Back recently from the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in San Francisco. More on that soon! In the meantime:


  • Republican House members are back on the warpath to eliminating public broadcasting money (along with other government programs).
  • The first 1:36 of this interview with Grammy-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding has the makings of a great arts advocacy video.


  • Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Ryback doesn’t understand why artists don’t have his back when people make fun of public art that his administration has commissioned. The link also contains the complete video of the recent creative placemaking panel featuring Rocco Landesman, which was the context of the comments.


  • NEA Chief of Staff Jamie Bennett, aka the most influential person in the arts you’ve (probably) never heard of, submits four highly entertaining and thought-provoking reports from the 5th Annual World Summit on Arts and Culture in Melbourne, where he and Rocco Landesman were representing the United States. Check them out: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4.
  • During the World Summit, the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies released the WorldCP International Database of Cultural Policies, based on the fantastic European version here. Good ol’ US of A isn’t represented yet, but I trust it’s in the works.
  • Sad: BBC to cut 2000 jobs by 2017.
  • Ugh: it sounds like Arts Council England’s new austerity-induced performance measurement system for its grantees is kind of a mess.
  • The former Irish Minister for Arts, Culture, and the Gaeltect is now running for President of Ireland. He is making “a creative society” a centerpiece of his campaign. Is he the first serious candidate for national office in modern times to do so?
  • A new report from the British think tank DEMOS finds that creative industries in the UK present no special investment risk to banks as compared with the rest of the economy.
  • Chinese censors have abruptly canceled the premiere of a new opera by American composer Huang Ruo over complaints that the music was not sufficiently glorifying of its subject, China’s first president.
  • Hat tip to Tyler Cowen for this discovery: the Singapore Complaints Choir. (Apparently a Fringe Festival production!)


  • California has brought two new corporate forms into being: the benefit corporation and the flexible purpose corporation. Here is more on both from the Nonprofit Law Blog, and more on the flexible purpose corporation from CharityLawyer.
  • The Acumen Fund has been working on a list of “lessons learned” from its work in global poverty in celebration of its tenth anniversary. See them all in this slick but hard-to-navigate web feature, or read them one by one at the blog.
  • PhilanTopic interviews Orlando Bagwell, director of the Ford Foundation’s new JustFilms initiative, which will distribute $50 million over five years to fund social issue documentaries.
  • Here’s a data point I bet we wouldn’t have seen five years ago:



  • The Urban Institute and LINC have released a new white paper on artist spaces and community development.
  • The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s Tom Kaiden writes up GPCA’s new Portfolio research report for the Foundation Center’s PhilanTopic blog. Portfolio is one of the best examples of Cultural-Data-Project-derived research out there, not just because it looks beautiful (though it does), but because it actually starts to tap into some of the targeted analysis made possible by that rich data resource.
  • Researcher Elizabeth Currid-Halkett challenges the wisdom behind recent national initiatives such as Our Town and ArtPlace, arguing that policy interventions can’t always be relied upon to spur economic development. The op-ed has its flaws (she doesn’t seem to realize that ArtPlace is separate from the NEA), but the underlying point–about the complexity of the ways in which the arts and economies interact–is worth consideration.
  • Yes, journals sometimes retract research, and the trend is on the rise.
  • Fun to see my peeps from the Yale School of Management getting into economic impact studies for the arts.


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra musicians are taking a 15% pay cut under their new contract.
  • More on the Brooklyn Philharmonic‘s new artistic direction, from New York Times critic Steve Smith.
  • Lee Streby has a new entry in his Project MAD (Musical Arts Development) series outlining a forward-looking business and programming model for orchestras. And Paul R. Judy laments on the NEC blog how little real-life orchestras have changed in recent decades.


  • I love how Barry Hessenius just tucks these stealth ideas into his posts sometimes. Here’s one of recent vintage:

    It occurred to me that an interesting pilot project would be for the arts in a given area to open an Apple like store for the two months before the Christmas shopping season – with simple, clean lines in the design, with high tech monitors on tables, and a cadre of Arts Sales People available to answer questions and move the shopper through the experience of looking at all the available performing and visual arts options in the local area — videos of the best of the operas, symphonies, museums, dance companies, theater offerings, and the other arts – and the shopper could instantly buy tickets to a single performance or season tickets  or memberships in museums etc. for themselves or as holiday gifts for others.  There would also be offerings of local classes in various arts disciplines for all ages and , opportunities to join boards of directors or otherwise volunteer at local arts organizations.  If you packaged it right you might be able to recreate some of the same kind of excitement an Apple store generates.  Bottom line:  we have wonderful products, and perfect gifts alternatives to the same old boring stuff people give to each other every year.

  • Franz Nicolay reports firsthand on the life of the middle-class musician:

    Most music fans, and most musicians, only have two models with which to think about a life in music: the Starving Artist or the Rock Star. The starving artist has moral authority and credibility, and the rock star is rich as hell and has total independence. Most Starving Artists imagine, in their heart of hearts, that they’ll eventually be Rock Stars.But most musicians who spend their life in music fall somewhere in between – the Middle-Class Musician. Somewhere in between blue-collar and white-collar; making enough to live on – let’s say $20k-$60k – and caught somewhere along the margins as far as things like health insurance, mortgages, and car payments.And it’s on the head of the Middle-Class Musician that most judgments about morals and ethics in the music world fall, about licensing songs for commercials, about which other bands to tour with, about signing with particular labels (major v. indie v. major indie) – and independent fundraising. A lot of arguments against things like commercial licensing are the ethics of the Starving Artist, which the Rock Star has the comfort and flexibility to ignore or indulge them.

  • Composer Kevin Clark riffs on my post about usability testing and arts organizations, asking what it would take to apply the idea to the art itself.