DOMESTIC – FEDERAL
The National Endowment for the Arts will soon have a new Chairman. Rocco Landesman announced yesterday his plans to retire at the end of the year, in a decision widely anticipated among arts insiders. Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa will serve as acting chair until a successor is named.
The Supreme Court will consider a case involving first sale doctrine and whether consumers have the right to resell copyrighted items bought abroad in the United States. The New York Times comes out in favor of copyright holders on this one. I’m more skeptical though – limiting consumers’ rights in this way seems like a recipe for convoluted legal restrictions and the Grey Lady offers no prescriptions for how the limitations should be put into practice. Meanwhile, the FCC is adopting new regulations pertaining to the use of wireless microphones (relevant for some large theaters and performing arts centers).
What do this month’s election results mean for copyright, anyway? Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman speculate that in the short term, we probably won’t see any major (successful) efforts to expand copyright protection, especially with two of Hollywood’s favorite pro-copyright Congressmen, Howard Berman and Mary Bono Mack, losing their elections. In the longer term, we may see Republicans try to pursue a libertarian line on copyright in an effort to draw a wedge between Democrats and younger voters. I’m not sure how well that would work, but there is already evidence that, among its many civil wars, there is also a generational divide among Republicans on this issue. Last week, the conservative Republican Study Committee released and then pulled a memo by 24-year-old Congressional staffer Derek Khanna advocating for meaningful copyright reform. Future of Music Coalition’s Casey Rae has more.
DOMESTIC – STATE AND LOCAL
Denver’s arts community is in an unusual situation, finding itself with $57 million in publicly approved bond money for capital construction to spend after a planned renovation of Boettcher Concert Hall failed to go through. The mayor has submitted a list of recommendations redirecting the cash to nine institutions. Denver’s not the only city with new publicly approved money for the arts: as previously reported here, the city of Portland, OR’s Regional Arts and Culture Commission will get $5.7 million a year in new arts funding because of a recently passed ballot measure. Eloise Damrosch explains how it happened.
Obviously inspired by the recent passage of a millage (property tax) to support the Detroit Institute of Arts, arts advocates in Ann Arbor put a similar millage proposal on the ballot for this month’s elections – this time to support public art. The measure would have cost taxpayers $11 per year and raised about $450,000 for public art programs, but failed to garner enough votes to pass on Election Day. Aaron Seagraves, Ann Arbor’s public art administrator who is interviewed in the article, says he doesn’t know why the measure didn’t pass, but I’m guessing the DIA’s $2.5 million advocacy campaign (and presumably the lack of same in Ann Arbor) might have had something to do with it.
For the second Createquity update in a row, the arts policy news from abroad ranges from inconvenient to tragic. Canada’s oldest arts advocacy group, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, is no more. The organization had received continuous funding from the federal government since 1965 which represented about three-quarters of its budget, but Canada’s conservative leaders decided to cut the cord. CCA had at times been critical of government-supported policies, though the decision appears to have been more financial than political. Advocacy is not completely dead in Canada, though – Shannon Litzenberger has a report from the all-volunteer Canadian Arts Coalition’s Arts Day festivities (similar to Americans for the Arts’s Arts Advocacy Day).
In the UK, Arts Council England is reducing its staff by 21% as part of a previously negotiated agreement with the government, and Creative Scotland is adjusting its grantmaking procedures in the face of artist concerns. Folks don’t seem to be happy with the general direction of things. In Newcastle, the local government has cut all funding to the arts for a whopping £90 million savings, losing 1300 jobs in the process – similarly drastic cuts had already happened in the cities of Somerset, Derby, and Darlington.
A very sad story comes from Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the 124-year-old National Museum is closing due to lack of funds. The museum, in Sarajevo, is the victim of a political crisis that is destabilizing the government of the young country. Several other revered cultural institutions are in danger of failing as well. Things are a little better in Greece, where Ira-Ilana Papadopoulou reports on how the economic crisis there has affected the cultural sector.
Even sadder news continues to come from the Muslim world, as news of arts-related tragedies attributable to conflict or oppression continues to pour in. In Syria, the ancient city of Aleppo is losing its cultural heritage in the wake of the civil war taking place there. In Mali, where the militant group Ansar Dine has already destroyed mosques in the ancient city of Timbuktu, Salafists are now threatening and harassing musicians. In Somalia, a popular poet, playwright and songwriter was assassinated in Mogadishu by Al Queda-aligned group Al-Shabab. Astonishingly, he is the 18th media figure killed by the group this year. Iran, thankfully, is not beset with this kind of violence, but its national orchestra is virtually dead in the face of financial difficulties and political pressure.