My apologies for the dearth of updates recently. I’ve been busy hunting after internship interviews and donations for the 2008 SOM Internship Fund Auction, while finishing up classes for the third of eight half-semester sessions at Yale. Instead of a single long post this time, I’ll go with a Daily Kos-style “open thread” with an assortment of items for your amusement.

  • Not too long after I wrote about playing at one of Tonic’s last shows, NYC Performing Arts Spaces came out with its long-awaited report on rehearsal/performance space issues in New York, Where Can We Work? (pdf). My memory may be suspect since I filled out the survey quite a while ago, but I do think I am quoted on page 5 (I’ll let you guess which one). Anyway, it’s a very nice report, although I wish the authors had chosen to explore in more depth the strange and dysfunctional relationship between musicians/music organizations and the real estate market in New York City. For all the revenue that the arts supposedly generate in New York, the portion of that value that is captured by artists relative to the portion that is captured by landowners is absolutely miniscule. Think about this: not only do landowners benefit from rising real estate values caused by the infusion of creatively-minded audiences into an area, the rehearsal space crunch means that a huge portion of what little income musicians do make goes right back out the door into the pockets of landowners again! That is why Trinity Wall Street‘s chorus and orchestra are among the most prestigious around–it’s because the church happens to own a lot of the surrounding area, including the land on which some huge skyscrapers sit. What this does is create enormous barriers to entry for any small organization or individual artist trying to survive. It’s horribly anti-competitive and a huge infrastructure problem for the city. The suggestions contained in the report are good ones (I’m particularly intrigued by the proposal to grant a tax benefit for performance venues that agree to pay performers respectable wages), but I think that real estate stakeholders need to be brought into the discussion as well, as happened with Galapagos’s innovative partnership with Two Trees Management that enabled its move to DUMBO for “twice as much space for half the rent.”
  • I’m giving a presentation at SOM’s Organizational Effectiveness Seminar (known affectionately as ORGEFF around these parts) on April 2 on the topic of the arts and economic development. ORGEFF is one of SOM’s best-kept secrets: an entirely self-directed weekly nonprofit wonk session, with (delicious) free lunch provided and guaranteed interesting discussion. Each week consists of a 20- to 40-minute presentation, usually given by a current SOM or Forestry student, followed by Q&A. ORGEFF’s proprietor, Professor Garry Brewer, occasionally gives talks of his own that usually focus on ecologies of organizations and funders in the environmental field. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the presentation and I’ll post a summary after I’m done.
  • Next year’s entering students look out: I’ve been selected as the co-Chair of the 4th Annual SOM Philanthropy Conference as well as co-leader of the Arts & Culture Club. I’ll also be serving on the Net Impact Executive Committee. Guess those grand visions of suddenly jacking up my music output 500% next year are not looking too realistic.
  • I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Ted Hearne’s incredible Katrina Ballads in New Haven last week. It was one of the best new music concerts I’ve been to in years, and seeing Isaiah Robinson belt out high C#s in “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People” backed by several of my friends from the NYC choral scene was nothing short of jaw-dropping. They’ve been touring it around for a while, so if you get a chance to see an upcoming performance, please do.
  • I’ve also been listening to a lot of Dub Trio lately. Heavy metal + Jamaican dub = awesome.