It’s been a fun but busy January for Createquity. The subscriber count finally passed 1,000 a few weeks ago, we had a little Writing Fellowship competition (more on that tomorrow), and out of the blue Rosetta Thurman kindly named yours truly one of the top 10 young nonprofit bloggers to follow in 2011. (That list actually has two different arts bloggers on it, which is pretty awesome given Rosetta’s sector-wide focus.)

Big News

  • The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s founder and CEO, Clara Miller, will be the new head of the F. B. Heron Foundation, one of the pioneers of using a foundation’s endowment investments for mission-related purposes.
  • What would the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange be without Liz Lerman? Just the Dance Exchange, apparently.
  • Lois Weisberg, longtime head of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, is out amid that agency’s continuing shakeup. Read an interview with her about it here.
  • The Washington National Opera and Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will merge. (h/t Jonas)

Big Intrigue

  • Has the Pepsi Refresh contest been tainted by voters-for-hire from India for the past six to nine months? (Cf. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk being used for spam.)
  • Thanks to a Fellowship applicant, I just discovered this year-old, incredibly detailed (and critical) examination of the Richard Florida phenomenon from the perspective of cities who paid for his advice over the past decade. The more I learn, the more I think of RF as a kind of complex and fascinating Rorschach test, someone who reveals more about ourselves by our reactions to him than by anything he says or writes. Hear a recent interview with him by Steve Dahlberg and Mary Alice Long.
  • I’m starting to get increasingly freaked out about internet security, and this news that a researcher has developed wifi password hacking software using Amazon Web Services doesn’t help. Says the poster: “Cloud computing makes it easier for hackers to take advantage of weak security networks. There will be some huge and successful attacks this year. The level of preparedness is just not high enough to expect anything else except for some very high profile break-ins.” Uh oh.
  • More state arts councils in states run by Republican governors are in trouble. Now it’s Kansas that may be the first to see its arts commission go. Janet Brown, as always, offers wisdom on the role and value of state arts agencies.

Big Projects

  • Behold the British versions of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. While we’re on the subject of crowdfunding, Kickstarter’s “best of 2010” list is apparently “super inspiring,” and Brian Newman writes about a really-cool-sounding, Kickstarter-supported restaurant-cum-art-project called What Happens When.
  • Awesome map of spoken dialects across North America (via CultureFuture).

Big Data

  • The new National Arts Index has been unveiled by Americans for the Arts. You’ll hear a lot about the topline number (97.7, supposedly a 12-year low), but I feel the NAI’s real value is as a compendium for yearly data on 81 separate indicators in one place. I’ll be writing more on this later.
  • More Richard Florida: a study on beauty and community satisfaction; the geography of gun deaths. (Curious finding in the latter: McCain vote share was the single variable associated most with gun deaths at the statewide level, more so than poverty, drug use, or possession of guns.)
  • Speaking of beauty, here’s Christian Rudder with another stellar stat-porn post on internet dating, this time on female attractiveness and male attention. Marginal Revolution’s Alex Tabarrok responds.
  • From Helicon Collaborative, a snapshot of arts funding in California. (Also see item at the end of this post.)
  • Technology in the Arts surveys tech adoption and implementation among arts organizations.
  • In a TEDx talk, Charles Limb describes two neuroscience studies he’s conducted using MRIs of jazz musicians and freestyle rappers improvising.
  • Courtesy the Center for Effective Philanthropy, grantees report on their perceptions of foundation evaluation and reporting practices.
  • The good news: a majority of Americans oppose cutting government funding for “the arts and sciences” (thanks for the help there, Gallup!). The bad news: Americans are more enthusiastic about cutting arts and science funding than all but one other category the poll asked about.

Big Ideas

  • Amid all the hubbub about “emerging” this and that, Michael Kaiser stands up for the old farts. And so does Dan Pallotta (though in his case it’s because he’s about to become one).
  • More on the grad school debt racket, this time focusing on law schools. “Solving the J.D. overabundance problem, according to Professor Henderson, will have to involve one very drastic measure: a bunch of lower-tier law schools will need to close.” Gabriel Rossman explains the strong incentives professors and institutions have to feed the unrealistic dreams of their graduate students. Meanwhile, Rosetta Thurman explains why you may not need to go to grad school to accomplish what you’re looking to do.
  • Kyle MacMillan on how orchestras need to change in the 21st century, via David H. Thomas. Speaking of David H. and new orchestra practices, here he is, a professional orchestral clarinetist mind you, coming out and saying that he’d actually prefer to see an HD broadcast of a great orchestra rather than a live, local orchestral performance in person. Wow.
  • And while we’re on the subject of orchestras, check out the news that Alarm Will Sound conductor Alan Pierson will lead the Brooklyn Philharmonic. For those of you who are not new music nerds, know that this represents a very radical hire by the struggling Brooklyn Phil. If it pays off, orchestral music may never be quite the same. (And if it doesn’t, I’d be pretty worried about what’s going to happen to orchestras.) No pressure, Alan.
  • Nina Simon on Paul Light on innovation. Great read.
  • How’s this for attracting new audiences? Playwrights Horizons is offering babysitting services to theater attendees. Worth a shot, I guess.
  • Ciara Pressler has a very deep and provocative post at the Fractured Atlas blog on how we are all marketers. I would go even further than her examples: I think that potentially every action one takes professionally (and, arguably, personally) has repercussions for what one might call “reputation management.” The way in which we manifest ourselves to others both publicly and privately is always, ultimately, marketing, whether we choose to think of it as such or not.
  • Amelia Northrup rounds up some arts technology trends to watch in 2011.
  • At White Courtesy Telephone, Albert Ruesga offers 24 “theses” about foundations. And if Sean Stannard-Stockton tells me I should read this blog, I’m a-gonna read it.
  • Are liberals just predisposed to compromise more than conservatives? And does that give conservatives a lasting competitive advantage?

Big Opportunity

  • Thanks for the shout-out, Ian!

  • Your second-to-last bullet point reminds me of the Dark Helmet quote from Spaceballs: “Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.”