• The Los Angeles Times, via music critic Mark Swed, revives the Secretary of Culture talk, this time nominating Peter Sellars and Leon Botstein for the job. It’s an earnest appeal for an idea worthy of consideration, but if it was a political nonstarter four years ago, it’s hard to see how it has more legs now.
  • Video game makers are finding themselves in the regulatory crosshairs after the Newtown shooting massacre, despite limited evidence that games played a role in motivating recent shootings. (Certainly a lesser role than…guns.)
  • Margy Waller continues the charitable deduction discussion in a guest post over at New Beans.
  • The NEA has relaunched the “Your Town” program as the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, which invites proposals for community-led workshops to improve quality of life in rural areas with the help of creative placemaking experts.


  • Well, that didn’t take long: Richard Dare, who just left the Brooklyn Philharmonic to take the top job at the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, abruptly stepped down after a New York Times investigation into his past.
  • Clayton Lord is leaving Theatre Bay Area, where he pioneered a number of research initiatives, to take the position of Vice President of Local Arts Advancement at Americans for the Arts. Lord replaces Mitch Menchaca, who left to become COO of Chorus America.


  • Joe Patti makes some astute observations about convergences between the arts and religion, including ways in which churches are getting into the placemaking game and the tidbit that newly minted pastors are more interested in starting their own flock than in joining established institutions. Fascinating stuff!



  • I think Diane Ragsdale has become the arts sector’s “questioner-in-chief.” She’s back after a monthlong hiatus with a doozy of a question.
  • Michael Hickey ruminates on scale, efficiency, and what size grants would encourage the most art created per dollar. (But is it about the most, or the best?)
  • year in the life of Collective Impact.
  • Phil Buchanan, writing at the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog: “I think this whole aversion to dependency may be yet another example of where analogies to the for-profit world have created confusion in our sector. We’re so enamored with market analogies that we can’t get our heads around the fact that certain work simply requires ongoing philanthropic support. Other than large-scale government support, there is no ‘exit’ event on the horizon for nonprofits, no analog to the IPOs that allow early private sector investors to cash in and get rich.”
  • I wholeheartedly endorse this pledge on Andrew Taylor’s part not to discuss “generic topics” in 2013. Taylor identifies three in particular that provoke discussions with “lots of heat, but not much light”: business models, advocacy, and value.


  • A new research study from Germany appears to show a causal relationship between music training and “verbal memory” (and by extension, speech and language processing). The study seems well-designed although the sample is on the small side.
  • The New York Public Library system appears to be more vital and in demand than ever despite budget  cuts over the past decade, according to a new report from the Center for an Urban Future.
  • A woman named Amy Webb found her life partner online…data scientist style. She conducted a detailed study of popular women’s behavior on JDate by creating 10 fake male profiles and interacting with 96 women over the course of a month, taking notes all along. It’s all ever so slightly unethical, but it does make for some, ah, engaging reading.
  • This is a great example of how a theory of change can illuminate assumptions needing testing. Do more entrepreneurs and more companies = more innovation?


  • In 2011, Createquity shared the story of Aaron Swartz, who had been indicted by federal authorities for “liberating” some 4.8 million academic journal articles from the online database JSTOR in an act of protest against restrictive copyright policies. In a sad coda, the 26-year-old Swartz, who suffered from depression, committed suicide this month in the face of a potential 35-year prison sentence (although the prosecutor in the case claims that she was only seeking six months). Among the other tributes making their way around the web, it turns out that GiveWell’s Holden Karnofsky (of course) had developed a personal friendship with the kid supergenius.