• The National Endowment for the Arts has shared a draft of its strategic plan for FY14-18, and in what I believe may be a first, is inviting public comment on it via SurveyMonkey. Ah, these modern times we live in. Now let’s just hope House Republicans don’t succeed in slashing its budget by 49%.
  • new report from the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and the Center for an Urban Future details 15 policy innovations for cities that are “novel, proven and scalable.” While no arts-specific innovations made the list, one of the ideas is a type of “digital badging” program found in Philadelphia, Providence and Chicago that “allow[s] students both inside the K-12 system and outside to earn credentials for skills they learn in a wide variety of educational settings, from digital tools workshops at public libraries to art classes at museums.”
  • The City of Buffalo is at risk of losing over $1 million worth of donated musical instruments if it follows through with cuts to music programs in its schools.
  • The City of New York has taken over management of the financially troubled South Street Seaport Museum.






  • new report from Americans for the Arts details the mostly modest salaries of local arts agency employees. But who says you can’t get rich being an arts administrator? Indeed, the NEA’s Sunil Iyengar has a long post on income inequality in the arts, and the idea that it may be portending changes in the economy as a whole. And Diane Ragsdale considers the interesting question of whether being paid too much “crowds out” one’s existing intrinsic motivation to work.
  • Can we make a dent in poverty just by teaching parents how to parent better? A long-term study from Jamaica suggests maybe so. Meanwhile, the achievement gap between rich kids and poor kids is now twice as large as that between black children and white children. The cause of poor performance by poor students? No one’s quite figured it out yet, but it’s not bad teachers, nor is it moms on crack. (Seriously – a 23-year longitudinal study in Philadelphia has revealed that being born to poverty affects kids’ cognitive development far more than whether or not their mothers were on crack while pregnant. Think about that one for a bit.) Here’s a map of poverty and race in America.
  • Boston’s Charles River is finally swimmable again – a concrete example of a data-driven policy success. (And it took nearly two decades to make it happen.)


  • Congratulations to Andrew Taylor on a full decade of his blog, the Artful Manager. That is quite a milestone in this space! Andrew had it going on pretty much light years before any of us.
  • Ben Huh, the head of I Can Has Cheezburger (better known as the home of LOLcats), on “bad art”:

    [W]e are entering an age where there is very little in the way between an idea and an expression online, and that means more and more people are participating in ways of expressing themselves. What we do is encourage that artistic expression even if we don’t recognize their creations as “fine art.”

    Human beings have this incredible desire to connect and express themselves and that is what is filling up our time on the Internet, and I don’t think that is bad. It is actually a wonderful thing.

  • In 2003, I lived in Boston and worked at the Museum of Science, which overlooks the Charles. Based on staff and citizen science research, I was assured that the Charles is in fact safe to swim in – that at that point, the river was facing more of a PR war than an environmental crisis.

    I went for a swim almost every day in the summer. It was comical how people would gather in fear to watch me, clearly wanting to tell me this was a very bad idea but being (for the most part) too polite to do so. Funny to see this article now and wonder if my body was in some way addled by those swims ten years ago… or whether this is just very late news.

    • Ha! Great story. Based on what I could gather from the article, “safe to swim” is a matter of percentages rather than absolutes, especially for urban rivers. Here’s what it says: “When that nearly-failing D grade was first published in 1995, the part of the river that flows through Boston and Cambridge met boating standards 39 percent of the time and swimming standards an abysmal 19 percent of the time. In 2011, the river was rated safe for boating 82 percent of all days and swimming 54 percent of the time. The overall EPA grade for the last 10 miles of the river is calculated from a composite of daily forecasts and monthly readings. It has hovered for the last few years around B or B+, which many say is the best they can hope for for such an urban river.” The standards in question refer to “regular readings of levels of E. coli, a bacterial class that experts say is a good indicator of the presence of waste (toilet water, sewage, and all that comes with it).”

      So if you went for a swim every day for a summer, it’s almost certain that you encountered elevated levels of e.coli at some point during that time if that information is correct. But whether that actually did anything bad to you, who knows. Human bodies and minds are more resilient than they often get credit for.

      • Totally. We now do a lot of open water swimming in the ocean in Santa Cruz and our favorite spot is very poorly rated environmentally… too much sea lion poop in the water. You’ve got to take your chances somewhere!

        • I really appreciate that we can have an open conversation around sea lion poop on this blog. I knew Createquity was good for something!