1985 - San Antonio, Texas

Like a well-crafted artifact, the whole of this meeting became more than the sum of its parts.
—Jonathan Katz, NASAA

In partnership with the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, we are proud to present this documentation of Open Dialogue II, a step in the evolution of common feelings, needs, and dreams. (taken from the printed report of the symposium).

It all began in New Orleans in October 1983 at the conference of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies; the theme, cultural pluralism. There were preliminary and special sessions for minority arts coordinators, assistant directors, and others, resulting in the largest number of people of color in attendance ever. Expectations ran high, and by the conference's end it was clear that they would not be met. So, a small group of us walked to the banks of the Mississippi, celebrated our heritage with a moving toast, and pledged not to wait for others to make us a topic of concern but to focus ourselves on our own issues. Basically, the "Gang" that met that starry night was taking responsibility to assure that our concerns were a priority.

Later, with the commitment, guidance, and support of the Washington, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the group scheduled a one and a half day conference to take place in Washington 60 days later. Despite the shortness of time, people were contacted, agendas and information packets pulled together, hotel and meal facilities arranged, and the first Open Dialogue Conference took place. Forty-seven people from 13 states participated in the identification, clarification, and prioritization of issues. A unanimous call for a national coalition and for continued Dialogue resulted in the request that a steering committee continue to act on behalf of the group. We began to walk….

A committee of seven, later increased to eleven, representing ethnic and cultural groups from seven states and nine cities, came together to plan the next Open Dialogue conference. Although we had no budget, staff, or direct experience in national conference planning, and were limited in time and resources, we had everything that really mattered going for us: we had a dream.

For eighteen months we met, pushing and pulling ideas, lobbying the field, seeking mailing lists and support, traveling to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington--at times chipping in to pay someone's expenses--all the while moving closer to the reality of Open Dialogue II. For 17 of those months, we functioned without the need for a chair or officers. We set aside differences, stressing and demonstrating trust in a common goal and a deep appreciation for the richness and value of our ethnic and cultural diversity. And we learned… and grew. Yet, at no time did we deny differences. Although open to support and partnership with others, we depended on ourselves and were therefore certain to succeed. After all, we were survivors, we were creative, we were determined, we were somewhat arrogant and we were all deeply committed. We formed a bond.

In May 1985, Open Dialogue II took place. Cash and in-kind contributions totaled in excess of $120,000. Forty-three states, 107 cities, 9 sovereign Native American Nations , 4 trust territories, Canada, the District of Columbia, 306 organizations and 487 individuals were represented. But what the statistics cannot convey are the feelings and spirit that existed and were absorbed to be carried back to many places when the conference ended. And now… we run.

What really made Open Dialogue II so successful? We believe the time has come. It has come as a result of forces of change in society today that have significant implications for us all. Although the American population has always been ethnically and culturally diverse, that diversity has not always been viewed positively.Today, however, ethnic and cultural heritage is increasingly recognized as a distinctive element of the American character, and Americans are coming to terms with different lifestyles, and value systems within this society. Many now recognize that America is not a melting pot but a tapestry of vivid threads. If any threads are removed, the tapestry's brilliance is lessened for us all.

On behalf of the Association of American Cultures and people of diverse populations, we invite you to dream, stand, walk and run with us to examine and review this offering, and to struggle and create the next.

Barbara R Nicholson, Chair Emeritus

· 1985 ·

John Paul Batiste, Chair

Conference Agenda

OPEN Dialogue II: Presented by the Association of American Cultures
May 9th-12th, 1985
San Antonio, Texas
Conference Headquarters: The Menger Hotel
Thursday, May 9th

Opening Ceremony

Opening Remarks:

Buffet Dinner by Courand House Catering

Welcome Address: Elma Lewis, Founder & Artistic Director, National Center of Afro-American Artists, Inc., and the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, Inc.

Special Recognitions:

Showcase Performances:

  • Philippine Performing Arts Academy
  • Ballet Folklorico De San Antonio
  • La Compania de Artes Espanol
  • DanzAmerica
  • Jai-Kym Stephens
  • Linda Oliver
  • Bubbha Thomas and The Lightmen

Friday, May 10th

Conference Welcome and Overview

Barbara Nicholson, Deputy Director, DC Commission on the Arts and Chair, Open Dialogue Planning Committee

Opening Panel Session

Arts Organizations Growth and Development: Present Activities and Future Directions

Richard Huff, Executive Director, Texas Commission on the Arts

John E Skuce, Partner-in-Charge, Skuce and Associates, Washington, DC


  • Walter Norflett, Board, Southern Arts Federation; Warrenton, North Carolina
  • Warren Sumners, President, ACUCUAA, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Robert Lynch, Executive Director, National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, NALAA, Washington, DC
  • Robin Tryloff, President, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, NASAA; Nebraska Arts Council, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Anthony Turney, Deputy to the Chairman and Director of State Programs, NEA, Washington, DC
  • Marta Vega, Director, Caribbean Expressions, New York, New York
  • Veronica Enrique, Centro Cultural de la Raza, San Diego, California
  • Barry Gaither, Director, National Center for Afro-American Artists, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts
  • Marvin Oliver, President, Board of Regents, American Indian Art Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Artist, Seattle, Washington

Luncheon and Keynote Address

Louis LeRoy, Executive Director, Arts Council of San Antonio, Texas

Luis Valdez, Playwright, Founder and Director of El Teatro Campesino, Jan Juan Batista, California

Recognizing Quality from a Cultural Perspective

Clement Price, Chair, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Newark. New Jersey

Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, Director, Media Programs, New York State Council on the Arts, New York, New York


  • Nicolas Kanellos, Publisher, Arte Publico Books, Houston, Texas
  • Robert Lee, Artistic Director, Asian Arts Institute, New York, New York
  • Peter Jemison, Gallery Director, Gallery of the American Indian, New York, New York
  • Alvin Batiste, Professor of Music/Jazz, Southern University, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Amina Dickerson, Director, DuSable Museum of African-American History, Chicago, Illinois

Concurrent Sessions

Career Development and Employment Training

Adrienne Witherspoon, North Carolina Arts Council, Raleigh, North Carolina


  • Ricardo Hernandez, Texas Commission on the Arts, Austin, Texas
  • Jonathan Katz, Executive Director, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, NASAA, Washington, DC
  • Leslie King-Hammond, Dean of Graduate Studies, The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
  • George Koch, President, Artists Equity Association, Washington, DC

Civil Rights and Contract Compliance

Wayne Lawson, Executive Director, Ohio Arts Council, Columbus, Ohio

Sharon Horn, CUNY University Law School, Queens College, New York, New York


  • Amelita Mandigo, Michigan State Council on the Arts, Detroit, Michigan
  • Joe Rodriguez, Consultant, Houston, Texas
  • June Harrison, Civil Rights Office, NEA, Washington, DC
  • Clay Chavers, Hart, Caroll and Chavers, Washington, DC

Authors Reception Hour

Texas Gala Showcase Performance

  • Urban 15
  • Ballet Folklorico de Navarro
  • Frank Gonzales
Saturday, May 11th

Services to the Field

Mack Granderson, Pennsylvania Arts Council, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Michael Croman, Executive Director, Washington State Arts Commission, Olympia, Washington


  • Clifton Johnson, Director, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Jane Delgado, Association of Hispanic Arts, New York, New York
  • Vantile Whitfield, Arts Media Services, Washington, DC
  • Doug Nava, Chairman, ATLATL first Circle, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Robert Lynch, Executive Director, NALAA, Washington, DC

Concurrent Sessions

Developing a Quality Cultural Facility

Juan Carrillo, Program Manager, California Arts Council Sacramento, California

Samella Lewis, Senior Curator, Museum of African-American Art, Los Angeles, California


  • Bernie White Bear, Executive Director, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Seattle, Washington: Daybreak Star Center
  • Jerry Yoshitomi, Executive Director, Japanese American Cultural Community Center, Los Angeles, California
  • Norcell Haywood, President: Jordan, Haywood and McGowan, San Antonio, Texas
  • Milton "Bill" Morris, Director, Karamu House, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Ernie Olivarez, Development Coordinator, Avenida Guadalupe Association, San Antonio, Texas

Images Created in Contemporary Media

Oscar Garza, Senior Producer/Director, KLRN-TV, San Antonio, Texas

Bob Ray Sanders, KERA-TV, Dallas, Texas


  • Paula Walker, WFAA-TV, Dallas, Texas
  • Ignacio "Nacho" Acosta, ETCOM, Inc., El Paso, Texas
  • Jennifer Lawson, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Washington, DC
  • Chris Spotted Eagle, KPCA-TV, St. Paul, Minnesota

Luncheon and Keynote Address

E Lockhart-Moss, Director, National Jazz Service Organization, Washington, DC

Arlie Schardt, Editor, Foundation News, Washington, DC

Special Recognitions:
A B Spellman, Director, Expansion Arts Program, NEA Washington, DC

Vantile Whitfield, Arts Media Services, Washington, DC

What Arts Organizations Must Do for Themselves

Barbara Bayless, Minority Arts Coordinator, Ohio Arts Council, Columbus, Ohio

E'Vonne Coleman Rorie, Assistant Director, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


  • Bill Strickland, Bidwell, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Sharon Maeda, Executive Director, Pacifica Foundation, Los Angeles, California
  • Luis Rodriguez, Chismearte, Los Angeles, California
  • Carmen deNovais, Xicanindio, Inc., Mesa, Arizona
  • Salli Benedict, Director, Akweasne Museum, Hogansburg, New York

Concurrent Sessions

Marketing and Audience Development

Vivian Eichelberger, Consultant, Atlanta, Georgia

Mikki Shepard, Director of Special Programs, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York


Donna Morton, Lincoln Foundation, Louisville, Kentucky

Derek Gordon, Cultural Arts Council of Houston, Texas


  • Chino Garcia, Charas, Inc., New York, New York
  • Curtis King, Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Dallas, Texas

Fund Raising and Earned Income

Barbara George, Alabama State Arts Council, Montgomery, Alabama

E Lockhart-Moss, E-Incorporated, Washington, DC


  • Jack Wright Applshop, Whitesburg, Kentucky
  • Simon Brascoope, Indian Art Center, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada

Survival Techniques/Organizational Development

Ronne Hartfield, Executive Director, Urban Gateways, Chicago, Illinois

Gordon Braithwaite, Consultant, Washington, DC


  • Pat Funderburk, Consultant, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Cynthia Hardy, Consultant, Columbus, Ohio
  • Jacinto Quirarte, Consultant, Helotes, Texas
  • Carolyn Curran, Consultant, Bronx, New York

Reception and Showcase Performances

Hosted by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

El Curro y Teresa y Los Flamlencas
Valerio Longoria y Su Conjunto
Ruby Nelda-Perez
Toccata for Percussion by Carlos Chavez, Conducted by Dr. Edward C Garza

Sunday, May 12th

Open Dialogue II Planning Committee
Session Reports: E'Vonne Coleman Rorie, presiding
Business Meeting: Barbara Nicholson, Presiding

Open Dialogue II Planning Committee Final Report

The Planning Committee made the following conclusive points in summary of the conference and the caucus reports:

  1. An Open Dialogue III should be convened
  2. It should be recognized that planning efforts need financial support
  3. The Planning Committee should meet and present names for vacancies in the Planning Committee, including regional backups
  4. Everyone should be allowed to submit recommendations in writing on content for Open Dialogue III
  5. Open Dialogue III should be held in a city with a majority representation of people of color so that we have more access to and support of the local community; such a conference should be assured or representation from every city that has a large representation of minorities
  6. Open Dialogue III may need to wait until 1987 to allow for adequate planning
  7. One key person per state should be identified to address affirmative action issues with NEA and its grantees—perhaps, from that will evolve a national committee
  8. The Planning Committee should be empowered to select he next conference site
  9. The time for the next conference should be concurrent with other conferences
  10. Individuals should not wait to be asked to volunteer their skills and resources furthering the new national organization coming out of Open Dialogue II
  11. In Lieu of a 1986 conference, a major planning meeting should be held to set the stage for the 1987 gathering; and…
  12. A focus of the next conference should include "product and commodity exchange."

It was unanimously passed at the closing session of the conference to empower the Planning Committee to begin to implement the recommendations emanating from the conference body, and to add members to the Planning Committee as needed.

It was also passed that a new national organization should be formed to cary forth the work of Open Dialogue II, thus bringing into existence the Association of American Cultures.

Closing actions include the following:

  • Louis LeRoy, through the ARts Council of San Antonio, will serve as fiscal agent for TAAC until further notice:
  • Committee structure for TAAC will include the following:
    1. Entrepreneurship
    2. Open Dialogue III Planning
    3. Issues and Concerns for Individual Artists
    4. Conference Site Selection
    5. Civil Rights
    6. Development
    7. Marketing
    8. National Organization
    9. Networking
    10. Program/Services
    11. Recruitment