I’m happy to announce that I will be speaking in Chicago this Saturday, May 7 at David Zoltan’s TEDxMichiganAve event (you can buy tickets here). The talk is tentatively titled “Never Heard of ‘Em: Citizen Curators and Who Gets to Be an Artist,” and I will be synthesizing themes from my post on artistic marketplaces, my crowdsourced philanthropy article co-authored with Daniel Reid, and my recent piece reacting to Rocco Landesman’s comments on supply and demand in the arts. I should be on sometime between 1:30 and 3pm, assuming weather and plane flights cooperate.

On to the news:


  • The orchestra world has been shaken to the core this month. The largest institution yet to face such troubles, the Philadelphia Orchestra, has filed for bankruptcy (the restructuring kind, not the “we’re throwing in the towel” kind). On the one hand, I am sure that the Fabulous Philadelphians’ financial troubles are very real. On the other, it does strike me as curious not only that (as others have noted) an organization with a $140 million endowment would file for bankruptcy, but that the move precedes the announcement of a $160 million fundraising campaign to save the orchestra. Andrew Taylor digs into the bankruptcy filing docs.
  • The Syracuse (NY) Symphony Orchestra has filed for Chapter 7 (we’re throwing in the towel) bankruptcy, after canceling the rest of its season a week earlier. Looks like it’s lights out for this one, not to mention the SSO’s 95 musicians and staff.
  • Albuquerque’s New Mexico Symphony has filed for Chapter 7 as well. 80 musicians and staffers will lose their jobs.
  • On the plus side, the Detroit Symphony musicians are back to work, albeit six months later. The new three-year contract calls for 25% cuts in salaries (to $79,000 base pay, hardly slave wages) and additional funds available for optional community-service work. The orchestra’s size will be reduced from 96 to 85 musicians.
  • The artistically successful but financially troubled Intiman Theatre  in Seattle has cancelled the rest of its season due to money problems. Its artistic director, Kate Whoriskey, has now left as well.
  • The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival is kaput after 17 years in operation, making it the second major Baltimore arts organization to fold since the start of the Great Recession (after the Baltimore Opera). The article contains this quote that would make Tyler Cowen smile: “‘We started as a non-Equity company, and if we had dropped our contract, it would have cut our costs,’ Toran said. ‘But that’s exactly what we weren’t going to do. You want to pay your actors, just like you pay lawyers and doctors and teachers. Our goal wasn’t survival at any cost.'” So because they wanted to pay the actors so badly, they decided to give them fewer work opportunities?
  • The New York City Opera, two years after spending the 2008-09 season inactive and raiding most of its endowment to stay alive, is facing a possible strike and the delay of its season announcement for next year.
  • Pittsburgh arts groups are exploring increased collaboration as a survival strategy.
  • Meant to write about this a while ago, but Pepsi Refresh has relaunched with a different process and set of rules after complaints of gaming the system last year.


  • Ellen Rudolf is stepping down as longtime director of the Surdna Foundation’s Thriving Cultures Program, which she had initiated with the foundation 17 years ago.
  • Jeremy Nowak, a noted advocate for the power of the arts in revitalizing communities, will no longer be the President and CEO of The Reinvestment Fund – for good reason: he’s about to become the new head of the William Penn Foundation. (via GIA News)
  • Nina Simon, author, blogger, and museum design consultant extraordinaire, is quitting her consulting and speaking business to be the new Executive Director of the Museum of Art & History at McPherson Center in Santa Cruz, CA. Thankfully, she is not quitting her blog.




  • David Byrne has come to a settlement with former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who had used the Talking Heads song “Road to Nowhere” without permission during Crist’s unsuccessful campaign for Senate last year. (Seems a rather auspicious choice, no?) The settlement terms apparently included Charlie recording this apology video, which actually almost makes me feel sorry for him.
  • Matthew Guerrieri reports on a dispute between the Music Publishers Association (UK) and the International Music Score Library Project.


  • Bubble sort as demonstrated by Hungarian folk dance.
  • Eric Whitacre is back with the Virtual Choir 2.0, this time performing his “Sleep” and featuring over 2000 performers. Sounds great, but fair warning: the video is even cheesier than in the last one.
  • To draw in new audiences, an orchestra plays for cows.
  • I find a lot of public art less than inspiring, but I have to admit, this is pretty awesome:

    After more than a decade of disagreement, Berliners have settled on a monument to celebrate German reunification and the 1989 peaceful revolution: a giant, rocking dish.

    The 55-metre, 330-tonne glittering steel wing can hold up to 1,400 people at any one time, but it needs at least 20 people to get it moving.

    The monument to unity is called Citizens in Motion, and is apparently all about people coming together. If you want to make it move, you have to get a group together and all go in a particular direction.