• The New York Times reports on the state of Rhode Island’s disastrous investment in former Boston Red Sox star pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios. Little Rhody gave Schilling a $75 million loan as an incentive to locate in the Ocean State, as part of a new Knowledge District in downtown Providence. Just two years later, 38 Studios went bankrupt and the state (for now) is left holding the bag. It’s a cautionary tale for anyone tempted to believe that investing in the creative economy is any kind of magic bullet – as with any investment opportunity, strong leadership and close oversight are paramount.
  • The number of nonprofit organizations just continues to spiral out of control, and – wait, what? They actually dropped in 2012, for the second year in a row? Must…resist…pre-existing…narrative….


  • A little late on this one, but attorney and nonprofit executive Melissa Beck is the new CEO at the Educational Foundation of America. EFA has funded creative placemaking efforts around the country for the past few years.
  • Barry Hessenius scores an interview with former ArtPlace director – and new Knight Foundation VP – Carol Coletta. I think this exchange encapsulates things well:

    Barry: What are your one or two big takeaway lessons from your stint at ArtPlace?

    Carol: …There is a piece of communication wisdom that I believe in deeply: Say one thing. Say it simply. Say it over and over.

    We tried our best to do that. People didn’t always like it, but we stuck to the path we originally carved out.


  • The Great Woodruff Arts Center Million-Dollar Embezzlement Mystery has been solved. Amazingly, the perp was a maintenance worker.
  • Dance music acts are getting paid royalties at a lower rate than other genres in the UK, according to The Guardian.
  • I found this observation from Michael Kaiser’s weekly column of note: “I do believe that there will need to be some adjustment to cost structures, especially for the highest priced talent like guest soloists, conductors, choreographers, etc. I am already witnessing a softening in the fee demands of all but the most famous artists. (Not coincidentally, these fee reductions are coming at a time when European arts organizations are losing large amounts of their government funding and cannot afford to pay high fees either.)” Kaiser runs DC’s Kennedy Center, one of the nation’s largest performing arts presenters.


  • NPR’s All Things Considered ran a three-part series on arts education last week. The first story covers the Presidential Committee on the Arts and Humanities’s Turnaround Arts Initiative; the second examines James Catterall’s efforts to study creativity; and the third reports on Life Pieces, an after-school arts program in Washington, DC.
  • National Arts Strategies has a 20-minute “video case study” with Springboard for the Arts regarding the latter’s Irrigate creative placemaking project.
  • Boise dance company Trey McIntyre Project has begun selling its creative process to corporate clients. (Note that Pilobolus has been doing similar things for years.)
  • Three Chicago performing ensembles are trying out a shared fundraising structure. The new group is called Creative Partners, and will spend a quarter of its time raising money for each constituent group and the last quarter pounding the pavement for the entire collaboration.


  • If you missed Theatre Communications Group’s Audience (R)Evolution Learning Convening in Philadelphia earlier this year, Jim O’Quinn has a massive wrap-up for you (with pictures!).
  • Steven Dawson shares his notes from the 2013 Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University, and Efrain Gutierrez does the same for the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy National Conference in Chicago.


  • I’m not exactly sure why Pacific Standard journalist Tom Jacobs seems to be doing a gigantic literature review of research on music and psychology (maybe he’s prepping for a book?), but I’m grateful for it. Here, he analyzes a study of anxiety and depression rates among college students who listen to heavy metal. In a related item, a Boston College study finds an association between after school arts activities and depression in teenagers. “Further widening the jock-artist divide, the study found that the teens least likely to become depressed are those involved exclusively in sports activities.” The usual causation vs. correlation caveats apply, of course.
  • The NEA has announced its latest round of research grants, as well as a book coming out of last May’s arts and economic development convening that was organized in collaboration with the Brookings Institution.
  • Grantmakers in the Art’s Janet Brown: “We’ve done an analysis of the financial health of arts groups in the twelve cities where we’ve presented our funders’ capitalization workshop…In some cities, mid-sized and major organizations have, on average, negative liquid net assets. This means, they don’t have a dime to pay the electric bill should money stop coming in the door today.”
  • The Nonprofit Finance Fund, which helped GIA initially with its capitalization work, conducts an annual State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey. Rebecca Thomas analyzes the 2013 edition from an arts perspective.
  • FSG has published a list of 27 indicators with which to track the project of so-called “backbone” organizations involved with Collective Impact efforts.
  • The Ford Foundation has released the results of its 2012 Grantee Perception Report.
  • Does Carol Coletta also feel that non-profits have “whiny, hand-out persona(s)?”

  • Carrie Blanding

    I was excited to see the statistic that the number of nonprofits has decreased in the last couple years, but then I clicked through to your source page, and it seems that 501(c)3 nonprofits (as opposed to other kinds of tax-exempt organizations) have actually increased. (See the third bullet point.) When people talk about the number of nonprofits spiraling out of control, aren’t they usually referring to 501(c)3’s?
    Thanks for your wonderful blog!

    • Point taken, Carrie, and I admit the treatment here was more snarky than educational. However, the number of c3’s climbed almost imperceptibly, by less than two-tenths of one percent, which still doesn’t sound like spiraling out of control to me.