Around the horn: California dreamin’ edition

  • Rocco Landesman responded slowly and clearly last week to the inquiry into the infamous NEA conference call on the part of GOP Senators, saying “I am unaware of the use of any taxpayer dollars for the…conference call or related activity,” and debunking a number of other myths while striking a conciliatory tone.  The Senators’ response? Republican Mike Enzi issued a statement saying, “on initial review [he] appreciates Chairman Landesman’s response and his commitment to ethics training to make sure this does not happen again.  He looks forward to working with the Chairman to help fulfill NEA’s mission.” Final as that may sound, though, they aren’t yet giving up over in the alternate universe that is the conservative blogosphere. Now the focus has shifted to a May meeting with arts activists organized by Arlene Goldbard among others. And after virtually disappearing for two weeks, Patrick Courrielche is back with a nitpicking response to Landesman’s letter in which he continues to push the fiction that Americans for the Arts was involved with the call (AFTA, for its part, says it didn’t even know that it was happening). Meanwhile, Media Matters documents how conservative media organizations are now encouraging their audience to dig up dirt on private citizens who work at arts organizations.
  • I’m getting so used to misrepresentation on the right that it’s easy to forget it can happen on the left, too. While trolling around the web the other day, I came across this hilarious (though recently inactive) website dedicated to vilifying Richard Florida on the grounds that his policies “celebrate a society based on inequality, in which a select group of glorified professionals is supported by an invisible army of low-wage service workers.” The Toronto Star followed up with an extensive interview with Florida in which he responds to some of the charges. I find it very interesting that Florida is getting attacked from the left in Canada. There are certainly criticisms to be made of Florida’s work, and he clearly makes a very good living for himself doing what he does, but it’s kind of obvious that the anonymous “collective” behind the website haven’t actually read his books, since theyattack him for not saying things that he in fact says all the time.
  • I think I feel another…oh…oh…there it is!…BLOGGER ON FIRE award coming! This one goes to Adam Thurman of The Mission Paradox Blog, for several of his patented, thought-provoking and aphoristic posts. In Yawn, he notes that “A bit of chaos is useful to the artistic process. But it is death to the business of art.”  In Savings Souls, he picks up on the discussion of art vs. sports between 99 Seats and me and points out, “…imagine if I called my friend and we first had to discuss whether the Bears won or lost, or the standards for winning or losing, or whether winning or losing was important in the first place. Then we would have the arts.” He suggests that church may be a more apt comparison, a thought I’ve poked at before but haven’t really explored in depth. And a little while back, in The One-Foot Level, Thurman argues that the best way to convince people that art is a “necessity” is to “convince a small, defined number of people that YOUR art is a necessary part of their lives.”
  • Looks like the Future of New York mini-conference last week was a doozy: the Deputy Mayor announced a sweeping new partnership between the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Cultural Affairs. Initial examination looks very promising; expect more on it later in the week. Speaking of the creative economy, Philadelphia’s Chief Cultural Officer, Gary Steuer, has a blog and is using it to protest the imposition of the state sales tax on arts events and museum admissions. And Michigan’s ArtPrize is turning out to be quite the quite, if Carol Colletta and Judith Dobrzynski are to be believed.
  • Can we create better social outcomes by getting involved earlier in the urban planning process? Renowned Stanford economist Paul Romer has quit his tenured professorship to find out.
  • Kathleen Enright, the head of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, argues in the Chronicle of Philanthropy against the notion that mergers between nonprofits are the answer to increasing efficiency in the social sector. Rather, Enright says, funders should take a look in the mirror and consider combining their own resources to increase impact.
  • Seems the Netflix Challenge was so successful they’re going to do it again. However, our favorites The Ensemble (the 30-member syndicate that briefly took the lead in the competition) lost out because they submitted their (equally good) solution a mere 20 minutes after the other team.
  • Createquity reader Chris Ashworth has a great rant on health care and the free market. Go read it! And speaking of market failures, here’s an oldie but goodie: an exhaustive treatise from Bill Wyman on why newspapers are failing. Part I; Part II.
  • Brooklyn has a new community foundation. And Radiohead’s Thom Yorke has a new stealth band.
  • Did you know that October is Funding for the Arts Month? Neither did I. Does this mean we all get a free car? Or at least a cookie?
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