When you say it with money, you mean it

A reader comment to a previous post let me know about the Canadian $20 note, and its specific emphasis on the arts. I already had a warm spot in my heart for my northern neighbors, after spending two days talking with them about 'the healthy arts leader' and the importance of a supported and engaged workforce in the nonprofit arts. Now I admire them even more. The Canadian $20 has the queen on the front (God save her, by the way), and a themed series of images on the back, celebrating Canadian arts and culture. The quote on the bill comes from … [Read more...]

Reconnecting science and art

A short piece in New Music Box reminds us of the close and symbiotic connections between art and science, despite the efforts of the past few centuries to separate the two: In the modern world, we have seen scientific knowledge assume a status as the most valuable or authoritative kind of knowledge, while artistic knowledge and intelligence is relegated to a secondary status....Yet equations are metaphors for reality and perhaps have more similarity to art than we might usually accord them. It's a topic explored in several books, one favorite … [Read more...]

A hammer or a sponge

I was part of a fascinating conversation of 'new business models for the arts' the other day. The general set-up was that the nonprofit corporate form is showing some wear, and that the downsides of the model (its tendendency toward undercapitalization, organizational isolation, plodding governance structures, cumbersome and demanding funding sources, etc.) are coming to outweigh the benefits. Our impulse for framing the question is to ask what other business models are available. If the 501(c)3 is not the future of the arts, then what? But, as … [Read more...]

The Simpsons spoof cultural facilities

Anyone who watched ''The Simpsons'' last week got a hilarious view of the cultural facility development process, featuring the voice of architect Frank Gehry. Summarized on this Simpsons web site: While in Shelbyville, the Simpsons watch a musical about the town, which includes a character from Springfield who isn't particularly bright. Marge suggests to the Springfield Cultural Activities Board to have a concert hall, built by Frank Gehry (voicing himself); however, when it becomes clear that nobody in Springfield likes classical music, the … [Read more...]

Teaching the unknowable

I'm on the road today to Pittsburgh for the annual gathering of Arts Administration degree program directors, faculty, and such (members of the Association of Arts Administration Educators). On the agenda, as always, are various panels, lectures, and breakouts about how to teach something that none of us can exactly define: proactive, effective, flexible, and engaged management and leadership of primarily nonprofit and public cultural enterprise. It's sure to generate some weblog fodder over the coming days. But for now, I've got an (awfully) … [Read more...]

Do what we say, not what we do

One would expect the Central Intelligence Agency to think alot about thinking. After all, they have agents and analysts spread about the globe...drawing on whatever data, experience, and context they can to form actionable plans for complex issues. So, while other organizations might measure and assess the effectiveness of their construction process or supply chain, the CIA is likely in the business of doing the same with the distributed network of knowledge-builders that make up what they do. Of course, that same CIA has been attacked of late … [Read more...]

Stocks, flows, and connectors…oh my

If you're in a particularly wonkish mood, you might be interested in the release and public launch of the Cultural Dynamics Map, the first tangible outcome of a collaborative project I helped launch back in 2003 along with friends and compatriots Russell Willis Taylor of National Arts Strategies and John Kreidler of Cultural Initiatives Silicon Valley. The map is a first attempt to apply the methods and modeling language of systems thinking to the world of arts and cultural production, consumption, support, and experience in the United … [Read more...]

The answer, in a word, is ‘no’

Back in 1981, a report from National Economic Research Associates asked a pointed question about the new opportunities of cable television: Will Cable Save the Arts? The buzz about cable back then was that it opened a wealth of new channels and flows for all kinds of content. Broadcast television had been a horribly narrow pipe, with only three major networks, and a necessary rush to the lowest common denominator. With cable and its dozens (now hundreds) of channels, some thought, surely some would be dedicated to the traditional arts, … [Read more...]

We are not alone

A short piece in the Christian Science Monitor shows that it's not just cultural managers who are under stress from all sides...movie theater owners are feeling the pinch, as well. With razor-thin profit sharing deals with the major studios, mounting pressures to push blockbusters through their doors, and increasing competition for audience time, money, and attention, movie managers are also longing for days gone by: ''In the '50s and '60s, everybody went to the movies,'' says [Michigan movie-chain owner Joseph] Chabot, adding that with all … [Read more...]