• Americans for the Arts has another blogfest going, this time about private sector arts advocacy. Some big names participating in this one.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts’s latest program has sort of flown under the radar, but Our Town (which is currently in the President’s budget request waiting to be approved by Congress) would marshal $5 million in 2011 to support programs that
    • Plan and develop arts districts; map cultural assets and development potential; promote the arts and artists as integral components of community life and essential to community planning; and support innovative approaches by communities to maximize the economic growth potential of their creative sectors.
    • Place the art of design at the center of the development and enhancement of public spaces and the identification of solutions for more livable communities, while being sensitive to environmental impact. Activities would include encouraging partnerships that link compelling architecture, energetic streetscapes, sustainable parks andlandscapes, and the arts.
    • Promote the arts as core to community livability by enhancing the availability and accessibility of the arts, particularly in new settings. These efforts would include artist residencies; transforming community sites into public art spaces and creating new ways to engage people with the arts; producing festivals, community-wide celebrations, and outdoor exhibitions; and commissioning temporary and/or permanent site-specific public art such as murals and sculptures, including freestanding site-specific art, free public performances, sculpture gardens, waterfront art walks, and artist studios.

    The initiative seems to be an outgrowth and expansion of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design program announced earlier this year. See pages 7-10 of the appropriations request (pdf) for the full scoop.

  • I heart collaborations, part I: the San Francisco-area cities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, and Richmond have pooled resources with local private funders to create 510Arts.com, a new event and news portal for what’s now being called the East Bay Cultural Corridor. The close involvement of the four municipal agencies is especially significant, as they have clearly seen that a thriving cultural scene is more than the sum of its parts. Judith H. Dobrzynski has more.
  • I heart collaborations, part II: seven Washington State grantmakers teamed up to study the entire nonprofit ecosystem in the state and map out the gaps in funding and services so that they could attack them together. They’re already adjusting and creating grant programs in response to the findings.
  • I heart widely-distributed research resources: the audio from the Philanthropy Action qualitative metrics conference call; transcripts and audio from a public policy symposium in Aspen, CO from last October.
  • Looking forward to hearing what Andrew Taylor has to say about his experience at the Salzburg Global Seminar. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the arts policy conversations we have in America are too US-centric, and I’m looking for opportunities for me and Createquity readers to access the comparative analytical possibilities afforded by comparing our way of doing things with other countries’. For example, in Canada, arts organizations get an average of about 28% of their budgets from the government, compared to 13% in the US (put another way, government revenue makes up for more than half of contributed income in Canada but less than a quarter of contributed income in the States). The article linked above points out that only 3.3% of Canadian donors give to the arts, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider that just 4% of American donor dollars go to arts and culture.
  • Never fun to hear about the death of a grant program outside of Nylachi‘s clutches, even if it only provided $50,000 a year. The Bush Foundation’s Dakota Creative Connections fund supporting artists in North and South Dakota is no more.
  • Can listening to Mozart make you smarter? No, but performing it might.
  • American Express is reminding everyone that it was first on the vote-on-this-website-to-decide-who-gets-our-money bandwagon, y’all, by pimping a new-and-improved Members Project on the Oscar telecast. Sounds like the website will take some inspiration from the Obama campaign to connect donors with each other and volunteer opportunities in addition to the voting.
  • If my post from the other week didn’t convince you to follow OKTrends, maybe this one will: via Freakonomics, an analysis from last October shows among other things that black women both respond to men’s overtures on the site at higher rates and that their own messages are more likely to be ignored by men (of all races, including black men). Meanwhile, white, Asian, and Hispanic women are more likely to respond to white men than men of any other race. The researchers controlled for attractiveness as rated by other site users, and people who had explicitly said that they didn’t want to date people from race X were excluded. (So, in other words, this is documenting racial dating preferences even among people who claim to be open to dating any race.)
  • Good news for the jobseekers among ye: 60% of surveyed New York nonprofits are planning to hire in 2010.
  • If you’re a musician who’s concerned about health insurance, please take Future of Music Coalition’s survey here.
  • Thanks for noticing the demise of the Bush Foundation’s Dakota Creative Connections program (although I think there is a problem with the link.) Aside from the direct financial support that this program provided, it also provided in-depth professional development opportunities and opportunities for artists to come together in a region where those things are very scarce. I’m really sad to see it go, especially after only two years.

    • Thanks for the head’s up about the link, Laura, I’ve fixed it.