DC, Chicago and Calgary

(Quick note: Createquity offers condolences to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy. A number of artists and arts organizations were among this group, and many of them are now facing great challenges. The Chelsea art district and artist enclaves in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, NY were hit particularly hard, and it seems a safe bet that the damage to the arts community stretches into the millions of dollars. Hyperallergic is doing a great job rounding up damage reports, mostly from the visual arts; included among these is Createquity contributor Katherine Gressel’s employer, Smack Mellon Gallery in DUMBO. Other affected groups include New Amsterdam Presents (an entrepreneurial collective of young musicians previously profiled on Createquity) and the WestBeth artist housing complex, where my aunt and uncle have an apartment. Createquity Writing Fellow Jacquelyn Strycker has a roundup of resources for artists on her personal blog, The Strycker, and here is more info from Thomas CottAmericans for the Arts and Grantmakers in the Arts.)

More travel for me coming up this month – I’m on a panel at the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit on the 13th, giving a workshop on the untapped potential of evaluation in Chicago on the 14th, then speaking at the ArtSmarts Knowledge Exchange in Calgary on the 16th (my first work trip outside of the United States). Here are the deets:

November 12-13
Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit
New America Foundation
1899 L Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC
Info; event is at capacity
(I’ll be participating in a panel called “The Intersection of Data, Policy and the Arts Sector” at 3:55pm on the 13th.)

Wednesday, November 14
“Solving the Underpants Gnomes Problem: Towards an Evidence-Based Arts Policy”
part of the University of Chicago Cultural Policy Center Fall Workshop Series
DCA Storefront Theatre
68 East Randolph Street
Chicago, IL
5 – 6:30pm
Info here (scroll down)
(This is a going to be a 90-minute solo workshop with a fair amount of new content, all about the untapped potential of measurement in the arts – what we’re doing wrong, and how we can fix it. I’m excited!)

November 15-16
ArtsSmarts 2012 Knowledge Exchange
University of Calgary Downtown Campus
906 8 Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Info and registration
(I’ll be participating in a dialogue on “Cross-Border Conversations on Creative Community Development” with Shawn van Sluys of the Musagetes Foundation, moderated by Stephen Huddart of the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation. The conversation takes place on November 16 from 11am-12:30pm.)

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Around the horn: Frankenstorm edition



  • Artists often neglect to realize that crowdfunding campaign money isn’t free – in addition to the fees you have to pay Kickstarter or one of its competitors like Indiegogo or RocketHub, the perks offered to donors often cost money as well. This handy web toy from Reuben Pressman helps you think through how much money you really need to raise if you’re thinking about starting a Kickstarter campaign (or really any crowdfunding operation).
  • Still not seeing a ton of post-recession nonprofit mergers, but here’s one in New York City: the Urban Arts Partnership has acquired the operations of the Manhattan New Music Project, which had recently won several large Department of Education grants for arts residencies for special-needs students.
  • Nina Simon takes on public voting for winners in art competitions, noting that only a small percentage of those eligible actually take the time to vote. She sees positive implications for engagement but possibly negative ones for artistic integrity; I see further evidence for the need for a hybrid approach.
  • Typical: just as games (including video games) are being touted as the next big new thing in arts circles, in the rest of the world their business model is collapsing.


  • Barry Hessenius has a short interview with Regina Smith, Senior Program Officer for Arts and Culture at the Kresge Foundation and Board Chair of Grantmakers in the Arts.


  • Creative placemaking giant ArtPlace has been busy lately. Now accepting applications for its third round of grants (letters of inquiry are due tomorrow, November 1 UPDATE: deadline has been extended to Monday, November 5), the funding collaborative released a short thought piece detailing thirteen “principles for successful creative placemaking” in late summer.  And earlier this month, ArtPlace “soft launched” its vibrancy indicators, a research effort accompanying its two-rounds-and-counting of creative placemaking grants. While the indicators aren’t totally done yet – data points covering value creation and racial/economic diversity have yet to be fully defined or published, and a promised website showing vibrancy in various corners of the country has not yet materialized – these two documents provide the most detail available to date on ArtPlace’s efforts to understand and measure creative placemaking. Andrew Taylor and Linda Essig offer initial reviews, and stay tuned to this space for more in-depth analysis from a special guest.
  • The fall issue of the Grantmakers in the Arts Reader has a very interesting feature taking a look back at historical research studies that, in the opinion of guest editor Alexis Frasz, deserve a second look. One of the studies in question is a re-release of 1988′s “Autopsy of an Orchestra: An Analysis of the Factors Contributing to the Bankruptcy of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra Association” by Melanie Beene, Patricia Mitchell, and Fenton Johnson, now available for the first time in digital format. Each study comes with two responses, one from an “established” and one from an “emerging” grantmaker. Other studies (re)considered include Gifts of the Muse (Createquity’s take here), “Art and Culture in Communities: Unpacking Participation,” “Crossover: How Artists Build Careers Across Commercial, Nonprofit and Community Work,” and “Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning.”
  • WolfBrown researcher Jennifer Novak-Leonard declares crowdfunding the fourth mode of arts participation (the other three being arts creation/performance, arts engagement through media, and attendance at arts events). Quoth she: “I also suggest that this information [about the relationship between crowdfunding activity and other modes of arts participation] would be valuable to each of the platforms currently helping crowd-funding grow and thrive. This is a shameless pitch to these platforms to engage in dialogue with me about how to get this research effort underway… ideally in a timeframe that would inform and expand the conversations that will begin in 2013 as we begin to see the results from the 2012 [Survey of Public Participation in the Arts].”
  • The Foundation Center’s march toward establishing a data standard for grants continues, with 15 foundations now having signed on to share their grants data publicly via the Glasspockets website. Among the arts supporters participating in the initiative are the Annenberg, Getty, Hewlett, MacArthur, and Rockefeller Foundations.
  • The UK’s Mark Robinson offers his take on the NEA’s new “system map” and research agenda, “How Art Works.”
  • Cool social network visualization here: the Seattle Band Map illustrates connections between musical acts via shared band members or project collaborations.
  • Direct mail advertising campaigns are getting a bad rap, and research shows that they’re surprisingly effective at reaching consumers, says TRG’s Will Lester.
  • William Baumol has a new book out summarizing his decades of thinking on cost disease. Joe Patti has more.
  • Back in 2001, when it started, economists would not have predicted Wikipedia’s success; nor can they really explain it now.
  • Great Q&A with Nate Silver (one of my blog heroes) about his upcoming book about forecasting. A couple of choice quotes:

    Q. When predictions involve human ‘systems’ & behavior (social, economic, political etc) that are by their very nature ‘adaptive’, how do you deal with the tricky “Heisenberg Principle” — like effect where the very act of predicting itself becomes a factor that adds information that alters the system and influences individual and/or collective behavior? -John

    A. This is a gigantic problem. In the book, we discuss how consumers, politicians, and businesses make plans based on economic forecasts that can have a host of problems. We also look at how this manifests in disease modeling. If you accurately forecast a very bad flu, it may cause people to stay home, which is good but cancels your forecast. But, the forecast served its purpose because it made people aware of their circumstances.


    Q. What’s your assessment of economics as a discipline, judged in terms of its ability to make politically useful predictions? For example, can economists predict with any reliability what the economic impact of a tax cut or a government spending program will be? -Dan Schroeder

    A. The view of macroeconomic prediction in the book is pretty harsh. Economists have shown no real ability to predict a recession more than six months out. See the Wall Street Journal panel that predicted there would be no recession in December, 2007. It’s hard to measure the economy. Revisions can be as substantial as 5% in some quarters. Therefore, it is hard to predict and judge what the right policy is and what the implications of any policy are. So, we should be skeptical of anyone who predicts the impact of policy with a high degree of certainty. Humility is key.

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Five Years of Createquity

Today, Createquity turns five years old. Huzzah!

Since my last “blogiversary” post two years ago, Createquity has come a long way. Most significant has been the introduction of the Createquity Writing Fellowship program, which has been fantastically successful at diversifying the voice of the site, generating more content for the Arts Policy Library, helping some newer arts professionals get exposure and hone their writing chops, and generally turning Createquity into more of the virtual think tank it was always supposed to be. This year, we’ve also seen a jump in audience as posts (notably “Creative Placemaking Has An Outcomes Problem“) have started to get picked up in more “mainstream” non-arts outlets such as Salon, Slate, and Fast Company, and Nina Simon sending hordes of her admiring fans our way this summer didn’t hurt either. Finally, I was tickled to see that Createquity got its first ever Wikipedia cite this year (and no, neither I nor Aaron had anything to do with it).

Here are a few Createquity facts and figures, for the stat geeks among you:

Number of subscribers: 2,794 (as of today)
Number of posts: 530, including this one
Number of words: 520,320
Number of Createquity Writing Fellows: 8 (and counting)
Most popular post: Creative Placemaking Has an Outcomes Problem, by a long shot, at nearly 10,000 page views (which doesn’t include times it was viewed in a feed reader, email, or on the homepage). The next one on the list is Katherine Gressel’s Public Art and the Challenge of Evaluation, which very briefly held the top spot before being overtaken by Creative Placemaking shortly afterwards. I’m very proud of the fact that the 2nd-most-read post all time on Createquity was written by one of our Fellows.
Proof that all y’all have longer attention spans than people give you credit for: When writing for other blogs, I often face pressure to limit my word count for fear of losing readers. But the best-read Createquity posts are also some of its longest. In fact, of the top 10 all-time, all are over 1,000 words, six are over 2,500, and two have more than 5,000 words!
Wordiest author: Excluding one-off guest posts like that of Eric Booth and Tricia Tunstall, that would be Katherine, averaging 2,796 words per post. It may surprise you to learn that I have the shortest average post length of any Createquity writer.
Most common search terms: Createquity, arts sustainability, create equity, how to solve calendar problems (because of this post)
Most bizarre search term: “some benefits to user and some developer that a rise from realising software as a moss?”

If you’d like to leave Createquity a little present for its fifth birthday, I would be much obliged if you would participate in a little “roll call” in the comments. Tell us a little about yourself and your experience with the site – when and how you first discovered Createquity, what makes you keep coming back, your favorite post or series, and most importantly, any suggestions/thoughts/ideas you may have for the future! Createquity is what it is because of you, after all, and I thank you for your continued engagement and interest after all this time.


Artificial Intelligence and the Arts

A painting made by Harold Cohen’s computer program, AARON. Photo by Conall O’Brien

If a computer composes a symphony, should the resulting musical piece be considered a work of art? And how does a computer-generated work affect our perception of human-made works? These are not theoretical questions. A recent article in Pacific Standard highlights Simon Fraser University’s Metacreation project, which aims to investigate computational creativity, in part through the development of “artificially creative musical systems.”

This past June, three members of the project— researchers Arne Eigenfeldt, Adam Burnett and Philippe Pasquiere— presented an evaluation study of their musical works composed by software programs at the 2012 International Conference on Computational Creativity. At a public concert in which both human-composed and computer-assisted music were performed by a professional string quartet, percussionist and a Disklavier (a mechanized piano that interprets computer input), audience members were unable to differentiate between music generated by a computer and music written by a human composer, regardless of their familiarity with classical music.

The Metacreation project is not the only example of advances in artificial intelligence (AI). David Cope’s Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI) is a software system that analyzes existing music, and then generates original compositions in the same style. What’s more, such advances aren’t limited to musical arrangements. In 2008, the Russian publishing house Astrel SPb released True Love, a 320-page novel written in 72 hours by a computer program. And the Tate Gallery, SFMOMA and the Brooklyn Museum are among the institutions that have exhibited paintings made by AARON, an autonomous art-making program created by Harold Cohen. Indeed, computers’ capabilities now rival cognitive functions once thought to be intrinsically human. Computers can form links, evaluate, and even make novel works; they can function in ways that we think of as creative. The obvious question is, if computers are performing creatively, should we consider the resulting works art?

The simplest answer, and in many ways most appealing to the human ego, is that no, these computers are not making art. Art requires intention. This is why projects like Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Untitled 1993 (Café Deutschland)in which the artist set up a functioning cafe in a private gallery in Cologne, or Lee Mingwei’s The Living Room, in which Mr. Lee transformed a gallery into a living room and selected volunteers to act as hosts, are art; their makers intended them as such. By contrast, EMI, AARON and other AI systems have no sentient intentions to make art, or anything else. Therefore, the works they create are not art, although they could be considered as such if a human had made them. Instead, it’s the software itself that is the art, and its programmers the artists.

By this reasoning, even if the computer-generated works are, in fact, works of art, they are authored not by the computer, but by human software designers. The computer is merely a tool for making art, analogous to a brush or musical instrument. As a 2010 Pacific Standard article “The Cyborg Composer” quotes EMI’s creator David Cope:

’All the computer is is just an extension of me,’ Cope says. ‘They’re nothing but wonderfully organized shovels. I wouldn’t give credit to the shovel for digging the hole. Would you?’

Indeed, the works created by EMI, AARON and in the Metacreation project are products of the information that their programmers choose to input. “The Cyborg Composer” details Cope’s process:

This program would write music in an odd sort of way. Instead of spitting out a full score, it converses with Cope through the keyboard and mouse. He asks it a musical question, feeding in some compositions or a musical phrase. The program responds with its own musical statement. He says “yes” or “no,” and he’ll send it more information and then look at the output. The program builds what’s called an association network — certain musical statements and relationships between notes are weighted as ‘good,’ others as ‘bad.’ Eventually, the exchange produces a score, either in sections or as one long piece.

Similarly, AARON’s paintings rely on the knowledge that Harold Cohen enters. AARON’s paintings all have similar subjects—mostly people standing with plants. In an interview for PBS’s Scientific American Frontiers, Cohen explains:

AARON can make paintings of anything it knows about, but it actually knows about very little—people, potted plants and trees, simple objects like boxes and tables, decoration. From time to time I wonder whether it wouldn’t be a good idea to tell it about more, different, things, but I can never persuade myself that it would be any better for knowing how to draw a telephone, for example. So I always end up trying to make it draw better, not more.

Certainly, computers will continue to evolve as tools that artists can use. But what if computers themselves become advanced enough to design the software that is used to create paintings, sculptures, symphonies or stories? Who is the artist then? We wouldn’t give credit to Tony Smith for his daughter Kiki Smith’s drawings and sculptures. So by the same token, it wouldn’t make sense to credit a programmer for software that his program created. The computer would undeniably be the artist. However, as we create computers and software that are capable of making works that aesthetically can’t be distinguished from artworks made entirely by the human hand, these sort of works may become less appealing and desirable. The process becomes just as important as the finished work, and we’ll esteem the imperfections of the human hand. In fact, this is an extension of the craft and farm-to-table movements that are currently in vogue. Just as one might prefer a hand-stitched scarf to one that is digitally embroidered, or the misshapen heirloom tomatoes to their perfectly round supermarket counterparts, so too might an art collector choose a human-made painting over one that was computer generated. Furthermore, as computers become more capable of creating art objects, we’ll see a shift toward art that is less object-centric and more experience-centric. We’ll see more projects like those of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Lee Mingwei—participatory, interactive and socially-engaged art.

Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age of Reproduction” considers the potential effects of photography and film, then new media, on the arts. In the seminal 1936 essay, Benjamin discusses the decline of the autonomous aesthetic experience resulting from the loss of “aura,” or the sense of detached authority that lies in original, one–of-a-kind works. It makes sense that the computer-generation, rather than reproduction, of art might lead to a similar loss. After all, artwork that can be created by the computer becomes less special as it becomes less obscure. If we have a tool that can generate a perfect symphony or painting, it becomes less interesting to make these things at all. Accordingly, as computational creativity advances, artists may become less concerned with creating beautiful music or paintings or objects and more concerned with making something that is not so easily produced by a series of mathematical functions.

However, what if we enter Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick territory, into a world where computers are not merely executing a set of algorithms, but are actually thinking in the human sense? What if we eventually create computers that possess intentionality? I subscribe to philosopher John Searle’s theory that this sort of artificial intelligence is impossible. Searle argues that computers can simulate, but not duplicate human thinking, and illustrates his contention with a thought experiment, “The Chinese Room.” Searle asks us to imagine a computer into which a Chinese speaker can input Chinese characters. By following the instructions of a software program, the computer then outputs Chinese characters that appropriately respond to what was entered, so that any Chinese speaker would be convinced that he or she was talking to another Chinese-speaking person. Searle then offers another scenario: suppose that he (an English speaker who does not speak Chinese) is in a room and is given a set of Chinese characters. He’s also given a set of instructions, in English that he follows to create responses in Chinese that will convince any Chinese speaker that he or she is conversing with the same. In fact, Searle would be following a program, just as the computer in the first scenario did, to create his responses. In his Behavioral and Brain Sciences journal article “Mind, brains, and programs” he explains that although he was able to generate intelligent responses in Chinese, he’s still unable to understand Chinese. And because Searle is merely replicating the computer in analog form, if Searle cannot understand Chinese, the computer cannot either. Therefore, although the computer may be able to look as though it holds a human level of comprehension, its actual intelligence is more superficial.

For the same reasons, Schank’s computer understands nothing of any stories, whether in Chinese, English, or whatever, since in the Chinese case the computer is me, and in the cases where the computer is not me, the computer has nothing more than I have in the case where I understand nothing.

But even if we do believe that computers with feelings are the future of science and not science fiction, we’ll have essentially created another intelligent life form, just one that is not carbon-based. At that point, these beings are less computer and more human. They may indeed have intentionality, and with that all of the emotional baggage and thought capacity that can be both a help and a hindrance when creating a masterpiece.


Live from Cleveland: Arts Philanthropy in Action

I’m going to let you in on a little secret (okay, maybe it’s not such a secret): for the better part of the past decade, I’ve been fascinated with arts philanthropy. Ever since I was a low-level staffer in the development department of the American Music Center, I wanted to know why grantmakers made the decisions they did. Did they know what it was like to be on the ground, trying to get people to come to your show, trying to make a fledgling venture work? Did they see even a tiny fraction of their applicants’ concerts, events, and exhibitions? Did they care that their decisions might make a genuine difference in the ability of my organization to do its work? That someone’s job might even hang in the balance? Or for that matter, an artist’s career?

The sense of mystery that I felt was only exacerbated by the shroud of secrecy that the world of arts philanthropy continues to draw over itself. Some of our nation’s largest arts funders are among its least transparent. I just got back from the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference, the only annual national gathering of arts philanthropists of all stripes, which is still largely closed to non-grantmakers and this year discontinued its recent practice of inviting bloggers to report on the proceedings from within.

So I thought it was notable when I was invited to participate on a grant panel that eschews this behind-closed-doors approach. Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the major government instrument for supporting the arts in Cleveland and its suburbs, was formed several years ago through a voter-passed tax levy on the sale of cigarettes. Like many grantmakers, especially government funders, CAC uses a panel of outside experts to help adjudicate applications, rather than handling those decisions at the staff level. A key feature of CAC’s panel process is that it is open to the public. Starting this morning at 10am Eastern time and continuing through 5pm tomorrow, I will be in a room at PlayhouseSquare’s Idea Center along with my six fellow panelists, CAC program staff – and an unknown number of members of the public, including the representatives from the very organizations we’re evaluating. The audience is not allowed to participate in the discussion itself, but they are invited to answer questions posed from the stage and correct “objective misinformation” presented by the panelists – so if any of us do a poor job reading an application, we’re not likely to get away with it.

While this public panel is not unique in the arts (the San Francisco Arts Commission has a similar process for its Cultural Equity Grants program), as far as I know, CAC’s is the only one that can be followed remotely, from anywhere in the world, via live stream. So I’m inviting you, dear Createquity reader, to join me in this rare, public glimpse into a real live grantmaking session. The 64 proposals I’m reviewing are part of the Project Support II group, which means they are all requests for $5,000 or less and come from a wide range of organizations, including some very small and grassroots entities. If that sounds like the kind of grant you often find yourself applying for, I think this could be an particularly educational experience. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, either here or – hell, let’s create a hashtag – #CuyArtsC. (This is chosen to match the official CAC Twitter account, which posts updates throughout the day regarding the progress of the panel.)


Cool jobs of the month

Program Associate, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks a Program Associate in the Performing Arts Program. The position reports to the Program Officer and requires close collaboration with two other Program Associates and an Administrative Assistant.

Responsibilities may include, but will not be limited to the following:

  • Conduct proposal review for music-related grants, including financial and project budget assessment.  Assist Program Officer in communication with grantees to guide them throughout the proposal revision process.
  • Monitor grantee performance, including careful review of all reports, financial information, and other communication with directors and primary investigators.  Perform related follow up.
  • Monitor grant management issues, including modifications, matching payments, etc.  Draft official correspondence with grantees regarding such grant matters, in coordination with other Foundation departments.
  • Assist program officer in preparing and proofing docket summary recommendations, including relaying financial assessments, and generating special reports to the Trustees and Executive Staff.
  • Participate in meetings with current and potential grantees and partners administering regrant programs and prepare detailed notes for the record.
  • Assist with program schedule planning and budgeting.
  • Conduct research in connection with current and new initiatives.
  • Attend performing arts events and conferences.
  • Help plan and coordinate arrangements for on-and off-site meetings.
  • Help maintain files within the department and in the Foundation’s file room.
  • Respond to general inquiries and requests for information.
  • Stay current in arts-related news and trends in the performing arts field.

No deadline.

Arts Management Consultant, Webb Management Services

Webb Management Services is a management consulting practice dedicated to the development and operation of cultural facilities and organizations. We are a New York City-based firm, but our practice is national in scope.

 We are currently seeking a project manager to work on (and eventually lead) feasibility studies, business planning and strategic planning.  Clients include municipalities, arts organizations, foundations, developers and educational institutions.  Candidates should have extensive experience with and knowledge of arts facilities, programming, marketing, administration, finance and cultural policy.  Several years of professional experience in the performing arts industry is required.  A graduate degree in arts administration or an arts-related field is preferred.  Research, finance and technology skills and experience are a plus.  The position requires energy, flexibility, travel, public speaking, research, analysis and writing.

Please email a one page cover letter along with a one to two-page resume in PDF format to info@webbmgmt.org

No deadline. I know the folks at Webb quite well and they would make excellent colleagues.

Executive Officer, International Fund for the Promotion of Culture, UNESCO

UNESCO’s International Fund for the Promotion of Culture is recruiting an Executive Officer, to be based in Paris. The International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC) promotes: cultures as sources of knowledge, meanings, values and identity; the role of culture for sustainable development; artistic creativity in all its forms, while respecting freedom of expression; and international and regional cultural cooperation. IFPC is looking for an Executive Officer to work in its Paris office, with the overall task of ensuring the implementation of the Decisions of the Administrative Council, and manage on a day‐to‐day basis the Secretariat of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture.

Deadline: October 28.

Grants Program Officer, Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County

The Grants Program Officer is responsible for providing oversight for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County’s (AHCMC)’s grant making program, in addition to administering the various grant award and related roster processes. The Grants Program Officer is also responsible for acting as a positive public figure for AHCMC and the grants  program, and for creating an environment wherein applicants, potential applicants, grantees and the community perceive AHCMC as being both a leader and resource for the arts and humanities community.

No deadline, but the position starts on January 2, 2013. Salary is $45,000-55,000.

Knowledge Officer, Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the region’s largest grantmaker, is seeking a qualified candidate for a professional position in the Grantmaking and Strategy Department. The Community Foundation’s mission is to create positive and sustainable change in Greater New Haven by increasing the amount of and enhancing the impact of community philanthropy.

Deadline: November 9.

Senior Research Analyst, Standards and Measurement, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy

CECP is seeking an articulate, personable, and insight-driven Senior Research Analyst to oversee the organization’s annual corporate philanthropy benchmarking initiative and to represent CECP as an eminent expert on emerging trends in corporate giving. Specifically, the Senior Research Analyst will manage the full lifecycle of CECP’s Corporate Giving Standard (CGS) survey, which is widely accepted as the industry’s leading survey of corporate contributions among Fortune 500 firms as well as by industry and national press. Reporting to the Director and working alongside a fellow Senior Research Analyst focused on a parallel project related to global measurement, this position will be accountable for annual data collection, trend analysis, report authorship, valuation guidance, and client support. The ability to find the story within the data; articulate it in presentations, media interviews, blogs, and a written report; and work closely with giving officers to understand their day-to-day issues and assist them in putting the findings to use in a practical manner are all at the heart of making the most of this exciting career opportunity.

No deadline.

Philanthropic Services Program Manager, Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University

Philanthropic Services seeks a full time Program Manager to manage The Grantmaking School’s projects. We are looking for candidates who have experience managing multiple projects, excellent written and verbal communication skills, and a strong knowledge of the philanthropic sector. The successful candidate will assist in overseeing the scheduling of annual courses, work closely with regional association and foundation partners, and conduct professional presentations.

Deadline: October 31. Salary $40,000-55,000. The position is located in Grand Rapids, MI.

Program Manager, Association of Small Foundations

The Association of Small Foundations (ASF), the largest membership association in philanthropy, seeks a Program Manager for the Educational Programs Team of its Member Services Department. This Program Manager position is ideal for someone with a desire to apply their demonstrated volunteer management, educational program development, and project management experience to a national membership association working to enhance the power of philanthropy. The Program Manager is responsible for piloting and managing ASF’s local engagement initiative, which in 2013 includes 30-40 peer-learning and connecting programs in targeted cities across the country. A cornerstone of the initiative is working in close collaboration with ASF member leaders and volunteers, colleague organizations, and funding partners. This position is also responsible for strengthening and coordinating ASF’s strategy for general member engagement and volunteer management.

Deadline: October 26.

Call for Artists, Creative CityMaking, Intermedia Arts

Intermedia Arts, a nonprofit arts center in Minneapolis, MN, is seeking four artists to participate in Creative CityMaking, a new partnership with the City of Minneapolis that fosters collaborations between local artists and City planners to develop fresh and innovative approaches for addressing long-term transportation, land use, economic, environmental and social issues facing Minneapolis.

Creative CityMaking will embed four artists in the Planning Division of the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED). Their collaborative talents and work will be showcased throughout the year at community meetings related to city planning projects, citywide community events, and will culminate in a public exhibition and forum at Intermedia Arts. In addition, artists and planners will come together throughout the year in a series of participant convenings, where they will share ideas, learnings, successes and challenges.

Deadline: October 24 (tomorrow). Thanks to Sharon DeMark for the tip!

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Around the horn: poolside edition



  • The New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts is the anchor attraction for a new residential development in economically challenged Newark called One Theater Square. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is cited as a model.
  • The Pacific Standard Time art festival in Los Angeles, organized by the Getty Foundation, was a big success in terms of drawing national media attention to LA and its 20th-century artists. But in terms of driving attendance to the participating museums? Not so much.
  • The Baltimore Symphony’s “Rusty Musicians” program has become a poster child of sorts for institutional programs that welcome adult audience members as participants. The New York Times‘s Dan Wakin embedded himself among the amateur musicians over the summer, and offers an entertaining account of the experience.
  • Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge CEO Derek Gordon passed away last month at the age of 57.


  • Very interesting: Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok of the Marginal Revolution blog, after talking up the coming sea change in online education, are getting in on the act with their own resource entitled MRUniversity; their first course covers developmental economics. Cowen and Tabarrok are themselves professors at the bricks-and-mortar George Mason University.
  • Is it already backlash time for collective impact? Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Emmet Carson plays the devil’s advocate; FSG’s Emily Gorin Malenfant offers a defense.
  • Roberto Bedoya has an important critique of creative placemaking in a new online journal entitled Arts in a Changing America published by former LINC collaborator Maribel Alvarez. Bedoya argues that in their zeal to refashion America’s communities, creative placemaking advocates have ignored “history, critical racial theory, and [the] politics…of belonging and dis-belonging” at the expense of economic development and urban planning technocracy. On the one hand, I think Bedoya’s right to call attention to the creative placemaking movement’s tendency at times to blithely dismiss hot-button cultural tensions like gentrification and social inequality. It’s something I’ve noticed and commented upon here as well, though only in passing so far. At the same time, I don’t want creative placemaking to get bogged down in academic “discourses” that delight in problematizing status-quo practices without, in my estimation, offering much in the way of practical solutions. As much as I agree with aspects of Bedoya’s critique, I found myself wishing by the end of it that I had a better sense for what kinds of arts grantmaking or programming practices promote his desired sense of belonging.


  • The Warhol Foundation is planning to sell off its collection of the artist’s work, boosting its endowment by nearly half.
  • David Byrne’s new book offers a “radically transparent” view into the economics of the music industry, through his own experiences.
  • It turns out that one of New York City’s most significant institutional funders of the arts, arguably, is one you’ve likely never heard of. Arts Brookfield is the cultural programming and presentation arm of Brookfield Office Properties, managers of several high-profile buildings including the World Financial Center. Run by Deborah Simon, Arts Brookfield spends $1 million directly presenting performances and exhibitions in the public spaces of its properties each year. The article includes this money quote: “Brookfield executives say that for them art is an investment in the core business that pays off in a better class of tenants and higher rents.” In an ironic twist, Brookfield Office Properties is perhaps better known to artists as the owners of Zuccotti Park, made famous as the staging ground of the Occupy Wall Street protests. OWS and Brookfield tussled in the press and the courts for months last year as the latter tried to evict protesters from their de facto headquarters. Perhaps strangest of all is to see Judd Greenstein, a ringleader of the Occupy Musicians offshoot of OWS (and friend of this blog), quoted in the Times article singing the praises of Brookfield now that he is curating a concert series for them: “’They have been really open-minded and flexible….You can talk to them about the power of an idea, and that’s really liberating.” Sometimes the world is very weird.


  • Kudos to the Foundation Center for coming clean about published mistakes in recent research about multiyear giving patterns.
  • One of the tragic consequences of our field’s fragmented funding infrastructure is that support for the arts tends to be concentrated in large urban metros. While especially apparent in funding for art projects themselves, it applies equally to research about the arts, which means that creative activities in rural areas fly even further under the radar than they would otherwise. A new project called the “Rural Arts and Culture Map” aims to do something about this by crowdsourcing stories, media, and video testimonials about art in the boonies.


  • A panoply of established leaders in the arts share the wisdom they have learned over the years. A highly personal and at times touching collection of lessons.

The Arts Dinner-vention Project

Readers may be familiar with the name Barry Hessenius from his annual list of the top leaders in the nonprofit arts sector. A former director of the California Arts Council and an elder in the field, Barry has long taken an interest in developing and nurturing the involvement of the  next generation of leaders, and authored a report for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation a few years back that helped lead to an increased investment in emerging leader networks by Hewlett and another California foundation, Irvine.

Barry’s always cooking up new ideas, and his latest creation has quite a kick. “The Arts Dinner-vention Project” starts off with a familiar premise: who would you invite to your dream dinner party to talk about the arts? Barry is encouraging us all to submit our ideas and nominations. A nice, if a bit superficial exercise, right? But here’s the awesome part: he’s actually going to throw the dinner party, and film it for all of us to watch!

Yup, that’s right. You could be a witness to this extravaganza, and if you submit your proposed slate of dinner party invitees to Barry by November 20, you could win a chance to watch it in person, all expenses paid. It’s important to note that Barry’s not interested in having the usual suspects be a part of this event.

We aren’t looking for the people you usually think of as exemplified by the Most Powerful and Influential list.  We want those who are to a large degree still unheralded, but who are highly regarded as the future of the field; people without the same voice as those who have been in the field long enough to develop power and influence, but who have something to say and ought to be heard.

Along with a bunch of brainiacs like Nina Simon, Gary Steuer, and Ron Ragin, I’ll be reviewing the list of suggestions and helping to narrow down the final list. The focus of the conversation will not be on rehashing old problems, but instead on offering new, concrete solutions and ideas for moving the arts forward.

To get your thinking juices going, here’s Barry’s list of “archetypes” one could bring to the party (note that these are just suggestions):

The Connector*  - the person who links us to the world; those with huge networks of contacts and who span different spheres and sectors; the bridge builder with multiple perspectives.
The Maven* – the person who accumulates knowledge; the one who is the information broker and wants to share their new information.  The constant thinker.
The Salesperson* – the charismatic person with powerful negotiation skills who plays the role of the persuader.
*the first three categories are Malcolm Gladwell’s the Tipping Point categories.

Here are some others:
The Provocateur - the person who provokes and pushes towards new solutions and acceptance of upending the status quo.
The Power Broker - the person who can move other people and organizations to act based on knowledge, insider position and the ability to identify and implement what kinds of influence are necessary to effect change.
The Visionary - the one with the long range big picture in mind; the person who sees the future – what it will be and what it might be; a realistic dreamer.
The Organizer / Ring Leader - the person who provides on the ground leadership to get things done. The take charge leader with experience under his / her belt.
The Cynic / Skeptic - the person who plays Devil’s Advocate and asks the hard questions and keeps in check unbridled enthusiasm based more on passion than reality.
The Risk Taker - the person who argues for bold moves and action now.
The Master of Bureaucracy and Detail - the person in the trenches who actually makes things happen; the one who knows how to get things done and wade through all the detail.  The one who works with the Organizer.
The Policy Wonk / Geek - the theoretician; the student and strategist who revels in overarching implications.
The Practitioner / Artist - the centerpiece of why we all do what we do.
The Technology Guru - the tech nerd who understands and revels in all the latest technological advances and who understands their long range implications and how they might be applied to the field.

I’ll look forward to reading your submissions!

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Around the horn: Amtrak edition


  • Really scary stuff about political meddling in editorial content at the Alabama public television network. Seems like one of the underreported stories of the year.


  • Congratulations to Randy Engstrom on his appointment as interim director of the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, replacing Vincent Kitch who left abruptly in August. Engstrom won the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Award a few years back for his pioneering work with the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Seattle.


  • Victor Kuo offers a good overview of FSG Social Impact Advisors’ work in Cincinnati to develop shared outcomes across a range of funders and help build “backbone organizations” in the region.  Kuo will be presenting with ArtsWave’s Mary McCullough-Hudson and me at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference later this month.
  • Is crowdfunding a good fit for museums? The recent experience of the Hirshhorn and Contemporary Art Museum Houston suggest not. On the other hand, with the help of superstar web cartoonist The Oatmeal, a campaign to build a museum honoring the inventor Nikola Tesla has raised over $1.35 million on Indiegogo.
  • What it’s like to (not) make a living as a poet.


  • Diana Lind on the revitalization of Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood: “It becomes harder to complain about gentrification when investment returns to the community the benefits of street lights, restored facades, new trees and eyes on the street.”
  • Burning Man is not just an inspiration for artists – according to this article by burner Jessica Reeder in Utne Reader, it also could be a model for city planners. A well-written, thought-provoking piece.


  • Interesting list of economists who support, or are practitioners of, the arts. Be sure to read the comments too.
  • Check out this super fascinating interview with young economists about the future of their field. Some quotes of note:

    Although we have accumulated considerable evidence showing that people do not always behave rationally, we do not have as good a sense of how they actually do behave and what this means for policy.

    [W]e are far from a unified, versatile, believable alternative to the rational-actor model.  I am hopeful, though, that this might be overcome—in part because of progress in the sister disciplines (psychology and neuroscience) and basic modeling, and also because empirical anomalies are forcing the economic profession to be more open-minded.  Contributions by computer scientists and physicists will help inject new perspectives into economics.

    In his famous 1945 article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” F. A. Hayek argued that despite their inequity and inefficiency, free markets were necessary in order to allow the incorporation of information held by dispersed individuals into social decisions.  No central planner could hope to collect and process all the information necessary for social decisions; only markets allowed and provided the incentives for disaggregated information processing.  Yet, increasingly, information technology is leading individuals to delegate their most “private” decisions to automated processing systems.

    Economics is in the midst of a massive and radical change.  It used to be that we had little data, and no computing power, so the role of economic theory was to “fill in” for where facts were missing.  Today, every interaction we have in our lives leaves behind a trail of data….The tools of economics will continue to evolve and become more empirical.  Economic theory will become a tool we use to structure our investigation of the data.


  • Cool visualization of the top-selling artworks from the past four years. I recommend checking out the “men / women” view.
  • Lots of people are talking about Walk Score, but some users (including me) find its ratings a bit unreliable in practice. Urbanist Steve Mouzon thinks it’s because Walk Score misses the crucial point that some places are simply much more pleasant to look at than others, and that affects how far people are willing to walk. Two adjacent suburban strip malls might have lots of amenities clustered in one place, but no one wants to walk from one to the other, because walking through parking lots is soul-destroying. So Mouzon has developed the interesting concept of Walk Appeal as a potential next-generation index of walkability/livability.
  • Amazon releases its book sales data in the context of an interesting political “heat map,” which suggests that GOP voters buy more politically tinged books, proportionally speaking, than their Democratic counterparts do.
  • Michael Hickey is examining the details of nonprofit arts organization budgets in New York City in a multipart series for his new blog, Man About Town. In his first post, he finds that four institutions (which he doesn’t name, but I’m guessing are the Met Museum, the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall) received nearly half of all the dollars granted by the city to arts organizations in 2010. His next entry discusses the mysterious “Other Earned Revenue” budget category that accounts for more than 20% of earned income across all organizations. A third includes testimony to the NY City Council on the impact of the arts on small businesses and community vitality. And finally, Hickey makes a passionate argument for data aggregation tools for New York City (hmm, that sounds familiar). The Municipal Arts Society of New York (which absorbed the research functions of the Alliance for the Arts after the latter organization dissolved last year, and for which Hickey has done some consulting) has a new report out exploring some of these topics in more depth.


  • Cool story from Michael Kaiser about getting fathers involved in their kids’ ballet dancing.
  • Great, hilarious taxonomy of jazz musician career archetypes. One of the categories is simply called “The Industry,” which includes this definition of the “arts administrator”: “This well-fed, parasitic middleman—typically a jealous amateur musician formally trained in non-profit business administration—may work either directly for the government or for a government-funded non- profit presenting agency. Either way, he or she enjoys a salary and accompanying benefits unthinkable for a working jazz artist.”

Miami Beach, DC

After a brief respite this summer, I’m back on the speaking/conference circuit and looking forward to seeing some new places and new folks! In a couple of weeks, I’ll be livin’ the dream and presenting at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference about our work with ArtsWave in Cincinnati.

October 14-17
Grantmakers in the Arts Conference
Eden Roc Hotel
4525 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
Info and registration; GIA is open to grantmakers and “national partners” only.
(I’ll be presenting at the session entitled “Collective Impact and the Arts: A Dispatch from Cincinnati” on October 16 from 9:30-11am, along with ArtsWave’s Mary McCullough-Hudson and FSG’s Victor Kuo. In addition, Fractured Atlas’s Adam Huttler will be a part of the “Technology, Data, and Metrics: Emerging Tools and Practices in Asset Management” session on October 17 from 9:30-11am.)

And on Monday, October 1 (aka today!), I’ll be reprising my “Well-Informed Arts Professional” workshop as a guest lecturer in Andrew Taylor’s “Survey of Arts Management” class at American University. Will post the slides after I’m done.

UPDATE: And here they are!

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