Arts Watch Update

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

New Jersey: Laid-Off Paterson Educator Still Teaching Violin
The Star-Ledger, 1/30/11
"It was 11 p.m. on a Friday…when Nathan Thomas, one of the many music teachers laid off in the recent purge, received a text message from a student in Paterson.' Jahid and I have been practicing since 8 p.m. in my room, and we still are as we speak,' wrote Foiaz Ahmed…You see, Thomas, who never wanted to do anything but inspire kids to love music, was laid off at the beginning of the school year from School No. 7, but he has continued to teach a violin ensemble of 16 kids who were once his middle school students in Paterson. He drives 80 miles round trip…each Saturday for the two-and-a-half-hour class. And he does it for no money at all."

New Mexico: Committee Tables Bill to Eliminate Film Incentives
Associated Press, 1/27/11
"Supporters of New Mexico's burgeoning film industry breathed a sigh of relief as legislation aimed at wiping out tax incentives and restructuring a state loan program for film projects was stalled by a House committee. The Labor and Human Resources Committee was the first stop for the bill, which had generated much opposition since being introduced by Rep. Dennis Kintigh (R-Roswell). The committee voted 5–4 to table the bill after hearing from a crowded room of supporters who argued that New Mexico's film incentives have resulted in thousands of new jobs, new opportunities for small businesses, and educational programs for New Mexico students."


Culture and Communities

Egypt: 50 Looters Detained in Attempted Museum Robbery
Associated Press, 2/1/11
"Soldiers detained about 50 men trying to break into the Egyptian National Museum in a fresh attempt to loot some of the country's archaeological treasures, the military said [January 31]. Snipers were stationed on the roof of the building, and dozens of troops patrolled the grounds of the famed antiquities museum amid fears that the chaos sweeping Cairo could engulf Egypt's national heritage…Egyptian special forces secured the main floor inside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, after would-be looters broke into the museum [January 30], ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging some artifacts before being caught."

Kentucky: Free App Provides Gallery of State's Public Art

Reuters, 2/1/11
A new iPhone app is opening up Kentucky's art scene to the public by bringing thousands of works of art in small American communities to a wider audience. The free app includes images of local public art along with a brief description of each piece and information about the artist who created it, as well a precise GPS location. Students and faculty at the University of Kentucky and the Gaines Center for the Humanities in Lexington developed the app called Take it Artside!."

Pioneering Earthworks, Conceptual Artist Passes Away
The New York Times, 1/26/11
"Dennis Oppenheim, a pioneer of earthworks, body art, and conceptual art who later made emphatically tangible installations and public sculptures that veered between the demonically chaotic and the cheerfully pop, died on [January 21] in Manhattan. He was 72. Belonging to a generation of artists who saw portable painting and sculpture as obsolete, Mr. Oppenheim started out in the realm of the esoteric, the immaterial and the chronically unsalable. But he was always a showman, not averse to the circuslike, or to courting danger."


Arts Education and the Creative Workforce

Minnesota: New University Structure Plan Hurts Arts
The Bemidji Pioneer, 2/1/11
"With the wind chill nearing 10 degrees below zero…Kim Karle stood shivering as she held one end of a sign that read, 'BSU performs major surgery, removes heart of Bemidji, fine arts culture.' Karle was one of dozens of protesters who stood underneath the archway in front of Deputy Hall, the administration building at Bemidji State University (BSU), holding signs, shouting cheers and asking passing drivers to 'honk if you love the arts…' The protesters, made up of BSU students, faculty, retired staff, alumni, and community members, came and went" throughout the day.

Kansas: Apprentice Artists Learn Job, Life Skills
The Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/31/11
"If he hadn't been hired by Van Go's Jobs in the Arts Makes Sense program, [Trent] Jefferson said he most likely would be hanging out on the streets and getting into trouble…[Instead, he] was hired for an apprentice artist position at the arts-based, afterschool job-training program for at-risk youths. He works 10 hours a week, creating art that will be sold at shows or commissioned by individuals and businesses…Van Go Inc., an arts-based social service agency, offers two job-training programs: JAMS, an afterschool and summer program for at-risk youths ages 14–18, and Arts Train, a year-round daytime program for those 18–21 years old who aren’t in high school."

New Study: Creativity, Innovation Lead to Stronger Economy
Business Wire, 1/26/11
"A first-of-its-kind report outlines a new landscape for innovation in the 21st century, placing an increased premium on addressing local needs, marshaling the creativity of individuals, and smaller organizations, and forging strategic partnerships. The inaugural GE Global Innovation Barometer, an independent survey of 1,000 business executives in 12 countries, found that the greatest innovations of our time will be those that help address human need, more so than those that simply create the most profit."


Public Investment in the Arts

Washington: Legislator Proposes Annual Fee to Save Museums
The News Tribune
, 1/25/11
"Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, who introduced a bill to charge $30 a year for parking at state parks, wants to amend the measure to add another perk to the permits: access to the state’s history museums. Gov. Chris Gregoire proposes mothballing the museums in Tacoma, Spokane, and Olympia to save the state five million dollars over two years. She also has proposed eliminating the state arts commission. Lawmakers are looking for alternatives…[Currently,] admission fees raise hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, said Washington State Historical Society Director David Nicandri, but Van De Wege’s proposal could raise several million."

Kentucky: Venues Receive Funding for Energy Efficiency Measures
, 2/1/11
"Energy improvements will soon take center stage at five local nonprofit arts venues through $225,000 in grants from the city's Energizing the Arts program, Lexington mayor Jim Gray announced. The federal grant funds will support energy improvements such as installing energy efficient light fixtures, lighting controls, and programmable thermostats, as well as sealing ductwork and implementing other efficiency measures…The five arts venues were selected for funding based on their applications and on the results of detailed energy audits performed on their facilities by Paladin Inc., a Lexington engineering firm."

Georgia: Saving State Arts Agency on Advocates' Minds
Georgia Public Broadcasting
, 1/27/11
"Backers of the arts in Georgia pushed their case for one million dollars in funding at the state capitol this week. Arts advocates want to make sure a restructuring of Georgia’s Council for the Arts doesn’t leave federal money on the table. Last year House lawmakers proposed to eliminate money for the Council for the Arts
, and replace it with a new agency. But funding was restored—the Council survived—and matching federal arts funding preserved."


The Creative Economy and The Private Sector

Nation's Second-Largest Book Chain May File for Bankruptcy
Bloomberg, 2/1/11
"Borders Group Inc., the second- largest U.S. bookstore chain, may file for protection from creditors as soon as next week, according to three people familiar with the matter. The retailer will likely close at least 150 stores, one person said…The retailer, which operates more than 650 stores, began looking for new sources of cash after disclosing in December that lenders cut its borrowing capacity and that failure to find replacement credit may lead to a violation of its debt agreements and a 'liquidity shortfall' in the first quarter."


Philanthropy & Fundraising in the Arts

Save America's Treasures Grant Program Awards $14.3 Million, 2/2/11

"The National Park Service (NPS) and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) jointly announced the awarding of $14.3 million in federal competitive Save America's Treasures grants…With the grants, 61 organizations and agencies will conserve nationally significant cultural and historic sites, buildings, objects, documents, and collections. 'These Save America's Treasures grants will preserve the physical fabric of our history and the rich diversity of America's story, as told by its artists, scholars, and other notable figures. These awards also honor the hundreds of volunteers, organizations, and communities whose energy and investment are ensuring that this national legacy endures for generations to come,' said First Lady Michelle Obama."

xas: 'Average Donor' Campaign Raises Funds for Arts Hall, 1/30/11

"The Arts of Collin County added more than 400 new donors in the past two years when it took the grassroots approach, focusing on average individuals. The growth in giving for the arts hall includes Plano, with 116 new donors. The 133 total Plano donors have given about three million dollars, with the median donation at $100…As of the end of last year, 480 donors from across North Texas had contributed to the project. [The Arts of Collin County Executive Director Mike] Simpson said his goal was 2,500 donors."


Arts Canvas: The View from the Field
Stephanie Evans, Local Arts Agency Services Coordinator
Americans for the Arts


In January, most of the Americans for the Arts network councils gathered in Washington, DC, to participate in t
heir annual Winter Meetings to share information and develop work plans for the year.

During the two-day Emerging Leaders Council meeting, we had a valuable discussion around connecting more deeply to the 32 Local Emerging Leader Networks that are currently in existence, while also providing resources and services to the individual emerging arts leader who does not have access to regular professional development or a local network. 

In my two years of working with the Emerging Leaders Council, I have been excited about the evolution of their conversations as they develop strategies and ideas to reach out to the field, providing resources for growth and professional development.

Meanwhile, back at our offices in DC, one of our focuses within the Local Arts Advancement department at Americans for the Arts is the idea of moving from arts leadership to community leadership. How does your job as the marketing associate at a local theater change when you begin to think of yourself as a community leader, now in the position of being able to connect with your community, and invite them to participate in an art performances that are relevant to them…?

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



Webinar: New Approaches to Audience, Visitor Feedback
On February 16 at 3:00 p.m. ET, join Americans for the Arts for a webinar (free to Americans for the Arts members) called "Intrinsic Impact: New Approaches to Audience and Visitor Feedback." This 60-minute briefing will cover new approaches to impact assessment under development in the US, UK, and Australia. Participants will learn the basic principles of impact assessment and the various methods of gathering feedback from audiences and visitors, and engage in a discussion of how this information can be used (or abused). The presenters for this webinar are Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak-Leonard from WolfBrown. For more information, and to register, visit our webinar page.

An Arts Watch Partnership
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.