Around the horn: Thriller edition

Welcome to all the new readers this month – it’s a pleasure to have you on board! And thanks to Darcy James Argue, Barry Hessenius, and Leonard Jacobs for the very generous shout-outs this past week (and to Jodi Schoenbrun Carter for her epic cheerleading a little while back). I’m honored to have you all in the audience.

  • Isaac takes on the Pro-Am predicament and writes about the delusion plaguing the theater world:
    And here’s the thing: most of the artists working in the Pro-Am circuit have very very little chance of crossing over [to mainstream success]. They are, essentially, pursuing a delusion as a result of a category erorr, namely that the Pro-Am circuit and the LORT/Institutional circuit are part of the same system. They are not, or at least, it’s more helpful to think of them as two sepearate systems. The path to working at LORT/Institutional theaters lies not in the Pro-Am circuit. it lies (largely, i know there are exceptions) in the institutional circuit, in interning at Humana, Apprenticing at Williamstown and going to UCSD or Yale (there are other paths out there, but this one is the clearest). Why is this? Because as theater has professionalized over the last fifty years, it has also adopted a Shadow Professional Certification System. It’s a shadow system because it’s largely social in nature; you don’t have to pass a writing bar exam to be a playwright, but if you want to make a living doing it, you probably need to have gone to one of seven graduate programs. And I’m not going to say there’s no relationship between Shadow Certification and Quality… there is, it’s just not 1:1.

    The same could certainly be said for classical music, though that’s starting – starting to break down a little bit, at least for composers. But the shadow system is definitely there.

  • Gotta love this title for an academic research paper: It Is Okay for Artists to Make Money…No, Really, It’s Okay.
  • There are now 1.9 million nonprofit organizations in the United States.
  • Not sure when the last time an undergraduate thesis received this much attention, but last week, budding economist (and Freakonomics‘ Steven Levitt protogee) Emily Glassberg Sands released a study to much media fanfare about gender issues in theater. She’s even going on Colbert July 2. Meanwhile, Thomas Garvey isn’t convinced. I’m inclined to wait and see.
  • And where do Levitt’s Harvard classmates live now? Surprise, surprise! The top five destinations are New York, San Francisco, LA, Cambridge, and DC. Doesn’t this look an awful lot like the list of most walkable cities in the US?
  • A not-insignificant increase in the NEA’s budget has been brewing for a while, and now the House has approved a budget of $170 million for 2010. The conference process will have the final word. This is still far below what the agency deserves, but it would represent a $45 million increase from 2007.
  • The Serve.gov initiative is up and running, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy has mucho coverage. ASCAP is leading its own initiative to get participation from the music community. Meanwhile, leave it to Sean to state what should be obvious, but isn’t: some volunteers are better than others.
  • Speaking of the arts in government, Doug McLennan of ArtsJournal somehow got a moment with Bill Ivey when he was in Seattle for the Americans for the Arts Convention, and asked him what he really thought about the prospect of a cabinet-level culture czar. (Answer: not much.) Make no mistake: this is why that initiative did not move forward.
  • Culture czars at the local level, however, may be a trend we’ll start to see more of. Via Innovation Philadelphia, here’s an interview with that city’s new chief cultural officer, Gary Steuer.
  • Leonard Jacobs points us to a new small business law under consideration in New York that could affect arts organizations and firms.
  • Crazy stuff: Bernie Madoff just got 150 years in jail, but his client Jeffrey Picower (whose foundation went down in flames in the fallout of the scandal) may have netted more.
  • Whoa – Malcolm Gladwell lays an epic smackdown on Chris Anderson’s new book Free, which trumpets the economic benefits of not charging for anything. Ironically, Anderson was caught following his own advice by lifting a number of the book’s passages from Wikipedia. I say ironically because Anderson, in fact, charges for his book (though he claims it will eventually be distributed in its entirety on the ‘net).
  • Speaking of smackdowns, Seth Godin takes on the the business wisdom of radical transparency.
  • A Johns Hopkins survey has some scary thoughts for arts organizations:
    Only 13 percent of the respondents said they were concerned about their nonprofit organization’s survival. But those numbers rose significantly among people at theaters and orchestras, which were the hardest hit of all charities in the study. Twenty-four percent of orchestra leaders and 33 percent of theater officials reported concern about their groups’ fate.

    There’s also this tidbit about the importance of government support for the arts:

    Mr. Salamon said that midsize organizations — as well as cultural charities — were perhaps suffering the most because they received less government support than larger organizations and human-services groups.

    Government money has provided somewhat of a buffer against the downturn, with 35 percent of charities in the stu
    dy reporting declines in that type of support compared with 53 percent who said they had seen a drop in donations from individuals.

  • New study alert: TDC looks at capitalization in Philadelphia’s nonprofit cultural sector. One of the co-authors is the former executive director of Yale SOM’s Program on Social Enterprise. Short version: arts orgs have weak financial health, but demonstrate strong financial literacy; they know what they’re doing but are having a hard time anyway.
  • New technology alert: a cool tool called Mapumental will help you find where to live in a city (London, for the moment) based on commute time, housing prices, and “scenicness.” Courtesy CEOs for Cities.
  • Bet we’ll see more of this in the future: Netflix crowdsources its R&D function, awards $1 million to team that improves its recommendation algorithm by 10%.
  • Greg Sandow posts a wrap-up of a great classical music event as organized and envisioned by students. When he says the students “loved this concert,” I believe it.
  • Awesome.
  • Okay, we’re going to try something new here at Createquity: an embedded slide show. This is from Andrew Taylor’s lecture in Austin last week, “Considering the Creative Ecology.” (Original link here.)
  • Trista Harris, executive director of the Headwaters Foundation, recently posted some job search tips for next generation leaders looking for program officer positions, a subject near and dear to my heart of late. Her first piece of advice:
    Don’t ask, don’t tell policy for your age- If you are a younger applicant, please take your graduation date off of your resume. Regardless of how much relevant experience you have, many hiring managers will write you off as a youngster if your undergraduate or graduate degree was received after Y2K.

    To which my response is: seriously? You can get away with that?

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2 Comments

  1. Alex
    Posted June 30th, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Regarding your last point: isn't that blatant age discrimination? I thought that was illegal …

  2. laura
    Posted June 30th, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    RE: Trista's advice – amen! I think this goes for any job outside of academia, actually. It's not so much the age that a graduation date or, even worse, your GPA*, communicates, but an overemphasis on your academic history. Which, rightly or wrongly, isn't that important to most hiring directors. The experiences you have had are far more important in a hiring process. I might care a lot about what you learned in school or what you worked on (especially if it's a cool independent study on public policy and the arts ;) But I don't really care that you went to school…lots of people go to school. What did you DO?

    *especially if it's mediocre or bad! seriously, I've seen many resumes with "GPA 2.35" on them. yikes.

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