ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

  • You probably didn’t know it, but your fancy new mobile device is making it more difficult for your favorite local theater company to keep its wireless microphones. The Federal Communications Commission is considering auctioning off two “safe haven” broadcast channels used by wireless mics to commercial wireless providers. Theatre Communications Group led a Capitol Hill briefing in support of keeping the safe haven channels intact and also has a full write up for those looking to get up to speed on the issue.
  • Despite being, arguably, the cultural capital of the United States, New York City lacks a formal cultural plan – unlike, for example, Chicago, Austin, and Roanoke, VA. Two NYC Council members have introduced a bill that would change that, forcing the Department of Cultural Affairs to assess the cultural needs of artists and communities on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.
  • The Big Apple is also gearing up to choose a new mayor, and candidates on the right and left have expressed a range of support for the arts. Interestingly, all but one (Republican and Democrat) claim to be favor of increasing arts education spending. Any guesses as to which one? (Related: Guy Yedwab and the League of Independent Theatres have a voter guide for artists.)

MUSICAL CHAIRS

  • The federal copyright office’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel stepped down from her position last month. The Future of Music Coalition pays tribute to Espinel’s service.
  • The new director of San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture, Denise Montgomery, resigned last month after just 44 days in her position stating, “I cannot in good conscience remain part of the Filner administration.” Montgomery was not the first to leave the administration in response to the mayor’s ongoing sexual harassment scandal. By the end of August, Filner himself was forced to resign. His legal troubles continue.
  • Farewell to Trevor O’Donnell, who is leaving behind the nonprofit arts – and his lively blog, Marketing the Arts to Death – to focus on his architecture work.

BIG IDEAS

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

  • “Deaccessioning has always been tricky”: whether it’s public outrage in the UK or legal troubles in Detroit, cashing in on beloved works of art is no easy way out of financial trouble. Meanwhile, the Willem de Kooning Foundation has decided to sell 10 paintings by the late artist to fund a special endowment program. Rather than risk the negative publicity a public sale could garner (see above), the works have been consigned to Gagosian Gallery, who will exhibit the pieces in an upcoming show and whisk them away privately at undisclosed amounts. The Foundation hopes to raise more than $30 million from the sale.
  • On the heels of last week’s announcement that Nashville Symphony Orchestra musicians have agreed to a one-year, 15% reduction in salary, Minnesota Orchestra’s union musicians are standing their ground over demands for higher pay. The stalemate could result in the loss of their renowned conductor Osmo Vänskä and cancellations in their concert series this November.

IN THE FIELD

  • Barry Hessenius’s annual list of the Fifty Most Powerful and Influential People in Nonprofit Arts is out, with a lot of new names but a conspicuous lack of arts education leaders. Congratulations to all who were mentioned.
  • Arts Council Silicon Valley and 1stACT Silicon Valley have merged into a new nonprofit called Silicon Valley Creates. And two of Chicago’s oldest arts education providers, Art Resources in Teaching (A.R.T.) and Urban Gateways, are also merging. A.R.T., which was founded in 1894 — yes, 1894 — was “severely affected by a combination of recession, public policy challenges, and limited philanthropic support,” and its programs will henceforth be considered part of Urban Gateways’s Visual Arts program portfolio.

RESEARCH CORNER

  • The NEA and the UMass Arts Extension Service are creating a treasure trove for “research into the history of the field of arts management, with the potential to help influence arts policy on the national level.” The new National Arts Policy Archives and Library (NAPAAL) will be housed at Amherst and made freely available online. Initially, the archive will include key documents from the two partners as well as Americans for the Arts and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, but outreach will continue to make the archives a “comprehensive scholarly resource.”
  • Last spring, Americans for the Arts and the Nathan Cummings Foundation held a Funder Exchange on Evaluating Arts & Social Impact. A recently released report summarizes key points of the discussion and a few case studies in innovative evaluation by funders.
  • new study led by Leonid Perlovsky of Harvard University conducted in Quebec documents higher grades among gifted and talented students taking optional music classes; the students increased test performance in all subjects. The research somewhat addresses a common complaint about such studies, which is that the difference in performance might be due to a difference in inherent ability among the students.
  • In his “Let’s Turn this Old Barn into a Theater!” series (parts III, and III), community development consultant Mike Hickey provides a fascinating and comprehensive summary of the opportunities and challenges for cultural organizations that make the decision to “buy non-cultural facilities and fix them up.” These findings are the result of a case study of so-called “adaptive reuse” for NOCD-NY.
  • Researchers in England report that European artists are more satisfied with their jobs than non-artists – despite higher rates of unemployment and lower income levels. Earlier research found a similar effect in the United States. (Interestingly, British artists themselves report about average job satisfaction.)
  • Video games for 70-and-80-somethings may become all the rage. Research out of the University of San Francisco indicates that video games can help improve attention and focus in healthy older adults.
  • The MacArthur Foundation has released the findings from  its recent review of the MacArthur Fellows Program, claiming the study reaffirms the program’s positive impact on the professional lives of award recipients and the engaged public. The Foundation also announced its decision to increase the fellows’ living stipend, upping it to $625,000 paid out over five years.
  • Britain is due for its decennial census next year, but officials are considering two alternatives to the classic Big Data survey: shifting it online or scrapping it entirely and relying on existing data from other sources. The goal is to reduce the $1.10 per person per year cost. Take note: the per-capita cost in the US is almost four times as high.
  • The deadline to apply for an NEA Research: ArtWorks grant is coming up November 5, and Program Analyst Melissa Menzer has some helpful tips for potential applicants.