• Artists often neglect to realize that crowdfunding campaign money isn’t free – in addition to the fees you have to pay Kickstarter or one of its competitors like Indiegogo or RocketHub, the perks offered to donors often cost money as well. This handy web toy from Reuben Pressman helps you think through how much money you really need to raise if you’re thinking about starting a Kickstarter campaign (or really any crowdfunding operation).
  • Still not seeing a ton of post-recession nonprofit mergers, but here’s one in New York City: the Urban Arts Partnership has acquired the operations of the Manhattan New Music Project, which had recently won several large Department of Education grants for arts residencies for special-needs students.
  • Nina Simon takes on public voting for winners in art competitions, noting that only a small percentage of those eligible actually take the time to vote. She sees positive implications for engagement but possibly negative ones for artistic integrity; I see further evidence for the need for a hybrid approach.
  • Typical: just as games (including video games) are being touted as the next big new thing in arts circles, in the rest of the world their business model is collapsing.


  • Barry Hessenius has a short interview with Regina Smith, Senior Program Officer for Arts and Culture at the Kresge Foundation and Board Chair of Grantmakers in the Arts.


  • Creative placemaking giant ArtPlace has been busy lately. Now accepting applications for its third round of grants (letters of inquiry are due tomorrow, November 1 UPDATE: deadline has been extended to Monday, November 5), the funding collaborative released a short thought piece detailing thirteen “principles for successful creative placemaking” in late summer.  And earlier this month, ArtPlace “soft launched” its vibrancy indicators, a research effort accompanying its two-rounds-and-counting of creative placemaking grants. While the indicators aren’t totally done yet – data points covering value creation and racial/economic diversity have yet to be fully defined or published, and a promised website showing vibrancy in various corners of the country has not yet materialized – these two documents provide the most detail available to date on ArtPlace’s efforts to understand and measure creative placemaking. Andrew Taylor and Linda Essig offer initial reviews, and stay tuned to this space for more in-depth analysis from a special guest.
  • The fall issue of the Grantmakers in the Arts Reader has a very interesting feature taking a look back at historical research studies that, in the opinion of guest editor Alexis Frasz, deserve a second look. One of the studies in question is a re-release of 1988’s “Autopsy of an Orchestra: An Analysis of the Factors Contributing to the Bankruptcy of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra Association” by Melanie Beene, Patricia Mitchell, and Fenton Johnson, now available for the first time in digital format. Each study comes with two responses, one from an “established” and one from an “emerging” grantmaker. Other studies (re)considered include Gifts of the Muse (Createquity’s take here), “Art and Culture in Communities: Unpacking Participation,” “Crossover: How Artists Build Careers Across Commercial, Nonprofit and Community Work,” and “Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning.”
  • WolfBrown researcher Jennifer Novak-Leonard declares crowdfunding the fourth mode of arts participation (the other three being arts creation/performance, arts engagement through media, and attendance at arts events). Quoth she: “I also suggest that this information [about the relationship between crowdfunding activity and other modes of arts participation] would be valuable to each of the platforms currently helping crowd-funding grow and thrive. This is a shameless pitch to these platforms to engage in dialogue with me about how to get this research effort underway… ideally in a timeframe that would inform and expand the conversations that will begin in 2013 as we begin to see the results from the 2012 [Survey of Public Participation in the Arts].”
  • The Foundation Center’s march toward establishing a data standard for grants continues, with 15 foundations now having signed on to share their grants data publicly via the Glasspockets website. Among the arts supporters participating in the initiative are the Annenberg, Getty, Hewlett, MacArthur, and Rockefeller Foundations.
  • The UK’s Mark Robinson offers his take on the NEA’s new “system map” and research agenda, “How Art Works.”
  • Cool social network visualization here: the Seattle Band Map illustrates connections between musical acts via shared band members or project collaborations.
  • Direct mail advertising campaigns are getting a bad rap, and research shows that they’re surprisingly effective at reaching consumers, says TRG’s Will Lester.
  • William Baumol has a new book out summarizing his decades of thinking on cost disease. Joe Patti has more.
  • Back in 2001, when it started, economists would not have predicted Wikipedia’s success; nor can they really explain it now.
  • Great Q&A with Nate Silver (one of my blog heroes) about his upcoming book about forecasting. A couple of choice quotes:

    Q. When predictions involve human ‘systems’ & behavior (social, economic, political etc) that are by their very nature ‘adaptive’, how do you deal with the tricky “Heisenberg Principle” — like effect where the very act of predicting itself becomes a factor that adds information that alters the system and influences individual and/or collective behavior? –John

    A. This is a gigantic problem. In the book, we discuss how consumers, politicians, and businesses make plans based on economic forecasts that can have a host of problems. We also look at how this manifests in disease modeling. If you accurately forecast a very bad flu, it may cause people to stay home, which is good but cancels your forecast. But, the forecast served its purpose because it made people aware of their circumstances.


    Q. What’s your assessment of economics as a discipline, judged in terms of its ability to make politically useful predictions? For example, can economists predict with any reliability what the economic impact of a tax cut or a government spending program will be? –Dan Schroeder

    A. The view of macroeconomic prediction in the book is pretty harsh. Economists have shown no real ability to predict a recession more than six months out. See the Wall Street Journal panel that predicted there would be no recession in December, 2007. It’s hard to measure the economy. Revisions can be as substantial as 5% in some quarters. Therefore, it is hard to predict and judge what the right policy is and what the implications of any policy are. So, we should be skeptical of anyone who predicts the impact of policy with a high degree of certainty. Humility is key.