ART AND THE GOVERNMENT

MUSICAL CHAIRS

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

  • George Zimmerman is once again in the media spotlight for selling a painting he made on eBay. The patriotically themed piece sold for $100,099.99, prompting outrage from some and a web-sale response by artist Michael D’Auntuono. In a move the artist calls “hypocritical,” D’Auntuono’s attempt to sell his response piece, and donate part of the proceeds to a charity advocating for crime victims, was censored by the auction website for violation of eBay guidelines.
  • Acknowledging that less than 5 percent of its grants for repertory development have gone to women over the last quarter century, Opera America is launching a grant program targeting female composers.

IN THE FIELD

  • Is Facebook’s new donate button “good, bad, or ugly” for nonprofits? Beth Kanter argues it does more harm than good, and rallies for a Facebook Ad Grants program similar to Google’s.
  • In its quest to make culture “the spirit and soul of the nation,” China opened more than 450 museums in the last year alone, bringing the total number in the country to nearly 4,000.
  • Did you finish 1984? New all-you-can-read book services are compiling data on not just what we read but also how quickly we do it, how long we linger over which passages, and whether we finish specific books. (Turns out people are more eager to learn how biographies end than business books.)
  • Mara Walker, chief operating officer for Americans for the Arts, reports on her experience as the only American participant at this year’s International Arts Leadership Roundtable, organized by the Hong Kong Art Development Council.

BIG IDEAS

  • You’ve Cott Mail readers offered bold predictions for the arts in 2014: ballet will relocate to London, we’ll all stop saying “outreach” (but do it more in our communities), and new artist-led theater collectives will rise up to seize the means of cultural production, among other prophecies.
  • The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout, meanwhile, predicts audiences’ growing “on-demand” mentality will continue to spell trouble for nonprofit theater companies, and urges them to embrace and market the “intimacy [of the] small scale, handmade art form.”
  • In an interview with Barry Hessenius, WESTAF Executive Director Anthony Radich unpacks his longstanding call to “reimagine” state arts agencies (i.e., embrace more flexible staff structures and find ways to get “free from the negative undertow of state restrictions while retaining that still-important connection to the state government”) and offers insight on the future of state support for the arts.
  • Providence, RI has acknowledged how much the city’s future depends on its four main nonprofit higher-ed institutions: Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, Johnson & Wales, and Providence College. Financially reliant on an industry that isn’t requited to pay local taxes, the city of Providence has negotiated an attempted economic revitalization plan that has the schools make sizable contributions to the city in exchange for sweetened deals on land usage and campus expansion.
  • Createquity’s own Talia Gibas lays out three different conceptions educators, artists, and advocates draw on when they talk about “STEAM” as the intersection of the arts with science, technology, engineering, and math. She argues that art may primarily represent aesthetics and design, curiosity, or creativity, and that there are important differences among the three.

RESEARCH CORNER

  • The Foundation Center’s annual “Key Facts on U.S. Foundations” report is out in time for the New Year. Giving is on the rise: the approximately 82,000 foundations in the U.S. gave $45.9 billion in 2010, $49.0 billion in 2011, and an estimated $50.9 billion in 2012. The report also breaks down the largest grants by the largest foundations for 2011 by issue, geography, and a host of other dimensions, revealing among other things that the top 1% of recipients captured half of these grant dollars.
  • The McKnight Foundation has released its findings in a study it conducted, with help from the Center for the Study of Art & Community, on artists supported by its fellowship program since its establishment in 1982. The study asked artists six questions that gave them an opportunity to “reflect on the environment, conditions, and motivations that affect their work.”