AMHERST, Mass. - The Arts Extension Service (AES) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is being honored tonight with the Quarter Century of Service award from the Partners for Livable Communities at the organization’s annual dinner in Washington, D.C.
Robert McNulty, president of Partners for Livable Communities said, "Partners has a rich history of awards and recognition that we began at the counsel of our founder, Nancy Hanks. ... This awards program in Washington, D.C. recognizes a distinguished portfolio of civic leadership."
"It is with great pleasure that we accept the Quarter Century of Service award. We are deeply grateful for recognition of our years of service to the arts, artists, local arts agencies, and to the field of arts management," said Dee Boyle-Clapp, interim director of AES.
"The Arts Extension Service’s faculty and staff past and present, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and our board of directors deserve recognition for their commitment to the arts and the arts community," added Boyle-Clapp. "On behalf of our founder, Stan Rosenberg, whose vision we work each day to exemplify; our former directors, each of whom has devoted so much energy and enthusiasm to the work; our board members who are leaders in the field and share their insights to improve and expand the work we do, and our campus which has provided us a home base and many colleagues, we are truly grateful."
AES was founded in 1973 by now-state Sen. Stan Rosenberg as a program of Continuing and Professional Education at UMass Amherst to extend the cultural and educational resources of the university to stimulate cultural activity across Massachusetts. Modeled on a program at the University of Wisconsin, AES sought to build stronger communities by stimulating community arts leadership and the organization of community arts councils. With an initial grant from the William H. Donner Foundation, AES laid the ground work that would result in the creation of cultural councils in every community in Massachusetts.
In its first two decades, AES’ special projects provided an on-the-ground laboratory to create opportunities for artists, to engage people in arts and culture in their communities, and nurture a local ecosystem that supports and integrates the arts. By producing events like multi-arts and film festivals in New England and facilitating community cultural planning locally and nationally, AES developed new knowledge of principles and best practices in these areas. Such knowledge was then translated into publications, technical assistance, and training to advance the field.
The organization grew by bridging research and practice. The National Public Art Policy Project, a research project implemented in cooperation with the NEA, influenced the burgeoning public art movement in the 1980s and ’90s. In more recent years, AES has exercised leadership in understanding trends in the creative economy, grounding its creative economy trainings and workbook in real communities that look to transform their unique community arts into vibrant economic development engines.
The Arts Extension Service is perhaps best known for preparing and strengthening a now vast network of professional artists and arts managers across the country. Its "Fundamentals of Arts Management" workshops, currently offered in partnership with Americans for the Arts, have provided a foundation for countless arts managers. AES is a leading publisher of arts management books, including five editions of the best-selling Fundamentals of Arts Management. AES offers artist-in-business training, two online certificates in arts management for professionals in the field, the nation’s only online bachelor’s degree with a concentration in arts administration, and courses to traditional graduate and undergraduate students at UMass. AES also pioneered the development of Continuing Education’s Internet-based courses and offered some of the earliest online workshops in the field of arts management.
According to Boyle-Clapp, the Arts Extension Service is a lean organization that thrives on engaging a wide circle of board members, associates, university resources and constituents to inform and implement its work. Continuing the university extension and community development traditions, AES still strives to connect research and practice through all its programs. Within the College of Arts and Humanities at UMass, AES continues to teach artists, community and state arts leaders and students how to manage the arts and weave them effectively into the economic, social and cultural fabric of communities, she says.