October is National Arts & Humanities Month, the month to #ShowYourArt, meet up for Creative Conversations, and celebrate the role the arts and humanities have in shaping and improving our communities. Join thousands of people across the country this month to enjoy an art exhibit, see a show, read a book or attend a festival. It's a month to explore, discuss and experience the role that arts play in all of our lives, and to tell stories about the value of the arts and arts education.
President Obama has just issued the proclamation that makes October the official Arts & Humanities Month for the 29th year in a row. Celebrations for the month can be large or small. In years past, communities have curated collective calendars of area arts events, brought music performances to local schools, hosted conversations with artists after exhibits, sponsored storytelling and other creative presentations, displayed public art, reached out to community members to share their love of their communities' arts programs, and honored public and private sector leaders who have supported the arts.
This year, I've heard about celebrations in communities like Phoenix, which is hosting an Arts & Humanities Month Cultural Showcase on October 3 to read a proclamation by Mayor Greg Stanton and showcase work from local artists and performers. Organizations also host celebrations, like the Northeast Iowa School of Music in Dubuque, which will hold a reception on October 17 to celebrate Arts & Humanities Month.
My organization, Americans for the Arts, also promotes Creative Conversations throughout October. Since 2004, over 10,000 arts patrons, artists, politicians and community members have attended more than 300 Creative Conversations throughout the U.S. The Conversations have taken many forms, such as brown-bag lunches, professional development workshops, panel sessions, or full-day symposia. Communities have hosted visiting experts, interviewed politicians and led a range of creative, interactive discussions to get people talking and making plans to promote and support local art and artists.
We've heard from groups that hosted topics such as, "Arts Education: A Community of Inquiry in Pittsburgh," "Town Hall Meeting on the State of Dance in Cincinnati," "Sparking Inclusive Dialogue Through Creative Placemaking," and "Make a Scene: Activating Local Arts & Culture Media." Other communities have made Creative Conversations a year-round event, founding community gatherings such as Creative Mornings and ARTtuesdays that unite artists, community members and patrons in regular discussions about the local arts scene. Others host special topic conversations, like on this year at American University about the growing popularity of documentary filmmaking in our nation's capital. In conversations like these, everyone--from business owners to artists, from teachers to politicians--comes together to discuss art and how it can improve the economic, social and cultural health of our communities.
To be honest, every month is an arts and humanities month, with 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations alone serving all of America. It's just that October is a month to boast a bit about our American arts and humanities treasures. For all you artists -- professional or still learning, new and seasoned -- take photos this month of your artwork and share them online with #ShowYourArt. Cities and organizations can encourage local artists to use the hashtag, or join cities like York, Penn., that are hosting #ShowYourArt parties. The result of these posts? Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will fill with images of our communities and each other sharing the art that impacts us, moves us, and unites us. And that should make for a rather inspirational October.
To help unite the nation around arts this October, I encourage you to share your celebrations of National Arts & Humanities Month. First, to tell us about your plans or find events scheduled in your area. Then, on your social networks, use #NAHM to broadcast these gatherings, proclamations, advocacy events and cultural happenings. Be part of the celebration.