Collaborative Evaluation of LAAs to Improve Public Value and Impact

Saturday, June 16, 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm

There is often only one local arts agency in any given community, which can make it difficult to gauge how well your programs and services are working, to find examples of new innovations to try out, and to explain your relevance to your community leadership. In this discussion session, brainstorm with Americans for the Arts and local arts leaders on what a unified evaluation tool for local arts agencies might look like.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore how your community and your decisionmakers value and evaluate your work, and identify gaps in your ability to explain your impact.
  2. Brainstorm on what a connected set of metrics, and a way of comparing your LAA's work to others', would yield.
  3. Discuss the different needs and goals of urban and rural, small and large, and differently-formatted LAAs, and how to reconcile to a central set of evaluation tools.



Robert Bush
Arts & Science Council of Charlotte Mecklenburg
Charlotte, North Carolina

With over 35 years experience, Robert is a nationally known for his work the local arts  agency field.  Since 2000, he served in numerous leadership roles at ASC prior to being named president in 2014.  Before joining ASC, Bush was the president and CEO of the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, NC and Arts United in Fort Wayne, IN.  He holds a B.S. and  a M.A. with a concentration in Community Education from Appalachian State University.  Bush has served on the faculty of the MAAA program at Goucher College and is currently on the faculty of the MPA program at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.  He was recognized by AFTA with the 2014 Selina Roberts Ottum Award for Arts Leadership and was  named to the 2014 and 2015 Top 50 Most Powerful and Influential People in the Nonprofit Arts.

Graciela Kahn
Research Manager
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Graciela holds a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA in Humanistic and Social Studies from the Universidad de Monterrey. Before joining Americans for the Arts she worked as a project manager for exhibitions at the Centro de las Artes in Monterrey, Mexico and at Future Tenant in Pittsburgh, PA. During her time at CMU she was contributor to the Arts Management and Technology Laboratory publishing on topics related to management, engagement and planning tools for small arts organizations.

Karen Gahl-Mills
Former CEO + Executive Director
Cuyahoga Arts & Culture
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Karen Gahl-Mills just completed an 8 ½ year term as the CEO + executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the local public funder of arts and culture activities in Cleveland, Ohio.

A former orchestra manager turned grantmaker and teacher, she has worked passionately throughout her 25-year career to connect the talents of nonprofit organizations with the needs of the community.

She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from DePaul University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She teaches cultural policy at the University of Chicago and fundraising principles and practices at Indiana University. And she still makes music, singing regularly in the community choir at Oberlin College.