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Grantmakers in the Arts Conference Provides Encouragement

Janet Langsman is the CEO of ArtsWestchester.
Janet Langsman is the CEO of ArtsWestchester. Photo Credit: Courtesy of ArtsWestchester

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Conferences are great tools for encouragement, inspiration and in some cases confirmation.  The Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) conference this week in Philadelphia did not disappoint.

Foremost in the encouragement category was the wave of support for individual artists and the creative ways in which funds are being directed to them both as masters of their craft and agents of change. The importance of early and generous funding for emerging artists was punctuated by a riveting presentation by Pulitzer prize playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes, who credits her success to the financial support she received which allowed her to conjure and create without distraction. Hudes, of course, is the author of In the Heights and her latest Water By the Spoonful.

Is there more support for artists since the dark days when the NEA stopped supporting individuals or am I just imagining? My perception, fueled at the conference, was that foundations have increasingly stepped up to the plate with new and innovative ways to support individual artists.

Inspiring for me was the creative way in which the Doris Duke Performing Artist Initiative is collaborating with Creative Capital Foundation to give multi-year flexible support to 200 artists in dance, theater and jazz. The Doris Duke initiative is $50 million over ten years. I say “Wow!”

Our idea to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2015 by supporting 50 artists scares me as it pales in comparison, but Ruby Lerner, President of Creative Capital assured me that every bit helps. More encouragement comes from a GIA taskforce, which is undertaking research on the subject .

So at the end of the day encouragement, inspiration and confirmation came my way.  That’s why we go to these meetings…to test our beliefs, ideas, plans, expectations and to intensify our commitment.

Janet Langsman is chief executive officer of ArtsWestchester. Her weekly blog is published with permission of ArtsWestchester and is also posted online .

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