FEDERAL

The internet just got a little less friendly for pirates. A new “Copyright Alert” system, the product of a voluntary agreement between internet service providers such as Comcast and AT&T, Hollywood movie studios, and major record labels, will inconvenience persistent illicit downloaders first with warnings and then stronger measures such as slowed service. The Future of Music Coalition (consistently the smartest folks in the room when it comes to the arts and copyright issues) is wary but hopeful.

STATE AND LOCAL

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan is pushing to cut in half the state’s generous subsidy to film producers, which currently gives up to $50 million a year in credits for qualifying expenses to firms that set up shop in the state. Michigan had one of the most aggressive film incentive programs in the country just a few years ago, which attracted such productions as “Gran Torino” and “Up in the Air,” but Snyder has since put on the brakes (even as he supported a rebound last year in the state’s arts council budget).

INTERNATIONAL

My goodness, the stream of news flowing out of the United Kingdom just gets fatter and faster. First, the embattled Arts Council England has a new head in Peter Bazalgette, a former TV executive and chairman of the English National Opera. Local governments continue to cut arts budgets in the face of financial pressures: Newcastle went through with eliminating its £2.5 million culture budget despite intervention from national Labour party leaders, and is attempting to move towards a privatized model instead; Westminster (part of London) has confirmed that it’s cutting its annual £350,000 subsidy out of the picture; and Scotland’s Moray is ditching its more modest £94,000 culture budget. At least Belfast is increasing its local arts support by 27%, to £1.4 million. A survey of UK theater companies suggests that many are cutting back on productions, commissions, and cast sizes due to the cuts, though small sample size should be taken into consideration. In this environment of austerity it’s a great time for university tuition fees to be tripling for artists, but the British government is hoping that the Creative Employment Programme, a rapidly expanding paid apprenticeship system in the creative industries for youths aged 16 to 24, will offer a smooth pipeline for new grads. (Joe Patti has more.)

The combination of the eurozone crisis and austerity policies has decimated Spain’s system of public support for the arts, with funding dropping as much as half since 2009 according to a recent report. The litany of second-order impacts cited in that article includes 100 employees laid off at a single opera house in Barcelona, a cancelled Lucian Freud show at the Museo Nacionale del Prado in Madrid, and a cancelled three-year collaboration between Madrid’s Teatro Real and the Berlin Philharmonic. The Orquestra Girona is down to one concert a year. But depending on who you talk to, there are opportunities lying in wait amidst the upheaval.

Australia’s government is out with a new cultural policy, and Ben Eltham (author of A Cultural Policy Blog) declares it a hit for artists. (Annoying registration required, but it’s free.) The policy commits $236 million in Aussie dollars in mostly new money over five years to various federal arts and culture agencies and programs. The government has also chosen to adopt many of the recommendations made in an independent review of the Australia Council last year, including a controversial proposal to do away with the Council’s discipline-based system of funding. (NEA, take note!) The package even includes $4 million for a “data collection program to inform research for the sector and to  track public value of investment.” More here. And they’re considering a media reform package while they’re at it Down Under.

In other news, Russia may adopt a restrictive rule shutting out small concert promoters, China is considering royalty rights (droit de suite) for visual artists, and UNESCO has pledged to raise an $11 million fund to restore the destruction in Timbuktu, Mali, but at least one observer is skeptical that the money will be used wisely.