Meeting the Moment: Building a Healthy Performing Arts Ecosystem: Takeaways from the National Endowment for the Arts 212th Meeting

On March 27, 2024, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) held the 212th meeting of the National Council on the Arts. The theme and programming focused on “Meeting the Moment: Building a Healthy Performing Arts Ecosystem.”

NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson asked, “What if we included the arts and humanities in all policies and programs intended to help us deliver on the promise of our nation?”

Arts integration is fundamental, essential, and inescapable. The arts are just as important as the sciences. We need both.

The NEA is working to expand the narrative around the value of the arts and culture in our society. The arts not only contribute to the economy but also to health and healing, a robust democracy, and to get to solutions that deliver on our nation’s promises. 

The arts provide a communal experience, something that we missed during the pandemic. Arts are a solution to the loneliness epidemic. 

Panel 1: How did we get here? (starts at 35:30)

The industry is still developing, and it’s no secret that the arts sector was experiencing a sustainability crisis before the pandemic. We formalized and built up the industry to a professional level, fighting for equitable conditions for all who produce and create art, which comes with a financial cost. The pandemic exacerbated the sustainability crisis and laid bare the industry’s problems. The revenue gaps have doubled, expenses have increased by 30-40%, and priorities have shifted. 

Panel 2: Where do we go from here? (starts at 1:13:15)

Stay true to the mission. 

Make art for art’s sake. 

Continue to make good art. 

Address and advocate for social issues. Change the system and processes. 

Partner with other disciplines and industries. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for performing arts organizations. 

Performances are about the only place where people can truly unplug and connect anymore. 

In between the two panels Annalisa Dias, theatre director and playwright, performed her original, imploring essay Decomposition Instead of Collapse – Dear Theatre, Be Like Soil by Annalisa Dias. (starts at 1:04:00) 

If you are interested in watching, you can find the recording here: https://www.arts.gov/about/leadership-staff/national-council-arts/national-council-arts-public-meeting-march-27-2024

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