Connecting culture and agriculture

Last night Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle celebrated the 2010 recipients of the Governor's Awards in Support of the Arts. It was another great batch of recipients (full disclosure, I'm on the Advisory Committee for the sponsoring organization, the Wisconsin Foundation for the Arts). Links to videos about each recipient are included below. A particular favorite, for a while now, is The Wormfarm Institute, a combination of organic farm, artist residency, and cultural connector in rural Reedsburg, Wisconsin, working to ''build a sustainable future … [Read more...]

Sneaker Medici

I'm finally getting around to this early October article in the New York Times about the Converse sneaker company and their new Converse Rubber Tracks community-based recording studio project. The company is building a recording space in Brooklyn that will be available at no cost to musicians wanting to record their work (subject to an application process).Converse obviously has brand value on their minds, but their deal with the selected musicians is rather free of strings (the musicians retain the rights to their recordings and their music, … [Read more...]

Farewell to the Walkman

Sure, it's not a great shock that Sony is discontinuing its Sony Walkman portable audio cassette player (already has, actually...get 'em while they last). But it's a melancholy moment nonetheless. Back in the late '70s and early '80s, the Walkman was a glimpse of the mobile and personal relationship with music yet to come. Instead of being anchored near your home stereo or in your car (if you had a car or a home stereo), the Walkman moved with you. And instead of playing for (or bothering) the world like a boombox, the Walkman played only for … [Read more...]

Silos, waiting to matter

The opening plenary of the Grantmakers in the Arts conference featured a fabulous performance by spoken word artist Marc Kelly Smith and the Speak'Easy Ensemble (Robbie Q. Telfer, Joel Chmara, Tim Stafford, Molly Meacham, and Dan Sullivan). Their task was to share and reflect on the long, long, long list of comments gathered after the 2009 GIA conference, and put them in some context that would inform the 2010 conversations yet to come.It was fantastic stuff, and among the best efforts I've seen to bring the voices and insights of a past … [Read more...]

Living the pivot

[Yet another Grantmakers in the Arts entry, also posted on their conference blog.]Joi Ito's luncheon keynote yesterday keeps spinning in my head. The CEO of Creative Commons has been involved in many technology startups as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and part of his talk explored how innovation and invention is changing in the digital age.Particularly interesting were two approaches to innovation: agile development, and pivoting.Agile development is an evolving practice for rapidly developing software with self-organizing groups, … [Read more...]

Under-capitalized and oversupplied

[More thoughts from the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in Chicago. If you're really interested in what's going on, be sure to track the Twitter stream.]There was some useful and difficult discussion today at the Grantmakers in the Arts conference, much of it surrounding the charge to reframe how arts funders think and talk about capital and capitalization.Many funders will admit, in private, that their expertise and interest lie on the program side of their work, rather than on balance sheets and income analysis.  Others will complain … [Read more...]

What the heck is ‘capital’?

[GENTLE READERS: I'm blogging early this week from the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in Chicago. You'll find most of my posts co-posted here, and on the official conference blog.]The Grantmakers in the Arts conference in Chicago is swirling around the question of capital and capitalization in the arts. They've released the summary report from their extended conversation on the subject, called the National Capitalization Project. And they plan a series of talking sessions on what that report recommends.It's an absolutely essential … [Read more...]

Cost and creativity

KCRW's "The Business" radio show/podcast offers a great interview with film director Stephen Frears (roundabout 6-1/2 minutes in) on his experiences in independent and major studio filmmaking. Frears has learned that he's not suited to major studio films because the time and money are out of scale with the audience his films will draw. Major films take 100 days to shoot, he prefers 40 days. Majors spend lots of money while he prefers to save every penny he can. From his comments, it's clear that he feels a responsibility to the people financing … [Read more...]

Preservation v. Protection

Copyright law has always walked the tightrope between monopoly and community. It was designed to allow creators, authors, and inventors to exclusively benefit from their work for a period of time (a monopoly providing incentive for them to create, author, or invent), while also ensuring the public/community benefit of those creations by eventually terminating that monopoly and releasing them to the wild.There are books and speeches and diatribes aplenty about whether the current balance of copyright tilts toward monopoly or community (with … [Read more...]

Virtual and viral, new approaches to public art

The Arts Management newsletter offers a fabulous overview of city and civic art initiatives currently underway around the world. Among the coolest:Random Acts of Culture: An initiatives of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to coax arts events out into the open, funding arts groups in eight cities $30,000 to perform or exhibit outside of their traditional venue.Virtual Public Art Project: A partnership that brings 'augmented reality' artworks to public spaces, viewable only through your mobile device when you're standing in a … [Read more...]