In what could be a landmark case in the annals of digital music, a federal judge recently ruled that SiriusXM is liable for copyright infringement for failing to pay royalties to performers on pre-1972 songs. Though federal copyright protection applies only to recordings made on or after February 15, 1972, 1960’s band the Turtles successfully argued that the satellite radio giant has played its songs in violation of protections under California state laws. Artists and music industry executives can’t quite pop those champagne corks yet: the decision is limited to California, SiriusXM plans to appeal, and a separate suit by major labels seemed to contradict the Turtles ruling. Even so, the Turtles are continuing to push the envelope, filing a new suit against internet radio company Pandora. As these cases wind their way through the courts, a potentially clarifying initiative waits in the wings in Congress: the Respect Act would offer pre-1972 artists federal legal protection.
Major Tax News for Artists and Wealthy Collectors: In a victory for artists, the United States Tax Court ruled that even those who don’t make much money from their art still count as “professionals” in the eyes of the IRS. The implication is clear: artists with day jobs that partially fund their artistic careers can deduct art expenses from their taxable incomes. Not all artists may qualify, though – the case in question was brought by Susan Crile, a painter and printmaker whose works are held in several museums, and while she makes most of her income from her job as a professor at Hunter College, she has had a robust career, with an average annual haul of $16,000 from sales of her work. In other IRS news, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit recently ruled that the estates are eligible for discounts on art that is partially owned among heirs, a ruling with potentially far-reaching implications for wealthy collectors. Michael Rushton and Donn Zaretsky provide additional analysis.
Two National Foundations Reboot their Arts Funding: The Wallace Foundation announced Building Audiences for Sustainability, a six-year, $40 million initiative to help up to 25 performing arts organizations expand their audiences and build knowledge in the field as a whole. The effort is based on insights gained from the foundation’s earlier Wallace Excellence Awards and successful practices highlighted in other research papers. Just a few days later, the $6 billion Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced the results of its 18-month strategic planning process, which will result in the merger of separate programs for liberal arts colleges and research universities and programs for the performing arts, art history, conservation, and museums.
Los Angeles Board of Supervisors Approves Additional $54 Million for the Arts: Los Angeles County cultural organizations will gain $54 million in new government funding, increasing the originally authorized allocation of $84.7 million by a whopping 63 percent. Part of a “supplemental budget” process to divvy up hundreds of millions of dollars that went unspent in 2013-14, $28.6 million is dedicated to the John Anson Ford Theatres renovation. Other big winners include the Music Center ($6 million), La Plaza de Cultura y Artes ($5 million), and Natural History Museum ($1.7 million), all of which will see capital upgrades as a result of the new cash infusion.
Smithsonian Institution Announces a $1.5 Billion Fundraising Initiative: The Smithsonian has embarked on its first national fundraising campaign since its founding in 1846, partly in response to a decreasing appropriation from the U.S. Congress that now funds only 60 percent of its budget. With $1 billion already in the bank from 60,000 donors (including multimillion-dollar gifts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oprah Winfrey, David Koch, and Boeing), it appears that the Smithsonian has a great shot at raising the remaining $500 million by the campaign’s end in 2017. Major allocations will include $250 million to build the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and millions more to renovate the Renwick Gallery, National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of American History. A portion will also be dedicated to educational initiatives, including the digitization of many collections.
MUSICAL CHAIRS/COOL JOBS
- The White House announced Danny Marti as the nominee for “piracy czar” position enforcing trademarks and copyright.
- The NEA selected Ann Meier Baker as its new Director of Music and Opera.
- Edwin Torres, formerly of The Rockefeller Foundation, joins the de Blasio administration in New York City as the Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Affairs.
- The Artist Trust announced Shannon Roach Halberstadt as their new executive director.
- Julie Burros, formerly head of cultural planning at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, has joined the City of Boston as its new Chief of Arts and Culture.
- Santa Barbara mayor Helene Schneider announced 19 individuals as the board of directors of the new Bellosguardo Foundation.
- The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has named Maud Lyon as its new president.
- The Rockefeller Foundation seeks a New York City-based Senior Evaluation Officer. Posted September 18, no closing date.
- The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is looking for a new Director of Programs. Salary: $115,000-$135,000. Posted October 17, no closing date.
- Two jobs are available at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Arts for All program: Program Coordinator (Salary: $43,000-$50,000; closing date November 7) and Research Coordinator (Salary: $43,000-$50,000; closing date November 30).
- Fractured Atlas is hiring an Arts & Technology Policy Fellow. Salary: $70,825. Posted on October 8, closing date November 14.
NEW RESEARCH OF NOTE
- Drexel University researchers have been using CultureBlocks data to study the development of arts hubs in Philadelphia.
- Grantmakers in the Arts has proposed new national standards for research on individual artists, with work from our own John Carnwath.
- The NEA and WolfBrown released a report on the potential impact of choir participation on residents in a juvenile detention facility.
- New research from Harvard’s Psychology Department suggests that extraordinary arts experiences can actually lead to feelings of exclusion, not joy.
- The colorfully named “Hard Facts to Swallow” report from the UK finds that geographic disparities continue: London-based arts organizations are projected to receive four times the funding of organizations outside the capital from Arts Council England.