Metropolitan Opera House - Photo by Flickr user Zio Paolino, Creative Commons license

Metropolitan Opera House – Photo by Flickr user Zio Paolino, Creative Commons license

Never fear, Wagner lovers: the largest opera company in the US will open its season on time. Faced with what it called an unsustainable financial strain, management had threatened a lockout this fall if labor representatives refused to accept drastic pay cuts. In the end, General Manager Peter Gelb was able to secure the first pay cuts for the Met’s unionized employees in decades, but the cuts were by no means as deep as initially proposed. Singers and orchestra members agreed to a 3.5% pay cut, effective immediately, and an additional 3.5% cut in six months’ time. That’s a far cry from the 17% reduction that Gelb had previously sought, and will be partially offset by a 3% raise in the fourth year of the union’s contract.

From the standpoint of the larger nonprofit arts field, the most significant part of the deal is a clause that allows an independent financial analyst to monitor the financial management of the organization on behalf of the employees. Experts claim this highly unusual provision could have ripple effects throughout the industry. This agreement came about when the unions, faced with the drastic cuts proposed by Gelb, developed a list of alternative cost-saving measures. While the management didn’t adopt those proposals outright, it agreed to let the employees have a say in how the overall savings are achieved.

California turns to tax breaks to reassert film industry dominance
Just as North Carolina decides to follow the examples of Michigan and New Mexico by scaling back its support of the motion picture industry, California is doubling down (actually, tripling down) on its incentives in an attempt to keep Hollywood productions in Hollywood. Governor Brown and the state Legislature have expanded California’s tax credit program from $100 million to $330 million per year. While the ability of film tax incentives to increase employment and stimulate the economy remains highly questionable (as previously discussed here at Createquity), California lawmakers have described the expanded tax program as a demonstration of their commitment to the film industry. California may indeed be in a somewhat different position than most other states in that a lot of film industry professionals are based in and around Los Angeles and would presumably prefer to work closer to home if the production costs, which can be significantly reduced by tax incentives, are roughly on par with other states.

International cultural agencies shake things up
The Australia Council for the Arts has announced what it’s billing as the most sweeping overhaul of its grant programs in 40 years in order to make them more inclusive and reduce the administrative burden on applicants. Each of the newly created funding categories will be open to artists of all areas of practice and applicants will be able to choose which discipline’s peer panel they want to assess their application. Meanwhile in the UK, the Arts Council England has rebalanced its portfolio of funded organizations to direct more funding to organizations outside of London at the expense of such venerable institutions as the English National Opera. Nevertheless, critics say the plan to devote 53% of the Arts Council’s budget to regions outside of London (up from 49%) doesn’t go far enough. Finally, the French Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filippetti, has resigned in protest of austerity measures that led to cuts in her Ministries budget. She will be replaced by Korean-born Fleur Pellerin.

New foundation to support American classical composers
The Chicago music critic Lawrence A. Johnson has launched a nonprofit foundation that will provide grants to ensembles and presenters that perform American classical music and commission new works by American composers. The American Music Project is still in the early stages of fundraising, but it’s already commissioned its first new work and is set to start awarding grants for the 2015-16 season. Johnson hopes to have raised $500,000 by next spring and eventually establish a standing endowment of $1 million. There’s no word yet on the size of the grants that will be doled for performances of rarely heard American works or how many organizations will be supported each year. While some might question the need for another nonprofit dedicated to classical music, Mike Scutari argues that the American Music Project will fill a gap in current support mechanisms with its focus on increasing the breadth of the American repertoire featured in concert halls around the country.

Corbett Foundation closing
Cincinnati’s Corbett Foundation, which has provided more than $70 million to arts and education nonprofits in Ohio and Kentucky since 1955, is finally closing its doors. The dissolution of the foundation has been planned for years; indeed, it was never intended to persist beyond the founders’ lifetimes. Explaining why it took until now to wrap things up after Patricia Corbett’s death in 2008, Executive Director Karen McKim said in effect that rising markets had foiled plans to spend down the foundation’s funds despite best efforts.

MUSICAL CHAIRS/COOL JOBS

  • The Pittsburgh Foundation has announced its new president & CEO, Maxwell King.
  • The National Association of Media Arts and Culture has a new executive director, Wendy Levy.
  • The Center for Cultural Innovation’s board chair Angie Kim has been appointed interim leader as the organization’s search for its next President & CEO continues.
  • Oregon Cultural Trust has hired Brian Rogers as executive director.
  • Grantmakesr in the Arts has chosen Jim McDonald to be its new deputy director and director of programs, replacing the retiring Tommer Peterson.
  • ArtWorks, an art therapy service provider in New York & New Jersey, is looking for an executive director. Posted August 15, no closing date.
  • National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers seeks a project director; work virtually. Salary: $30-35k for 20 hrs/wk.
  • McLean Project for the Arts (DC area) is in the market for an executive director. Salary: $55-70k. Posted August 6, no closing date.
  • The Boston Globe is seeking an arts reporter. Posted August 21, no closing date.

NEW RESEARCH OF NOTE

  • Research on the effects of video games is booming; much is unknown, but apparently Grand Theft Auto promotes bad behavior in real life and playing Voldemort makes you evil. But it’s not just video games: watching reality TV can make you a worse person, too.
  • Rhetoric about a “universal language” aside, it turns out that about 3% of people just don’t like music at all, and they’re amazingly not monsters.
  • A new study finds that true stories aren’t any more emotionally resonant than fictional ones, despite expectations to the contrary.
  • Hollywood still lags behind in diversity. According to a new study, whites had 74% of the movie roles despite making up only 64% of the population.
  • A Kennedy Center evaluation found that 4th- and 5th-graders in arts integrated classes displayed more creativity and better problem-solving skills than peers.
  • A college-aged mathematician has put together a linear regression model predicting the length of Broadway show runs.