• Over at NewMusicBox, Mark N. Grant has a wonderful history of American Presidents’ and Founding Fathers’ fascination with music and the arts. Did you know that John Quincy Adams studied the flute and Ben Franklin invented a musical instrument?
  • A bill to legalize crowdsourced investment in startup companies is inching closer to passage in Congress.
  • Grantmakers in the Arts has officially launched its Arts Education Funders Coalition and hired a lobbying firm to help work on arts education policy.
  • The California Arts Council is getting serious about its strategy to fund itself through selling a million arts license plates.
  • Hartford joins the list of cities seeking to increase the share of money that local nonprofit institutions pay in lieu of property taxes, a trend currently sweeping across New England. This could end up becoming an important policy story before all is said and done.



  • There’s been a lot of buzz about Pinterest, the new picture-based content-sharing/social media platform. Nina Simon explains how her museum has been using it to document (and share) its internal creative process.
  • The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre is no more.
  • Looks like the Napa Valley Symphony is down for the count after the death of its chief donor.


  • The Three Masters: a wonderfully succinct Seth Godin rubric especially relevant to artist-entrepreneurs.
  • Whoo! Phil Buchanan, the fire-throwing president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, doesn’t hold back in this list of “7 habits of highly ineffective foundation boards.”


  • Listen up kids: this casual discussion on the empirical value of the arts to society hosted by Stephen Dubner, co-author of the Freakonomics book and blog, is instructive because we don’t typically get to eavesdrop on people who are neither in the arts nor have a particular anti-arts axe to grind talking to each about the kinds of advocacy arguments we typically use. And indeed, what we hear isn’t pretty. Faced with the question of whether “a lack of exposure to the arts can lead to disastrous results for individuals,” Dubner opines,

    I have to say that what I have read [on the benefits of arts exposure] isn’t all that convincing. It seems to me a classic area in which correlation is mistaken for cause — i.e., highly productive societies have a lot of creative arts; ergo (some may claim), the arts are a contributor to that high productivity (as opposed to, say, a side benefit that’s generated because of that high productivity).

    The (by far) best-rated response comment adds, “I suspect it’s an even simpler correlation: anyone employed in purveying X is pretty sure that X is essential to human flourishing. It’s so obvious that the plethora of research proving it doesn’t even require a cite.”

  • Americans for the Arts’s Animating Democracy project has a new website bringing together much of its output over the past decade and a half into one place.
  • The Wallace Foundation has been pumping out the publications recently: the latest edition is a report from a convening of foundation-supported arts groups to share learning about building audiences.
  • Speaking of GEO, the organization is out with a new study suggesting that grantmakers aren’t walking the walk when it comes to best practices in dealing with grantees.
  • GiveWell has another takedown of published data involving bogus assumptions. This one isn’t quite as dramatic as the DCP2 debacle, but still serves as a warning that not everything you read on the Internet can be trusted.
  • A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts details the growing financial pressures on municipal library systems, with Los Angeles and Philadelphia facing particularly severe cutbacks in recent years. Yet usage of libraries is up, and in Philadelphia at least, that’s being driven by computer use, which has increased 80% in half a decade. Makes Bill Gates’s famed technology investments in libraries in the 1990s seem downright prophetic.
  • For you German readers out there, Maria Davydchyk has a new book examining the transformation of cultural policies in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • Tina Mermini takes a look at the UK’s latest stats on private investment in arts and culture in that country.
  • Also in the UK, Hasan Bakhshi at Britain’s National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts appears to be leading some breathtakingly daring research on the impact of creative industry policy using randomized controlled trials.
  • ArtsWave’s Ripple Effect Report is the inspiration for the “world’s first game-sourced movie,” a 10-minute film by digital media company Possible Worldwide that celebrates the beneficial effects of the arts on local neighborhoods in graphic novel style with the help of thousands of user-submitted images.
  • Margy Waller

    Thanks for the mention of RADIUS: The Short Film, Ian. We’re also finishing up a longer documentary with lots of great interviews about value of the ArtsWave + Topos research, and the impacts of arts on places — with local and national leaders, as well as a business perspective from the filmakers about why arts matter to an international digital advertising firm. Coming soon…!