ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

MUSICAL CHAIRS

  • The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation welcomes Createquity’s own Daniel Reid as its new executive director and Courtney Hodell as director of the Whiting Writers’ Awards.
  • The Ford Foundation announced Martin Abregú as its new vice president for the Democracy, Rights, and Justice program, and Hilary Pennington as the vice president of Education, Creativity, and Free Expression. Pennington, who previously led education initiatives at the Gates Foundation, will oversee all of Ford’s arts funding beginning October 1.
  • Nearly a year after its prior president, Jeremy Nowak, resigned after eighteen months on the job, the William Penn Foundation has announced a search to fill its top leadership position, newly reframed as a “managing director.”
  • John Palfrey, an expert on technology and civic engagement, is succeeding Robert Briggs as the new chair of the board of the Knight Foundation.
  • G. Wayne Clough, who has served as the director of the Smithsonian Institution since 2008, will step down in October 2014.
  • So long, Technology in the Arts blog; hello, Arts Management and Technology Laboratory. The rebranded/reimagined service from Carnegie Mellon’s arts management program will serve as “a research outlet for those working and learning in the arts management and technology sector,” and features interviews, case studies, research summaries, and more.

IN THE FIELD

  • Nathan Zebedeo reviews Sarah Durham’s Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications for the (ahem) brand-new Fractured Atlas Book Club.
  • Last week, Americans for the Arts hosted a blog salon focusing on arts education and the “trifecta of education accountability—standards, assessment, and evaluation.” The salon included a perspective from Createquity’s own Talia Gibas and a nice summary from Kristen Engebretsen, and touched on testing, teacher evaluation, the Common Core, and more.
  • Speaking of accountability, Tennessee is rolling out an ambitious evaluation system for visual and performing arts teachers that relies on portfolios of student work. Teachers select samples they feel show evidence of growth over time, and submit them electronically for peer review. Time-consuming and complicated? Yep. Worth following? You bet.
  • Udacity, a popular provider of online college-level courses known as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course), has announced the launch of Open Education Alliance, bringing together leading tech companies and educators to “bridge the gap between the skills employers need and what traditional universities teach.” Is there an Open Arts Education Alliance in the near future?
  • The Detroit Free Press takes an in-depth look at the embattled Detroit Institute of Arts’s long and tangled relationship with its hometown, providing insight into the current threats of deaccessioning.
  • Last Wednesday, September 18, #AskaCurator Day “connect[ed] experts in venues large and small directly to gallery and museum fans across the world, inviting both parties to take to their [Twitter] handles and ask each other anything they want.” You can catch up on the conversations here.

BIG IDEAS

  • “Arts Dinnervention” participants Devon Smith and Laura Zabel each reflect on the recent WESTAF-supported discussion, which brought together twelve arts leaders to consider new solutions to old problems. While the convening did not result in a singular path forward, there was one notable consensus: “the arts are not in trouble, it’s the institutions that are failing.”
  • The Dallas Morning News has taken a novel approach to hiring a new art critic to its staff, a position empty since 2006. The addition of Rick Brettell, an art history professor at the University of Texas, will strengthen the news org’s arts coverage and is the second time it has worked with UT to hire a local professor as a cultural critic.
  • Is it ethical for arts funders to start what they cannot finish? Diane Ragsdale, one of the official bloggers at the upcoming Grantmakers in the Arts conference, has her doubts.
  • How is an artist like a social entrepreneur? Laura Callanan explores the similarities at SOCAP13.
  • If you’re looking for a dose of wisdom to go with your morning cup o’ joe, start here: an array of arts leaders including Roberto Bedoya, Janet Brown, Richard Kessler, Margot Knight, and Mara Walker reflect on what they have learned from their years in the field.

RESEARCH CORNER

  • Break out the champagne – the arts have stagnated! Americans for the Arts’s new 2013 National Arts Index is practically identical to last year’s, following several years of steady decline. The study finds deeper reason for optimism in the wake of the Great Recession: over the last 10 years, total private giving to all charities and the total number of workers in all occupations have been strong predictors of the health of the arts sector, and both are up.
  • Jon Silpayamanant digs into the WPA Federal Music Project with an annotated bibliographic timeline and argues the WPA, as well as the Federal Emergency Relief Administration that preceded it, were crucial to classical music during the Great Depression.
  • Data on the relationship between cities’ aesthetics and economic health may be soon within reach thanks to Place Pulse, a project out of MIT that asks users to rank  photos from cities as more or less “boring,” “safe,” “lively,” etc.
  • A new survey conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy catalogs concerns about foundations from non-profits: nearly half of the respondents felt that foundations are not aware of the challenges the respondents face, and more than two-thirds believe foundations fail to use their various resources to help nonprofits with their challenges. Commentators blame power dynamics and the “inherently self-serving” structure of foundations.
  • Connoisseurs of fine wines and classical music may be dismayed over recent studies examining the complexities involved in critical judgement. Turns out that experts and amateurs alike are susceptible to everything from presentation, environment, and even price (gasp!) when it comes to evaluating quality.
  • When faith and evidence collide, sometimes it’s faith that wins – at least when it comes to politics. See also Margy Waller’s Uncomfortable Thoughts piece for Createquity from back in the day.