• Well, as we learned over the weekend, a lot of state arts councils are in bad shape. Now we learn via the Clyde Fitch Report that NYS Arts is organizing pre-emptive lobbying for the New York State Council on the Arts (currently the best-funded state arts agency in the country) in anticipation of further cuts in FY10. Good for them for being on the ball. Miami-Dade County is struggling to internalize the prospect of $11 million in cuts to the arts infrastructure there. Unfortunately, it’s too late for British Columbia, whose arts organizations just had some $20 million in grants rescinded, in some cases after they’d already paid the bills with them.
  • Meanwhile, Europe proves once again that things are just different over there: Siemens pledges to keep corporate giving (including much arts sponsorship) at $72 million despite cutting 17,000 jobs last year and seeing a 28% decline in orders.
  • A number of observers predicted that once the recession got bad, we’d start seeing a lot of mergers in the nonprofit sector. Well, apparently it’s not happening. As attractive as mergers can sound on paper (and in many cases they do seem to make a lot of sense), the all too frequent reality seems to be one of political landmines, substantial upfront costs, and entrenched resistance.
  • Rocco Landesman is suddenly everywhere! View new profiles with the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.
  • So here’s something awesome: a bunch of people from the Field, Chocolate Factory, and other organizations have gotten together for a new blog called Collective Arts Think Tank. Their first essay, “Letter to the Field: What’s Working, Not Working, Recommendations” is excellent and thought-provoking. One of my favorite ideas is this one:
    There is a common refrain among artists and arts administrators: “we have to learn to do more with less.” Meaning, when resources get tight, we still need to produce at least the same amount of work as when there was more money available, if not more.

    We advocate the opposite philosophy: do less with more. Meaning, make work that is fully realized, fully-resourced, and created in an appropriate amount of time.

    This also speaks to a problem of supply and demand. If there are hundreds of small theaters and ensembles in New York, and all of them are half-full, then we are overproducing, substituting quantity for quality. Doing less with more may also mean that venues produce fewer shows, artists produce fewer works, and audiences remain hungry longer. We think that’s a good thing.

    Don’t miss the 30-something comments as well.

  • Our friend Sean Stannard-Stockton has big news: he’s taken all of the work he’s done over the past three years to help build the online philanthropic community and leveraged it into a new company, Tactical Philanthropy Advisors. Meanwhile, Sean hasn’t let up on the blogging: since last week’s Around the Horn, there’s now a three-part post on the definition of tactical philanthropy as distinct from strategic philanthropy (here, here, and here). Sean also clued me in to this cool article about the origins of Kickstarter, the arts microphilanthropy platform that’s rapidly gaining in popularity.
  • Speaking of friends, my blog buddy Tony Wang and I are going to be engaging in a kind of co-blogging exercise over the next month or so on the subject of value creation across sectors. He has a post up today responding to my recent series on the meaning and origin of value, and you can expect a continuation of the conversation on my side next week.
  • Some Generation Y muscle-flexing for you: congratulations to 26-year-old Amelia Lester, the new managing editor of the New Yorker. By the way, Seth Godin says, the way we hire people is all wrong – in ways that just happen to mirror observations made by professors of mine this spring. Seth advocates for the five-minute interview, which, while it makes a lot of sense from the business’s perspective, would seem to be a bit hellish for applicants.
  • Gene Takagi has lots of resources on media organizations and the nonprofit option.
  • A trend I expect we’ll see more of: Wikipedia is now assigning different levels of trust to contributors and color-coding edits to articles on the basis of who makes them.
  • Um, am I the only one who had no idea Americans for the Arts was running public service TV ads? Check them out here. The breakfast cereal one made me cringe a little, but the museum piece is actually pretty funny.
  • And I thought I had seen everything: now there’s a dating site for budding philanthropists. Way to put the passion in compassion! I guess this gives a whole new meaning to embedded giving.