ART AND THE GOVERNMENT
- A Federal court has overturned the FCC’s “net neutrality” regulations, which have required internet service providers to treat all content equally. Legal details here; implications for artists and ways to get involved here. Meanwhile, AT&T has announced a plan to exempt selected content from wireless data caps; artists are expressing concern.
- How many foundations does it take to keep Detroit’s art in Detroit? Nine and counting: the ad-hoc alliance of funders has pledged to give $330m to reduce the city’s unfunded pension liability if the city’s creditors will agree to allow the Detroit Institute of Art to become a separate non-profit with its collection intact. In a nod to its origins, the Ford Foundation is the largest single contributor. It’s unclear whether this will fly with the creditors, so additional donors are being sought. (This could be part of an alarming trend: the Annenberg Foundation recently had to spend more than $500k to return sacred Hopi artifacts home.)
- Thinking of applying for nonprofit status? You may need to brace yourself for a longer wait time than usual. The recent federal budget agreement gives the IRS $526 million less than last year and mandates the agency spend more time reporting to Congress.
- With Bill de Blasio having taken office, speculation builds around the next NYC Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, with names such as actress Cynthia Nixon, former Alliance for the Arts head Randy Bourscheidt, and Tom Finklepearl being floated as potential candidates to run what may be the nation’s largest arts funder. Meanwhile, Michael Kaiser praises outgoing Commissioner Kate Levin – and says we need her at the NEA.
- Karen Hanan, Executive Director of Arts Northwest, is transitioning to lead the Washington State Arts Commission effective March 1.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS
- How are arts organizations handling ongoing, recession-related budget pressure? Some are experimenting with curtain times, guerilla art, and other innovations; others are embracing an organizational cultural of abundance. Still others ask, “what budget pressure?”
- On the heels of the NEA’s decision to support collective impact projects for arts education, Ken Thompson of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation observes that despite the flurry of interest from funders, they display an overall “lack of certainty about what collective impact is” and for the most part remain focused on the programmatic rather than systems level. One source of the problem? For all of funders’ efforts to get grantees to collaborate, they aren’t doing much of it themselves.
IN THE FIELD
- After winning hearts and minds across the nation with its making-it-big-in-Idaho story, come this July, the Trey McIntyre Project will disband as a dance company, focusing instead on “other enterprises involving dance, film production, and photography.” Despite TMP’s throwing in the towel, Sydney Skybetter sees a triumph and not a failure.
- In other dance news, choreographer Gina Gibney’s company will take over the former home of Dance New Amsterdam in downtown Manhattan, preserving the space as a hub for dancers from commercial and non-profit companies at a time when space is scarce.
- After a three year lockout (and, as we reported a few weeks ago, an attempt to form their own nonprofit), musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra will return to their orchestra hall next month thanks to a contract settlement that cuts their pay and benefits by roughly 15 percent.
- A painting by Glenn Brown replicating the cover of Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novel “The Stars Like Dust” has sold for almost $6 million, causing many techies to suddenly find themselves in the unfamiliar position of advocating for copyright enforcement.
- Nonprofit theater makes way for film and television: Atlanta’s Woodruff Art Center has sold its three-stage 14th Street Playhouse to the Savannah College of Art and Design, which will use the space to house TV and film degree programs. Woodruff, in turn, donated $1.9 million of sale proceeds to the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta to establish a new grant fund to support local performing arts organizations.
- We nearly missed this end-of-year roundup of “10 trends and 10 predictions” for the nonprofit sector from NonProfit Quarterly. You’ll recognize several of the items, like the emerging national security state and general government incompetence, from our list of the top 10 arts policy stories, but NPQ adds several others to the table (including an emerging progressive agenda at the local government level) and gives arts organizations a special shout-out – for their “struggl[ing]…business models.” Woohoo.
- Over at Barry’s Blog, social media guru and recent Arts Dinner-Vention participant Devon Smith delves into the potential roles of user experience designers, Google glass, and 3D printers in arts organizations, and offers some insights on the need for think tanks (including ours) in the arts.
- The National Endowment for the Arts has posted a batch of working papers and reports resulting from the inaugural year of its Research: Art Works program. There’s a range of goodies to dig into, including a study of the racial and ethnic composition of arts boards, and another look at the arts as a driver of economic growth.
- The Brooklyn Commune Project is out with a new report “on the state of the performing arts from the perspective of artists.” Researched and written by volunteers, it includes an impressive and cogent summary of the economic challenges performing artists face, and thoughtful recommendations for the sector. At 50+ pages it’s not a short read, but a worthwhile one. (More from Andy Horwitz here.)
- Another report from the UK examines how artists can support the development of socially responsible, sustainable economies, and identifies three “vital practices” that allow them to do so: 1) critical reflection around how artists maintain their livelihoods, 2) opportunities for artists to “pool their risk” when embarking on new endeavors, and 3) opportunities for artists to access unused spaces in urban environments.
- Amid increased calls for states to track student access to arts education comes this welcome reminder that determining access is more complicated than counting which schools offer which courses.
- In the latest distant-reading study, analysts have crunched “various linguistic characteristics” of a slew of old books against their commercial and critical success, then applied the resulting algorithms to contemporary writers to find that Dan Brown, William Faulkner, and Philip Roth aren’t very successful. Points for counter-intuitive results, at least.