Arts Watch Update

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

Cornell University President Continues Humanities Push
, 11/10/10
Cornell President David Skorton wrote the following about his campaign for humanities education in a column published November 10: "The most wretched nonmonetary consequence of our nation's economic distress over the past two years, in my view, is an acceleration of our country's loss of values. No, I am not referring to coded political messages about 'family values.' I mean values as related to language, literature, culture, and ethics, to the very breadth of knowledge that helps us understand ourselves and what it means to be human—in good times and bad. Yes, I am talking about the humanities."

California: L.A. Philharmonic Joins Broadcasting Trend
Los Angeles Times, 11/8/10
"In a bold venture that the Los Angeles Philharmonic hopes will boost its 'national brand' recognition and help raise the profile of classical music from Manhattan to Orange County, the orchestra next year will transmit live performances of three of its concerts to more than 450 high-definition-equipped movie theaters throughout the United States and Canada. Under the new project, the Philharmonic will partner under an exclusive one-year contract with Denver-based NCM Fathom…which distribute scores of concerts, sporting contests, and other entertainment events to movie theaters and other venues."

United Kingdom: Arts Council Unveils Major Funding Overhaul
The Stage, 11/4/10
"Arts Council England (ACE) Chair Liz Forgan described the changes as 'the biggest transformation of arts funding for a generation.' Meanwhile, ACE Chief Executive Alan Davey said that the new process would be 'unbureaucratic' and would move away from criticisms of the old system, which he said some had viewed as 'mysterious,' continually funding the same companies…There will now be an open application process and all companies that receive core support from the arts council…will have to apply from scratch for funding under a revamped, 'more flexible' system."


Culture and Communities

Texas: City Proposal to Sell Civic Center Draws Arts Opposition, 11/8/10
"Selling the Civic Center Auditorium would cripple McAllen’s performing arts scene, which would wither without a proper theater, several people told the city commission [last week]…Situated on 13 acres…the auditorium site has become prime commercial property. Developers frequently contact city leaders about buying the land said City Manager Mike Perez. The commission has regularly talked about using the auditorium property and other government-owned land to lure a big-name retailer…A successful retailer would also pay property tax and create jobs, boosting the local economy. After the meeting, commissioners said they’d carefully weigh economic development against the performing arts."

Colorado: Denver Arts Scene Surviving Downturn
The Denver Post
, 11/6/10
"The effects of the recession are evident in metro Denver's cultural and arts community, with total economic activity attributed to area nonprofit arts organizations in 2009 dropping 14 percent from 2007. However, a study released by Colorado Business Committee for the Arts shows that contributions to the arts rose about four percent between 2007–2009, from $154 million to $160.4 million…Full-time employment in the arts sector held steady, which the report said may be due to increased arts grants from federal, state, and local agencies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."


Arts Education and the Creative Workforce

Oregon: Right Brain Initiative Brings Arts to 11,000 Students
The Oregonian
, 11/8/10
"The students at Lincoln Street Elementary in Hillsboro kept their eyes trained on dancer Elizabeth Burden, who was teaching them about the life cycle of plants. After a brief lesson on the meaning of 'dispersal,' she guided them in pretending to be seeds that scatter to the wind…But on a larger scale, the lessons are part of an ambitious program to supplement arts that have shrunk in metro-area schools because of budget cuts. Now starting its third year in classrooms, The Right Brain Initiative reaches 11,000 students in four school districts…Eventually, the nonprofit's leaders would like to reach 110,000 students in 25 districts."

North Carolina: College Students Light Up City Streets, Creating Public Art
Winston-Salem Journal
, 11/7/10
"Beginning November 16, the Winston-Salem Light Project will present 'One City Block: Urban Revelation' on Fourth Street between Cherry and Marshall streets and by the fountain-fronted entrance to the Winston-Salem Journal on Marshall Street. This is the third time in as many years that Norman Coates’ lighting students at UNC School of the Arts have transferred their work from the insides of a theater to the outsides of Winston-Salem’s downtown in the name of a very public art…Instead of lighting the side of a prominent building—as was the case in 2008 and 2009—the students will be lighting several parts of [the two streets]. The aim is to heighten awareness of city elements in a way that prompts reflection on the urban environment and our role in it."

Utah: Arts Integration Program Key to Student Success
, 11/4/10
"A dull roar could be heard from the gymnasium at James Madison Elementary School as students and parents moved around tables set up with a variety of art projects…The event was part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program that has been in the school for three years [through a] grant from the state office of education…The program, which allows an art specialist to work side by side with teachers, as well as liaisons from area universities, is now in 50 schools across the state…Principal Julie Palmer was impressed with the turnout. 'I think this just shows how much parents value arts in the school,' she said."


Public Investment in the Arts

Rocco Landesman: NEA Needs Other Federal Agency Partners
The Sacramento Bee
, 11/8/10
"In Rocco Landesman's mind, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was not made to exist in a Washington political vacuum. As chairman, Landesman is keen on breaking down the walls that have traditionally existed between the NEA and other federal agencies. 'Cabinet secretaries should not exist in silos,' said Landesman…[The chairman] is forging partnerships with other government agencies, akin to his involvement in the redevelopment of New York City's Time Square. The Obama administration, Landesman notes, sees the arts as a key vehicle in helping to improve quality of life, revitalize neighborhoods, and create sustainable communities."

North Carolina: Local Arts Council Awards $1.95 Million in Grants
Winston-Salem Journal, 11/5/10
"The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has awarded 68 grants totaling $1.95 million to organizations and individuals—a 6.5 percent increase over last year’s total. Of that amount, organizational support grants totaling $1.7 million have been awarded to 21 funded members of the arts council—a six percent increase over last year. The grant money will be used during the council’s current fiscal year, which started October 1."


The Creative Economy and the Private Sector

Report: Los Angeles Creative Economy Lost 37,000 Jobs in 2009
Los Angeles Times, 11/10/10
"The 2010 Otis Report released [November 10], which uses 2009 data, shows that the creative economy here generated $113 billion in revenue and provided 304,400 jobs last year (compared with $121 billion and 342,300 jobs in 2008). That allowed it to hold onto its rank as the second-largest business sector in Los Angeles County, behind tourism and hospitality. But some creative fields are clearly surviving the recession better than others. Of the 10 industries analyzed, furniture/home furnishings, toys, and fashion have been hit the hardest."

Connecticut: New TBS Series Finds A Home in Stamford
The Stamford Advocate, 11/6/10
"The film studio felt like Hollywood, with production assistants murmuring into headsets and makeup artists scurrying after actors and actresses roaming the set. But it's the Connecticut Film Center studio on Stillwater Avenue, not Los Angeles, that is serving as the film location for Are We There Yet? a new TBS sitcom chronicles the daily life of a man who has just married a divorced mother of two. The show is one of many director Ali LeRoi predicts will be lured to Connecticut by the state's film credit program and the large pool of acting talent found nearby in New York City. Connecticut since 2006 has offered a 30 percent tax credit for film production expenses that exceed $100,000."


Philanthropy & Fundraising in the Arts

Pennsylvania: Joint Philanthropic Effort Supports African-American Art
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
, 11/10/10

"The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation have jointly launched a $650,000 initiative to ensure continuing support for local organizations and individuals whose work focuses primarily on the art of African-Americans. 'Advancing Black Art in Pittsburgh' [will be] established with an initial $325,000 from each foundation. Applications made by organizations to The Pittsburgh Foundation, which will process funding requests, will be reviewed by a panel that will include artists, curators, community representatives, and staff from both foundations. Grants will be awarded biannually beginning in the spring of 2011."

Missouri: PNC Foundation Funds St. Louis Grant Program
, 11/5/10

"PNC announced it will fund a two-year, $1 million grant program to support St. Louis-area arts organizations. The PNC Foundation made the announcement [November 4]. PNC said grants of $20,000 and above will be awarded to qualified arts organizations…'The arts community in St. Louis is very active with a wide selection of theater, dance, and concerts,' said Rick Sems, regional president of PNC. 'Through the PNC Arts Alive initiative, we can contribute to St. Louis' outstanding cultural arts and support new and imaginative arts programs that help enrich our community and strengthen our regional economy.'"

Gates Foundation Donates $50 Million to Smithsonian Institution
The Washington Post
ArtsPost blog, 11/

"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $50 million to the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum announced [November 3]. The money will go principally to the Youth Access Endowment, a new entity created by the Smithsonian. Gates is giving $30 million of the gift to 'reach underserved students' in the United States. The endowment targets students in grades K–12, and will create a series of interactive websites and online conferences…A $10 million portion will support the [institution's] strategic plan through research and public programs. The final $10 million will go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for its design and construction phase."


Arts Canvas: The View from the Field
Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Animating Democracy Co-Director, Americans for the Arts


With little fanfare, the Community Arts Network (CAN) website went dark in September. CAN was led with passion by founders Linda Frye Burnham and Steve Durland. Through Art in the Public Interest and CAN, Linda and Steve worked to “promote information exchange, research, and critical dialogue within the field of community-based art.”

CAN was grounded in the belief “that the arts are an integral part of a healthy culture, providing both intellectual nourishment and social benefit, and that community-based arts provide significant value both to communities and artists.” The site and the volumes of writing Linda and Steve contributed and commissioned helped to legitimize the community arts field here in the United States.

CAN site usage was high. It averaged 40, 000 –50,000 visitors per month. 28,000 of those were unique visitors, and each visitor viewed an average of six pages each. Fifty-eight percent of respondents to a user survey indicated the CAN was among the top five preferred websites and 40.7 percent of respondents indicated it was in their top three. A respondent to a 2007 user survey expressed the site’s value well:

“CAN shines a light on the depth and, more importantly, breadth of community arts activity. It turns out that community arts do not just exist for a few lucky people in one corner of the world, but by thousands of people in schools, prisons, lumberyards, police forces, girl scout troops, senior centers, on boats, on trains, in bars… the list is endless. CAN helps to contextualize these highly individual experiences in the broader community arts landscape and promote discourse about the field. CAN is building a body of evidence that community arts are not marginal, but rather constitute a large and vibrant part of the greater arts landscape.”

Ironically, CAN goes dark as the community arts and participatory arts practice and projects on which Linda and Steve shined a light seem to be gaining in recognition and support. Thanks to the Open Folklore project, a joint effort of the Indiana University Libraries and the American Folklore Society, the CAN website, as it existed at the beginning of September 2010, has been preserved in an archive…

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



The Big Read Seeks Applicants for 2011–2012
The Big Read is accepting applications from nonprofit organizations seeking funding to conduct month-long, communitywide reads between September 2011–June 2012. The national program is designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture. Organizations selected to participate in The Big Read will receive a grant ranging from $2,500–$20,000, access to online training resources, educational and promotional materials, inclusion of your organization and activities on The Big Read website, and the prestige of participating in a highly visible national program. Approximately 75 organizations from across the country will be selected by a panel of experts. To review the guidelines and application Instructions visit The Big Read website. Questions? Call Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or e-mail

Participate in the American Express Members Project Campaign
Americans for the Arts has reached round three of the American Express Members Project campaign and is still in the running to receive $200,000. Between August 31–November 21, citizens can vote for their preferred project and those with the highest votes continue on to round four this winter. For more information, and to vote, visit the Members Project website or click on the button on the left side of Arts Watch.

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.