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Special Reports

MA 30 The Influencers: Jonathan Herman

December 1, 2015

Executive Director
National Guild for Community Arts Education

Since Jonathan Herman became its executive director in 2004, the National Guild for Community Arts Education has grown exponentially in its influence, impact, and services to the field. Founded in 1937, NGCAE is the sole national service organization for community arts-education providers, holding firm in the belief that the arts are an essential part of individual and community life. Its more than 450 member organizations include community schools of the arts, arts centers, and arts-education divisions of organizations ranging from universities to museums.

More than two-thirds of Guild member organizations were founded in the last 25 years, half of them after 1990. The oldest traces its beginnings to 1894, the newest to several months ago; budgets range from $5,000 to $10 million.

NGCAE provides its members with the tools and resources they need to bring arts instruction and advocacy to their respective communities. The organization conducts surveys and publishes research reports, newsletters, bulletins, and best-practices guides. 

An annual conference brings members together from across the country for networking and professional development, offering workshops in such topics as “Beyond the ABCs of Social Media,” “The Journey of Becoming an Anti-racist Organization,” and “Teaching Artist Professional Development: Spotlight on Five Effective Models.” Members can also connect with one another in online forums, chapter meetings, and teleconferences.

Overseeing this vast network of activity with his staff of eight, Jonathan Herman was recently named one of top 50 “Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in Nonprofit Arts in 2014” by the Western State Arts Federation. In addition to being executive director, Herman oversees special projects such as Creative Communities, which aims to promote arts instruction in public-housing cooperatives, and Partners in Excellence, which promotes best practices in K-12 public school arts programs. As well, he was project leader for a national study commissioned by The Kresge Foundation that led to the publication of More Than the Sum of Its Parts: Collaboration and Sustainability in Arts Education.

The Guild reports that its activities result in opportunities for 2.5 million students to engage directly with the arts every year, and for 8 million more to experience the arts through performances and exhibitions. 

David Katz


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