Around the horn: fiscal cliff edition

A friendly reminder that the deadline for the Createquity Writing Fellowship is noon Eastern time on Tuesday, January 8. All it takes is a 250-word statement of interest to get started. Look forward to reading your submissions!

ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

MUSICAL CHAIRS

  • Senior program officer Lynn Stern is leaving the Surdna Foundation’s Thriving Arts and Cultures program.
  • The New York Times‘s veteran culture editor Jonathan Landman has accepted a buyout from the Gray Lady.

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

  • Mark Zuckerberg has committed half a billion dollars to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. This is interesting in that community foundations have been increasingly seen as a relic of past generations of donors, with new millionaires and billionaires choosing to distribute their philanthropy with the help of private wealth advisors instead. This gift, coming as it does from one of the scions of the technology world, could change that in a big way. Dan Lyons reluctantly gives Zuck the slow clap.
  • Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center may be plenty controversial, tearing up as it did significant chunks of the neighborhood, but one thing that’s pretty great about it is that none of the concessions stands are operated by national chains. Instead, “you can get barbecue from Williamsburg’s Fatty ’Cue; Cuban sandwiches from Fort Greene’s Habana Outpost; pizza from Gravesend’s Spumoni Gardens; and, in an inspired old-school-new-school mashup, a confection called a concrete that combines Junior’s black-and-white cookies with ice cream from Blue Marble.” Here’s hoping other developers take the hint and start buying local.

IN THE FIELD

  • After a period of impressive growth, Ovation, the only cable channel exclusively devoted to the arts (as traditionally defined), is being dropped by Time Warner Cable. The story is well worth a read, as it is an object lesson on what happens in the commercial marketplace for culture when profit maximization is the goal. Despite costing Time Warner a mere seven cents per subscriber, it (along with other low-rated networks) is being shed to help pay for major increases in the network’s most expensive channels, mostly sports-related. If you’re a Time Warner customer and would like to voice your concern, Ovation has set up a website for the purpose.
  • Greg Sandow has been offering an interesting series on “mavericks”/bright spots in classical music, including this profile of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston.
  • More on the mysterious Woodruff Arts Center embezzlement fiasco.
  • Crowdfunding French style means helping the Louvre acquire $3 million ivory statuettes.

BIG IDEAS

  • Some end-of-year looking back and prognostication: Nonprofit Law Blog recounts the big nonprofit moments of 2012; Thomas Cott crowdsources arts predictions for 2013, and Barry Hessenius says nothin’ much will change this year. (I think Barry’s got it right.) Meanwhile, Tim Mikulski possibly reveals too much in recounting the top posts on AFTA’s ARTSblog in 2012.
  • Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating interview with Jaron Lanier, an internet pioneer and futurist who has now turned against many of the hacker-derived “information should be free” principles he once embraced. In explaining his change of heart, he cites the music industry as exhibit A of what went wrong.

    “I’d had a career as a professional musician and what I started to see is that once we made information free, it wasn’t that we consigned all the big stars to the bread lines.” (They still had mega-concert tour profits.) “Instead, it was the middle-class people who were consigned to the bread lines. And that was a very large body of people. And all of a sudden there was this weekly ritual, sometimes even daily: ‘Oh, we need to organize a benefit because so and so who’d been a manager of this big studio that closed its doors has cancer and doesn’t have insurance. We need to raise money so he can have his operation.’ “And I realized this was a hopeless, stupid design of society and that it was our fault. It really hit on a personal level—this isn’t working. And I think you can draw an analogy to what happened with communism, where at some point you just have to say there’s too much wrong with these experiments.”

    And then there’s this:

    “To my mind an overleveraged unsecured mortgage is exactly the same thing as a pirated music file. It’s somebody’s value that’s been copied many times to give benefit to some distant party. In the case of the music files, it’s to the benefit of an advertising spy like Google [which monetizes your search history], and in the case of the mortgage, it’s to the benefit of a fund manager somewhere. But in both cases all the risk and the cost is radiated out toward ordinary people and the middle classes—and even worse, the overall economy has shrunk in order to make a few people more.”

    Read the whole thing.

RESEARCH CORNER

ETC.

  • Here’s some advice from a pro on live-tweeting events and conferences in an official capacity.
  • “My five-year-old could have painted this” is so over. Now it’s, “my pet snake could have painted this!”
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