ART AND THE GOVERNMENT
- The backlash against unpaid internships has spread beyond our borders: Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has ordered two high-profile Canadian magazines to immediately end their internship programs. The Ministry also announced it plans “an enforcement blitz this spring focused specifically on internships across a variety of sectors.” (NB: while nonprofits are generally exempt from the US Department of Labor requirements for unpaid internships, state laws, including New York’s, can be more stringent.)
- After nearly 30 years as CEO of National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Jonathan Katz is set to make his exit soon.
- Margit Rankin has resigned as Executive Director of Washington State’s Artist Trust. The Trust plans to “focus on internal efficiencies and statewide reach before hiring [her] replacement.”
- Carolina Garcia Jayaram was recently appointed the new CEO of United States Artists, and will be taking the Los Angeles-based organization back with her to Chicago.
- Miguel M. Salinas, formerly Program Director at the Adobe Foundation, is moving into the newly-created position of Program Officer for Local Grantmaking at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. His portfolio will include arts funding for Northern California’s Monterey County and surrounding region.
- Ken Cole of the National Guild for Community Arts Education will be taking over the role of Vice President of Learning and Leadership Development with the League of American Orchestras.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS
- The Detroit Institute of Arts saga continues. Not to be outdone by the “grand bargain” that would offer the city (and its creditors) over $800 million in exchange for taking the art museum (and more importantly, its art) off the table in bankruptcy negotiations, one of those creditors, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. (FGIC) is now soliciting bids for the DIA’s entire collection. So far, four bids have been received with a high of $2 billion, but they’ve drawn a cool reception from the city’s Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr. Curious why Wall Street types care so much about a bunch of old paintings? Well, one estimate puts the opportunity cost of displaying Breughel’s “The Wedding Dance” at $1,200 per viewer.
- The CEOs of the Hewlett, Ford, and McKnight Foundations got together to discuss the results of a report that suggests a kind of Lake Wobegon effect among foundation leaders: they tend to be pessimistic about their field’s overall progress toward achieving goals, but optimistic about the work of their own foundations. The three executives acknowledged their incentives to demonstrate individual leadership get in the way of the collaboration and coordination to which they aspire and promote to their grantees.
- Speaking of foundation strategy, Daniel Stid, senior fellow at the Hewlett Foundation, candidly asks on the foundation’s blog whether Hewlett’s nascent bid to advance democracy by supporting both political parties and campaign finance reform makes any sense. Score one for philanthropy transparency – and zero for the rest of us: several days after the post went up, there were exactly no responses.
IN THE FIELD
- In response to an uproar from patrons, the San Diego Opera formed a special committee of the board to explore ways to avert the closure it announced abruptly last month, and a board member has announced a $1-million gift. Also, and we’re not sure which way this cuts, PR doctor Mark Fabiani has volunteered his crisis-management services, putting the Opera in the august company of Whitewater-era Bill Clinton, doping-era Lance Armstrong, and kleptocracy-era Goldman Sachs. Alas, it all seems to have been for naught.
- Portland, Oregon is about to go on a Bard binge: more than fifteen local theater companies are collaborating to produce all of Shakespeare’s works across the city over the next two years.
- Scape Capital, a Russian management firm, has purchased ARTnews from long-time owners Milton and Judith Esterow.
- One possible result of investing in a “STEAM” (science/technology/engineering/math + arts) approach to K-12 education: shifting to a framework of “deeper learning” as amusingly outlined in this recent Hewlett blog and pioneered by San Diego’s High Tech High. High Tech High, incidentally, scores extra awesome points for launching their own MOOCs (with the help of their students) on how to design and build schools using this approach.
- A simple point, but one not made often enough: nonprofits see growth in their costs in part because growth in their revenues makes it possible.
- Are think tanks doomed in the face of human irrationality?
- The state of the nonprofit sector is pretty grim, according to the Nonprofit Finance Fund: more than half of surveyed organizations reported they were unable to meet demand for their services, and are operating with three months or less of cash on hand. You can dig into arts-specific data using this interactive tool. Some nuggets: only about a third of arts nonprofits reporting an inability to meet demand, and arts orgs are significantly less likely to regularly collect data long-term data on impact than the nonprofit sector as a whole.
- A new NEA analysis of monthly census data reveals that the unemployment rate for artists continued to drop slightly in 2013 (7.1% vs 7.3% in 2012) and has recovered considerably from its Great Recession peak of 9.5% – though it remains much higher than the 2006 low of 3.6%. Two interesting sidebars: 1) Some findings about those for whom the arts are a secondary job, including the fact that 20% are teachers in their day jobs – and 20% are artists in a different capacity. 2) Although artists are classed as professionals, their 2013 overall unemployment rate was much closer to the total population’s (6.6%) than to other professionals’ (3.6%).
- This handy infographic breaks down the differences between US and UK philanthropy. The gold for sheer size goes the US, where the average person gives almost three times as much and the non-profit sector represents almost seven times as large a share of GDP, but the authors caution their fellow Brits against imitation in the full paper.
- Nifty data crunching suggests that films passing the Bechdel Test — a standard, albeit depressing, measure of gender bias — are actually a much better return on investment than Hollywood execs claim.
- Think there’s no way to judge creativity? Think again: new research suggests that people can be trained to accurately identify “subcomponents” of creativity. Interestingly, the control group didn’t deem the same works “creative” as the group that received the training. Control group members did, however, tend to identify the same works as other control group subjects, implying they were all reacting to another, unknown component of the art.
- Speaking of assessing creativity, education leaders who bemoan American students’ consistent “underperformance” relative to counterparts in other countries may have a glimmer of hope: the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted its first test of creative problem solving and found that American students did much better than they did on standard reading, math, and science tests. The bad news? They still trailed students from several countries like Singapore and Australia, both of which happen to put heavy emphasis on arts education. Hint, hint…