• Americans for the Arts CEO Bob Lynch has been appointed to the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. The advisory board “consists of up to 32 members that advise the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry, offers counsel on current and emerging issues, and provides a forum for discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related problems.”
  • Sarah Lutman, CEO of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, which has made waves recently with some field-leading audience engagement initiatives, is stepping down at the end of the month.
  • Margit Rankin is the new director of Seattle’s Artist Trust.


  • In 2010, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) took on back office services for the financially troubled Columbus Symphony Orchestra, building a shared services empire that already included several theaters and has since added Opera Columbus. Now, another Ohio city, Dayton, is taking the concept a step further: the three “SOB” organizations (symphony, opera, ballet) are merging into the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. The new organization is billing itself as a “first-in-the-nation” entity.
  • Two of Hollywood’s largest unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, are set to merge.
  • The city of Abu Dhabi is combining its culture and tourism entities into one agency.


  • Check out this dialogue vehicle created by blogger and theater-maker Guy Yedwab. The second video is particularly interesting, as it combines audience responses to the Broadway show Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and an event designed to question the depiction of Andrew Jackson in the musical. So the video basically makes what was a one-way dialogue bidirectional.
  • Joe Patti ponders what it might look like to get arts organizations engaged in arts advocacy campaigns in a deeper way.
  • Wait – so Nina Simon’s a boxer too? Could this woman possibly get any cooler? (In seriousness, that’s a very wise post on audience engagement linked there.)


  • The Wallace Foundation has made a $4 million mega-investment in arts education on behalf of the Boston public school system. The local education nonprofit EdVestors has been leading the fundraising charge for this initiative, a nice example of a non-arts organization recognizing the value of the arts.
  • Michael Kaiser sees dollar signs for American arts fundraisers in Europe and Asia.
  • Seemed like a nice idea at the time, but a number of artists are finding that the value proposition of streaming services like Spotify just isn’t there for them and are pulling their tracks from the service.


  • Rosetta Thurman has a great list of 10 national nonprofit conferences with registration fees under $500, and I was glad to see the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention on there. (I wouldn’t be that surprised to learn that these are all conferences she’s speaking at, by the way.)
  • Materials from last October’s 5th Annual World Arts Summit in Melbourne, Australia are now available online, including a summary report of the proceedings and full transcripts of the three-plus days of panels and keynotes – Rocco Landesman was one of the presenters. I’m often struck in reading about international arts policy gatherings how different the tone and content are from American conferences; they are generally more serious/academic and concerned with very different issues, particularly cultural preservation and globalization. Worth a skim if you have the time.


  • Two book reviews: the NEA’s Sunil Iyengar has a nice analysis of Stanford professor Robert Flanagan’s new book on the economics of symphony orchestras, and Elizabeth Quaglieri takes on Nina Simon’s The Participatory Museum.
  • What makes a street beautiful? is trying to put some data to this question by asking website visitors to engage in a sort of HotOrNot-style comparison of images from Google Street View. Try it: it’s kind of addictive, and will also teach you a lot about your own urban aesthetics.
  • Have you ever been in a brainstorming session in which you’re told to “just get as many ideas out as you can,” withholding criticism of any of them? I was just in one of those earlier this month at the Yale School of Management Philanthropy Conference. And yet that same week, Jonah Lehrer had published a fascinating takedown of the brainstorming concept in the pages of the New Yorker. His piece is worth reading in full, but in a nutshell a number of studies of brainstorming effectiveness have concluded that it doesn’t really add value over and above people working alone – and that instead, creativity comes from just the right amount of clash and debate between people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Phil Buchanan, for one, says he’s seen the light.


  • Yikes! The International Humanities Center, a fiscal sponsor representing some 200 projects worldwide, imploded in scandal over the holidays, causing the evaporation of more than $1 million in donations intended mostly for grassroots activist activities. Some great investigative reporting by Nonprofit Quarterly‘s Rick Cohen in that article.
  • Ever wondered how many L3Cs there are in the United States? Turns out there are a little over 550; here’s a helpful breakdown and list by state.
  • I have to say, I cracked up at these nerdtastic economist Valentines by Elisabeth Fosslein, writing in response to the #FedValentines Twitter meme. Well done!
  • Don’t forget the best part of the Lehrer article, at least for this crowd: the study of the Broadway successes that analyzed whether the collaborators had worked together before. If there was none or too much previous collaboration, the show was likely to flop. Instead there was a sweet spot of some collaboration that allowed for comfort in working as a team and yet still brought new ideas too light.

    (The article itself to me was sweeping in its claims, as I’m finding more and more pop scientific/economic long form pieces are. The author has a new idea and so he pulls a handful of citations that will support his claim. Probably this has been going on in academia for forever – I blame Malcolm Gladwell for making it pop lit. I’d rather just look at the original studies themselves, like this Broadway one.)

    How was SOM?

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