Around the horn: I’m on a plane edition

ART AND THE GOVERNMENT
  • Narric Rome tells us about where the arts fall in the federal government’s new tourism strategy.
  • After threatening to cap the tax deduction available to donors as a means of raising revenue, the British government has abandoned the plan.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS
  • Barely two years after changing things up last time, the Kresge Foundation has announced a further evolution of its arts grantmaking. Now, all of its considerable funding will be concentrated under the umbrella of “creative placemaking.”
  • Kickstarter may be the big name when it comes to crowdfunding in the arts, but its $99 million in pledges last year is only a small fraction of the $1.5 billion crowdfunding platforms raised across all causes worldwide in 2011. And this interesting article argues that crowdfunding (the investing kind, not the donating kind) could create unaccustomed competition for venture capitalists. One observer notes that if every American set aside an average of 1% of their liquid net worth to invest in new ventures, the available capital for entrepreneurs would jump by a factor of 10.
  • McKinsey & Co. has published a white paper on social impact bonds, which are currently being piloted in the United Kingdom.
  • Is investing in art an asset class? Not yet, according to Felix Salmon, who picks apart a new “index” of artists’ market value put together by Artnet. It seems to me that the art market is not so different from the real estate market, and that investing in artists is rather like investing in a particular home builder. To make art a real asset class, someone would need to build the equivalent of real estate investment trusts (REITs) that buy up particular artworks and then sell shares in the collection. It would be an interesting experiment, no doubt.
  • The Council on Foundations conference, an event that’s only open to grantmaking institutions, is becoming more transparent, with resources from the event becoming available online. One such resource is this report from Katherine Miller.
  • The Cultural Data Project and Nonprofit Finance Fund are teaming up to offer a new Financial Health Analysis tool to arts nonprofits. When you submit your financials to CDP through the normal process, you’ll be presented with a report detailing your organization’s financial strengths and weaknesses. Congrats to Kim Cook and the other folks at NFF and CDP for what looks to be a useful resource.
NOTABLE QUOTABLES
  • Next American City’s Diana Lind reports from the CEOs for Cities conference, hosted by the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.

    It’s a nice unfiltered window into how the urban planning community views/engages with the arts: [T]here was…no one at all who left the reception on the lobby floor to explore the upper galleries (which were free to the public, by the way). It was just me and three security guards whose boredom was palpable….I went back downstairs where people drank beer and talked about how to make a better city. Somehow that disconnect, right there in the space, seemed like a perfect metaphor. Hundreds of people came to a contemporary art museum to talk about engaging the city’s art scene but missed all the art.

  • FSG (the originators of the “Collective Impact” concept) explains how collective impact is like a symphony orchestra:

    “It is Sunday afternoon and the musicians have all convened to play a symphony. Indeed, they’ve even agreed to play a Beethoven symphony. But now imagine the following scenario: they have not actually agreed to which Beethoven symphony. None of them have any sheet music. And there is no conductor! This is the setting of isolated impact: wonderful individual efforts that don’t actually add up to a cohesive whole. A lot of noise, but no symphony…”

RESEARCH CORNER
  • The NEA has announced its first-ever round of research grants.
  • Don’t miss this sponsored supplement to the summer 2012 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, featuring reflections on evaluation and strategic philanthropy from five major foundations. And Grantmakers for Effective Organizations has just published a manual called “Four Essentials for Evaluation,” one of the readers for which was Jerome Vielman of Houston Arts Alliance.
  • Surprise, surprise: self-publishing is a winner-take-all market too: “a survey of 1,007 self-published writers…found that while a small percentage of authors were bringing in sums of $100,000-plus in 2011, average earnings were just $10,000 a year. This amount, however, is significantly skewed by the top earners, with less than 10% of self-publishing authors earning about 75% of the reported revenue and half of writers earning less than $500.”
  • We’ve had a strong sense for a while that walkable neighborhoods are more valuable, but just how much more valuable? A new study from the Brookings Institution looking at the DC area puts the price premium at up to $1200 per month. This will be something important to take into consideration when thinking about research studying the effects of creative placemaking: how can we disentangle the contribution of arts amenities when those amenities tend to cluster in areas with lots of other things that people find valuable as well?
  • Richard Florida offers a defense of his economic theories against a critique of him on the Forbes website, which serves double-duty as his latest thinking on the composition of creative cities. At the end, he advocates for a both/and approach, encompassing investments in amenities with business-friendly practices. I’m not sure I buy that that’s “been [his] message all along,” but it does make sense – after all, while the “coolness” of a city’s reputation certainly factors in to many people’s relocation decisions, jobs do too.
  • What would it mean to quantify the potential value-add to society of a third grade teacher?
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One Comment

  1. Posted June 17th, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    You had me at “third grade teacher.” That was when my artistic ambitions were cemented. Thank you for the good guffaw and for reminding me of the paths we’re on as artists.

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