Posting has been light around here lately because I am in the midst of another move. I am coming to the end of my official residence in Rhode Island, where I have been plying my trade and generally causing trouble for the last year or so. I’m moving back to New York to join the rest of my Fractured Atlas colleagues in the West 35th St office, and have been subletting a place this month in Harlem/Morningside to provide a home base for apartment searching (which thankfully looks to be over) and unpacking. I really enjoyed my time in Providence – it’s a very cool small city that has a lot going on for its size and very much “gets” the value of the arts and creative industries in a way that many places don’t.

  • Much has been made of the NEA’s new investment in urban revitalization, but since the agency’s budget looks like it will be the same or a little less compared to last year, this is all something of a zero-sum game. In this case, looks like Dana Gioia’s “The Big Read” program is the big loser in Rocco’s reorganization of agency priorities. (As an aside, I came across this old-ish articlecatching up with former NEA Communications Director Yosi Sergant this weekend and noticed the following observation: “in Sergant’s department of 14 people, four were dedicated to making books-on-tape.” Another legacy of Gioia’s literary-centric worldview, perhaps?)
  • By the way, did you know the NEA has a YouTube channel? Here’s Design Director Jason Schupbach talking about “creative placemaking.” There’s much more here.
  • Meanwhile, right wingers are hot on the trail of arts funding again, though so far it seems less organized than it was for the Sergant incident. The same “arts jobs are not real jobs” lie that we heard during the stimulus fight is once again front and center. (Michael Rushton patiently explains why it’s not true.) Senators Coburn and McCain have continued to identify arts projects supported by the federal government as “wasteful” for no other reason than that they are arts-related, offending Gary Steuer in the process. Perhaps more troubling is the newfound focus by conservatives on state and local funding for the arts, led predictably by Glenn Beck.
  • Looks like Bill Gates’s and Warren Buffet’s efforts have had some impact: 10% of the world’s billionaires have now adopted the Giving Pledge to donate at least half of their wealth to charity before or at death. Notable arts supporters among the list include Gerry and Margaret Lenfest, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Paul Allen, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, Bernard and Barbro Osher, and Sanford and Joan Weill. Hopefully they’ll listen to Kathleen Enright’s advice for them.
  • Grantmakers in the Arts is ramping up an interesting-looking series of guest blogs, and the latest is a grantmaker-grantee conversation between Ute Zimmerman and Theaster Gates.
  • Retrospective: Michael Kaiser looks back on the Arts in Crisis tour, and Conni of Conni’s Avant-Garde Restaurant takes stock of inventory after a year of support from the Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists program.
  • Delinquent nonprofit form filers are getting one last chance from the IRS to prove they still exist: file the 990-N “postcard” form online by October 15. Otherwise, it’s lights-out.
  • Newsweek may be considering going nonprofit.
  • Massachusetts has signed a law empowering local communities across the state to define their own cultural districts and identify incentives for their development. The Massachusetts Cultural Council will manage the program. Earlier this summer, the MCC had been in danger of getting moved under the aegis of a new quasi-public agency called the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership, but it looks like that proposal is off the table.
  • So in addition to seven-figure salaries, we need to be giving top culture executives seven-figure tax-free housing as well? I want to see Dan Pallotta‘s defense of this. It’s not all fun and games, though – sometimes you get a full-fledged performance review from your colleagues in the New York Times. If you too want to be a culture executive, Laura Zabel explains how did she get that job.
  • I was totally going to give Devon Smith a rest after linking to her blog a bunch of times over the last few months, but dammit, she keeps coming up with fantastic new stuff that can’t be ignored. Her “Social Media Measurement Plan” is perhaps her most ambitious post yet, chock-full of tips and tricks to track your online footprint. It’s seriously a must-read. I’m starting to think maybe we should try to keep Devon from getting a job after all because then she’ll keep giving this stuff away for free. (Just kidding, D.) Devon has a panel proposal in the mix for South by Southwest Interactive; and Fractured Atlas has two, one for Interactive and one in Film.
  • By the way, you can vote for those SxSW panels, thus helping to choose the content of the event you’re going to. Ever since I wrote that article on crowdsourced philanthropy platforms, I’m always coming across new systems that I wish I could have discussed as part of it. Case in point: IDEO’s new collective design hub for the good of the world, OpenIDEO. Meanwhile, Lucy Bernholz declares “Curator” to be the philanthropy buzzword du jour.
  • Iranian leader declares music incompatible with Islamic values.
  • Are affluent Westerners psychologically different from the rest of the world?
  • So, this is…unexpected: Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky, “is setting up a foundation dealing with contemporary art in the South Pacific [specifically Vanuatu], he’s got 400 acres of land on the island, and will be inviting artists, writers, film makers, composers etc from all over the world to do small residencies of several weeks each. They’re going to have artist residencies starting mid next year, and the whole venue will be based on bamboo.”

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