• Remember that debate a while back about whether video games qualified as art? Well, the NEA just declared it over by including support for “digital games” in its new Art and Media program.
  • To Scott Walters’s everlasting chagrin, however, the NEA is still providing funding to organizations in New York, LA, and Chicago disproportionate to the population level. Scott has more here and here. I think this is helpful and important analysis; the one thing to keep in mind is that it focuses only on grants in one discipline of one round of one the NEA’s grant programs.
  • The Library of Congress, in partnership with Sony Music, has unveiled a “National Jukebox” of early sound recordings – and it got a million page views in the first 48 hours.
  • Kudos to the Future of Music Coalition for staying on top of the potential implications of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger for artists. And speaking of mergers, don’t miss FMC’s collaboration with Fractured Atlas looking back at the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger, one year later.
  • A window into Finnish cultural policy.
  • So now Congressmen want to micromanage the Smithsonian’s gift shops?


  • Rahm Emanuel has announced that Michelle T. Boone, formerly of the Joyce Foundation, will serve as the next Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
  • Marc Vogl is out as program officer for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and in as executive director of the Bay Area Video Coalition.
  • Heather Hitchens has quit as director of the New York State Council on the Arts to take the top job at American Theatre Wing, which presents the Tony Awards. NYSCA’s budget has declined from $55 million to $35 million over the past four years.
  • Blueprint Research + Design, a major consultant to foundations, is being bought out by Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors. As part of the transaction, Blueprint founder Lucy Bernholz will become a half-time managing director of Arabella, spending more time on writing and in her partnership with Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society.
  • The Sloan Foundation, whose main focus is science and technology, is now getting into arts funding.


  • ARTSBlog has a great-looking discussion on tap this week about new business models, the 501(c)(3) legal form, and potential alternatives. The lineup of bloggers is stellar, including Diane Ragsdale, Adam Huttler, and Janet Brown.
  • The indefatigable Barry Hessenius was blogging up a storm earlier this month at the 98th Arizona Town Hall focusing on arts and culture. The convening, which included addresses from Marian Godfrey and the suddenly ubiquitous Rocco Landesman, comes at a poignant moment for the state, given recent cutbacks in public funding for the arts in Arizona. Here are Barry’s reports from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and the final wrap-up. There’s also a 268-page background report in case you’re looking for some further light reading.
  • The staff at GiveWell, the charity rating agency, spent three months living and working in Mumbai last year. They have now posted thoughts and impressions from the visit, which provide an interesting check against their working assumptions going in. Here are the notes from staff members Holden Karnofsky, Elie Hassenfeld, and Natalie Stone, as well as thoughts on evaluating local charities in India.


  • The long-awaited Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) study has finally been published. The press release puts a positive spin on the findings, noting that 92% of alumni of arts training programs who responded to the survey have work (of any kind) and that two-thirds indicated that their first job after school was a close match for what they wanted. However, I’m more intrigued by the stat that only 57% of the over 13,500 respondents have ever been a professional artist, and only 41% currently are (keep in mind that most of the survey pool graduated within the past five years). We’ll be taking a closer look at this one.
  • Meanwhile, last August, student loans surpassed credit cards as the largest source of debt in the US.
  • The NEA has a new research note applying data from the American Time Use Survey to the performing arts industry.
  • At ARTSBlog, Lynne Kingsley reports on the unequal distribution of arts education programs by discipline (a lot more visual art and music than theater or dance). And Tim Mikulski shares recommendations from the new report on arts education from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
  • The Alliance of Artist Communities has a new study on support for dance through artist residencies.
  • Rosetta Thurman reports on a new study of perceptions of diversity in the nonprofit workplace.
  • Americans for the Arts aren’t the only ones doing economic impact estimates. Google says that it benefits the American economy to the tune of $64 billion – in pure profits. Take that!


  • The Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago has been on fire lately, and held a great-looking Emerging Practice Seminar last month. Materials from the session (including lots of video!) are available here.
  • Matthew Guerrieri provides a dispatch from the Rethink Music Conference in Boston.
  • Beth Kanter reports from the Center for Effective Philanthropy Conference.
  • Trista Harris has video from the “Philanthropy On Trial” event at the Council on Foundations Conference.


  • Wow. For the first time since 1992, the rate of television ownership in American households has declined. To 97%.
  • Crowdfunding isn’t just for donations and loans anymore; MicroVentures is now taking tiny equity investments for new startup companies.
  • The Daily Beast on and the future of book critics.
  • Composer Jeff Harrington offers a personal history of his reliance on free content distribution as a career strategy, and relates it to the issue of class in the arts.


  • Really fascinating indictment of today’s urban planning field and the (unintended) legacy of Jane Jacobs.
  • Barry Hessenius interviews Kristen Madsen, Vice President of the GRAMMY and MusiCares Foundations.
  • I have to say (and no, I am not being paid for this), I am so glad I signed up for the free trial of the New York Times’s digital subscription service sponsored by Lincoln when I had the chance, and I will certainly be renewing when it runs out. Without it, I’d be missing out on great reporting like this piece on a “pop-up” restaurant that served a six-course lunch to a dozen passengers on the L train, and this exposé of some shady-sounding business practices on the part of Columbia Artists Management promoting foreign orchestras who aren’t what they seem.
  • Oh come on, Ian, you’re not really asserting that this round of NEA grants is an outlier, are you?

    • Did I say that, Scott?

      • No, but you imply that without crunching a certain amount of data, it is impossible to draw a conclusion, and I question that. I understand that making a statistical case demands a greater sampling, but at the same time, I think it is possible to make a political/moral statement without it.

        • I don’t think at all that it is impossible to draw a conclusion. I think that you have very appropriately drawn some conclusions about one discipline in one round of one of the NEA’s grant programs. We can also conjecture about what other rounds, or other disciplines, might look like, but yes, without crunching numbers it is impossible to draw conclusions about those.