- The National Endowment for the Arts has spearheaded the formation of a new coalition of private funders to support its creative placemaking agenda. Called ArtPlace, the collaboration features Carol Coletta as its fearless leader, and has the backing of such significant national funders as the Ford, Knight, Kresge, Rockefeller, and Mellon Foundations. Grants and a $12 million loan fund are administered through the Nonprofit Finance Fund, a nonprofit lender and financial consulting organization. ArtPlace has already made a set of 34 grants in “record time” totaling $11.5 million to a range of projects in the Our Town vein (including one to Coletta’s former employer, CEOs for Cities, in an cool-looking collaboration with GOOD Design.). Thankfully, after a closed-door process for this first round, ArtPlace is opening up next year’s grants through a letter of inquiry which is due November 15. Coletta has more at the Art Works blog.
- A couple of weeks ago, Sean Stannard-Stockton asked a seemingly innocent question: who should be the Hewlett Foundation’s next president? I was surprised to see Sean wrote a follow-up in which he shares that “emails I’ve gotten from very senior members of the philanthropic community – people whose opinions I respect very much – suggest that my hosting this discussion is far more controversial than I might have guessed.” Apparently, according to these Very Senior People (none of whom, Sean notes, are Hewlett employees), speculating about who might ultimately be the driving force behind the distribution of hundreds of millions of tax-exempt philanthropic dollars a year should be off-limits to plebes who are not on the Hewlett Foundation Board. Thankfully, Sean elected not to listen to this silliness and has gone ahead and published the suggestions that have come in, which include some very interesting names.
- Speaking of Hewlett, Emiko Ono will be the new Program Officer for the Foundation’s Performing Arts Program, replacing Marc Vogl. Ono was Director of Grants and Professional Development for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
- Duke’s Fuqua School of Business has announced a first-of-its-kind “Initiative on Impact Investing.” Officials at the school’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) will be developing a new course, case materials, and working with practitioners to explore impact investing in more depth in an academic setting.
- Ouch: the Center for Effective Philanthropy reports that community foundation leaders are far less strategic in their work than their rhetoric would suggest. In particular, “CEOs who are strategic in their donor work focus explicitly on how donor contributions will benefit the community. In comparison, nonstrategic CEOs focus on how donor contributions will continue to flow to the foundation.”
IN THE FIELD
- After a decade of planning and building, Kansas City’s $326 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has opened – one of the last products of the performing arts building boom of the 1990s-2000s.
- Doug Borwick, the Association of Arts Administration Educators president who has a new blog on ArtsJournal called Engaging Matters, writes a love letter to the much-missed Community Arts Network.
- And here’s an inside look at Yerba Buena’s personalized membership program, YBCA: YOU, with more from Borwick.
- Words I’d never thought I’d write department: congratulations to Philly’s Mural Arts Program, which landed a cover story…in AAA New York Car & Travel magazine!
- Composer Nico Muhly offers an insider’s perspective on the byzantine restrictions faced by orchestral composers seeking access to recordings of their own work.
- Sally Gaskill, who runs the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project at Indiana University, interviews Angela Myles Beeching, director of the Center for Music Entrepreneurship at Manhattan School of Music, about preparing musicians for careers outside the academy.
- And speaking of professional training degrees for artists, excuse Poets & Writers magazine for trying to give people some sense of how to choose a creative writing MFA program. According to an angry group of writing faculty, the fact that the rankings take financial aid too heavily into account is enough to break out the pitchforks.
- A very interesting interview with John Kreidler about his cultural policy simulation game, Medici’s Lever.
- Cool true-life story of the birth of an internet meme, conceived by the arts blogosphere’s own Chris Ashworth.
- Clay Lord offers a rare look at the neuroscience of audience response to theater.
- Arlene Goldbard offers her vision of how the arts could play a role in a new stimulus.
- Plagiarism appears to be on the rise in the internet age, even among doctoral students: a study of 120 dissertations in psychology turned up instances of plagiarism (defined as using 10 or more words from another source verbatim without attribution) in a shocking 80% of them. If even the future teachers are plagiarizing, what does that mean for the long term trend?
- Surprise, surprise: when you raise prices 60%, you might lose some customers.
- Two months ago, shoemaker Converse opened up a free recording studio in the ultra-hip neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The New York Times spends a day there talking to the artists taking advantage of the service. A competitive process is used to identify musicians, and as with Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love” (see below), artists are chosen “less for their talent than for their viral energies — their presence on MySpace or Facebook, their hustle in pursuing their careers.”
- I found this live improvised playwriting experiment between Neil Labute and Theresa Rebeck kind of cool, despite the hokey setup.
- I’ve never understood why anyone would want a tattoo, but it seems buyer’s remorse is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, tattoo-removal-seekers are finding that it’s not so easy to turn back time.
- In connection with the Artist Revenue Streams project, Future of Music Coalition and the Field are co-hosting (along with a boatload of other organizations including Fractured Atlas) a workshop for musicians on “accounting for creatives” in NYC on Monday, September 19. Check the link for info.
- Nice to see an organization that just released a research report (the Center for Effective Philanthropy, in this case) openly discussing how response bias might have affected the results. We need to see more of this kind of transparency in reporting research results.
- I was intrigued to hear of the formation of a new music research and composition e-journal series on the Social Science Research Network database, led (mostly) by Boston University faculty.
- Andrew Taylor points us to a new book by the Curb Center’s Steven Tepper on protest and the arts.
- Two economists estimate the “psychic value” of a work of art (as distinct from its investment value) at 28% of its overall price.
(the following are some “retro” links from the past 12 months that for one reason or another didn’t make it into the around the horn wrap-ups the first time around.)
- Joshua Phillips lays out a very serious and detailed proposal (and justification) for a public policy game show.
- It’s not too often that I see a coherent conservative case against arts funding, but here’s an example for those who might be curious. Main arguments: the evidence of the arts’ economic impact is flimsy, and government funding makes for worse art.
- It was hard to suppress a wry smile upon learning that Leona Helmsley’s precious dog Trouble, to which she left $12 million in her will (disowning two of her grandchildren in the process), has passed away. The funds held in Trouble’s trust have reverted to Helmsley’s charitable foundation, which is one of the largest in the world.
- Wondering where our nation’s sudden income inequality came from? Since 1992, super-wealthy Americans’ effective tax burden has plummeted by more than a third. Over the same time period, the effective tax rate for all taxpayers has dropped only 6%.
- Is subway pop-up theater the new flashmob-chorus/dance/opera-in-a-mall?
- I found this quote worth mulling over, from the NYTimes Magazine’s writeup of Kickstarter last month:
I sat in on a meeting where the [“Projects We Love”] newsletter picks were made. During the half-hour or so Strickler and the team discussed the choices, I was struck by how often they talked not about the projects but about the pitches. “His video is so boring.” “What are the rewards?” “Why is this cool?” They were focused on the project ideas through the filter of “the Kickstarter project” as a form. “We have values,” Chen told me, and they boil down to prizing creators who respect its process. They favor creators who think through the rewards for backers, get the word out and engage an audience. In other words, the process doesn’t shape the aesthetic. It is the aesthetic.