First Things First

  • EMCArts’s Director: Activating Innovation position, which we first posted about in March, is open again. Details here.

Cool Projects

  • You simply MUST watch the entirety of this video produced by the fine citizens of Grand Rapids. Organized after an article published on Newsweek’s website named Grand Rapids one of “America’s Top 10 Dying Cities,” the world-record-setting “LipDub” – lip sync video – proves GR’s vitality in inspiring fashion. Theresa Cameron has more of the story over at ARTSBlog.
  • Hartford’s iQuilt creative placemaking initiative has received a whopping $400,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
  • Andrew Taylor reports on the progress of Panera Bread’s experiment in pay-what-you-can pricing. Most customers are paying the retail price for the food, and only about 20% are taking advantage of the opportunity to pay less than what they would pay for the exact same food elsewhere. It’s an interesting lesson for economists on how social norms or pressures may influence behavior towards arbitrage opportunities. I also can’t help but wonder how much the apparent success of the experiment is made possible by the locations of the stores, which are in Clayton, MO; Dearborn, MI; and the Hollywood district of Portland, OR. None of those cities are poor, they have similar overall demographics (with the exception of the large Arab-American population in Dearborn), and Clayton is a wealthy suburb of St. Louis.
  • TCG’s “What If?” series of posts has been well worth reading. Here’s one recent example, an excellent think piece on an organizational model for a group of small artist collectives. Of course, as Michael Kaiser points out, mergers are never easy.

In the Tank

  • The same weekend that the Kansas Arts Commission went under, Florida’s governor vetoed state funding for public broadcasting. Meanwhile, Mid-America Arts Alliance director Mary Kennedy McCabe weighs in on Kansas.
  • The IRS has announced that 275,000 nonprofits have officially lost their tax-exempt status today, due to a failure to file required forms for three years in a row. This officially reduces the number of nonprofits in this country by 17%. View the full list here, and check to see if any arts organizations in your community have been affected.
  • Under continued financial pressure, including a $5 million current-year deficit, NYC Opera is leaving Lincoln Center for a new home – what home that is, no one knows. It’s also laying off 11 employees, and rumor has it that the budget will be reduced next year to $11 million.
  • NYCO is leaving Lincoln Center just two years after a $107 million renovation to the theater in which it performs – a renovation that resulted in its being renamed the David H. Koch Theater. Yes, this is the same David H. Koch whose conservative advocacy group supported Governor Sam Brownback’s vendetta against the Kansas Arts Commission.
  • This quote from one of the many stories about the NYCO’s recent challenges well illustrates the depressing conflict between commercial and aesthetic incentives at major institutions (emphasis mine):

    The [performers’ and stage managers’ union] delegates said they were proud to be part of the company. “Yet we are confused and troubled by the way management is programming the seasons,” they added, calling for productions of more familiar operas, like “Carmen,” “Madama Butterfly,” “La Bohème” and “La Traviata.” “George Steel’s artistic vision may be brilliant,” the union officials said, referring to the current general manager and artistic director, “but it doesn’t fill the seats.”

  • NYCO is not the only company in New York suddenly looking for a home. After losing its bid to take over the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Arts at St. Ann’s is desperately seeking shelter.
  • The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas is going on hiatus.
  • Bye bye Florida Stage.
  • Tony Kushner, of all people, reports that he doesn’t make his living as a playwright.

Orchestra R/Evolution Revisited

Overseas/North Country Report

Data Tells a Story

  • Richard Florida investigates the relationship between corporate business taxes and economic competitiveness at the state level, and finds that there isn’t one. Remember, one of Florida’s main arguments in The Rise of the Creative Class was that economic development strategies aimed at drawing companies through lower taxes don’t work anymore. This analysis provides pretty compelling evidence that he’s right. [A note: I’ve criticized these kinds of cross-sectional comparisons in the past because they are not very good at proving causal relationships. But the topic at hand is a better fit for this method, since what’s being found is actually a lack of a relationship.]
  • The UK is embarking on a national effort to measure happiness.
  • Analyzing Google’s vast storehouse of published data.
  • Amanda Alef looks at how arts majors fare financially relative to others.
  • Looking at a barter economy experiment in the arts.

Give it Away, Give it Away Now

  • On the heels of the Giving Pledge, Gates, Buffet & company are now spearheading a Hollywood Pledge. And the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has signed up 60 foundations for the “Foundation Pledge” (giving focused on underserved communities).
  • These five simple questions represent a really great rubric for self-evaluation on the cheap.
  • Adam Huttler offers a twopart analysis of what the L3C means for the arts.

Etc.

  • The Future of Music Coalition joins a petition to stop the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
  • Cool story featuring interviews of NYC buskers trying out for the great Music Under New York program.