Around the horn: Santorum edition

ART AND THE GOVERNMENT – DOMESTIC

  • Fractured Atlas officially comes out against the PROTECT-IP Act, also known as SOPA. The same week, the Senate and House remove the most controversial provision. Coincidence? I think not.
  • The state of Connecticut is rebooting its arts agency giving strategy under new leader Kip Bergstrom.
  • The mayor of Boston is “asking” local museums and other large nonprofits to pay the city 25% of the property tax they would otherwise owe if they were for-profit institutions, leading to a bill in the seven figures for some organizations. I’m a little torn on this one; it’s well-documented that cities who have nonprofit mega-institutions occupying prime real estate lose out on some pretty crucial tax revenue (New Haven, where I went to school for six years, was one example). On the other hand, so long as this isn’t a universal practice, it will put Boston nonprofit museums, universities and hospitals at a competitive disadvantage compared to similar institutions in other cities.

ART AND THE GOVERNMENT – INTERNATIONAL

  • The Danish Royal Theatre is cutting 100 jobs, including five leadership positions. What’s amazing is that’s only 10% of their staff.
  • In last week’s post on corporate vs. government influence on the arts, I made a throwaway comment about preferring to accept subsidy from BP rather than Hu Jintao. The reason is this article by the outgoing Chinese president, which states that China is in an “ideological struggle” with the West and must invest to protect its “cultural security” by doing things like limit the number of prime-time shows on television and require people on microblogging sites (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) to register using their real names. Yes, China is pouring billions into extravagant shows of cultural force in cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou, but it comes with a price beyond the yuan.

MUSICAL CHAIRS

  • Peter Hutchinson is resigning as head of the Bush Foundation.
  • After being rejected by at least six different candidates, the New York Philharmonic finally has a new chief executive: Matthew VanBesien.

IN THE FIELD

  • Wow. Nina Simon. In just over half a year as head of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, she’s brought the organization from barely being able to make payroll to having a $100,000 cash reserve, increased attendance 57%, and landed a glowing front-page article in the region’s daily about the museum’s sudden renaissance. Oh, and she’s 30. If she doesn’t make Barry’s List in 2012, I will eat my hat. (By the way, said front-page article has an adorable proud-face moment in the comments from her dad!) Speaking of Nina, she  finally weighs in on the controversy involving the Barnes Foundation museum in Philadelphia, and makes a persuasive–and rather unexpected–argument in defense of the critics’ point of view.
  • The Oregon Symphony has dropped its $17,000 membership in the League of Symphony Orchestras, and its executive director unloads on the League along the way: “Institutionally we are so tightly staffed that we couldn’t find the time to fill in some of the League’s massive surveys in the past few years – and to be honest, we didn’t find the data particularly useful when the results were released…No one else on staff has been to a conference in years – except (former orchestra spokesman) Carl Herko, who like me went one year at his own expense.” Ouch.
  • Michael Kaiser is looking for arts management success stories for a new national learning tour. Michael, I have a museum in Santa Cruz to suggest…

NEW (AD)VENTURES

RESEARCH CORNER

  • Interesting experiment testing violinists’ ability to pick out an ultra-valuable Stradivarius or Guarneri violin from its modern counterpart. The violinists were blindfolded while they played the instrument, and asked to guess after they were done. Tellingly, they more often got it wrong than right – reminiscent of the results of fine wine taste tests. Despite no obvious red flags in the study design, however, a professional violinist commentator isn’t buying it.
  • A researcher uses the marital patterns of movie stars to test whether couples inherently prefer to mate with people of similar educational backgrounds. It turns out that they (seemingly) do, leading to an unexpected but important insight on the role of marriage and love relationships in promoting and sustaining income inequality.
  • Derek Thompson offers an economic analysis of movie theater tickets with an assist from academics Barak Orbach and Liran Einav.
  • Bad news: a recent study looks at the unemployment rates of recent college graduates, and architecture students and arts majors are clear outliers on the economic suffering end of the scale, with 13.9% and 11.1% unemployment respectively. Humanities students are third. The phenomenon exists for those with graduate degrees as well; arts and architecture students are unemployed at a rate of 6-8%, versus rates of less than 4.5% for all other disciplines.

THE WIDER WORLD

  • I do an end-of-year wrap up of stories from 2011, but two commentators are looking ahead to predictions for 2012: Mark Robinson (who was apparently dared into it by Clare Cooper of Mission Models Money) and Brian Newman. And here’s a round-up of 2011′s top stories from the broader nonprofit sector by Nonprofit Law Blog.
  • Nice perspective from Phil Buchanan on the historical basis for many of the hot new trends in philanthropy.
  • This gigantic list of 2012 nonprofit and social change conferences is a fantastic resource.
  • This article does a great job of summing up why Google+ creeps me the F out. I find myself trusting Google less and less these days (not that Facebook is any better, but at least it doesn’t have access to six years’ worth of my personal emails and search history).
  • Did you know that a developer in the United Arab Emirates has created a huge set of man-made private islands designed to look like the world? And that as of now only one of them is inhabited?
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2 Comments

  1. Posted January 15th, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Ian. I am looking forward to giving it a try. I iwsh I didn’t have so many academic commitments so I could devote myself to it full time — but I guess most people in the arts have a day job, huh?

  2. Posted January 20th, 2012 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    I am pursuing music full time. all or nothing i guess.

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