Around the horn: term paper edition

Have you been wondering whatever happened to the Arts Policy Library series? It hasn’t gone anywhere–it’s just been in extended hibernation in preparation for the piece that’s about to be unveiled tomorrow: a 7000-word, seminar-paper-length treatise on Americans for the Arts’s landmark economic impact study, Arts & Economic Prosperity III. Well over 60 hours of research and writing to date have gone into this piece, if I had to guess. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about whether the economic impact argument for the arts holds water or not, keep an eye out tomorrow and all will be revealed.

Here’s what’s been going on elsewhere the past week:

  • While we’re on the subject of Americans for the Arts, Robert Lynch’s letter to the Washington Times was just the beginning. Now they’ve released a complete list of inaccuracies in the Times‘s coverage of the arts’ role in the United We Serve initiative. AFTA also has a group blog discussion on arts education going full-blast this week at ARTSblog, which coincidentally has a fantastic new look.
  • Seems this is the time of year for major blog upgrades: in addition to Createquity’s migration to WordPress (the background graphic is different this week, do you like it?), and the aforementioned ARTSblog and Tactical Philanthropy‘s recent redesigns, three other Createquity blogroll denizens are planning big changes: small-town arts champion Scott Walters looks for a new name, arts marketer Maryann Devine goes the teaching route (with video!) and recent arts administration program grad and consultant Erin Gore has a new domain.
  • Scott Walters has also joined Barry Hessenius’s multi-week discussion of the future of the NEA, which got off the ground last week. This week’s panel has a great lineup including Bob Lynch (President of AFTA) and Sandra Gibson (ED, Association of Performing Arts Presenters), as well as Createquity reader Anne Katz.
  • Two updates on arts funding battles previously covered here: the war in Pennsylvania is over, and while the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts appears to have survived, arts groups have been hit with the reintroduction of the sales tax on arts tickets and admission charges. PA arts advocates are not happy. Also, Aaron Talbot has his finger on the pulse of the British Columbia arts funding saga, and suggests that the involvement of celebrities (in this case Kim Cattrall) may yield results. (Way to fish for Google image search hits with that pic, Aaron.) (FYI, this brings to mind how mysteriously absent American Hollywood celebrities are from arts advocacy campaigns, other than a few exceptions like Robert Redford and Linda Ronstadt.)
  • This is pretty cool: four different city governments have teamed up for a collective branding and infrastructure-building effort called the East Bay Cultural Corridor. The press release claims it’s the first collaboration of its kind in the US.
  • Arts & real estate fun: Trinity Real Estate, which is owned by the famed Trinity Wall Street Church in Lower Manhattan, has temporarily donated an entire city block to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council as outdoor exhibition space. The idea is to ride out the market downturn with pretty designs instead of dour-looking and deserted construction scenes. It helps, of course, that Trinity is a nonprofit with a world-renowned music program, but it makes business sense as well in that undeveloped spaces blight neighborhoods and drive down prices. Will it become a trend? Meanwhile, Carolyn Jack reports from the From Rust Belt to Artist Belt II summit on a new partnership to provide artists with low-cost properties for live-work spaces in Cleveland.
  • I love it when I’m planning on writing a post and find out that someone has already done it for me. In this case, Sam Smith of Scholars & Rogues did a little mapping exercise last year on the relationship between state arts appropriations and political voting patterns. It’s not as detailed as something you would see at FiveThirtyEight, but it’s cool to look at nonetheless.
  • A new round of MacArthur “Genius” Grants is out, with several artists among the recipients as usual. And piggybacking on Dudamania, The Daily Beast has a feature on young conductors, and manages to make the field look a hell of a lot more diverse than it is. I don’t know if TDB quite counts as “mainstream,” but it’s nice to see a site with that kind of traffic pay this much attention to classical music.
  • Lucy Bernholz, who has pretty much made a career out of calling out cutting-edge trends in philanthropy, has a typically thought-provoking piece out called Decoding the future of philanthropy. The crux? “Data are the new platform for change.” Meanwhile, Gabriel Kasper, a consultant at the Monitor Institute, wonders about the role that intuition (specifically, “networked intuition”) has to play in decision-making. Two visions at odds, or two sides of the same coin?
  • In search of impact: Holden Karnofsky of the GiveWell Blog is back with another informative post on microfinance, and says that repayment rates are not as helpful a metric as they appear to be. The Boston Foundation announces a new plan that moves this venerated community foundation several steps in the direction of venture philanthropy, deciding to give larger grants to fewer recipients with fewer restrictions. Dan Pallotta loves it.
  • Remember the Awesome Foundation? Well, a Harvard Business School blog post by Umair Haque is now proclaiming that “awesomeness” is the new innovation. It’s mostly semantic wordplay, but sometimes that’s important: “awesomeness” carries with it a certain visceral connotation that innovation doesn’t quite have. And Haque singles out a few other distinctions: innovation is focused on growth for its own sake, regardless of its impact on sustainability or real value to customers, etc., whereas awesomeness is predicated on the creation of what Haque calls “thick value.” Not surprisingly, Haque hearts the Apple Store.
  • Well, speaking of innovation, here’s an idea whose time has come: the Brooklyn Creative League offers shared workspace for freelancers and independent contractors on a monthly membership basis, combining the best aspects of renting an office and hanging out at the coffee shop. And in other cool idea news, there’s a new company called Games that Give that embeds philanthropy into games like sudoku, solitaire, etc.
  • The “wisdom of crowds” is neither wise nor generated by a crowd. Discuss. (My take: yes, it’s true that most “crowdsourced” projects are driven by a small minority of the participants–but there’s still a big difference between that approach and going it alone. Ultimately, I think businesses and others will discover that a smart integration of grassroots and hierarchical structures–what might be called guided crowdsourcing–will yield the best results.)
  • Are “best practices” really always the “best”? Well, maybe not, if you’re just parroting other people’s tired old ideas. Like the one about paying entry-level (and not-so-entry-level) nonprofit workers $30,000 a year, just because that’s what everyone else does. It is an easy and tempting move to use the recession to take advantage of younger employees, but Rosetta details the effect that such practices are having on her generation.
  • This is hands-down one of the best fundraising pitches I’ve ever read.
  • So, feel free to ignore this if you’re not a music geek, but this is too cool: composer and music critic Kyle Gann reports that one of his students has figured out a technique to make super-elegant rubato figurations using notation software. It involves nesting tuplets up the wazoo: his most “basic” example features seven levels of octuplets. But it sounds amazing; just listen to the clips on the site.
  • Only in the Midwest: the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is attempting to set the Guinness World Record for the “tallest toilet paper pyramid.” All for charity, of course. And no, I am not making this up.
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5 Comments

  1. Posted September 22nd, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Dude, it’s official, this is my new favorite blog. Excitedly anticipating tomorrow’s post.

    Although to answer the question buried in the above post, I personally thought the lighter version of the background image was more distinctive and classier. I found it a little more subtle than the high-contrast version that replaces it. Overall the design of the site is gorgeous, though. Lovely little touches all over the place.

  2. Posted September 22nd, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Also, FYI, the background image can run out of pixels on a larger screen. The page is left with a stark white bar across the bottom if viewed on such as screen. This glitch can appear at least on screens with 1200 or more pixels of vertical space.

    • Posted September 22nd, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      OK, good to know. I imagine most readers will not be working with screen resolutions that high at this point, but that might change in the next couple of years. So I’ll see about getting that taken care of before then. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Posted September 22nd, 2009 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Minor correction: only 1050 vertical pixels are required to see the edge of the background image. For reference, all of Apple’s current non-laptop screens (and one of the laptops) have at least this many pixels.

        Information to do with as you see fit.

      • Posted October 2nd, 2009 at 6:30 am | Permalink

        Sexy big blue background! I dig.

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