Around the horn: Heat wave edition

  • As we’ve mentioned here a few times recently, nonprofit organizations are now required to file a 990-N “postcard” form with the IRS every year. The National Center for Charitable Statistics has helpfully compiled a “doomsday list” of nonprofits who have failed to meet the requirement even after multiple warnings and thus risk losing their tax-exempt status; many of these groups are likely long dormant, though it’s quite possible that some of them are still active and for one reason or another didn’t get the memo. The 293,000 organizations listed represent nearly a fifth of all nonprofits in the United States.
  • There’s been a lot of buzz about the NEA’s recent research report Audience 2.0. First, Sunil distills the report down to a single important finding: that “people who view or listen to arts via electronic media are 2 to 3 times as likely as non-media arts participants to attend live performances, exhibits, and to create or perform their own art,” even after controlling for other factors such as education. Marc Kirshner at TenduTV, however, calls into question the relevance of the report given that the basic survey data was collected in May 2007, which was 95% of Facebook users and four generations of the iPhone ago (among other things). And Joe Frandoni gives a two-part summary of the whole thing over at the Technology in the Arts blog, concluding that the report raises more questions than it answers because it fails to address causation vs. correlation. I think people are being a bit harsh on Audience 2.0 since it’s really just a repackaging of the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts rather than a study conducted specifically for the purpose of understanding new media consumption. Nevertheless, the fact that people are (a) actually reading the damn thing and (b) demanding high standards from their research warms the cockles of my heart, I must say!
  • This should soften the blow of (temporarily) losing Bloomberg a bit: George Soros’s Open Society Institute is injecting a one-time $11 million infusion to NYC performing arts orgs’ budgets. OSI says the initiative was started before it became clear that Bloomberg’s annual operating subsidies were ceasing, and thus is not related. Good timing though! Speaking of billionaires and their money, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has joined the Gates/Buffet challenge in pledging to donate more than half of his wealth to charity. Allen’s foundation recently announced $4m in grants, of which $1.5m is going to the arts.
  • Meanwhile, here’s a list of New York’s 100 largest cultural institutions. The New York Philharmonic is #13 on the list – and is sending outgoing music director Loren Maazel (who’d always been inexplicably paid well above his peers in the US) off with a cool $3.3 million. This while they choose not to fill 12% of their vacancies in the orchestra, hiring subs instead. Peter Sachon wonders why.
  • So what did Michael Kaiser learn on his 50-state “Arts in Crisis” tour? 1. Most people don’t really think the arts are in crisis. 2. Arts organizations in different geographic areas are mostly the same. 3. “Some of the most interesting artists and most entrepreneurial arts managers are working in some of our smallest cities.”
  • Across the pond, looks like austerity is wreaking havoc on government arts funding in the UK. The Brits might finally get a taste of an “American-style” system as some have been calling for. Savor it!
  • Good-looking new child psych study finds children more collegial, apt to help each other after singing together.
  • There’s a new crowdfunding platform in town. These seem to be all the rage now–there’s even a new one for books in France. Hey, and one of them is partnering with our fiscal sponsorship program! I guess it’s better than financing your film with 14 personal credit cards (even if it did win you an Oscar nomination).
  • What a bunch of hogwash: Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum appeared on a Charity Navigator list of “10 Charities Drowning in Administrative Costs.” What Charity Navigator didn’t pick up on? The increased costs were the result of moving to a new facility, which caused a temporary uptick in hiring to accommodate increased demand. Oh yeah, and there was one other side effect of moving: attendance jumped from 180,000 (old facility) to 687,000 (new facility) in one year. Yes, the same year for which CN is now warning donors away because Please Touch is “drowning in administrative costs.” The worst part, though, is that when asked about it their VP of marketing denied that this attached any kind of “stigma” to the organization. Yeah, right. This should be exhibit A for arts organizations and those who fund them why these kinds of overly simplistic metrics for success are not only useless, but dangerous.
  • Seth Godin: it’s all about the Big Sort. Yup.
  • Rosetta Thurman was gracious enough to add me to her list of “50 Young Nonprofit Influencers You Should Be Following on Twitter.” Not sure I deserve it (I don’t post nearly as much as I should on Twitter), but there’s no turning back now: since she posted that on Monday, I’ve gained nearly 250 followers.
  • Now here’s a different kind of funding model: YouTube has announced $5 million in grants for people producing innovative new video content (on YouTube, of course). Except they’re not really grants: they’re advances against future revenue streams (i.e. advertising revenue share) the video producers earn from YouTube for their content. If they don’t earn enough to cover the advance, I guess it does function like a grant, but otherwise, it’s kind of like an R&D investment for YouTube. Really, really interesting.
  • Apparently, even when people have all the information they need, they still don’t act rationally. On a related(?) note, the OKCupid blog has data on the lies people tell to get laid.
  • CEP’s Phil Buchanan has some righteous words this week about the need for philanthropists to hear from the people they’re supposed to be helping.
  • Brigid Slipka has been running a great taxonomy of donor archetypes recently. Are you a Saint, a Friend, or just a Dragon?
  • More of this please: MBAs being taught how to give their money away. (via GIA News)
  • Pay what you wish + donate % of profits to charity = new business model for stuff people don’t actually want?
  • Does being an arts manager mean that art is no longer fun?
  • You may have heard of the so-called “creativity crisis.” Supposedly our scores on this creativity test that’s analogous to IQ have been going down since 1990. I offer no judgment – but the accompanying article is actually a fascinating, sprawling treatise on the nature of creativity itself. Highly recommended.
  • This is totally weird but kind of cool: veteran grantmaker and arts thinker John Kreidler has created a cultural policy simulation – yes, you read that right – called “Medici’s Lever,” and he’s blogging about it here. Who says video games are not art?
  • Well, I guess this takes audience engagement to a whole new level. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

One Comment

  1. Posted July 24th, 2010 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the shout out ;)

One Trackback

  1. By You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ « Culturebot on July 30th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    [...] by Andy Horwitz on July 30, 2010 · Leave a Comment  So I was catching up with and all the big ideas that have been bouncing around over there. I came across a link to a post on [...]

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