Arts Watch Spotlight
Putting a Price on Culture
The Irish Times, 8/11/2009
"On St. Patrick's Day this year the Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister] presented U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with limited editions of Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf and The Cure at Troy with inscriptions by the poet. In his dedication to Obama, Seamus Heaney quotes from the poem’s introduction of the character of Beowulf as 'a man who comes in an hour of need...there was no one else like him alive.' First Lady
Michelle Obama was presented with a collection of Eavan Boland’s poems, and her daughters Sasha and Malia were each given a copy of Bairbre McCarthy’s The Keeper of the Crock of Gold. The reception that evening included a reading by poet Paul Muldoon and music by the Shannon Rovers pipe band.
What does this tell us? It indicates, surely, that songs, music, and poetry are a valuable currency. Out of the many possible gifts he could have given, the Taoiseach chose to present the president and his family with works of creative imagination, the kind of imagination that is in fact readily associated with Ireland and Irishness, the imagination that fuels films, rock songs, symphonies, theatre as well as novels, short stories, and poems.
Culture, in other words, is powerful. Culture is America’s biggest export to the world, and it defines how the rest of the world perceives America, just as our culture defines how it sees us. Not many come to Ireland to visit the IFSC, but they do come to see the U2 wall, visit museums and theatres, listen to music, attend festivals and summer schools, to tour the Yeats Country, or visit the Joyce Tower.
Quantifying the financial benefits which the arts bring is notoriously difficult, but they are very real. Film alone is valued at half a billion euro and employs over 6,000 people. Add to this the value of publishing, theatre, visual arts, and all of the education-related arts activity that takes place, the value of cultural tourism revenue, the thousands of jobs in the arts, and the financial contribution of the arts amounts to several billion annually. And it should be remembered that the
single largest subsidy to the cultural life of Ireland comes not from governments, corporations or other patrons, but from the artists themselves, through their unpaid or underpaid labour."
To read the complete article, please visit The Irish Times website.
Federal Arts Policy
Fractional Gifts Bill Introduced in Senate
The Wall Street Journal, 8/8/2009
"Donating art to museums could soon become attractive again for wealthy collectors. Reacting to museums' complaints of sharp declines in art donations, a bill announced [August 7] by Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, could revive the practice of so-called fractional gifts by making the process easier and more tax-advantageous. Before the 2006 Pension Protection Act, collectors were allowed a tax
break when they donated a work of art incrementally, giving away a certain percentage of rights to the work each year. Pieces like the Hope Diamond, given to Washington's Smithsonian Institution, and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Annenberg Collection can be attributed to fractional giving. Restrictions in the act prevented donors from realizing tax benefits on the appreciation of the art's value and limited the time allotted to complete the donation to 10
Culture and Communities
New NEA Chair Rocco Landesman Addresses Issues Facing the Arts
The New York Times, 8/8/2009
"Mr. Landesman said that as chairman he will focus on the potential of the arts to help in the country’s economic recovery. 'I wouldn’t have come to the [National Endowment for the Arts] if it was just about padding around in the agency,' he said, and worrying about which nonprofits deserve more funds. 'We need to have a seat at the big table with the grown-ups. Art should be part of the
plans to come out of this recession.' 'If we’re going to have any traction at all,' he added, 'there has to be a place for us in domestic policy.' He was less clear about the details of this ambitious agenda, though he talked about starting a program that he called 'Our Town,' which would provide home equity loans and rent subsidies for living and working spaces to encourage
artists to move to downtown areas...The program would also help finance public art projects and performances and promote architectural preservation in downtown areas, Mr. Landesman added. 'Every town has a public square or landmark buildings or places that have a special emotional significance,' he said. 'The extent that art can address that pride will be great.'"
Encouraging the White House's Open Door Policy to the Arts
"Because of an uncoordinated government infrastructure, the arts community has, over the years, come to view public policy as highly agency-specific. We're good friends with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, but have until recently been strangers at places like the White House, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Copyright Office. And, though the NEA has long been the most
visible symbol of our government's commitment to art and culture (or in some cases, lack of), its miniscule budget means that its actual impact is largely symbolic and generally limited to touring, presentation, and participation in the traditional and classical disciplines. Yet the entire field continues to grow, necessitating a broader view of policy and public funding for the arts."
New York: World Trade Center Mural Designs Sought
Associated Press, 8/11/2009
"Artists looking for somewhere to display their work now have a chance to be seen at one of the city's most high-profile places—the World Trade Center site. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
and the city Department of Transportation are asking artists to submit designs for a new mural. The mural will cover a portion of the construction fence on Church Street between Liberty and Vesey streets. The winning design will be printed on vinyl mesh banners. Contest guidelines ask that the designs reflect 'the vibrancy of the thriving downtown commercial and residential neighborhood.'"
Washington: Seattle Arts Groups Marketing Differently to Younger Audiences
The Seattle Times, 8/9/2009
"As core arts audiences grow older and attendance declines among young people, big arts organizations across the country are reaching out to potential new audiences in innovative ways. Seattle has become a center for this kind of outreach. The attempts to create a broader base of attendees are taking many forms and using many tools, from reality TV-style webcasts to social networking sites, dance nights, and scavenger hunts.
The Seattle Opera selected the engaging Cassidy Quinn Brettler of
Seattle to host its reality series—and to blog, Tweet and post updates about it on Facebook. Brettler, 20, said she was worried when she found out the Ring cycle involved going to operas for some 16 hours over four nights...But now that she's visited the costume shop, tried on a winged helmet and done some stunt flying in the harnesses that allow the opera's Rhinemaidens to fly, 'it's made me excited to see the final opera.'"
Arts Education and the Creative Workforce
Economy Forcing Higher Education Arts Programs to Cut, Change
The New York Times, 8/10/2009
"Tens of thousands of students at public and private colleges and universities around the country will find arts programs, courses, and teachers missing—victims of piercing budget cuts—when they descend on campuses this month and next. At Washington State University the department of theater arts and dance has been eliminated. At Florida State University, the undergraduate program in
art education and two graduate theater programs are being phased out. The University of Arizona is cutting three-quarters of its funds, more than $500,000, for visiting classical music, dance and theater performers. Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts, which supports four departments—dance, music, theater and visual arts—is losing 14 percent of its $1.2 million budget over the next two years. The Louisiana State University Museum of Art, one of the largest
university-affiliated collections in the South, saw 20 percent of its state financing disappear. Other private and state institutions warn of larger classes, trimmed offerings, higher tuition and fewer services, faculty, and visitors."
Young Musicians Turn to Entrepreneurship in Crowded Job Market
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/9/2009
"Overpopulation, poverty and stagnation: The way the classical music industry is described these days you'd think it's a Third World country. The recession has made an already tough existence even tougher for music students and those already looking for jobs. 'It is an extraordinarily difficult time to compete for traditional full-time jobs, like those in academia and in orchestras,' says David Cutler, a music
professor at Duquesne University. 'The market is over-saturated with talent, people are keeping their jobs for longer and orchestras are cutting back, not adding.' But have things really gotten so bad that a student should follow that classic parental advice and go to medical or law school instead? Not according to a new movement called music entrepreneurship that is gaining ground at schools around the country."
Wisconsin: Students Cope with Difficulties through Music
Sheboygan Press, 8/10/2009
"When Jake Resnick feels emotions bubbling beneath the surface, he opens a notebook and lets his 'soul have at it,' he says. The 17-year-old sat with one
of those notebooks at a desk in the nearly empty school district building late last month. He slipped on headphones and began rapping his lyrics. Resnick—who will be a senior at North High School and
Etude High School for the Arts and Academics in the fall—has filled seven of those journals in a backpack he carries with him. 'When you're behind a microphone, it's just you and the headphones,' he said.
'There's no one to judge you. That's where you're free.' Resnick is one of 10 students from the Sheboygan Area School District who registered for a pilot summer school music class. The troubled teens worked
with a music teacher and local rap artist to write, sing and produce their own songs. The students will wrap up their six-week program on [August 14] with a performance at The Big Sheboygan Shebang, an annual
vaudeville from the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and free distribution of their album. The pilot program was created by Larry Samet, a social worker with the Sheboygan County Health and Human Services
Department and a member of the district's School Board."
Public Investment in the Arts
Texas: Fort Worth Budget Proposal Cuts Arts Funding by 24 Percent
Due to the lagging economy, city officials have offered a budget that provides 24 percent less funding for social service and arts agencies for FY2010. "More than 200 jobs would be cut" and "two library branches, several after-school programs, and swimming pools would be shuttered under a proposal to close a $59 million budget gap, city officials said [August 11]. 'You’re going to see a leaner Fort Worth,' Mayor
Mike Moncrief said. 'You’re going to see a little bit different Fort Worth.' Fort Worth has been struggling for the last two years to cut its spending, which has grown faster than its tax base. The recession made the problem worse; sales taxes are projected to drop in the 2009–2010 fiscal year, and property taxes are expected to stay flat. Almost every department will be affected by the staff cuts, except for the Police and
Fire Departments. The plan calls for laying off 114 active employees and eliminating 74 vacant positions. Another 42 people are expected to retire; if they don’t, more employees could be laid off. The cuts will save $10 million a year."
North Carolina: Charlotte Public Art Installation Raises Concerns
Charlotte Observer, 8/10/2009
"The Shuffletown project, with its [17-foot base and giant] mechanical hand, represents waving goodbye to the area's past and hello to its future. The county spent a total of $72,750 on the art. But [local resident] Bill Jones said some nearby residents and others who have seen the piece feel the hand is waving goodbye and writing off an older neighborhood along with its racing and agricultural history.
'A lot of the people that I showed the hand to said they should
have broken off four fingers and left one up there,' said Jones, who lives in the Thomasboro area but serves on the county park department's Northwest District Advisory Council. Some neighbors raised their concerns at a community meeting last year, and Jones said the advisory council also came out against the piece."
California: Culver City Struggles to Compete as Movie,TV Filming Location
"Culver City, CA, was once known as 'the heart of screenland.' It's where the original King Kong, Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers and the classic Citizen Kane were shot. Later, the back lots and soundstages there were used to tape television's The Andy Griffith Show, Batman and The Green Hornet. The exterior of Culver Studios' mansion was featured in the opening credits for Gone with the Wind. And inside were the offices of movie legends
Orson Welles, David O. Selznick, Cecil B. DeMille and, later, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. But it seems the iconic mansion is the latest victim of a syndrome going around Hollywood these days: runaway productions. Movies and TV shoots are being lured to other states with tax incentives."
New Hampshire: State Arts Council Forced to Cut Grant Funding
New Hampshire Business Review, 8/6/2009
"The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts has instituted a series of stringent cutbacks, the result of a drastically reduced budget. The cuts will eliminate jobs and many programs, including the annual Governor’s Arts Awards. According to council director Rebecca Lawrence, the council, which is funded through state and federal appropriations as well as funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and private donations, had a total budget of $1,205,574 for fiscal year 2010, some $300,000 less than last year’s budget of $1,525,900.
The cut came as a result of a more than 30 percent reduction in state funding.
'In FY09, we received $881,700 from the state. To maintain our programs as is, we needed $909,146 for FY10. We received $602,487 for FY10,' said Lawrence.
She said the overall $1.2 million budget for the 2010 fiscal year will probably be even lower the following year, since
some funds were granted on a one-time basis."
Philanthropy and the Private Sector
Florida: Sarasota Foundation Offers $1 Million for Nonprofit Capacity Building
Philanthropy News Digest, 8/10/2009
"The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has announced the launch of a $1 million initiative designed to help local nonprofits maintain their service levels during the recession. The initiative, BOOST: Building Organizations' Operational Strength Today, will provide $30,000 in basic fundraising training to 35 nonprofits in Sarasota and Manatee counties through the foundation's nonprofit resource center. The effort also will
provide $50,000 to the Friendship Volunteer Center for marketing and outreach efforts designed to increase volunteerism and civic engagement throughout Sarasota County. In addition, the foundation committed $720,000 to support area nonprofits that have been in operation for at least three years, with a focus on building their capacity and improving their business practices. And to jump-start its annual Season of Sharing campaign, which runs from late November to
mid-January, the foundation pledged $200,000 and challenged donors to contribute an additional $300,000 to underwrite the cost of food, shelter, and other necessities for needy families and individuals."
District of Columbia: Theater Company Receives $1.1 Million Grant
"Arena Stage has received a $1.1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create the American Voices New Play Institute, an initiative to help further new play development within American theater.
The new [organization] will become a focal point of Arena's renovated facility, slated to open next year. D.C. playwright Karen Zacarias (The Book Club Play) will be the first resident
playwright under the new program. The institute will become a center for research and development of practices, programs and processes for new play development, Arena said. It will build on previous initiatives by the company
under Molly Smith to emphasize American works, including the hosting of the National Endowment for the Arts' New Play Development Program. Smith said the new play initiative will begin operation with a suite of interrelated
programs, including playwright residencies, new-works producing fellowships, and annual [audience] enrichment seminars."
When Needed Most, Fundraiser Positions Being Cut
The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 8/11/2009
"Laying off fund raisers is usually one of the last steps nonprofit groups take in an economic crisis. But as the longest and deepest recession in
decades persists, even fund raisers are among the people getting pink slips. At colleges, hospitals, and other large nonprofit groups, chief development officers are increasingly looking to pare expenses
through layoffs and other approaches, such as salary and hiring freezes, furloughs, and staff reorganizations."
South Carolina: Warhol Foundation Provides $80,000 Grant to Charleston Facility
The Post and Courier, 8/6/2009
"The Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston announces the award of an $80,000 program grant from the prestigious Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for this year and next.
Established in 1987 in accordance
with Warhol's will, the foundation's objective is to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative processes that support artists and their work. The foundation values the contribution that organizations like the Halsey Institute make to artists, audiences, and to the community as a whole, explains Rebecca Silberman of the Halsey Institute.
'We are thrilled that the
Warhol Foundation will be partnering with us on our next two years of programming,' remarks Halsey Director Mark Sloan. 'On their site visit last spring, the Warhol program officers were quite impressed to see such ambitious programming generated by such a small staff. This funding comes at a critical time for us, as state funds and individual giving have been in decline since October 2008. In a very real sense, this grant is a life-line.'"
Arts Canvas: News from the Field
by Tim Mikulski, State and Local Government Affairs Coordinator, Americans for the Arts
Since my birth year often tends to fall either at the end of the Generation X period or the beginning of the Millenials, I find myself sharing the characteristics of both “next generation” cohorts. I may not be on the leading edge of all technology (like the Millenials), but I keep up enough to know that before the entire world was on Facebook, I had already been a veteran member of Myspace and Friendster before it.
When Twitter first came to the forefront a few years ago, I resisted joining because I felt that everyone in the world didn’t need to know what I was thinking or doing all of the time. My life does not air on Bravo or MTV, and it probably shouldn’t.
However, over recent months, I started to read more about how others were using the site (and its many extensions), and my interest was piqued.
While talking to a friend a few weeks ago, she explained how she receives nearly all of her news during the day from Twitter, and while the Ashton Kutchers of the world are also big Tweeters, so are many other organizations and news outlets that can not only make the workday go by faster, but their Tweets can be used in my everyday work.
To read and respond to the rest of Tim's blog post, and others, please visit the Americans for the Arts ARTSBlog.
Limited Time Offer: Job Bank Discount for Arts Watch Subscribers
Arts Watch readers can receive 10 percent off your entire job posting order on the Americans for the Arts Job Bank website through August 31, 2009. Use the promotional code Watch10 at checkout to receive your discount. For more information, visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/JobBank.
National Arts and Humanities Month
Be one of the 10,000 communities and millions of people who celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month every October. Start your planning today by visiting the NAHM website, where you can find planning and advocacy toolkits, as well as free downloads of the NAHM logo and web stickers that can easily be placed on
websites, blogs, and social network user profiles. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nahm or friend us on Facebook. The NAHM national arts events map is launching in August and we want to include your October
calendars, program information, and volunteer opportunities. For more information, contact Americans for the Arts at firstname.lastname@example.org.