ART AND THE GOVERNMENT
- A federal judge recently ruled that Pandora must continue to pay ASCAP, which represents song writers and publishers, a 1.85% composition royalty. It was a (not entirely clean) victory for Pandora, which was arguing against a rise to 3%. The Future of Music Coalition has a good primer on the issue. (Note that the royalty paid to record companies for sound recordings is much higher – above 50%, in some cases – and it is this larger royalty that Pandora cited last week in increasing the cost of their premium service.)
- FMC similarly offers a concise but thorough summary of the Congressional testimony debating the “notice and takedown” copyright enforcement system for hosting sites like YouTube.
- Amtrak’s writers’ residency is getting some amusing pushback from conservatives that points to some deeper issues regarding its role as a national service.
- Advocacy for publicly-funded arts agencies has a new platform: Stand for the Arts, an online initiative funded by Ovation TV, champions the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, and Americans for the Arts’s Arts Action Fund.
- Is that the pitter-patter of li’l artist feet in the distance? A female musician predicts Obamacare will prompt a “creative professionals baby boom,” and offers ideas for how the music community can better support it.
- Vice President of Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Susan Coliton resigned last week after 15 years with the foundation.
- Judi Jennings, executive director of Kentucky Foundation for Women, is set to retire June 30, also after 15 years of service. Barry Hessenius has an exit interview with Judy.
- The Bay Area’s Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced the promotions of Shelley Trott and Katie Fahey to Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures and Associate Program Officer for the Arts, respectively.
- The beleaguered Minnesota Orchestra faces continued challenges following the end of a 16-month player lockout: President and CEO Michael Henson announced he is stepping down, prompting the resignation of eight board members and speculation regarding the possible return of the orchestra’s former music director Osmo Vanska.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS
- The Ford Foundation now has an artist on its board of trustees: Lourdes Lopez, artistic director of the Miami City Ballet and strong arts education proponent.
- More family foundations – nearly a quarter – are choosing to spend down their assets during the donor’s lifetime.
IN THE FIELD
- In a decision that has perplexed many, the San Diego Opera announced that this season will be its last after nearly fifty years of performances. Subsequent to the announcement, the organization gave itself a two-week reprieve in a last-ditch attempt to raise money.
- Big Brother is watching the opera: Lincoln Center, Alvin Ailey, the Public Theater, and five other NYC arts stalwarts have joined Audience 360, a new alliance that will share ticketing and customer information across the group. As many as forty institutions are expected to join when Audience 360, one of more than twenty such big-data organizations across the country, is launched in June. The information is expected to be useful for government advocacy in addition to marketing.
- The BBC has hired National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner and Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone as part of a new push to infuse arts programming across the media organization “like never before.” The new initiatives will include filming live arts events and a miniseries following young orchestra musicians, among others.
- Netflix’s CEO has come out in favor of a strong form of net neutrality after a deal with Comcast cleared up customers’ performance issues. Meanwhile, Apple and Comcast are exploring a TV streaming partnership with sterling connectivity, which would fulfill Apple’s hopes of playing in the TV space.
- The full story of how the reclusive Cornelius Gurlitt wound up with a 1,280-piece trove of Nazi-looted art – which he is now returning to the original owners.
- Bookstores in Manhattan may be a dying breed; bookstores in Brooklyn are thriving.
- Have a great idea for a creative placemaking project but no time to get off the ground? Take advantage of National Arts Strategies’ Creative Community Fellows Program, which includes a week-long retreat with fellow cultural “entrepreneurs,” a distance learning track, and an opportunity to pitch to funders and/or create crowdfunding campaigns. Applications are due May 7.
- As Netflix-style aggregation of content spreads from music and movies to books, magazines, and newspapers, “almost all the value in media has come from bundling.” Consumers like it because it offers centralized curation and lower transaction costs than hunting-and-gathering individual items; providers like it because it can give them more data. (Whether it’s good for creators, of course, depends in large part on how the proceeds are split with the provider.) But don’t get too excited – it turns out that existing legal agreements may prevent Netflix itself – or anyone else – from offering anything approaching a comprehensive slate of films before 2020.
- Meanwhile, total revenue for recorded music has fallen each year of the millennium; at $8 billion a year, it is now less than half of its (inflation-adjusted) 1999 peak. Venture capitalist David Pakman argues that the only way to reverse this trend is to lower the price of streaming services to $3-4 per month, bringing the annual cost closer to more consumers’ historical willingness to pay.
- The Wu-Tang Clan’s new double album will be released in an edition of one, which will tour museums before being sold for millions of dollars.
- To what degree do family and peer groups influence our perceptions of the label “artist”? Researchers parsing data from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project found a sizable chunk of people creating artistic works do not self-identify as professional artists. Those with artists in their families, or those who attended arts-focused schools, were more likely to use the label. Can’t help but wonder about the degree to which socioeconomic status plays a role in this…
- …since a new analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data paints a portrait of the artist as a model of downward mobility. Creative types tend to grow up in relatively affluent households and to make less money than their parents, to a much greater extent than those in other careers. Let’s hope some things are more important than money, since art schools are the most expensive in the country after taking financial aid packages into account.
- The Arts Education Partnership’s database of statewide arts education policies has been updated and renamed as ArtScan. It includes a state-to-state comparison feature as well as information about past efforts to survey the status of arts education in each state.
- The Hewlett and Irvine Foundations have released an external assessment of their Next Generation Arts Leadership program, which they have renewed for another three years, to inspire other regions facing a potential arts leadership deficit. (The full report and executive summary are online.)
- The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture is out with a nationwide survey of media arts organizations – the “first-ever, comprehensive data set documenting the media arts field.” With nearly a quarter of respondents self-identifying as local cable TV operators, television still reigns as the primary focus of these organizations’ work.
- Two weeks ago we noted the ever-rising cost of sales in the international and antique art markets as a possible sign of an emerging “winner take all” economy. Others think it’s an insidious sign of something more akin to insider trading.
- March Madness = time to reflect on whether economic impact arguments for the arts really make any sense.