The protracted battle over net neutrality (covered by Createquity this last month, and in November, May, April, March, February, and January of last year) came to a provisional end on February 26 when the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in favor of classifying broadband Internet as a public utility. The reclassification applies to both wired lines and smartphone and tablet service, and effectively bans “paid prioritization” and the throttling of lawful content. The ruling also includes provisions to protect consumer privacy and to ensure that Internet service is available to people with disabilities and in remote areas. Importantly, the F.C.C. also approved an order to preempt state laws that unfairly restrict municipal competition with cable and telecommunications broadband. (Currently this order focuses on North Carolina and Tennessee, but as many as twenty states may fall under its scope.) The vote — though hailed as historic by advocates of “a fair, fast and open Internet” — has its share of naysayers, so best to hold the bubbly: major telecom companies are expected to sue, Congress still has a say, and, of course, the 2016 Presidential elections loom large over the whole thing. In the meantime, F.C.C. Chairman Wheeler has taken to the road to convince concerned parties that the new rules won’t hinder how the web works.
New York Looks to House its Artists: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had some welcome news for the city’s artists this month: as part of his administration’s broader affordable housing agenda, he announced that the city will build 1,500 new affordable live-work spaces for artists and 500 below-market work-spaces. New York’s rising rents are taking a toll on artists, and for decades the city’s creative types have threatened to decamp to the Big Apple’s sunny rival to the west, or if not there then perhaps Philadelphia or Berlin. Given that it’s been forty-five years since dedicated artist housing was built in the city, de Blasio’s announcement will be seen as long overdue. (Perhaps New Yorkers have Lena Dunham and David Byrne to thank for the renewed attention to the matter.) And yet, although affordable housing is de Blasio’s top priority for 2015, these 1,500 units won’t be completed until 2025. Instead, the administration plans to build 150 units each year for the next decade. With more than 140,00 artists purportedly living in the city — a whopping 53,000 of them applied for 89 spots at El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 last summer — is it too little too late?
The Unexpected Casualties of Jon Stewart’s Departure: Jon Stewart broke the Internet on February 10 when he announced, while taping that night’s episode of the Daily Show, that he would be stepping down after sixteen years as its anchor. Stewart, who joined the show three years into its run, is credited with re-imaging late night television, launching careers, and making cable better. When he goes, he will be missed, by The White House, Elizabeth Warren, Comedy Central (presumably), the media, humanists, Piers Morgan, the 16% of Americans who consider the show a trusted news source, maybe even by you, reading this. But no one, arguably, will miss Jon Stewart as much as book publicists. In these last sixteen years, landing an interview on the Daily Show, and thus getting in front of Stewart’s highly educated, and disproportionately wealthy and liberal audience, was a holy grail for publishers and authors alike, giving authors a very public voice, and (usually) boosting their sales. Stewart leaves behind big shoes to fill, but for now, all book publicists — and the rest of us — can do is hope that whoever replaces him looks on them as kindly as he did.
Los Angeles Arts Education Gets a Funding Boost: This month, Rory Pullens, LAUSD’s executive director of arts education, made good on the promise he made in the summer of 2014, when he was hired: to secure the funding necessary to ensure increased arts opportunities for students. A memo released by Pullens, along with Deputy Superintendent Ruth Perez and Karen Ryback, executive director of Federal and State Education Programs, confirms the arts as a core subject, and allows schools with high percentages of low-income students to use Title I funds for the arts. Title I funding was developed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 to “improve the academic achievement of the disadvantaged.” Historically, these funds — which this year total $14 billion nationally — have been used to increase student success in reading and math, not the arts. The district did vote to make arts a core subject in 2012, but the perception has been either that arts education isn’t permissible under the guidelines of Title I goals, or that it’s best to keep that practice below the radar to avoid the scrutiny and possible revocation of funds. Pullens’s memo should finally set the record straight for the country’s second-largest school district.
Statisticians Question Statistical Significance: In extra-arts news with implications for our research-backed investigation here at Createquity, this month the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology announced that it has banned testing for statistical significance and related procedures from papers published in the journal. To anyone who remembers basic stats from college or grad school, that sentence might sound a bit shocking, as these so-called inferential statistics are nearly ubiquitous in quantitatively-focused research studies published since the middle of the 20th century. As surprising as it may seem, however, the backlash against this approach, often referred to as frequentist analysis, has been growing in recent years, with such prominent figures as Nate Silver coming out as skeptics. For the non-statisticians among us, in the frequentist approach, a p-value (which denotes the probability of the “null hypothesis” for a given set of observations, or the hypothesis that the observations are simply the result of random noise) of less than 5% is generally considered to be statistically significant. The problem many statisticians have with frequentist analysis is that the p-value is often misunderstood to be the probability of the hypothesis given the data, when it’s actually the probability of the data given (the opposite of) the hypothesis. This misinterpretation, along with related issues, means that an over-reliance on the p-value makes for unreliable results. If the journal’s ban marks the beginning of a trend, it could mean turning decades’ worth of statistics pedagogy and practice on its head.
MUSICAL CHAIRS / COOL JOBS
- Felicia Shaw, longtime director of arts and the creative economy at the San Diego Foundation, has left her position after a significant restructuring at the foundation.
- Kristen Madsen, senior vice president of the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares Foundation, has been appointed the new director of arts at the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.
- Dithny Joan Raton, former director of Haiti’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industry, assumed the position of the country’s Minister of Culture in late January.
- The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation seeks a Deputy Director of Programs. Posted February 1, no closing date.
- New America seeks a Future Tense Research Associate for a six-month contract. Posted February 4, no closing date.
- The New Media Advocacy Project seeks a Project Manager. Posted February 13, no closing date.
- Slover Linett Audience Research Inc. seeks an Associate/Senior Associate. Posted February 14, no closing date.
- The National Endowment for the Arts is looking to fill several more positions. The opening for a Supervisory Program Analyst in the Office of Research and Analysis (posted February 22) has an application deadline of March 17. The positions of Folk & Traditional Arts Director (posted February 21) and Program Analyst (posted February 22) have an application deadline of March 18.
- The Ford Foundation seeks a Program Officer, Technology. Posted February 23, no closing date.
- The Brooklyn Arts Council is undertaking a search for a new Executive Director. Posted February 25, no closing date.
NEW RESEARCH OF NOTE
- Philadelphia’s William Penn Foundation, released a report, “Capitalization, Scale, and Investment: Does Growth Equal Gain?“, which looks at the health and Philadelphia’s arts ecosystem from 2007-2011, and concludes that organizational growth should not be viewed as a one-size-fits all remedy.
- SMU’s National Center for Arts Research released its first annual arts vibrancy index. The index, which looks at 900 communities across the United States, measures “vibrancy” as the level of supply, demand, and government support for arts and culture on a per capita basis.
- The World Bank Group published a policy research working paper which suggests options for fostering the performing arts as an engine for economic development.
- A report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and consulting firm Marts & Lundy predicts total charitable giving in US will increase by 4.8% in 2015.
- “Lessons Learned about Change Capital in the Arts,” a new report from the Nonprofit Finance Fund, provides a four-year evaluation of the Doris Duke Foundation’s innovative initiative to support artistic excellence.
- The Institute of Museum and Library Services launched data.imls.gov, its open data catalog site, which makes available all IMLS data, including grants administration and data about museums, libraries, and related organizations.
- Turnaround Arts Initiative has published the final evaluation report of its pilot school cohort, which shows positive program impact over its first two years.
- Art came in dead last in a new study from the Pew Research Center, which looked at the skills American adults thought were most important for kids to succeed in life. However, others have pointed out that skills associated with the arts scored much higher.
- Findings released by the New Jersey State Department of Education show positive growth in student participation in the arts during the 2013/2014 school year, including the statistic that 94% of schools offered arts ed programs.
- In Britain, a new report commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Value Project looks at the UK’s “cultural ecology” and examines the interdependencies of publicly funded culture, commercial culture and homemade culture. Another report, this one from Warwick University, brings up questions about the relevance and accessibility of subsidized arts, while a third, from the BBC, shows an increase in the number of general productions, and specifically new works, being produced by UK’s most-subsidized theater companies.
- Several surveys released this month look at arts attendance in the British Isles. A Scottish household survey looked at engagement across twelve cultural activities, revealing that theater-going is the second more popular activity in Scotland after going to the cinema. In Ireland, a survey conducted by the Arts Council shows robust increase in arts attendance, with a notable increase among lower-income respondents.
- The 2014 “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World” report by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film reveals that Hollywood’s gender gap persists, with female characters making up just 12% of protagonists in the top 100 domestic-grossing films of 2014.
- Research published in Frontiers in Psychology suggests listeners prefer performances recorded in front of live audiences, which may contradict research around performance anxiety, and a paper published in NeuroImage shows that the act of studying visual art physically improves a brain’s capacity for creativity, suggesting creativity is not just something we’re born with.
- A report from FreeMuse identifies 237 violations against artistic freedom worldwide in 2014, up 19% from 2013.
- And finally, the Center for the Future of Museums has released its Trends Watch for 2015. The trends include open data, the rise of ethical consumerism, personalization of products, the changing seascape of museum risk with respect to climate change, wearable technology, and slow culture.