• Weird, the very day that the Huffington Post published my “debate” with Carla Escoda about arts funding, the New York Times published a “Room for Debate” feature on a very similar topic. Something in the water? Anyway, Sean Bowie has a nice summary if you don’t have time to read all eight entries.
  • The National Governor’s Association, which has been friendly to the arts in the past, has released another study highlighting the economic role of arts and culture in state government.
  • Marisela Treviño Orta has a good take on a bill proposed in the California Assembly that would have placed a tax on live theater tickets. Thanks to advocacy by the LA and SF arts communities, the bill has been withdrawn.


  • Andrew Taylor is leaving his longtime post as the head of the University of Wisconsin’s arts administration program to join the faculty at American University in Washington, DC. Quite a coup for Sherburne Laughlin and company.
  • Anne Corbett is moving on from her role as executive director of CulturalDC (formerly Cultural Development Corporation) to lead a commercial real estate development project in northwest Washington, DC.
  • Congratulations to Mary-Kim Arnold, new arts program officer for the Rhode Island Foundation…
  • …Wayne Martin, new executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council…
  • …and Earl Lewis, new president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, succeeding Don Randel. Mellon continues its record of hiring its head honchos from academia – Lewis was provost of Emory University and already serving on Mellon’s board.
  • The Center for Effective Philanthropy recently published an interesting analysis of the winding career paths of foundation CEOs.


  • A huge gift from Oregon philanthropist Fred W. Fields will go to the Oregon Community Foundation to support education and the arts.
  • Nina Simon shares some lessons learned from her first year as executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.
  • Liz Lerman has choreographed a performance of Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun for the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra played from memory and danced around the stage during the piece. While the dancing is about at the level one would expect from classical musicians, there’s enough there to suggest a vision of what might be if people actually pursued this as a serious subgenre. The video and further discussion, from Andrew Taylor, are available at the link.


  • The Animating Democracy project at Americans for the Arts hosted a wonderful blog salon during the first week of May on impact and evaluation of social change in the arts. The posts are well worth sifting through, but some of my highlights included contributions from Rachel GrossmanMark Stern (and again), Chris Dwyer, and former Createquity Writing Fellow Katherine Gressel. And now, just a couple weeks later, the Public Art Network is doing a blog salon on evaluation in public art.
  • Barry Hessenius has another interesting interview, this time with Association of Performing Arts Presenters director Mario Garcia Durham.
  • Nina Simon reports from the 2012 American Association of Museums conference.
  • The Foundation Center’s PhilanTopic blog has a “Flip” (video) chat with Courtney O’Malley, VP of the Starr Foundation, about foundation transparency. It’s an interesting choice of topic (and thus, conversation), given that Starr is probably one of the least open and transparent foundations supporting the arts in its size group.
  • The NEA’s Art Works blog did a week’s worth of posts on art and science (or “artscience”). Here are a few examples. In the last link, the NEA’s Senior Advisor for Program Innovation, Bill O’Brien, notes that the NEA will be encouraging grant applications that involve collaborations with science across all of its programs.


  • The NEA co-organized a convening at the Brookings Institution last week on the topic of “The Arts, New Growth Theory, and Economic Development.” I was fortunate to attend and may share some of my notes later, but in the meantime, audio from the day’s sessions is available here.
  • Great list of data and visualization blogs worth following from stats blogger Nathan Yau. You can find Createquity’s version of this here. Nathan also shares five common statistical fallacies. Have you been guilty of at least one of these in the past week?
  • GiveWell is doing some interesting and important research into strategic cause selection (the merits of supporting international aid over domestic education, e.g.). After some preliminary investigation on what large funders are most likely to support today, they have identified four priority cause areas for future exploration: global health and nutrition, scientific research, something called “meta-research,” and mitigating catastrophic global risks such as climate change and nuclear war. I’m particularly interested in the meta-research cause area, which GiveWell defines as “trying to improve the systematic incentives that academic researchers face, to bring them more in line with producing maximally useful work.” I wonder if they will focus on non-academic research as well. As for arts and culture, GiveWell announces that it will not be a priority; while I’m not surprised at this outcome, I’ll be curious to read their justification for it as promised in a future post.
  • House Republicans have acted on their dislike of the American Community Survey and voted to eliminate it (this has no chance of passing, thankfully). Here is more on the American Community Survey. The politicization of government data collection is a very troubling trend.
  • Child mortality in Africa is going down, down, down – is this a vindication for international aid, free markets, or both?
  • Mark Kramer says we need a flexible paradigm for evaluation, because social problems are complex. I couldn’t agree more. Talking about evaluation in blog format is hard because the conversation requires a lot of subtlety and nuance. There isn’t one right way to do it, but at the same time there are countless wrong and/or dumb ways to do it.
  • The online education revolution is only in its infancy: Harvard and MIT have just committed $60 million toward a new online course platform called EdX.