Stand Up and Represent
- First it was the state arts agencies; now the NEA is under attack. It turns out that the federal budget for the current fiscal year was never actually finalized, but instead was paid for bit by bit. As a result, the Republican House has called for a $22.5 million, or 13%, reduction in the NEA’s budget for the current fiscal year. As in, the one that is going on right now, for which grants are already being made. This would be the largest reduction to NEA funding in 16 years. (Not surprisingly, Republicans have since offered amendments to cut things even further…including one amendment from Scott Garrett (R-NJ) to eliminate the agency.) On top of this, President Obama’s budget for FY2012 (which begins October 1 of this year) calls for nearly as deep a cut – despite the fact that other cultural agencies (including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Smithsonian) did not receive proportionate reductions. This NEA is brimming over with smart, capable leadership and has been moving in some really exciting directions lately; it would be a shame to see that momentum blunted by capricious political winds outside of its control. You can take action here; please do this, especially if you do not live in New York City, Boston, DC, Chicago, LA, or San Francisco. Your voice matters.
- If you don’t like the economic impact-focused arguments at the link above, feel free to use Arlene Goldbard’s alternative letter instead. Arlene makes the moral case for arts support like no other.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Barry Hessenius offers an important perspective on the pragmatic side of arts advocacy. No vote occurs in a vacuum or truly on its merits in politics; everything is a horse trade. It’s ugly, but it’s what those people in the Middle East are taking to the streets for.
- Other perspectives on this: Adam Huttler fires a shot across the bow of our single-issue, NEA-funding-focused advocacy model and argues for more strategic alliances with and awareness of non-arts-specific goals. Arlene Goldbard and Guy Yedwab suggest that if we want to make a good long-term case for public arts support, the term “arts” might not be the most helpful and we might want to make sure the work we do actually serves the public. And Matthew Guerrieri has this awesome find of a clean energy industry economic impact study that promises substantially fewer jobs created per dollar spent than in the arts.
- Finally, the greatest threat to our public arts infrastructure may not be rabid conservatives, but apathetic progressives. I’ve been frustrated for a long time by the lack of reciprocity between the arts community’s support for the liberal establishment and the liberal establishment’s support for the arts. This week, we have Jonathan Chait, Matt Yglesias, and Kevin Drum coming out as anywhere from mildly to strongly opposed to direct federal funding for the arts, and Tyler Cowen (though not exactly a liberal himself) denying that there’s a liberal case to be made. These are important voices, folks…a lot more important than Bob Lynch. They are thought leaders in the progressive community who don’t get the rationale for why the arts should have a role in federal policy. We need to educate them.
You Say You Want a Revolution
- Is this a game-changer? Kickstarter is letting organizations “curate” pages of crowdfunding campaigns. For-profits, nonprofits, and government are all represented among the current curators.
- I haven’t written too much about the crisis facing the Detroit Symphony; here is the latest news, some analysis from New England Conservatory’s Tony Woodcock, and more from Greg Sandow.
- Diane Ragdsale says in order to solve the supply/demand problem, we need to be able to identify mission-failing institutions and help them die. Sound familiar? By the way, here’s Diane’s manifesto on arts philanthropy and sustainability.
- Meanwhile, Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre goes for a more flexible business model. And a California legislator introduced a bill to create a flexible purpose corporation to compete with B-Lab’s Benefit Corporation and the L3C. Finally, Andrew Taylor writes on the intriguing economic set-up of Carnegie Hall’s upcoming Spring for Music orchestra festival.
- Shocker alert: Rosetta Thurman no longer identifies as a nonprofit professional. Don’t worry Rosetta, as long as you don’t adopt Dan Pallotta’s positions on compensation, you’ll still be okay in my book. :)
- Turns out the connection between the arts and regional economic growth goes back a long way:
[C]ities in which printing presses were established 1450-1500 had no prior growth advantage, but subsequently grew far faster than similar cities without printing presses.
Someone’s Gonna Pay
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy names the top 50 donors of 2010; the LA Times susses out the biggest givers in the arts.
- Mike Bloomberg will once again generously support the arts in New York City.
- Assets for Artists is expanding to new locations. And so is the Awesome Foundation.
- More on supply and demand: Laura Zabel and Rebecca Novick editions.
Figuring Out the Details
- GiveWell is back with a typically thorough self-evaluation. Here’s an overview (bottom line: fewer causes, more “gold medal” charities), top-level priorities, GiveWell as a project, GiveWell as a donor resource, and web traffic stats.
- Andrew Taylor on prize philanthropy and unintended consequences.
- New study from the European Union on the entrepreneurial dimension of cultural and creative industries. And here’s one from Economist Intelligence Unit on the synergy between livability and economic development in urban places – culture is explicitly acknowledged as a component of livability.
Revolutions Can Be Fun Too
- Cool article about the Knight Foundation’s program supporting Random Acts of Culture.
- OKTrends considers the questions to ask on a first date. Want to know whether that hot chick will sleep with you? Ask her if she likes the taste of beer. How about that hot dude? Ask him if he’s ever imagined killing somebody. (I’m not making this up.)
- Congratulations to my friend and colleague Ron Ragin, whose performance on “Baba Yetu,” better known as the theme to the best-selling video game Civilization IV, helped the composer win two Grammys over the weekend. Here’s Ron bustin’ out the pipes for a PBS special on Video Games Live.