IN THE FIELD
- RIP Artnet Magazine; more here. I will always be grateful to Artnet’s Ben Davis for being just about the only arts journalist worth his salt during the whole Yosi Sergant debacle.
- Congratulations to GiveWell, which has announced a not-quite-merger with Good Ventures, an emerging foundation led by Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz (the latter is one of the founders of Facebook). The blog post is a bit thin on details, but it sounds like this arrangement will ensure GiveWell’s financial security for some time to come while substantially enhancing its real-world impact.
- Indiana University is set to open the country’s first School of Philanthropy later this year. It’s early, of course, but these snippets from the article suggest to me that buyer beware: “As with any academic setting, funding is an issue….With the nonprofit sector roughly 5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and 10 percent of the workforce, such [a] school could be a profit-center for the university, Rooney said.”
- One of the NEA’s lesser known programs, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, will now be a partnership between the NEA, the Department of Agriculture, Project for Public Spaces, the Orton Family Foundation, and CommunityMatters. CIRD facilitates and hosts workshops on community design in places with fewer than 50,000 people.
- Michael Kaiser has a penchant for inciting digital controversy, and his recent two-part post calling bullshit on “new business models” was no exception. At the core of the debate is this central question: how much is the nonprofit arts sector going to change in the next 50 years? Kaiser says not so much; Adam Huttler, on the other hand, thinks quite a lot. Huttler’s second post on the subject, in particular, is one of his most thought-provoking and brilliant in quite some time. EmcArts’s Richard Evans and Sarah Lutman also weighed in.
- Whither the future of open data and philanthropy? The Knight Foundation is currently considering a proposal to digitize 10 years of IRS 990 nonprofit data and make it available to the public for free. GiveWell’s Alexander Berger, writing on his personal blog, argues that this presents a clear opportunity to GuideStar’s next president to reform its business model around open data. (GuideStar’s current president, Bob Ottenhoff responds in the comments.) And the Foundation Center’s Brad Smith makes a passionate case for data standards and greater transparency among foundations.
- We’ve now entered an era in which college-age students have never known what it’s like to have to pay for music. Casey Rae and J. Holtham have more.
- What is the future of museums?
- The Irvine Foundation has announced its first set of grants under its new arts strategy that emphasizes audience engagement.
- Jon Silpayamanant makes the interesting point that sports teams have a performance income gap (i.e., expenses that outpace ticket revenue) just like symphony orchestras do.
- Wait, nonprofits are allowed to have shareholders?
The deal will settle a lawsuit the Koch brothers filed in February over shares that determine control of Cato. It results from the original division of shares between the two Koch brothers, Crane and late Cato Chairman William Niskanen. After Niskanen died of stroke complications in October, the Koch brothers claimed a founding shareholder agreement gave them the option to buy Niskanen’s shares. Crane held they should go to Niskanen’s widow, which would leave him in effective control of the organization.
The settlement involves dissolving the shareholder agreement. In addition, Crane is expected to retire under an agreement that allows him to select his successor, though the Koch brothers could veto the hiring.
RESEARCH (AND EVALUATION) CORNER
- FSG’s Valerie Bockstette points out the dangers of measuring what’s easy to measure instead of what’s most important.
- The Colorado Health Foundation’s Anne Warhover describes her organization’s approach to impact assessment.
- If you thought the theory of change and measurement framework for ArtsWave was ambitious, just take a look at this new comprehensive sustainability plan for Rockford, IL, which intends to measure economic, social, and environmental outcomes in 16 categories including cultural life and the built environment. The transportation category alone tracks 43 indicators.
- Kudos to the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago for the most blockbuster release of an arts research study so far this year. Called “Set in Stone: Building America’s New Generation of Arts Facilities 1994-2008,” the report takes a critical look at the billions of dollars thrown by arts institutions at new buildings, museum wings, expansions, renovations, etc. during the decade and a half in question. Authored by then-grad-student Joanna Woronkowicz (as her dissertation), Carrol Joynes, and about a half dozen others, “Set in Stone” argues that much of that building boom was of questionable wisdom. The report is available in full multimedia regalia, even including an animated video, and scored a feature in the New York Times, along with reactions from The Atlantic Cities, Lucy Bernholz, the Nonprofit Finance Fund, and Sunil Iyengar (now Woronkowicz’s boss at the NEA’s Office of Research and Analysis). Elizabeth Quaglieri has a helpful summary over at Technology in the Arts. Congratulations, Chicago, you sure know how to get our attention!
- Umm, please apply for the Createquity Writing Fellowship, Delali Ayivor?