Arts Watch Update

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

Michigan: Striking Musicians Protest Mayor's Speech
Associated Press, 2/22/11
"In a town where hard hats have been the marks of union street credibility, striking Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians protested Mayor Dave Bing's decision to deliver his State of the City address inside an orchestra hall that hasn't heard a note from them in months. The picket—one of the biggest public displays for the musicians since they walked off the job October 4—illustrated the rising stakes for the workers and the symphony, which suspended its full season after the musicians rejected what management had said was its final offer. No new negotiations are scheduled."


Culture and Communities

New York: Local Restaurant Owner Building Artist Housing
Riverhead News-Review, 2/23/11
"Riverhead officials have long hoped to create artist housing in the downtown area, but developers showed little interest in providing it. Now, Dark Horse Restaurant owner Dee Muma has plans to do just that…[Muma] is working with the East End Arts Council (EEAC) in seeking a National Endowment for the Arts grant to help develop a plan to attract artists and to develop a model that can be replicated elsewhere in town, according to the EEAC’s executive director, Pat Snyder…[Muma] envisions putting four or five studio/living spaces on the third floor, with affordable loft apartments on the second floor."


Arts Education and the Creative Workforce

Kansas: In Protest, College Students Create Day Without Art
The Newton Kansan, 2/21/11
"It was like walking into a morgue. Wrapped as if in death shrouds, all the sculptures and paintings in the art gallery were covered in black cloth and garbage bags. Art students at Bethel College organized as a day without art [on February 18]…About 50 pieces of art were concealed for the event to raise awareness of Gov. Sam Brownback’s executive reorganization order that will make the Kansas Arts Commission a privately funded organization. Not only will arts in Kansas lose the $575,000 next fiscal year in annual state funding, but [the state] also stands to lose an additional $778,300 in funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and $437,767 from the Mid-America Arts Alliance."

Michigan: High School Students Protest Fine Arts Cuts
The Detroit News, 2/18/11
"A group of Southeastern High School students protested cuts to the school's fine arts program by walking out of school [February 18], the third such action the students have staged this week. 'Students are really angry,' said Joyce Schon, an attorney helping the students organize their protest, which she said drew more than 100 people…'I'm really determined to get things right,' said [student Leroy Lewis], who participated in drama and vocal music. 'We've got to keep fighting.'" Last week, the students held a sit-in and march at Southeastern and led three marches to other schools as well.


Public Investment in the Arts

Nebraska: Bill Cuts Cultural Endowment by Half
Lincoln Journal Star
, 2/22/11
"The Nebraska Cultural Preservation Endowment Fund, which shores up funding for arts and humanities in the state, could be another victim of cuts in the 2011–2013 budget. A bill introduced by Sen. Russ Karpisek that would reduce general funds by half in those two years was heard [February 22] by the Appropriations Committee. The bill would reduce funding in 2011–2016 from $500,000 to $250,000 each year, provided that a dollar-for-dollar match has been documented…The Appropriations Committee has proposed dropping the funding to zero in the next two years—no transfers from the state general fund—but would then resume funding at $500,000 in the two-year budget after that, and possibly extend it."

Oklahoma: Committee Approves Suspension of Public Art Program
The Oklahoman
, 2/22/11
"A law that requires a percentage of money spent on state projects to be used for public art would be suspended under a measure approved by a House panel. Rep. Leslie Osborn said her bill would eliminate the Arts in Public Places Act for the next three years. Under the arts law, passed in 2004, anytime the state has a building project or renovation costing $250,000 or more, 1.5 percent of the cost must be dedicated to public art…Eighty percent of the money goes to the art and 20 percent goes to maintenance and administrative costs for the program…The House budget subcommittee on natural resources and regulatory services passed the bill 9–0. It now goes to the [full] committee."

South Dakota: House Passes Small Tax Extension for Arts Council
, 2/20/11
"Gov. Dennis Daugaard's proposed budget cuts are center stage in Pierre, but funding for the arts in South Dakota appears to have a solid foundation. A house bill passed almost unanimously [last week], extending the state's tourism tax. Half a penny of that goes to the South Dakota Arts Council…Just two years ago…then-Gov. Mike Rounds proposed cutting the arts council before raising the state's tourism tax to keep it alive. And if state representatives have their way, that [full] 1.5 percent tax would stay put."


The Creative Economy and The Private Sector

Oregon: Local Arts and Business Group Keeps Portland Arts Alive
The Oregonian, 2/16/11
"Business for Culture and the Arts (BCA) turns 25 this year, but you're not alone if you haven't heard of the group. It's one of those low-profile organizations that toil offstage while arts groups take their curtain calls. But without BCA, art in Portland would not be the same. The organization pitches businesses large and small on the benefits of supporting arts groups with their time and money. This year, 180 mostly local businesses belong to BCA, from the big guys—Nike—to smaller firms—Sherman Clay Pianos…[Also,] BCA encourages business leaders to volunteer on boards of arts groups. In ten years, BCA has trained 350 people in the art of raising money and applying their management or financial skills to running an arts group."


Philanthropy & Fundraising in the Arts

Kentucky: Theater, Nonprofits Join Together for Common Cause
Business Lexington
, 2/17/11
"'Collaborative soup.' That's how Natasha Williams described the Balagula Theatre Company's recent partnerships with other nonprofits to raise awareness and funds. Williams and Ryan Case are the artistic/managing co-directors of Balagula Theatre in downtown Lexington. They were troubled by the funding struggles of many local organizations, particularly arts-related ones. So they decided to use their own productions to link to other nonprofits…A nonprofit partner is selected for each performance. Partners bring marketing materials to the performance and speak directly to the audience about their programs. One-third of the ticket sales go to the spotlighted organization."

Georgia: Atlanta Opera Receives $9 Million Bequest
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
, 2/17/11
"The Atlanta Opera, one of the metro arts groups hardest hit by the struggling economy, is receiving a $9 million bequest from longtime board member Barbara D. Stewart, who died last year, the company announced. The bequest is believed to be the largest gift in the opera’s history and one of the larger gifts known to a North American opera company. Greg Johnson, chairman of the opera's board, called the gift 'transformative' and said it means the company 'is here to stay'…At Stewart’s request, half the bequest will be used to build the opera’s endowment, raising that fund to $5.6 million…Interest from it will fund one production per year."


Arts Canvas: The View from the Field
Tim Mikulski, Communications and Content Manager
Americans for the Arts


Many of our loyal Arts Watch readers are familiar with Americans for the Arts' national arts advocacy efforts, but in light of recent state-level budgetary threats, we wanted to make sure that all of our members and non-members were kept up to date on the latest information in your individual states and regions.

The State Arts Action Network (SAAN), a network of over 70 arts advocacy, services, and education organizations, has been active within Americans for the Arts since 2004, when two previously independent national arts organizations (the State Arts Advocacy League of America and the National Community Arts Network) ratified an agreement to become part of our organization. Over the past few years, SAAN has also grown to include the members of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network.

However, the SAAN isn't left to its own devices, as two staff members from the Government and Public Affairs Department, Jay Dick and Justin Knabb, provide professional development, networking, and technical assistance to the organizations. Jay and Justin also monitor news and events in all 50 states, providing advocacy help to the SAAN member organizations when needed.

All of this background leads me to a brand new area of our website

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



The National Arts Marketing Project Seeks Session Proposals
The National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) invites you to submit a session proposal for its 2011 conference. Join us for Winning Audiences, November 12–15, 2011, in Louisville, KY.  From arts marketing and audience building to new technology and fundraising, the 2011 conference will provide the tools you need to reach audiences, funders, and new partners. Share your practical ideas and strategies on audience engagement and new technologies for succeeding in a more connected society. The NAMP Conference welcomes session proposals from a variety of arts, nonprofit, marketing, and fundraising professionals. For more information, visit Proposals will be accepted until March 18, 2011.

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.