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Monday, March 31, 2003

War Is Good For Art? War may be terrible, but it’s good for art, writes Jan Dalley. The 20th Century “produced in the western world a rich array of art inspired by war, and invented or exploited new art forms with which artists of all sorts could express their responses. War is, let's face it, a great subject. And once the subject was liberated from the constraints of previous centuries - that was, the adherence to right-thinking patriotic norms that demanded unconditional and uncritical support ("my country right or wrong") - there was a flowering of art in response to conflict.” Financial Times 03/28/03

New York City Revives Decency Commission New York City's "Decency Commission is back. But this time "instead of acting as a culture vice squad, their role includes recommending policy, writing reports, and coordinating city, State, and federal agencies. Jitters concerning the return of a Decency Commission are understandable. It was only a few years ago that Rudolph Giuliani reconstituted the long-dormant commission to advise on what kinds of art should get city funds." The Art Newspaper 03/28/03

Saving Music Education? With budget cuts across America, music education programs are being cut. Supporters are rallying to try to save them, but it's a hard sellRecognizing that parents nationwide are facing the same battle, a coalition of national music groups launched a new Web site this month to help them make their case. SupportMusic.com provides local groups with research and tips. San Jose Mercury-News 03/31/03

Sunday, March 30, 2003

A Cultural Complex For The WTC Site Plans are coming together for a "Museum of Freedom" to be built as part of a cultural complex at the site of the World Trade Center. "The museum would be part of a two-building cultural complex as conceived by Daniel Libeskind, whose design for the 16-acre site was chosen earlier this year. The second building would house a performing arts center, which would probably become the home for the New York City Opera. In addition to its repertory, the opera company would stage musical theater at the hall that it may want to take on the road." The New York Times 03/31/03

Colorado Arts Council Could Be Dead This Week The 36-year-old Colorado Council of the Arts faces elimination this week by the state legislature. "During the past few years, there have been attempts to get rid of the council, most notably a proposal to shift its funding to the creation of a state boxing commission. That crisis was resolved when the agency agreed to split its grants equally between metro area arts groups and the 57 counties in the rest of Colorado. Now the planets have aligned to make the council just one of dozens of programs facing gutting or elimination in the scramble to balance the budget." Oh yes, and if it goes away, the Arts Council won't be coming back anytime soon. Count on it. Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 03/30/03

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Culture Capital - Arts Mean Business There are six British finalists for the 2008 European Capital of Culture designation. But the honor seems to have less to do with actual culture than an economic shot in the arm. Why? Glasgow, 1990. "Cannily, the run-down Clydeside city used investment in culture as a major tool to revive its flagging economy. It proved, up to a point, that culture could be translated into tourism, business ventures and jobs as well as museums and concert halls." The Guardian (UK) 03/30/03

Friday, March 28, 2003

Ontario Flatlines Arts Budget Hopes had been high that Ontario's government would increase the province's $25 million arts budget this year. But when the budget was announced, there was nothing new for the arts. Arts leaders are disappointed - the amount has stayed the same for the past five years. "We had made some very strong arguments for the value of the arts and the contribution they make to life in Ontario. There appears to be nothing in it for the arts. The community is going to be very disappointed." Toronto Star 03/28/03

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Banking On Building A Good Board One of the biggest challenges for arts organizations is finding good sound board leadership. "Tony Scotford, a Sydney lawyer and outspoken arts advocate, has an innovative solution - a board 'bank' where the best talent can be matched with the neediest companies - on the cards as part of the Australian Business and Arts Foundation's future projects. If it works like the health industry's sperm and blood banks, why not? So many of our boards are the result of mateship, or favours, or a reward for sponsorship." Sydney Morning Herald 03/28/03

Trying Harder As Money Gets Tighter As money gets tighter, American arts organizations are rethinking their operations. "To survive, cultural establishments nationwide are pooling resources, taking artistic risks, and stepping up outreach - rethinking everything from fundraising tactics to show times to get people back to the box office. In a time of financial famine, the arts are getting creative. 'These organizations are like farm animals in the 1930s dust belt. They have less and less to sustain them'." Christian Science Monitor 03/28/03

Ontario Looks For Arts Funding Increase Arts funding may be getting slashed, burned, and beaten into the ground as the U.S. struggles with a dismal economy, but in Ontario, arts advocates are expecting a jump in cultural spending as the provincial government releases its budget today. "In 1995, the council's $42 million budget was cut dramatically by $25 million, where it has hovered since," but the federal and provincial governments have shown a willingness in recent years to jump in and bail out struggling arts groups. An increase in arts funding would have the potential to reduce the number of struggling groups, and thus, the number of needed bailouts. Toronto Star 03/27/03

Nice Timing On the same day that Colorado arts advocates had scheduled a special day of lobbying on behalf of their profession, the joint budget committee the Colorado legislature voted to completely eliminate public funding for the arts. If the plan passes in the full legislature, Colorado would join Oregon and New Jersey in becoming the only states to zero out cultural funding. (None of those states has yet finalized its decision to kill the funding.) Colorado already ranks dead last in the nation in per capita arts spending. The proposed cuts would eliminate about $1.5 million in arts spending. Denver Post 03/26/03

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Screen Play The Royal Opera House will set up screens around the country this summer and broadcast performances out on the streets. "Productions by the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet will be beamed to outside screens in Sheffield, Liverpool, Gateshead, Belfast and London's Canary Wharf. It is part of an initiative to reach people who would not normally watch ballet or opera." BBC 03/26/03

New York City To Cut City Cultural Spending? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's preliminary 2004 budget calls for a cut of 17 percent from the proposed budget for the city's Department of Cultural Affairs. "The city's Independent Budget Office - in its March analysis of the mayor's preliminary budget - is comparing the proposed 2004 funding to the June 2002 financial plan, which had set the DCA budget at $123.4 million. The new budget would be $102.5 million. Backstage 03/26/03

Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing The recent slash in California's arts funding isn't worth all the hand-wringing, says Christopher Knight, simply because the state wasn't really doing anything helpful for actual artists even before the cuts. In the 1990s, artists learned that the way to get funding from an increasingly hostile set of lawmakers is to tie absolutely everything they do to education and social services, which results in mandates that funding be spent on repetitive and pointless programs rather than on the creation of actual art. "Why the inverted priority in the real world? No mystery: Artists don't have advocates in Sacramento. The arts bureaucracy does." Los Angeles Times 03/26/03

Pooling Resources In Massachusetts A unique conference in Boston has brought together arts organizations, cultural advocates, and state politicians in an effort to better educate the disparate artistic community in the more pragmatic aspects of financial survival in tough economic times. Participants shared fundraising and lobbying techniques, heard from high-ranking legislators concerning what tactics work best at the statehouse, and discussed methods for broadening the diversity of audiences. Boston Globe 03/26/03

  • Finneran's Wake Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas Finneran stepped into the lion's den this week, appearing at an arts conference to explain the legislature's decision to slash the state arts budget, and to advise activists on how to avoid future cuts. "He admitted most politicians still regard the arts as 'elitist' and added 'the two most compelling areas for us' are education and health care... Finneran also noted legislators break down budget appropriations into three levels of funding: 'essential,' which he said is 'in the eye of the beholder'; 'desirable'; and 'Nice, but...' This is not a good time to be part of that third group." Boston Herald 03/26/03

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

UK Artists Get Funding Boost Arts Council England has announced a large increase in arts funding. "Overall, the Arts Council - funded by government money and lottery receipts - will distribute £410 million by 2005/6, compared with £335 million in 2003/4. A host of new groups, which do not usually get funding from the Arts Council, will get £123 million. Individual artists will benefit from a £25 million fund for the next three years - double what is available to them now." BBC 03/25/03

NJ Arts Supporters Enlist Businesses To Lobby State For Arts Funding New Jersey Governor James McGreevey says he's reconsidering zeroing out the state's arts budget, but for now the budget line still reads empty. "Arts organizations in New Jersey feel they now have a better chance of persuading state officials to restore funding because business groups have added their backing. Some chambers of commerce have made an effort to rally businesses that have a direct interest in arts activities." Trenton Times 03/25/03

Why Do Artists Lean Left? Patrick Goldstein wonders: "Why have most artists, be they poets, playwrights, painters, writers, musicians, actors or filmmakers, historically been far more involved with causes on the left than the right? The simplest explanation for this tradition of left-wing politics is that artists identify with the underdog. They tend to be disaffected outsiders and mavericks, skeptical of institutions, often uncomfortable with mainstream values. They find inspiration in change; their affection is with the dispossessed, not the ruling order." Los Angeles Times 03/25/03

Monday, March 24, 2003

Art, Not Gangs "While research has found that arts education can improve overall academic performance, the studies are preliminary on whether the arts can contribute to peace among youth. But encouraging evidence can be gleaned from personal observations. In cities around the country, corrections staff, nonprofit organizations, and individuals are putting together arts education programs for at-risk youth, with city and state arts commissions. In Boston, a nonprofit group called Artists for Humanity has apprenticeships for economically disadvantaged urban teenagers." Boston Globe 03/23/03

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Return Of The Blacklist? Can the blacklist live again? Absolutely, writes Linda Winer. "Lest anyone think I overstate the danger to artists who use their media access to penetrate the drumbeats of war, consider what already exists on the Internet - ironically, a phenomenon that thrives on the gift of free speech." Newsday 03/23/03

Artists - Activism In Slow Motion "Art-world activism is everywhere, however, albeit at rather low volume." But where it does penetrate the public conciousness, it seems not many people care. Reasons? The Art Newspaper 03/21/03

From Cowboy City To Culture City? Calgary may be having trouble holding on to its symphony orchestra, but there is no question that the arts are coming of age in the metropolis known to most Canadians as Cowboy City. "After decades of oil-fuelled prosperity, there is a growing feeling that Calgary's continued success will depend on its ability to become a different kind of city, one that fosters the development of arts [and] culture." Calgary Herald 03/23/03

Friday, March 21, 2003

DC: Invest In Arts And Economy Will Improve Washington DC has a budget deficit of $127 million. But some are advocating the city invest $100 million in the arts. "One of the cardinal rules of business is that it takes money to make money, and experts say investing in arts and theater projects is the way to spur economic development. City councilwoman Sharon Ambrose, the mayor and a number of cultural leaders argue an improved arts community would prompt a better quality of life for the city." Washington Business Journal 03/14/03

Baghdad Of Old "Between the 8th century, when it was constructed, and the 13th, when it was destroyed, Baghdad was the wealthiest, most learned and most opulent, city in Islam. Baghdad in the 10th century had a million inhabitants. In Europe at the time, where most people lived in huts, there was nothing to compare with it. Baghdad had 100 bookstores. And the grandest library assembled since the sack of Alexandria's. The city represents, and not only for Iraqis but for Arabs across the board, a time when the Arab world knew itself to be the center of civilization, of science and art and mystery. The symbol of Baghdad is richer, and deeper, than whoever is messing it up right now." Washington Post 03/20/03

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Columbia U Getting Serious About The Arts? While some universities seem to be moving away from the arts, Lee Bollinger, the new president of Columbia University, believes the arts are "integral to the university experience." Now that "he finds himself running a major Ivy League research university in the most highly cultured city in the United States. He gives every sign of relishing the prospect of forging more ambitious, more glamorous bonds between the arts and the university." The New York Times 03/21/03

Artists Cancelling Appearances In The US Some international artists have begun cancelling performances and appearances in the US because of the war, though not many yet... Los Angeles Times 03/21/03

NJ Arts Groups Press For Smaller Funding Cuts New Jersey arts groups are certainly happy Governor James McGreevey is reconsidering eliminating state arts funding. Instead, the cut might be 50 percent. But this isn't good enough some say. "The chop would actually represent a 60% slice over two years, since the State Legislature cut the arts budget by 10% last session. A 60% cut will cause a lot of damage to cultural institutions in the state in an already difficult economy. 'We feel we are a solution to economic problems because we generate a lot of money for the state of New Jersey. We continue to be puzzled by the governor's decisions to slash our funds when we're a billion-dollar industry to the state." Backstage 03/20/03

Canadian Media Chain To Hire National Arts Journalism Team CanWest, which owns 11 big-city newspapers and 16 TV stations across Canada, is hiring a new team of national arts journalists to be based around the country. The team will be used on TV and in print, and the company says it wants to create some stars. But "the creation of the arts team has CanWest's current arts editors, reporters and reviewers worried. They fear that the company's long-term plan is to reduce local reporting and criticism and that, over time, coverage of film festivals, concerts and events will diminish." CanWest's track record on arts coverage is terrible; when it acquired the National Post two years ago, it dismantled the paper's first-rate arts and culture section. "CanWest continues to treat its newspaper customers as though they were buying dog food -- bigger box, less food. What do the dogs know?" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/20/03

Sponsors Pull Out Of Programs About Iraq War The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia has seen a big spike in attendance for its programs as tensions over George Bush's war with Iraq have heated up. But corporations, "which contribute a third of the council's budget through sponsorships and memberships, are paying about half what they once did to sponsor events. Some are not sponsoring them at all" prefering not to be associated with such a controversial topic. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/20/03

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Sydney Opera House Clean Again Cleaners have removed most of the paint on the Sydney Opera house. On Tuesday, anti-war protesters painted "No War" in large red letters on the side of the top peak of the opera house. "The cleaners, from graffiti removal company Techni-Clean, initially used five to six litres of a special white wax to cover the paint, stopping it from drying. Yesterday they blasted off the wax - and the pavement paint underneath - with high-pressure hot water hoses." Sydney Morning Herald 03/20/03

Maryland: Play The Slots, Support The Arts Maryland arts groups were looking forward to a modest increase in state arts funding. But that increase could turn out to be cuts of five to 17 percent if the legislature doesn't go along with Gov Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposal to "legalize slot machines at the state's racetracks and use tax money generated by them as a revenue source." Baltimore Sun 03/19/03

Dumping On The Dixie Chicks When one of the Dixie Chicks said last week she was ashamed of George Bush, the blowback was immediate. "Country stations nationwide, responding to listeners, banned the group from their airwaves. One, in Portland, Ore., was encouraging listeners to burn Dixie Chicks concert tickets in public. By early this week, airplay for the group's latest hit (ironically named "Travelin' Soldier") was travelin' speedily downward. What to make of all this? The press is suggesting that the general public is finally 'fed up' with the nattering nabobs of negativism known as artists. In fact, this is a story that could only have happened in the country music world. That's because country music is the embodiment of patriotism." OpinionJournal.com 03/20/03

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Art Or Finance - Is This Any Way To Run An Arts Organization? Arts management is a vicious circle, writes Rupert Christiansen. Here's the way it goes: "Some ambitious romantic, out of touch with audience taste and budgetary actuality, leads the accounts to the brink of financial catastrophe and plug-pulling threats from the subsidising bodies. The board panics and appoints someone with experience of the 'real world' of business or industry. He or she imports a management consultancy. A lot of paper-pushing, a lot of bellowing, a lot of sacking ensues. Morale among the creators and curators is decimated, and the quality of the art plummets." It doesn't have to be this way... The Telegraph (UK) 03/19/03

Protesters Paint Sydney Opera House Two protesters climbed to the top of the Sydney Opera House and painted "No War" in giant red letters Tuesday. "The graffiti on the highest sail of the ornate building made a mockery of the supposed increase in security at two of Australia's most readily identifiable landmarks, the opera house and nearby Sydney Harbour Bridge." CNN.com 03/18/03

Monday, March 17, 2003

UK Teachers Fear Disappearing Arts Education Is Harming Students Instruction in the arts is shrinking in Britain as the school calendar gets more crowded. "More than 80 per cent of UK headteachers say they battle to find time to schedule arts lessons, while almost 90 per cent of teachers worry that the sidelining of arts is affecting their students' ability to think imaginatively. According to the survey of 695 primary, secondary and sixth-form teachers, two-thirds believe the reduction in arts teaching will be detrimental to the fabric of the country, resulting in a diminished creative industry and fewer artists." The Guardian (UK) 03/16/03

In Colorado - Arts Supporters Fail To Educate Legislators In Colorado, where the state arts budget has been slashed 55 percent, "the arts community has spent much time and oxygen organizing a proactive response to the systematic dismantling of the state's arts council, which has annoyed members of the joint budget committee less than if a fly were to land in their soup. Artists yell indignantly about the shame of Colorado falling into 50th place in state arts funding without having the slightest notion that those who think of the arts as an entitlement wear that stat - not to mention that ubiquitous button - like a badge of honor. What we have here is a failure not only to communicate, but to educate." Denver Post 03/17/03

Missouri Considers A State Of No Arts Funding Missouri weighs the consequences of zeroing out state arts funding. "The possibility of a future without a Missouri state arts agency raises basic questions: Is there symbolic value in a state arts council beyond the money it distributes? And at a time when both the federal and state governments face mounting deficits, should tax money be spent on the arts, which some lawmakers view as a luxury?" Kansas City Star 03/17/03

New Jersey May Restore Some Arts Funding New Jersey Governor James McGreevey is reconsidering abolishing state arts funding. A spokesman for the governor's office says that "a decision has been made to find the means to provide funding for arts communities across the state," and that "it would not be unreasonable for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to get back about half of the $18 million it lost." NJ.com (AP) 03/17/03

  • Fixing A "Mistake?" "In his budget address, Gov. McGreevey proposed eliminating $43 million earmarked for various cultural programs. Among the funds eliminated were $18 million in grant money for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, $10 million for the New Jersey Cultural Trust, $4 million in grants for the Historical Commission and $3 million in Cultural Enrichment Grants. Individual institutions also got cut, including $2.7 million for the Newark Museum." Newark Star-Ledger 03/16/03

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Cleveland County May Propose Arts Tax Levy Vote The economy might be down, but Cleveland-area politicians are talking about putting a new tax of the arts on a Novermber ballot, hoping to raise $14 million to $18 million per year for the arts. "I think it's definitely time that we have to put our money where our mouth is with this particular industry. We're trying to team up the arts-levy request with another popular issue. We thought a combination request would be an easier sell." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 03/16/03

Art Matters When The World Goes Strange What use is art as the world looks to be headed to war? Aren't there more important things to be thinking about? "I agree that art is useless, but so is life, and it's precisely our awareness of the 'uselessness' of life that makes us want to struggle to give it purpose, and to give that purpose meaning. We're told that we're engaged in a Manichean contest between 'civilisation' and 'terrorism' to create 'a new world order'. If anything is to change, what we need is to understand ourselves better as well as understanding those who are different from us." The Guardian (UK) 03/15/03

What They Make - Arts Execs Are Well Compensated A survey of executive salaries in Minnesota arts organizations reveals that top executives are well-compensated. "Some who watch the nonprofit world wonder why arts administrators tend to out-earn their peers in other nonprofit categories such as those related to health, social services and education. In the Twin Cities in 2001, median pay packages for directors of top arts and culture organizations was $273,125, compared to $177,708 in education, $215,557 in health care and $123,984 in social services. 'These jobs are much tougher now than they were. It's difficult to recruit good, experienced people for director positions, and for critical marketing and development jobs. This narrows the pool and increases the salaries of really good people." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 03/13/03

Friday, March 14, 2003

Cutting Back The Arts In The Twin Cities Minneapolis/St. Paul arts institutions are cutting back their operations in response to a downturn in funding. "The Guthrie Theater said it plans to pare its core staff by 10 percent or more within a few weeks. The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts said it has eliminated eight of its 68 jobs, half through layoffs. The Minnesota Opera Company will shorten its coming season, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will start closing earlier on Fridays next week. Last month, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra cut 10 administrative positions from a staff of 45. Other leading arts groups, including the Minnesota Orchestra and the Walker Art Center, have reduced staff size through attrition and job consolidation." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 03/14/03

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Making The Case For Arts & Humanities Chairmen of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities go to the US Congress to plead their cases for funding. "We cannot defend what we do not understand. But even as our country prepares for a possible war, numerous polls, studies and reports indicate that many students at both the secondary and university levels lack even a basic understanding of their country's past. From my perspective this is a national emergency." Washington Post 03/14/03

Star-Struck In LA Two enduring characterizations of Los Angeles - that it's unintellectual and star-struck are only partically true. There's no shortage of intellectual events featuring A-list names. But the attendees appear every bit as star-struck for the intellectual heavy-hitters as other crowds do for the movie stars. "The only thing wrong with intellectual life in L.A. is that people keep asking if there's intellectual life in L.A. The last remnant of provinciality is asking that question." Los Angeles Times 03/13/03

Don't Tell Him What To Do When Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty released his proposal last month to deal with a state budget deficit approaching $5 billion, arts advocates breathed a sigh of relief - the proposal cut the arts, but only by 22%. Still, a massive lobbying effort was launched to get the cuts down to what the state arts board sees as a more fair level, such as 14%. Apparently, the governor does not like being questioned: a revised draft of the budget slashes an additional $5 million from the arts board's budget, bringing the total cuts to 40%. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 03/13/03

  • Venue On The Brink The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is a prominent jewel in the Twin Cities' cultural crown. It hosts touring Broadway shows, and is home to the renowned St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. But the Ordway, which has never been on firm financial footing, is now at crisis level, with its endowment depleted and sponsors pulling out of events they have long funded. Further complicating the fiscal situation is the fact that the Ordway receives a portion of its budget from the State Arts Board, which is now targeted for a funding cut of 40%. St. Paul Pioneer Press 03/13/03

Libraries To Stay Open Bucking the recommendation of its own director, the Minneapolis Library Board has voted not to close four of its branches for the rest of the year. The closings had been proposed as a cost-saving move for the city in the face of a staggering state budget deficit. The Library Board will make a series of one-time cuts in services rather than go through with the closures. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 03/13/03

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Israel's Artists Threaten Shutdown Israel's arts groups plan to shut down the country's cultural life June 1 "if the government does not restore funding for artistic productions. Israel, like governments around the world, is facing a budget crisis, and has made deep cuts in cultural funding. Jerusalem Post 03/12/03

Minneapolis To Close Libraries A year ago, Minneapolis was planning an impressive new downtown library, and trumpeting the value of the project to the city and the entire metro area. Now, the new library may be on hold, and city officials are planning to shutter four branch libraries for the remainder of 2003 in an effort to deal with the severe budget cuts being handed down by the legislature. Minnesota has a budget deficit of nearly $5 billion for the next biennium, and the state's largest city is facing massive cuts in services as a result. Closing the branch libraries is expected to save the city $2 million. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 03/12/03

Auction Houses To Pay Off Plaintiffs When former Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman was convicted of price-fixing in 2001, a flood of lawsuits were filed by collectors who had paid the inflated prices created by the collusion between the auction house and its main rival, Christie's. The auction houses have already paid more than $512 million to resolve such claims in the U.S., and now, a settlement has been reached for each house to pay an additional $20 million for claims from overseas buyers. $20 million is a drop in the revenue bucket for the world's two largest auction houses, and observers say that the settlement is great news for Christie's and Sotheby's. Los Angeles Times 03/12/03

The Fund-Raising Machine If it seems like performing arts groups are forever begging their subscribers and benefactors for money, it's only because they are. Ticket revenue doesn't begin to cover the cost of operations for orchestras, theatres, and dance companies, and the rest of the budget must be made up from endowment revenue (if the organization is lucky enough to have an endowment) and annual contributions. Most patrons don't really understand how the funding mechanism works, but in an era of budget cuts and fiscal crisis in the arts, it is increasingly important for the fund-raising machine to function smoothly and efficiently. Dallas Morning News 03/10/03

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

State Arts Funding - Going, Going... States across America are cutting arts funding. "To be sure, it is an extraordinarily difficult time for state budgets. In the mid- to late ’90s, the states enjoyed healthy revenue streams and almost universally cut taxes and increased spending, including on programs mandated by the federal government (like Medicaid and standardized testing). Now, as the economy enters a second year of doldrums, the states — 49 of which are constitutionally required to keep a balanced budget, unlike the federal government—are paying the price for their earlier optimism. Nor does the horizon look particularly rosy, thanks to the federal budget policy being pursued by the Bush administration. With the president calling not only for elimination of the dividend tax, but an acceleration of the 2001 tax cuts, states are not likely to see more revenue any time soon." In These Times 03/10/03

NY Artists Migrating Again New York artists and arts spaces are on the move again, looking for less expensive space. This year's target area - Hell's Kitchen in the West 30s. "It isn't news that artists get used like detergent—cleaning up a neighborhood, then flushed away. What does seem like a huge shift is that some artists spaces are trying to buck this trend by buying buildings." Village Voice 03/11/03

Proposed New York Non-Profit Rules May Prove Difficult For Arts Groups New York's attorney general has proposed accounting reforms for non-profits. The legislation "would require many New York-based nonprofits to certify financial statements, create audit committees to scrutinize accounting practices, and ensure a sufficient number of independent board members." Some arts people are wary. Depending on how the legislation is written, arts groups - particularly mid-size arts groups - could have difficulty complying. Backstage 03/11/03

Sunday, March 9, 2003

The Netherlands of Arts Funding Dutch government spending on the arts is impressive. "The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science's staggering $21 billion budget is the largest of any Dutch government agency. Adjusted to population size, it's roughly equivalent to the military budget of the United States. The culture ministry spends $400 million a year directly on the arts — about $25 for every Dutch citizen. But the free ride may be ending. Recent policy dictates that "artists must be supported, equipped and stimulated to stir up their spirit of enterprise," and institutions must now meet minimum targets for raising private revenues, or risk losing subsidies."
The New York Times 03/09/03

Friday, March 7, 2003

Pennsylvania Arts Funding Saved Pennsylvania's governor Ed Rendell has decided not to ask for cuts in his state's arts spending. "Why, then, did Rendell stay committed to arts funding as he sought to make up a $2.4 billion shortfall? Arts supporters across Pennsylvania say it's because he saw how Philadelphia arts initiatives benefited that city when he was mayor. Arts leaders also suggest the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts was spared because whittling its budget would not add much to the cuts Rendell needed to make. Its $14 million budget represents 0.07 percent of Pennsylvania's general fund." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 03/07/03

Michigan Arts Funding To Be Cut 50 Percent Michigan's governor proposes cutting state arts funding by 50 percent. "The steep cuts, which left $11.8 million for arts grants, are a particularly bitter pill for arts groups because the bleak economy has already forced corporations and foundations to slash their arts giving. In addition, arts institutions have seen investment income from endowments plummet along with the stock market." Detroit Free Press 03/07/03

Thursday, March 6, 2003

Arts Policy Coming To Calgary? Calgary is a beautiful city, but these days, it is hardly thought of as an artistic and cultural beacon. In the last year, the city's orchestra nearly folded, and the city council nearly refused to assist in its rescue. But a new proposal would see the Cowboy City adopt an official 'arts policy' which would commit Calgary to supporting, i real and substantive ways, its own cultural future. "If council approves the recommendation, it will develop a new civic arts policy by April 2004 that will include setting aside a portion of city infrastructure spending specifically for the arts." Calgary Herald 03/06/03

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Does How We Applaud Say Something About Who We Are? It is "one of the truisms of London cultural life: standing ovations are rarely seen in the theatres, opera houses or concert halls. Across the Atlantic, however, leaping to your feet is almost the norm. Could it be that national character informs the way that we applaud? Or does our reception of a performance have a direct bearing on our attitude to culture?" London Evening Standard 03/05/03

Melbourne's Arts Funding Woes Melbourne's arts institutions are suffering from underfunding they say. "Critics of the Government have questioned its commitment to the arts, saying there is no obvious cultural policy and that it is operating in a policy vacuum." The Age (Melbourne) 03/06/03

That Arts Degree Will Earn You Less So you have that arts degree and feel you're not earning what you should? Turns out the statistics are against you. Researchers have concluded that university graduates with arts degrees - including history, English and sociology - "should expect to make between 2% and 10% less than those who quit education at 18." BBC 03/06/03

What Arts Cuts Would Mean In New Jersey In New Jersey, where Governor James McGreevey proposes to eliminate state arts funding, arts groups are trying to assess the impact of the cuts. What it would mean for mid-size arts groups: "reduced programming, possible layoffs, downgraded ambition, increased frustration. And the ripples could go beyond state grants. Private foundations and other arts supporters could pull back as they evaluate the financial stability of the arts organizations they have supported in the past." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/05/03

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

In NJ: Arts Funding As Your Own Personal Slush Fund How did New Jersey (whose governor is proposing to cut state arts funding completely) distribute a $3 million supplemental fund for the arts this year? The state's Secretary of State - with "bare-bones application forms and no written evaluation process" - unilaterally decided how it would be spent. Regena Thomas "conceded the applications were not measured against one another or ranked in any formal way. Rather, the winners - 33 out of 195 applicants - were chosen based on input from legislators and her own personal interests. All but $217,000 of the $3 million announced in January went to organizations located in Democratic districts." A month after the grants were awarded, Governor McGreevey "called for the elimination of all cultural funding and the dismantling of the agencies that distribute that money." Newark Star-Ledger 03/03/03

Bay Area Arts Groups Downsizing Bay Area arts groups are scaling back and cutting budgets and programs as they struggle to balance their budgets. "Call it the year of 'rightsizing' for arts groups, as many realize funding won't rebound any time soon and they must scale back operating expenses in order to survive. "We're pulling in tight. It's as dark a chapter in the contemporary arts as I've lived in." San Francisco Business Journal 03/03/03

Monday, March 3, 2003

Who Will Get To Control Innovation? Has "digital rights management" which allows copyright holders to control access to their work, gone too far, choking off innovation? And is public access to the airwaves something that should be open or should the broadcast band be tightly owned and managed? Two conferences in California last week chewed over increasingly complicated issues of control of ideas and innovation. The New York Times 03/02/03

Sunday, March 2, 2003

Raising Money From The Arts - A Conflict Of Interest? Should politicians who support the arts be trying to raise campaign money from the arts community? Connecticut's governor, an arts supporter, recently solicited the attendance of arts groups for a $250/plate fundraiser. "He calls and says, 'I'm having a fund-raiser for Gov. Rowland and I'd like to see you there.' There's pressure to attend." Some feel coerced. Hartford Courant 03/02/03

Critical Reading - A Critic And His Letters From Readers Bernard Holland goes through his files of reader letters over the past six years. "Critics open their mail with a blend of gratitude (someone cared enough) and apprehension (we have been found out), but most will recognize an imbalance of justice at work. Reviews and columns come, potentially at least, before many eyes; the letter reaches only two. Yet when accurately aimed, it can hurt. The accusation might concern a wrong name or an unnoticed change of cast, or a fact just plain wrong. If writing accepts the privilege of public exposure, it cannot flinch from the returns of service whizzing back at it in swift postal forehands and backhands. Hovering just beyond this building lurk the grammar gestapo and the spelling storm troopers, issuing postcards in wavering hands and eager to point out the illiteracy of the addressee." The New York Times 03/02/03

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