ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

  • A consortium of City of Detroit creditors have made the first legal move towards pressuring the Detroit Institute of Arts to sell city-owned artworks to help pay for debts owed. Executive Vice President Annemarie Erickson defends the museum against Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s demand that the museum find one way or another to contribute $500 million in assistance to the bankrupt city.
  • The California Arts Council will apply a $2-million funding windfall it received from Assembly member John Perez to several new initiatives in arts education and community improvement, including Creative California Communities, The Arts in Turnaround Schools, and Jump stARTS. In the face of a 7.6% budget cut handed down last year, the state arts council is taking a gamble on the success of these programs winning fresh credibility with policymakers and an increase in annual funding.

MUSICAL CHAIRS

  • Jamie Bennett, chief of staff and director of public affairs at the NEA, will take over as executive director of the creative placemaking funder collaboration ArtPlace America starting in January. He succeeds ArtPlace’s founding director Carol Coletta, who joined the Knight Foundation back in March, and interim head Jeremy Nowak.
  • After a decade serving Californians as president of the James Irvine Foundation, James E. Canales will step down in the spring to become the first president of another arts funder, Boston’s Barr Foundation.
  • There has been some shuffling in the world of state and local arts councils. Ohio Arts Council ED Julie Henahan has retired after thirty years; Milton Rhodes, President of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County in North Carolina, has retired and been succeeded by Jim Sparrow; and Glenda Toups was dismissed from her position as ED of the Houma Regional Arts Council in Louisiana in the wake of the discovery by the board that the Council was not in compliance with state reporting law.

  • We’ve known for a while that Michael Kaiser is leaving his post as President of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; now it turns out he’s taking the DeVos Institute of Arts Management with him. Both are moving to the University of Maryland, where Kaiser will be a professor of practice beginning in the fall, and hopes to expand the Institute to include a master’s program.
  • Financial news giant Bloomberg has decided to discontinue its cultural journalism brand, Muse, in favor of focusing more on leisure and luxury. Along with the reassignment of Muse editor Manuela Hoelterhoff and a cadre of employees and contracted writers, the news outlet laid off theater critic Jeremy Gerard.

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

  • The Hewlett Foundation has announced a rigorous new “Openness and Transparency” policy, which assumes from the outset that information the foundation creates should be made public to improve outcomes, spark debate, and foster collaboration. Hewlett’s President Larry Kramer offers context in a post on the foundation’s new blog; transparency watchdogs celebrate the policy.
  • The D5 Coalition has released a scan of best practices and a guide to online resources for foundations wishing to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at every stage of their work.

IN THE FIELD

  • Eric Booth and Tricia Tunstall share profiles of El Sistema “encounters” in five of approximately 55 countries – Sweden, Austria, Korea, Japan, and Canada – that have borrowed from Venezuela’s seminal movement to realize youth development goals through “intensive investment in ensemble music.” The global umbrella for El Sistema has also released the first literature review of “research, evaluation, and critical debates” related to Sistema-inspired programs around the world.
  • The Arts Council of Lawrence, New Jersey has shut down after 42 years, having, in the words of one member, “outlived [its] usefulness.” Originally formed by a group of female volunteers, the Council struggled to recruit younger members throughout the recession.
  • The August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh is struggling mightily. After a struggle to find an audience and keep backers the organization has been forced to move further and further from its original intention to create a cultural home for the people portrayed in Wilson’s plays, working class African Americans. A conservator has been appointed to try to avoid liquidation.
  • The Warehouse, an all-ages music venue in La Crosse, Wisconsin, has filed to become a nonprofit after 22 years as a for-profit, prompting some musicians to wax lyrical about their time there. Financial pressures were the primary impetus, but owner Steve Harm has indicated he will open the space to the local community in new ways to provide a public good.
  • Fractured Atlas has added another tool to their encouraging-and-rewarding-arts-entrepreneurship tool belt. The Arts Entrepreneurs Awards will recognize artists and arts organizations who have “innovated new business practices or paradigms” or  “developed novel solutions to old problems.” Nominations will be accepted until December 22nd at 5:59pm.

BIG IDEAS

RESEARCH CORNER

  • Southern Methodist University’s National Center for Arts Research is about to release its inaugural report, drawing on what it calls the “most comprehensive set of data ever compiled” on arts organizations.  In addition to a statistical overview of the field – did you know that performance of an arts organization is lower in communities with a higher concentration of graduate degrees? – the report attempts to answer the question, “What makes one arts organization more successful than another?” The key turns out to be leadership.
  • Speaking of data aggregation, Markets for Good has a progress report on the BRIDGE (Basic Registry of Identified Global Entities) project, an ambitious collaborative effort to identify and map philanthropic entities across the world.
  • A new report by the Consumer Federation of America bashes “abuse of market power by a highly concentrated music sector,” argues against the need “to expand copyright holders’ rights,” and suggests that digital file-sharing (aka “piracy”) may, in some cases, actually be good for both artists and consumers. One well-circulated chart suggests that it is the proceeds of live performance, not recordings, that drives artists’ income.
  • Gold standard at Crystal Bridges? In a rare, randomized, controlled (albeit “natural”) experiment on the effects of art on students, a single school-group visit to the major new museum appears to have raised students’ scores on vague but desirable traits such as critical thinking, social tolerance, historical empathy, and likelihood of future museum visits. It’s too soon to parse out the effect of contemporary art in particular.
  • A study of STEM graduates from the Michigan State University’s Honors College found that graduates who went on to earn patents or start companies had more arts and crafts experiences than the average Americans – and believed their ability to innovate was influenced by that experience. (The paper itself is behind a paywall.)
  • How “rampant” is gentrification? New research suggests that most urban areas experienced only “moderate” gentrification in the past decade, with significant variations across cities. Unsurprisingly, gentrification was most prevalent in large and dense metro regions with solid public transit infrastructure.