Happy 4th of July! I’m going to be on vacation for the next couple of weeks, but Createquity is not. You’ll continue to see new posts and comments will be approved, albeit at a slower rate than usual. Don’t let the world blow up while I’m gone!

ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

MUSICAL CHAIRS

  • Some big changes are coming to Philly this year! Just a week after we found out about Tom Kaiden’s departure from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Gary Steuer has announced that he is leaving his post as the City of Brotherly Love’s first Chief Cultural Officer to take a position as President of Denver’s Bonfils Stanton Foundation. Here’s Gary in his own words talking about the shift.
  • Margaret Ayers is retiring as president of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation after 38 years (!) of service. Clark supports cultural exchange and cultural diplomacy. As part of the transition, Roslyn Black will direct the foundation’s International Arts Engagement program.

BIG IDEAS

  • Adrian Ellis lays out his case for the importance of global cultural districts, and Michael Rushton immediately pokes holes in it. (In fairness, Adrian’s piece is really more about the importance of doing cultural districts right and takes the idea that they’re happening at all as a given. But Michael’s question – how much does the district part of cultural districts matter – is still an important one.)
  • very smart essay by Barry Hessenius on the importance of information-sharing around failure. Here’s a quote:

    One thing that seems clear to me is that – at least in the arts field – there may be a tendency to seek a solution to a given problem or set of problems, without fully trying to understand the root causes of the problem.  We identify a problem (e.g., declining audiences) and we develop seemingly rational theories about how to address the problem (content with more transformational potential, more engaging efforts et. al.), but often without spending enough time or pouring adequate resources in the harder part of identifying the cause of the problem (i.e., why are the audiences declining).

    I have no idea how much money we have invested in the last 20 years to support audience development efforts, but unless you believe those efforts have helped slow down the rate of audience decline (and that can be defined as “success“), then, in the main, those efforts have failed. The audiences continue to decline.  Why is the question.  We need to know the answer, and to the extent foundations that fund the arts are more willing to ask that question and attempt to answer it, the better off we will all be.

    And, before we settle on what the causes of the phenomenon on the declining audience are – arrived at by research and study – we need to make sure that research and those studies are credible and reliable and not just attempts to skew evidence to support a pre-determined theory of how to address the challenge.  I know we have spent energy in surveying our audiences, but there is credible evidence that people do not always respond forthrightly to surveying.  We have to dig deeper.

    Indeed. And I would add that, if you want to understand why audiences are declining, you need to study people who aren’t your audience.

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

IN THE FIELD

RESEARCH CORNER

  • For those who didn’t know (I didn’t), the GRAMMY Foundation offers grants for “organizations and individuals working to research the impact of music on the human condition.” The examples given focus on psychological and health-oriented studies.
  • The latest edition of Giving USA is out, and giving to the arts rose 7.8% over last year’s figures – faster than any other cause area. The arts received a total of $14.4 billion in private philanthropic contributions, comprising 5% of the $316.2 billion total.
  • Consistent with trends reported previously regarding corporate philanthropy as a whole, a new survey from Americans for the Arts reports that corporate giving to the arts is back on the rise.
  • I’ve always liked working in the dark, and people have always thought I was a weirdo for it. Now, according to a new study, “those in the dimly lit room solved significantly more problems correctly than those in the brightly lit room. They also felt freer and less inhibited than their intensely illuminated counterparts.” Told you so, ma!
  • A new “data brief” from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project looks at differences between majors, and notes that, interestingly enough, arts education majors are the least likely to be unemployed in the survey sample. (Media arts brings up the rear by that metric.)
  • couple of analyses are out on the recent NEA/EEOC data release on artist employment. However, a colleague pointed out on Facebook that the NEA’s tabulation inexplicably doesn’t seem to include the employment code for “composers and music directors” (27-2041). [UPDATE: I got a note from the director of the NEA’s Office of Research and Analysis, Sunil Iyengar, who writes: “As it turns out, we DID include composers and music directors in our data for all musicians, but, inexplicably, we neglected to list the relevant code (27-2041) on the part of the web page that lists all the artist codes. So we’re correcting that bit, thanks to you.”] All in all, the boundaries are drawn kind of strangely, with the massive “designer” category including “commercial and industrial designers…floral designers…merchandise displayers…and other designers such as…memorial marker designers.” Creative workers for sure, but if you’re going to include people like that, where are the chefs and software programmers?

ETC.