Arts Watch Update
*This section of Arts Watch updates readers on specific news items that have appeared in recent editions.
Kansas: Arts Advocates to Rally at Capitol
The Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/25/11
"Proposed budget cuts that would slash funding to the Kansas Arts Commission are being opposed by arts advocates planning a rally at the Capitol area plaza next month. 'The arts are crucial to economic development and the survival of our communities—especial our rural communities,' said Sara Myer, who is organizing the February 10 rally. The rally will run from noon to 1:00 p.m. in front of the Kansas Judicial Center…and be followed by a march to the Capitol. Participants will then deliver letters protesting the cuts to members of the legislature."
Michigan: Detroit Symphony Musicians Offer New Deal
Detroit Free Press, 1/23/11
"Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians submitted a new proposal to management [January 22], adding yet another twist to negotiations to end the bitter 16-week strike. The new offer adhered to the three-year, $36 million compromise framework put forward in December by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said Gordon Stump, president of the Detroit Federation of Musicians. The proposal may represent a turning point in negotiations. Talks between management and musicians appeared to be in jeopardy [January 22], when management broke a mutually agreed-upon news blackout to claim that the players had yet to provide a true three-year, $36-million proposal, which they had previously endorsed."
District of Columbia: Smithsonian Executive Further Discusses Video Removal
Los Angeles Times, 1/21/11
"G. Wayne Clough, the Smithsonian Institution's chief executive, said that Republican House leaders' threats of budgetary consequences factored into his November 30 decision to remove a video from a National Portrait Gallery exhibition of work done primarily by artists who are gay and lesbian. In a brief interview after speaking at the Town Hall Los Angeles public issues forum at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Clough said he wishes he had taken more time and spoken to more art experts before making the decision. 'It's the most painful thing I've ever done,' he said."
Florida: Economy Guides Arts Organization Programming
Orlando Sentinel, 1/25/11
"The economic slump isn’t just keeping Central Floridians from attending performing arts events, it’s directly affecting what’s being presented on stages or hung in galleries. The most dramatic example locally: When the curtain rises on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it will be the only staged Shakespearean offering this season from Orlando Shakespeare Theater. It’s the first time in its 22-year history that the company has scheduled only one production by its namesake playwright…Across Central Florida, the recession has kept patrons away from arts and cultural events."
California: Theater Sees Opportunity in Struggling Neighborhood
San Francisco Chronicle, 1/24/11
"The American Conservatory Theater is taking a serious look at expanding into San Francisco's Mid-Market district, something many say could be the beginning of a transformation in the area. The nationally renowned theater company wants to turn a run-down triangular lot at the corner of Turk and Market Streets into a $100 million, multistory arts complex filled with a 300-seat theater, housing for visiting actors, and space for a cabaret, classrooms, and retail. While the plan is still in its tenuous early stages, many believe it could bring new vibrancy to an area known decades ago as a lively theater district but now seen as an economic wasteland."
National Arts Index Shows Downturn Effects, Promising Stats
"Experiencing the arts was traditionally about going to a museum, symphony or concert. However, a new survey found that the down economy had Americans re-thinking that plan. The National Arts Index was released [January 24], offering the first comprehensive look at how the arts fared during the recession thus far. The index, generated by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts, factored data dating back to 1998, finding nationwide attendance at art museums was down 13 percent between 2002–2008, and down six percent at popular music events. Donations also fell nearly five percent in a decade…Interestingly, the survey also found interest in the arts, overall, was still high."
New Hampshire: Bill Strikes Arts Education from State Standards
The [Nashua] Telegraph, 1/19/11
"About 150 people turned out for the House Education Committee’s hearing on HB39, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Boehm (R-Litchfield)…The bill would strike arts, world languages, health, technology education and information and communication technologies from the list of subjects defined as an adequate education by the state…leaving language arts, math, science, social studies, and physical education as the only state-mandated subjects. While recognizing the value of the subjects he proposes to remove, Boehm, vice chairman of the education committee, said the total cost goes beyond what the state is providing in funding."
New Jersey: Lawsuit Filed Against City for Lack of Music, Art Classes
The [Bergen] Record, 1/25/11
"Virtually all [of Paterson's] public elementary students are getting little to no music and art classes, according to a complaint from an advocacy group. In a letter to the superintendent and state education commissioner, Elizabeth Athos, senior attorney with the Education Law Center, wrote that the district is violating state and federal law by depriving students this school year of arts and music instruction…Students have gone from learning about the 'works of great artists' to passing the time in art class with crayons and paper, the letter asserted."
Alaska: School Districts, Arts Agency Collaborate in Residency Program
Kodiak Daily Mirror, 1/19/11
"Kodiak Island Borough School District (KIBSD) is one of three school districts participating in a three-year project with the Alaska State Council on the Arts to redesign artist residencies in schools. 'For many years we have had artist residents visit classrooms,' said Marilyn Davidson, KIBSD director of instruction. 'But now we’re looking at something that will have a longer-term impact.' One idea is developing local artists as artist teachers…The Juneau School District has done the same workshop three times in the past, and has trained a number of artists they drew from their residencies. Anchorage only had three artists participate in the workshop this year, compared to Kodiak’s nine."
South Carolina: Advocates Rally After Governor Proposes Arts Cuts
"The arts community, reacting to Gov. Nikki Haley's proposal to cut state money for the [state] arts commission, has been flooding legislators with phone and e-mail messages. The effort doesn't have much time. The first discussion of the arts commission's budget for the state's fiscal year that starts July 1 comes before a House Ways and Means subcommittee [January 26]. Rep. Chip Limehouse (R-Charleston), chairman of that subcommittee, said calls and e-mails have started rolling in from arts groups. Limehouse, who said he considers himself a supporter of the arts, said he hasn't decided his position on the governor's proposal."
Arizona: Governor Offers Cuts to Arts Commission General Fund
Phoenix New Times Jackalope Ranch blog, 1/24/11
"Gov. Jan Brewer slapped the Arizona arts community last week with additional budget cuts in her proposed budget for 2012–2013. The proposed budget eliminates appropriations to the Arizona Commission on the Arts' (ACA) general fund and includes an eight percent reduction to the Arizona Arts Trust Fund. 'The economic crisis in Arizona is having a significant impact on the nonprofit arts industry,' says Robert C. Booker, executive director of the ACA…Brewer's proposed budget would reduce state money allocated to the arts commission by 30 percent."
North Carolina: Film Incentive Strategy Unclear in Uncertain Times
Wilmington Star-News, 1/19/11
"About a week before the 2011 state legislative session begins, it's unclear how the new General Assembly will make its mark on film industry incentives, or whether it will take them up at all this time around. To try to steer more films to North Carolina, state economic development officials are expected to make the case that other states still have better incentive options, even after lawmakers signed off on improved film incentives in 2010. But in a year when a vise grip will be placed on the state's pocketbook because of a $3.7 billion budget gap, legislators might not be feeling generous about granting more perks for the industry."
Colorado: Project Aims to Cultivate Artistic Commerce
Glenwood Springs Post Independent, 1/25/11
"The city of Glenwood Springs may partner with Carbondale on a unique approach to economic development aimed at growing existing local businesses rather than recruiting new businesses to move in. Initially the effort would be oriented toward the arts, including traditional fine arts, music, theater, and film, and artistic trades such as architecture, graphic design, interior design, woodworking, and clothing design. Called 'economic gardening,' the pilot project…would establish what's called a creative industries cluster. [The cluster] could then serve as a model for other types of industry clusters in the future, such as healthcare or technology."
Has the Digital Music Industry Peaked?
The New York Times, 1/23/11
"After another year of plunging music sales, record company executives are starting to contemplate the unthinkable: The digital music business, held out as the future of the industry, may already be as big as it is going to get. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a trade group based in London, said last week that sales of music in digital form had risen only six percent worldwide in 2010, even as the overall music market had shrunk eight or nine percent, extending a decade-long decline. In each of the past two years, the rate of increase in digital revenue has approximately halved."
Strong Fourth Quarter Helps Many Nonprofits Rebound
The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 1/24/11
"Strong holiday season contributions have made many charities optimistic that their fundraising returns will improve sharply in 2011. 62 percent of 245 nonprofit organizations surveyed by The Chronicle reported that they raised more in November and December 2010 than at the same time in 2009. But even as some groups are rebounding quickly from the recession, others continue to struggle. 24 percent of organizations reported year-end gains of more than 20 percent, while 28 percent reported drops in giving. One in 10 said giving was flat during the holidays."
Ireland: U2 Helps Fund Music Education Initiative
"Music Generation is the new national musical initiative that will aim to provide a musical education for 10,000 disadvantaged children over the next three years in Ireland. U2 contributed $6 million towards the cost of the new scheme which is also supported by the American Ireland Fund…The money will help provide a series of local music, education partnerships performed by established music teachers, musicians, and administrators. The project aims to offer free of charge or subsidized music lessons to school children either in or out of the classroom."
The current environment has created a context for Local Arts Agencies (LAAs) and State Arts Agencies (SAAs) to reconsider support for arts and culture activity that addresses social and civic concerns. Many will argue, and rightfully so, that, local and state arts agencies have long responded to disadvantaged populations and encouraged community engagement in their grantmaking. It’s in their DNA as funders working for the public good.
The 2010 report, Trend or Tipping Point: Arts & Social Change Grantmaking, recently released by Americans for the Arts’ Animating Democracy program, gives public sector arts funders some food for thought about their roles.
The report assembles a first-time portrait of arts funders, social change funders, and others in both private and public sectors that are funding civic engagement and social change through arts and cultural strategies. Local and state arts agencies comprised an impressive 48 percent of the 157 survey respondents that say they currently fund or plan to fund arts for change work. In this still very much evolving arena of arts for social change philanthropy, the study finds local and state arts agencies are playing a role even though there are challenges and perceived risks…
To read the rest of Pam's blog post, comment, and to browse other entries, visit Americans for the Arts' ARTSblog.
Free Grant Training Webinars from National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts will be conducting a series of webinars on the new Grants for Arts Projects and Our Town guidelines. Following overview presentations on the two sets of guidelines, staff will be available to answer your questions throughout January and February. To find dates and times for upcoming sessions, please visit www.nea.gov/grants/apply/Webinars.html.
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.