Back in 2007, I wrote a research overview and environmental scan about the state and dynamics of the arts in America for Americans for the Arts. The briefing provided one of the inputs to that organization’s strategic planning process, facilitated by AMS Planning & Research. With that strategic plan now released, Americans for the Arts has posted my original paper for those who care to read it (in PDF format).
Granted, the overview was written before the economic universe changed, before the administration changed, before the Internet took another few evolutionary steps. But I’m pleased to say that many of the dynamics I identified are still unfolding.
The briefing paper is available in PDF format. Here’s how it begins:
While not a time of radical change or violent shifts in arts and culture, the last five years [2003-2007] have witnessed a persistent renegotiation in the U.S. arts ecology. The relationships, expectations, balances, standards of practice, and mental models that had defined the professional nonprofit arts industry, in particular, over the past decades were gradually being redefined by environmental changes, and accelerated by the arrival of wide-access broadband telecommunications.
As examples, the relationship between artist, audience, and arts experience; the interaction of nonprofit, commercial, and informal organizations; the economic models that formed and sustained cultural endeavor; the role and behavior of individual and organizational philanthropy; the boundary between professional and amateur artists; and the perceived place of expressive activity in the life of cities and societies were just some of the areas under renegotiation.