured as well as moderator Kerry Brougher (founding director of L.A.’s recently opened museum of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures). The panel also included:

  • Doug Aitken, who does film sound and installations and photography to creates “liquid architecture” using digital technology against buildings. He received a 2013 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award.
  • Bob Ezrin of Stillwater Music—one of the top producers of music and film, with a career spanning four decades. He co-produced the concept albums of Pink Floyd and others and founded Enigma Digital, an innovative digital radio provider.

It was a pleasure to work with the outrageously distinguished art historian and independent curator Nora Halpern. She was formerly curator of L.A.’s Frederick R. Weisman Collections; founding director of the museum at Pepperdine University; and VP and director of Fine Arts for Sotheby’s, Los Angeles. She was a recipient the Helena Rubinstein Fellowship at the Whitney Museum of American Art and has served on the board of the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art. Swoon.

Read the full report here.

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