ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

  • The public has spoken: polling released in late September shows 75% of Detroiters oppose cutting pensions and 78% oppose selling artwork from the Detroit Institute of Arts to ease the city’s financial troubles. Meanwhile, the DIA is pitching a long-shot plan to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder that would direct significant state funding to the museum – possibly in exchange for the city’s relinquishing ownership.
  • Is Philly’s status as a world-class cultural city at risk? The Philadelphia Inquirer explores the potential impact of sharp cuts in private and public funding in a city where arts tourists outnumber sports tourists 4:3.
  • Washington, DC may be paralyzed over ObamaCare, but you don’t have to to be: Fractured Atlas follows up on its infographic guide to ObamaCare for artists with a similar guide for small business owners. And the Future of Music Coalition has announced a new website designed to be a comprehensive resource on the implications of the Affordable Care Act on artists. There’s even an artist-friendly hotline.
  • In an interview in The Atlantic Cities, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell talks about how the city benefits from – and has to adapt to – the huge festivals that undergrid its cultural economy.
  • “Be A Creator” enters California elementary schools later this year as a pilot program designed to teach K-6 graders that sharing other people’s ideas and artwork without permission is stealing. The Center for Copyright Infringement (CCI) prepared the curriculum in conjunction with the California School Library Association and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition to address online piracy by educating the young. Detractors claim the curriculum is just “thinly disguised corporate propaganda.”
  • Meanwhile, voluntary agreements held by the entertainment, advertising and internet industries to address issues of content piracy are apparently going well, according to testimony from a recent Congressional hearing. That’s good news following the controversy over the SOPA and PIPA bills last year. However, notably missing from the hearing were independent labels and the artists themselves.

MUSICAL CHAIRS

  • The Kansas Arts Foundation, established after Governor Sam Brownback abolished the Kansas Arts Commission in a controversial and unsuccessful attempt to eliminate state art funding, has named Karen Lane Christilles its first Executive Director.
  • Lois Lerner, embattled head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division, has retired after bearing the brunt of the blame for the recent scandal involving targeted investigation of Tea Party-related organizations. A review board that was about to propose she be fired alluded to “neglect of duties” during her 12-year tenure at the agency, which raises an interesting question: is Lerner just a political scapegoat or has the IRS’s nonprofit unit actually been mismanaged for years?

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

  • Copper heiress Huguette Clark’s will established an arts foundation and bequeathed it her $100m California estate to showcase her art, but other aspirants to Clark’s $400m fortune have taken to the courts.

IN THE FIELD

  • New York’s 70-year-old City Opera is closing its doors following a decade of deficits, an unsuccessful campaign to avert bankruptcy and, according to Mayor Bloomberg, “a business model [that] doesn’t appear to be working.” Michael Cooper and Robin Pogrebin provide the most in-depth reporting on the institution’s final days and just how precariously it held on to life up to the final act.
  • How many stagehands do you need in a new education space? Carnegie Hall’s opening night gala was abruptly canceled in the wake of a union dispute over jurisdiction of Carnegie’s still-under-construction education wing. The feud is raising eyebrows, particularly given that five of Carnegie’s top ten earners are stagehands, each earning more than $300,000 apiece.
  • In an interview with Ellen McSweeney, Cynthia Cyrus of the Blair School of Music discusses the role of MOOCs in music education and the challenges posed by murky copyright law.
  • Two great examples of museums keeping pace with changes in the education sector: the Museum of Modern Art recently wrapped up its first MOOC on museum teaching strategies, and reflects on how it went. The American Museum of Natural History, meanwhile, graduated its first class of science teachers, thanks to a federal grant that made it the first (and maybe not the last) museum in the nation to offer a full teacher prep program.
  • Perhaps not such a great example of a museum keeping up with the times: New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art recently offered a Groupon “deal” for an $18 admission voucher. The only problem? Entry to the museum is supposed to be free five days and two nights a week. This bit of deceptive advertising appears to be just another episode in the institution’s shady history of misleading visitors about its pricing structure.
  • The now year-long labor dispute at the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra has prompted both celebrated music director Osmo Vänskä and composer Aaron Jay Kernis to resign, dealing a major blow to the future of the organization. The question that remains is whether the board will try to rebuild the 110-year-old orchestra or the musicians will strike out on their own.
  • Meanwhile in Germany, the Berlin Philharmonic has led a massive country-wide strike to protest further decreases in job opportunities for orchestral musicians.
  • British museums are adjusting to a world with less public funding. The Museums Association recently released its annual review, finding that nearly a third of survey respondents have had to cut staffing, replacing many of the positions with volunteers and interns. Interestingly, museum attendance is at an all time high.

BIG IDEAS

  • David B. Pankratz reports out on a few ideas about research generated at Americans for the Arts’s National Convention back in June: better link research to policy, create pathways for young researchers to study the arts, expand the focus of research beyond nonprofit arts, and more speed dating, among others.
  • At WorldFuture 2013 (the best-named conference around), Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop Per Child project and co-founder of MIT Media Lab, described four different ways to see the future. In this post Elizabeth Merritt applies the theories to attempt to forecast the future of museums.
  • Clayton Lord celebrates the recent Arts Dinnervention with a week’s worth of posts from himself and three other participants. Linda Essig joins in the conversation.

RESEARCH CORNER

  • Where have all the theater nerds gone? The National Endowment for the Arts’s latest survey of public participation in the arts is out, and reports a nine percent drop in musical theater attendance and twelve percent drop in play attendance since 2008 – but greater participation by the young in arts festivals and by non-white and Hispanic Americans in art performances broadly. 
  • Chris Unitt examines a a new report from the UK’s Culture 24  documenting the second phase of its action research project on “understanding and measuring digital engagement” in the cultural sector.
  • Also out of the UK, Ticketmaster has released the results of a survey of playgoing among the British, who are more likely to have attended the theatre than a concert or sporting event. Audiences skew younger and more experimental than you might expect – which means audience codes of conduct are shifting, too.
  • Last month Capacity Interactive released its Performing Arts Digital Marketing Benchmarking Survey Study with some interesting findings to report. Perhaps not surprisingly, “the biggest obstacle for digital marketing success is lack of budget.”
  • Theater Communications Group has released its annual Theater Facts 2012 report, authored by the folks from the National Center for Arts Research. It’s possible to spin the news a few different ways, but what’s clear is that in many key areas, things are starting to look like they did before the recession: revenue is up, subscriptions are up, income from single-ticket sales is up. The full report is here.
  • New neuroscience research finds adults with musical training perform better on tricky cognitive tests than those with little to no experience playing an instrument. And creativity in music doesn’t just happen randomly; freedom, flexibility, time and “being in the moment” are the key elements needed, according to a new study led by John Rink, professor of musical performance studies at Cambridge University.