This one will have to be quick because I’m leaving on a plane to California in a few hours. Busy, busy, busy!

  • The Hewlett Foundation has finally released phase two of its Youth in the Arts report, conducted by Barry Hessenius. This edition used focus groups of young arts professionals to explore the implications of generational change in arts adminstration. Many of the themes resonate with my Ten Strategies for Engaging Generation Y in the Nonprofit Workplace. The full report is available here. I read it as a very powerful indictment of the status quo and I hope it helps change some common attitudes and practices regarding entry-level employees.
  • Via the Artful Manager, a report on the National Performing Arts Convention from last June.
  • The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting article from a week and a half ago on how Cleveland is openly embracing the idea of supporting artists as a strategy for local economic development. It makes sense; artists (especially visual artists) do well in converted industrial spaces, and the Rust Belt certainly has plenty of those. In response to the article, Kwende Kefentse from the Creative Class Exchange asks,

    So are the artists we refer to in the gentrification and renewal discourse really more of an economic model – liberal people with fixer-upper money, within a limited margin? Why doesn’t it seem that local street artists who are embedded in the community, often telling the story of the community, don’t have the same renewal/gentrifying value as the sculptor or the graphic designer who move in? And how can we create that value?

    I wonder if what’s really going on here is that the economic value actually comes from the “fixer-upper” part – and that artists are valuable to communities precisely because so many of them are willing to essentially donate their time and funds doing just that in exchange for the opportunity to take advantage of the fruits of their labors. I’ve suggested before that arts-led economic development tends to be more successful when storefront spaces are involved, not just the presence of artists in a neighborhood. I don’t mean to suggest that that’s the entirety of the economic value that artists provide, but it certainly seems like both (a) a big part of the story and (b) a necessary first step in order to make further value creation possible in depressed neighborhoods. Leonard Jacobs has some additional thoughts.

  • While we’re on the creative economy kick, Louisiana [edit: Lieutenant] governor Mitch Landrieu is apparently a believer
  • …and Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, writes about a “creativity stimulus” in The Nation.
  • More hard times for arts journalists: the ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards were abruptly suspended last week. I don’t know how much these were costing ASCAP, but to the extent that quality journalism helps to promote the music that the organization represents, the decision seems a bit short-sighted to me.
  • Americans for the Arts’s Adam Thurman has a hilarious cautionary tale for people thinking about starting their own arts organization that might hit a bit close to home.
  • MaryAnn Devine tells arts organizations not to be afraid of competition, and also highlights this very witty marketing blog.
  • A new $250,000 visual art prize, which will be the largest such prize in the world, will select the winner via popular vote. I’m kind of intrigued and horrified at the same time. As much as I am not a fan of gigantic prizes to individuals, at least this one is leveraged in service of a cool event that looks like it will bring a lot of people to Grand Rapids, MI and raise interest in contemporary art. So good luck to them.
  • Speaking of new grants, the Ford Foundation has spun off the first foundation specifically for Native American artists.
  • And remember how there was that whole kerfuffle last summer when Leona Helmsley directed that all of her foundation’s assets should (literally) go to the dogs? Well, the first round’s grants are out, and aside from $1 million in “canine grants,” they look pretty normal.
  • Not all organizations are taking this recession sitting down: the Wall Street Journal has a round-up of some creative responses.
  • You must, must view this amazing presentation from Swedish researcher Hans Rosling, developer of Gapminder, from the TED Conference. Arts freaks will especially appreciate how he values culture vis-a-vis other human development goals.