I am done with one of my five classes as of this past Friday, a sign that things are finally winding down here in New Haven. With final projects and/or major hours quotas for all of my other commitments, however, I’m guaranteed to be up against it for at least a couple more weeks. In the meantime, I’ll try to squeeze in time here and there to bring you the latest.
- Seems the New Music Bake Sale was only the beginning: Greenpoint hipsters borrow fundraising tactics from the sustainable food movement, raise money for the arts.
- The Cultural Data Project has a new website.
- Are performance competitions festering cesspools of corruption? Jessica Duchen thinks so.
- Fascinating story from Baltimore: the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra got together and decided to forgo $1 million in salary increases and other benefits promised in their 2009-10 contract in order to help the orchestra stay afloat.
The donation was presented in the form of a challenge grant. The initiative “Music Matters: Play Your Part” will attempt to raise $2 million from the public. The effort has already raised $675,000, including $50,000 from the orchestra’s music director, Marin Alsop.
It’s a remarkable show of solidarity from an orchestra that used to be famous for its acerbic relations with management. “We have a management that treats us as an equal partner,” says Laurie Sokoloff, a piccolo player who is the chair of the players’ committee. “With that comes responsibility.” Sokoloff has been in the orchestra for 40 years and knows very well that it wasn’t always like this. “We used to go on strike every other contract,” says Sokoloff, who adds: “Those days are over for us.” She says that it took remarkably little convincing to get players on board with the plan, because of the trust that the current administration has created with its musicians.
This is all kind of amazing given the very public labor relations nastiness that has gone on in the orchestra field the last couple of years. BSO chief Paul Meecham deserves a lot of credit for creating the conditions that allowed this to happen. And I love the fact that the musicians made it a challenge grant – way to take responsibility for the situation AND put some public pressure on management to do its job. The players come out of this looking great. Given that they may well have been asked to accept cuts one way or another, I think this was a really smart move on their part to take control of the agenda.
- Isaac Butler asks whether the 501(c)(3) itself is really broken, or if it’s just that people treat the law in certain ways that are broken. Great question. I am taking a clinic in nonprofit law right now and I’m not even sure I can answer this. But if I had to choose, I would probably go with the latter.
- While on the subject, the founder of the DC Central Kitchen pens an op-ed entitled “‘Nonprofits’ are businesses.” He doesn’t really take this argument as far as he could, but I’m glad that someone is pushing this line. It might be tempting to think something along the lines of “how can a business be creating value if it doesn’t pay for itself?” But nonprofits are really not as different from private sector firms as a lot of people think. The major distinction is that a lot of (but certainly not all of) nonprofits’ “customers” are willing to pay for the organizations’ services even if they don’t benefit from them directly. But they’re still paying, just like you and I pay the phone company for our wireless bill. From an economic standpoint it really doesn’t matter why people pay for something. It just matters that they do, and do so voluntarily. So nonprofits can create value, yes, economic value, just like for-profits can. And of course that includes arts organizations.
- As of today, Richard Florida has a new blog on the website of The Atlantic. The first entry is on mega-regions and high-speed rail. Other “correspondents” include Harry Shearer of The Simpsons fame.
- Friends doing well department: Darcy James Argue, fresh off a long Newsweek profile, is nominated in three categories for the Jazz Journalists Association. A bunch of his friends were profiled in a New York Times article about a couple of musicians’ havens in the Prospect Park neighborhood in Brooklyn. And his CD release party is this
SaturdayFriday at Galapagos. Not a bad two weeks!