ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

  • The Detroit Institute of the Arts, having convinced residents in three counties to pass a property tax supporting the institution in exchange for free admission, is facing a lawsuit on the basis that the deal doesn’t include special exhibits.

MUSICAL CHAIRS

IN THE FIELD

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

  • Interesting and entertaining perspective on collective impact and the need to support direct-service and backbone organizations simultaneously, with response by FSG’s Emily Gorin Malenfant.
  • More examples of transparency in action: Kevin Bolduc and the Center for Effective Philanthropy are revamping their flagship product, the Grantee Perception Report, in response to feedback from customers – and blogging about the process.
  • Peter Singer (author, The Life You Can Saveon donating to the arts:

    “Philanthropy for the arts or for cultural activities is, in a world like this one, morally dubious,” he writes in his book.

    He has heard two counterarguments repeatedly since the book came out in 2009. One points to the work that, say, art museums do with disadvantaged children. “I can see how that would be a worthwhile thing to do,” he said. “I’m not sure how well it compares with saving kids from dying from diarrhea or malaria.”

    Then, there are the crumbling buildings again. “I’m certainly not suggesting that when the roof of the Met starts to leak that you don’t repair it,” he said. “But I would not give a penny to the Met to buy another painting.”

BIG IDEAS

RESEARCH CORNER

  • The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), an annual survey of arts training program graduates, has published “Painting with Broader Strokes: Reassessing the Value of an Arts Degree,” a supplementary report on the 2010 survey results by Danielle Lindemann and Steven Tepper.
  • Maribel Alvarez offers a review of Maria Rosario Jackson’s latest for LINC, “Developing Artist-Driven Spaces in Marginalized Communities.”
  • The James Irvine Fund has released a report on the its Arts Innovation Fund grants (undertaken under its previous program strategy last decade), conducted by Slover Linett Strategies. The report is accompanied by a nifty tablet-friendly interactive highlighting key findings.
  • The Future of Music Coalition is leveraging its Artist Revenue Streams data to engage in some mythbusting regarding how musicians make (or don’t make) money.
  • Arts education data in Los Angeles shows a complex picture of trends over the past 15 years.
  • Wow. Did you know that more than half of the US patent lawsuits in 2012 were brought by “non-practicing entities” – also known as patent trolls? These companies obtain patents with no intention of actually using them for inventions, but instead to “threaten young companies with lawsuits as soon as they obtain funding; or hamstring older companies, forcing them to divert cash into costly licenses for absurd patents rather than pay for costly defenses in uncertain, patent-friendly jurisdictions.” Good to know for anyone (such as Richard Florida types) relying on patents issued as a measure of innovation. Yuck.
  • As mentioned here previously, the Twin Cities is currently suffering a symphony drought, with both the Minnesota and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras shut down in the midst of labor strife. This probably isn’t the most empathetic response imaginable, but my first thought upon reading the headline “Orchestra fans getting restless” in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was, wouldn’t this be a great natural experiment for measuring the value of orchestras to a community? I mean, you don’t realize how much you appreciate something until it’s gone, right? The evidence presented in the article suggests that some audience members are finding substitutes (“a few classical groups have noticed a spike in ticket sales”), but a substantial number are staying home. Independently organized concerts by locked-out members of the Minnesota Orchestra are selling out quickly, though obviously in an environment of substantially reduced competition. I could imagine all sorts of possibilities – a rare economic impact study that actually takes into account opportunity costs, for example, or a more scientific survey of orchestra subscribers to find out what they’re doing with themselves at night.

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