Arts Watch Update

*This section of Arts Watch updates readers on specific news items that have appeared in recent editions.

Kansas: House Committee Rejects Plan to Close Arts Commission
The Topeka Capital-Journal, 2/15/11
"A bipartisan majority of the [Kansas] House budget committee rejected Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to dissolve the Kansas Arts Commission. Brownback issued an executive order that cut state funding to the arts in Kansas and set up a nonprofit foundation under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Historical Society to handle the commission's education and advocacy role. The House Government Efficiency Committee voted to restore nearly $800,000 in state funding for the commission. A motion to accept Brownback's strategy was defeated 2–5. It is unclear whether the full House will sustain the committee's decision. Either the House or Senate can block the reorganization order with a simple majority vote."


Culture and Communities

Artist Jasper Johns Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom
Los Angeles Times Culture Monster blog, 2/14/11
"If a fundamental aim of contemporary visual art is to get out ahead of conventional wisdom and mass opinion and keep the public off-balance, here's some evidence that its most illustrious practitioners have been doing their job: when President Obama presented Jasper Johns with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on [February 15] at the White House, it was the first time in 34 years that a painter or sculptor had won the nation's highest civilian honor. Obama joins John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford as the only presidents who have given a medal to a painter or sculptor."

Washington: Bill Creates Massive State Arts, Heritage Agency, 2/14/11
"A sweeping new proposal in Olympia has left some arts and heritage advocates stunned. A bill (SB-5768)…would consolidate virtually all state heritage functions into a single uber-agency called the Department of Heritage, Arts, and Culture, a cabinet-level entity whose head would be appointed by the governor…The bill is either or bold attack on Balkanization, or a major setback for heritage advocates who are less worried about Olympia's organization chart than immediate deep budget cuts—even survival."


Arts Education and the Creative Workforce

Florida: Governor's Proposed Education Cuts to Hurt Arts, Athletics
Highlands Today, 2/10/11
"Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to slash public school spending by at least $300 per student, and possibly much more, will mean layoffs and steep cuts in transportation, art, music, athletics, and extracurricular activities, education and teachers union officials said. Even some lawmakers who advocate state spending reductions were stunned by the depth of Scott's education cuts. Highlands County Superintendent of Schools Wally Cox said Scott's proposal would reduce funding somewhere around $700 per student. With a student enrollment of 12,123, a $700-per-student cut would total nearly $8.5 million locally."

Minnesota: Young Lakeville Students Will Lose Arts Opportunities, 2/9/11
"The Lakeville Board of Education in voted on February 8 to approve $15.8 million dollars in budget cuts over the next two years…Younger students are going to see the elimination of arts and music opportunities and older students will see a severe downsizing in the arts programming in their schools as these cuts are put into place…100 percent of music and art teachers at the elementary school level, including the fifth-grade band program, will be eliminated. Additionally, 80 percent of choir and band teachers at the middle schools, and 44 percent of high school band and choir instructors will be cut as well."



Public Investment in the Arts

Arts Investment Stimulates Economic Development, Fosters Innovation
Psychology Today
, 2/14/11
The following was written by noted creativity authors Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein: "Congress is once again making plans to gut the National Endowment for the Arts, so it is time for us to post more data supporting the arts. In previous posts, we've argued that the arts are essential for the development of scientific imagination. Here we argue that the arts stimulate economic development by fostering scientific and technological innovation."

The Perilous State of Arts Agencies
, 2/9/11
"The Arizona Commission on the Arts recently inaugurated a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of arts education. Fittingly, it features imagery that is imaginative, provocative, and disturbing, including a paint brush that morphs into the type of needles junkies use to shoot up. The caption is concise and compelling: 'Kids will leave their mark, with or without the arts.' Artists, too, will leave their mark, with or without governmental support. They’ve been sketching, dancing, and making music for thousands of years, and they’re not going to stop it—as governors around the United States are currently proposing—state arts agencies are either drastically curtailed or completely dismantled."


The Creative Economy and The Private Sector

Virginia: Richmond Mayor Proposes Massive Downtown Arts District
Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/15/11
"Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones is proposing to designate a large portion of downtown as an arts and cultural district. In an effort to spur investment and redevelopment, Jones is asking the City Council to create the ArtBusiness Richmond district for an area covering about 65 blocks….Under the proposal, businesses and property owners in the district would have enhanced and, in some cases, exclusive access to loan programs for building renovations, grants for façade improvements and technical assistance. To qualify, businesses or properties need not be involved in the arts."

Florida: Vacant Office Space Converted to Gallery, Studios
The Miami Herald, 2/11/11
"Nine can-do young artists are on their hands and knees, scraping, peeling, prodding, and sweating…With help from family and friends, they turn it into Flagler Arts Space, a 3,000-square-foot studio and gallery complex on the ground floor of an old building across the street from the Miami Art Museum…Donated by the Thomas Center-Miami, a real estate firm, the space had been used at various times for City of Miami offices."


Philanthropy & Fundraising in the Arts

Alabama: Proposed Arts Incubator Gathering Private, Public Funds
The Birmingham News
, 2/12/11
"Main Street Birmingham, which contracts with the city of Birmingham to help develop inner-city neighborhoods, is trying to raise the money to create 55th Place Arts, a proposed incubator for artists and arts-related businesses…David Fleming, the group's executive director [said], 'Our idea involves a place for artists and creative professionals, including painters, architects, musicians and music studios…[The project] has received support from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and several foundations, including the Wells Fargo Foundation, Daniel Foundation, and Susan Mott Webb Foundation."

Ford Foundation, Creativity Investor Announce Grant Program
Philanthropy News Digest
, 2/10/11
"New York City-based Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) and the Ford Foundation have announced twelve grants totaling $1 million through the Space for Change Planning and Pre-Development Grant program. Each grant recipient will receive up to $100,000 in startup funds for the development of new cultural facilities and programming. In addition to the funding, grantees will have access to technical assistance and be given opportunities to participate in knowledge exchange programs and to help develop a national network of peer institutions in collaboration with other organizations across LINC's program areas."


Arts Canvas: The View from the Field
Valerie Beaman, Private Sector Initiatives Coordinator
Americans for the Arts

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Kate Marquez, executive director of the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance (SAACA), answered a few questions for me regarding her organization becoming the newest Business Committee for the Arts and her experiences working with the local business community to date.

Question: Your organization is a slightly different model from a lot of our local arts agencies. Can you share the work you do with festivals and business sponsorships?

Answer: SAACA is unique from other arts organizations, in that collaboration and partnerships stand at the forefront of all festivals and events. We also value and understand the link between the preservation of culture and art. If there’s a way to promote the arts, we do. Whether it’s through car shows, business partnerships or any other creative way, SAACA encompasses all forms of art and recognizes the subtle ways to bring art to the foreground in all we do…

To read the rest of Valerie's blog post, comment, and to browse other entries, visit Americans for the Arts' ARTSblog.



BCA 10 Nomination Deadline: Friday, February 18
The BCA 10 recognizes businesses of all sizes for their exceptional involvement with the arts that enrich the workplace, education, and the community. These companies set the standard of excellence and serve as role models for others to follow. Please nominate an outstanding business in your area today. Winning businesses will be honored at a gala in New York City on October 5, 2011, and nominations close on Friday, February 18, 2011. For more information visit or e-mail

Webinar: How to Partner with Your Chamber of Commerce
On March 23 at 2:00 p.m. ET, join Americans for the Arts for a webinar (free to Americans for the Arts members) called "How to Partner with Your Chamber of Commerce." Learn how arts organizations are successfully partnering with their local chambers of commerce to become leading voices for community planning, economic development, and cultural diversity. For more information, and to register, visit our webinar page.

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For an analysis and further discussion regarding the issues
raised recent editions of Arts Watch, visit The Clyde Fitch Report's
Arts Advocacy Update
. The Clyde Fitch Report (CFR) is a website exploring the nexus of arts and politics—including news and features, interviews, guest columns, bipartisan opinions, and public comments. You can also visit website by clicking on the CFR button on the left side of the page.