This past year I was appointed to the National Association of Counties (NACo) Arts Commission. It has been a great experience to represent the county where I grew up, Lackawanna, in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania and learn so much from those working in county government across the country. I was able to attend the NACo Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. this year from March 2-6. It also happened to be the Arts Action Summit sponsored by the formidable Americans for the Arts where I sit on the County Network Steering Committee and it was so inspirational to see the power of so many arts and cultural groups advocating for the importance of art support.
NACo’s mission it to “strengthen American’s counties” to ensure that all counties in the U.S. are healthy, safe and vibrant. The mission of Americans for the Arts is to “build recognition and support for the extraordinary and dynamic value of the arts and to lead, service and advance the diverse networks of organizations and individuals who cultivate the arts in America.” And so it was a great few days of learning about how the arts impact counties and communities all over the country. I also sat in several other sessions at NACo and learned about the creative ways people are shaping human service policies to ensure all residents of all ages can be healthy and happy. I wanted to share some of the powerful an inspirational quotes I heard that really resonated with me and which I will carry with me as I continue my role as Lackawanna County Director of Arts and Culture and make our county safe, healthy, vibrant and I will add happy!
1. Counties are where things get done. – Judith Cash, Director, State Demonstrations Group, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
2. Children are nested in their families and families are nested in our communities. We have a responsibility to take care of families. – Crystal Kelly, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Children’s Council of Watuaga County, North Carolina
3. I can think of no better way to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty than to support pre-natal to three years old programs. – Honorable Roy Charles Brooks, Tarrant County, Texas, Immediate Past President of NACo
4. We’ll put art on anything.-Stuart Eisenberg, Executive Director of Gateway Arts, Hyattsville, Maryland
5. The arts are neither right nor left or center. They are just the arts. – Jay Dick Director of State and Local Government Affairs, Americans for the Arts
6. Artists, designers and cultural bearers have the ability to illuminate. – Jen Hughes, National Endowment for the Arts, Director of Design and Creative Placemaking
7. How do you think about how art, culture and design can support the process of good government and community building? Art can be about building a process. – Michael Rohd, Co-Leader of Center for Performance and Civic Practice and Founder and Artistic Director of Sojourn Theatre
8. Investments take time but they can advance short and longer term outcomes. -Ruby Lopez-Americans for the Arts, Director of Local Arts Services
9. The arts have a special way of talking to people. They have the power in a moment to change a person’s life. – Brian Stokes Mitchell, Actor and Board of Member of Americans for the Arts
10. The arts allow us a safe space to understand ourselves and others. – Carla Canales, Mezzo-Soprano, and Director of The Canales Project