ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

  • The Future of Music Coalition’s Casey Rae recaps current policy on orphan works (i.e., creations under copyright but whose owners no longer exist), and outlines a solution that protects the original author/performer in such cases. Casey’s post has instructions if you want to file supporting or additional comments with the Copyright Office.
  • With all the headline grabs about cuts to public funding, we don’t hear enough about the politicians that really do support the arts, who often do so behind the scenes. Guy Yedwab shares some observations from a speech by outgoing Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who is now running for city Comptroller.
  • California is changing some of its rules for fiscal sponsors.
  • Kaid Benfield writes on the increasingly unchecked, government-like powers of local homeowners’ associations.
  • Rocco Landesman writes a postcard from retirement; Doug Borwick reflects on his tenure at the NEA.
  • I realized last week, to my embarrassment, that the NEA’s official Art Works blog had not been showing up in my Google Reader feed since this past August. This happens sometimes when content providers move to a new platform and change their feed URL – there’s no way for subscribers to know unless you put up a notice on the old feed telling them to resubscribe at the new address. We’ve seen this at ArtsJournal as well as the blogs there have slowly migrated from Moveable Type to their new WordPress platform. If you’re subscribed to any of these blogs in Google Reader, check to make sure you’re still getting updates! I keep a list of such feed changes at my blogroll. Anyway, here are some of the fun pieces at Art Works that I missed over the past few months because of this:
    • Steven Shewfelt and Ellen Grantham describe a new pilot initiative to assess the artistic excellence of activities funded by the NEA, after the fact.
    • Elizabeth Miller interviews Rachel Cain and Anthony Radich about WESTAF’s Public Art Archive software.
    • Sunil Iyengar analyzes the new SNAAP report, “Painting with Broader Strokes,” and another report from the National Center for Education Statistics. (Would be nice to have links to those in the post…)
    • An interview with NEA Acting Chair Joan Shigekawa. Here’s a previous interview with Deepa Gupta, who serves on the National Council of the Arts and was formerly an arts program officer with the MacArthur Foundation.
    • Rich Heeman describes the NEA’s recent efforts at improving data collection and transparency practices.
    • Shewfelt reflects on creativity in arts research, the NEA’s arts research grants program, and arts-related changes to the General Social Survey.
    • Julie Heizer shares an update on the federal government’s national tourism and marking strategy, and details how arts organizations can get involved.

IN THE FIELD

  • Michael Kaiser announces his planned departure as head of the Kennedy Center. No word on what’s next for him.
  • Four dance companies in Chicago are coming together to share marketing and customer service responsibilities. I’m not sure if the model is as unusual as they seem to think it is, but it’s still one to watch for those interested in shared services as a cure for the 501(c)(3) blues.

BIG IDEAS

  • The perspectives on race and the arts continue to roll in, with responses from Jon Silpayanamant, Linda EssigDoug Borwick, and this particularly trenchant one from Trevor O’Donnell (I’d love to get him and Borwick in a room together!). Another lens on this whole thing is a geographic one; a lot of the initial discussion came from people on the West Coast, and the rhetoric in the Clayton Lord post that I originally responded to, arguing that institutions had a moral responsibility to have audiences that looked like their local communities, struck me as very California way of looking at the issue. For better or worse, the powers that be in the East have largely not been pressuring arts nonprofits to diversify with the same ferocity, seemingly for worse in this particular case.
  • Oh, and in case anyone was under the illusion that this was only an issue in the United States: “Salvador, with a welcoming Atlantic harbor, was the first capital of Brazil. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, until Brazil ended slavery in 1888, it was the largest port in the New World for the slave trade, and 80 percent of the city’s current population is Afro-Brazilian….African-rooted rhythms propel much of Brazilian popular music. Yet the prime-time face of carnaval is almost entirely white.”
  • Seth Godin on the NFL vs. the arts (a subject that came up in other forums as well): “The new media giants of our age (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) don’t point everyone to one bit of content, don’t trade in mass. Instead, they splinter, connecting many to many, not many to one. The cultural touchstones we’re building today are…mostly not for everyone. Instead, the process is Tribes -> Connections/communities -> Diverse impact….[W]e build our lives around cultural pockets, not cultural mass. Our job as marketers and leaders is to create vibrant pockets, not to hunt for mass.”
  • Chad Bauman on the formula for subscription success: “great artistic product + best seats + best price + outstanding customer service = more subscribers.”
  • What exactly is the dividing line between respecting your audience’s taste and shameless pandering?” Adam Huttler considers by examining the case of Netflix’s new show House of Cards, which represents a $100 million bet on algorithmically-determined original programming.

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