Monthly Archives: May 2012

Why we contra dance

A guest post from member Robbin Marcus. Thanks, Robbin!
What stories would your dance community like to share? Let us know in the comments.


For the last couple of years in Atlanta, amateur videographer Jim Crawford has embarked on an adventure in being a contra dance ambassador. Each week, Jim films the caller and band in one or more dances per evening, and then posts those videos on You Tube. Here is Jim’s recent lovely video called “CCD – Why We Contra Dance”:

The adventure began while Jim was serving on the steering committee of the Chattahoochee Country Dancers. The board decided to make a series of videos on beginning contra dance lessons, taught and narrated by local callers, and demonstrated by local experienced dancers. Jim got drafted to film them. This series is distributed to new dancers at CCD via a CD after the beginner’s workshop – but many of you have now viewed these lessons on You Tube as well. As time has gone on, Jim has gotten more creative and is even branching out to other local dance groups.

Please feel free to share with your friends, and be sure to check out Jim’s other videos of the vibrant Atlanta dance community.

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Advocating for the Arts

Did you know this? According to Americans for the Arts, each year in the United States, the nonprofit arts industry (museums, performing and visual arts, arts councils and others) generates $29.6 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues while government support (federal, state and local) is less than $4 billion annually; i.e., the arts industry generates more than seven times government investment.

Why are we telling you this? We all are part of the arts community and while we recognize arts are underfunded, many of us have a hard time articulating how best to talk about their importance in our communities. Next time you’re stuck, pull out the figures in the above paragraph. And add this: our country’s arts and entertainment are leading exports globally, with estimates of more than $30 billion annually in overseas sales, including the output of artists and other creative workers in the publishing, audiovisual, music, recording and entertainment businesses. The arts are worth supporting, but it needs our continued voices in that support. We hope the above talking points can help us be better advocates.*

CDSS Is a Living Example of State Arts Advocacy

Much of CDSS’s funding comes from you, our members, donors, friends, campers, callers, dancers, singers and musicians (thank you!), and we also receive funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for our work within the state. The funds that our cultural council distributes to us and other arts agencies in MA comes from an annual appropriation from the State Legislature and funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wallace Foundation, and others. So it’s a lot of MA resident tax dollars at work, and your tax dollars as well, funneled through the National Endowment for the Arts. (Thank you, again.)

I want to share that the MA House Ways and Means Committee approved an amendment last week to reverse the proposed budget cut to the MCC. Yippee!! Huzzzah! This bodes well for the arts in Massachusetts! We’ll be meeting with the MCC this week and we want to offer a resounding round of applause and say a BIG “Thank you, Massachusetts Cultural Council, for your support of our work!” (For our fellow MA residents, let your elected representatives know that you’ve benefitted from funding of the MCC grant to CDSS!)

For ways to talk, email, write or call your elected representatives, check out the Arts Action Center on the Americans for the Arts website. Also check out the Arts Action Fund, a sister organization to the Americans for the Arts for more information on advocating for the arts.

* Thanks to Americans for the Arts for the talking points; they are a wonderful resource for advocacy and information on the role of Arts in our schools, communities and across the U.S.

May Day 2012

Hip hip hooray, hooray, the First of May…

Hello from a soggy Easthampton, MA….HAPPY MAY DAY!

I hope your May Day celebrations were not rained out. We’ve learned that our local Morris folks did get a little soggy this morning. Please post your videos and photos on the CDSS Facebook page and let us know how you celebrated the day!

My favorite May Day message came from a friend from Mount Holyoke College who is celebrating her May Day in Chile! (She’s spending her junior year abroad there.) So near or far, may your celebrations today and into the coming weeks be joyous!  I’ll close with some pictures of May Day celebrations of members around the country and the first stanza of a favorite poem.

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

— Arthur O’Shaughnessy, Ode, 1874