Issues

Measuring The Creative Economy: Can We Measure How The Artists Are Doing?

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“Interestingly, in all the responses to the article, no one so far has been able to suggest a data source that suggests that mean or median incomes for musicians have declined since 1999, adjusted for inflation. Everything that I have uncovered in many months of researching this article suggests that the story of music since 1999 is one of steady but small growth for musicians. Not some glorious renaissance, but certainly not a crisis.”

Is “Teach For America” An Idea Whose Time Has Passed?

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“As TFA’s applicant pool shrinks and recruitment dips, its critics are claiming that alumni horror stories and ideological critiques of the organization are finally starting to take their toll. TFA, on the other hand, maintains that ongoing economic recovery is impacting their recruitment by driving top-tier applicants away from teaching.”

How The Biggest Explosion In Recorded History Changed Culture All Over The World

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The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 did more than just cause the “Year Without Summer” and lead to months on end of storms, crop failures and epidemics. The aftermath of that catastrophe changed the course of painting and literature (though the participants didn’t know it at the time), and arguably led to the birth of an entire branch of popular culture.

Is Your Foundation Perpetuating Inequality By The Way You Give Away Money?

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“A basic tenet of equity in our line of work is that the communities that are most affected by societal problems are leading the efforts to address these challenges. And yet, many foundations’ application process is deeply inequitable, leaving behind the people and communities who are most affected by the injustices we as a sector are trying to address.”

How New Orleans Culture Asserted Itself After Katrina

Members of the Stooges Brass Band perform in a second-line procession during King's Day festivities in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. King's Day is a tradition marking the 12th night after Christmas and the official start of the Mardi season. Carnival is celebrated along the Gulf Coast with parties, balls and parades culminating on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, a final day of celebration before Lent. It is a major tourist draw in New Orleans. Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 17 this year. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“When I first got to New Orleans after the flood I was stunned first by just how much had been destroyed, and then later by just how little I knew. I’d been writing about jazz for 20 years. Yet I was profoundly ignorant about what it means to have a living music, one that flows from and embeds everyday life — a functional jazz culture of the sort that once existed in cities throughout the United States but now is exclusive to New Orleans.”

The NYT Says Data Shows The Creative Class Economy Is Thriving? Not So Fast…

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“Steven Johnson’s article “The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t” frames itself as a data-driven response to concerns about the plight of creative workers in the digital age. But Johnson’s grasp of the limitations of the data he cites seems tenuous, and he ends up relying on some very dubious and all-too-familiar assumptions. In its sweeping dismissal of artists’ various concerns, the article reads as an exercise in gaslighting.”

The New Creative Economy? Don’t Believe The Hype!

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“One thing you find if you talk to people who work in culture is that those lacking family money, tenure, or celebrity status are pushing up against very serious limits in the entrepreneurial, tech-mad, post-recession world. The Times story mocks these struggles rather than trying to understand them. Don’t believe the hype.”

What Too Many Arts Execs Misunderstand About ‘Sustainability’

ca. 1975-1995, Mexico City, Mexico --- A mask of the Aztec god Xochipilli taken from the ruins of Teotihuacan sits in a museum. National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico. --- Image by © Charles & Josette Lenars/CORBIS

Too many boards and CEOs have “tried to make their organizations ‘sustainable’ by imposing a simplistic set of solutions to the problem: sharp cuts in the compensation packages of their union musicians and workers, plus an equally sharp reduction in programming. With respect, this is no way to build sustainability. On the contrary, this a recipe for disaster.” Scott Chamberlain proposes a differently way of looking at the concept.

National Museum Of Scotland Staff Start Seven Days Of Strike Actions

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“The action comes as the city is at its busiest for the Edinburgh Festival. The Public and Commercial Services union said about 120 members were on strike following the collapse of talks with National Museums Scotland (NMS). The action was caused disruption to both the National Museum of Scotland and the National War Museum.”

And The Ancient Palmyran Temple Falls To ISIS

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“Palmyra, one of the Middle East’s most spectacular archaeological sites and a UNESCO World Heritage site, sits near the modern Syrian city of the same name. Activists said the militants used explosives to blow up the Baalshamin Temple on its grounds, the blast so powerful it also damaged some of the Roman columns around it.”

Consumer Behavior Is Changing. Here’s How

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“Consumerism has shifted from a world of physical images and personal communication to a world of imagery and perception. Regardless of industry, product or service, vendors that enable instantaneous access and deliver on their digital promise will survive. Those who rely solely on their brick and mortar presence will not.”

Visiting The Harlem Renaissance – Via Virtual Reality

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For instance, there’s “an avatar that could be programmed with biographical information on W. E. B. Du Bois, whmo users could ask questions to find out about his history. In the surrounding blocks Ethel Waters might be singing the debut performance of ‘Stormy Weather’ at the Cotton Club, and crowds are gathering at the Apollo Theater.”

Everything You’ve Heard About Chastity Belts Is A Lie

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“Here is the truth: Chastity belts, made of metal and used to ensure female fidelity, never really existed. … Or, as the British Museum puts it: ‘It is probable that the great majority of examples now existing were made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as curiosities for the prurient, or as jokes for the tasteless.'”

What Is This Big-Spending, High-Powered, Tight-Lipped Group Of Donors Around The Librarian Of Congress?

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“But like its 86-year-old leader” – outgoing Librarian James Billington – “the James Madison Council is a throwback to a different time. Although its mission is outreach, the group is insular and exclusive. Membership is by invitation and individual donations go undisclosed. … Although they’ve raised millions, they’ve spent almost half of their recorded contributions on private parties, exhibition receptions, travel and employees and consultants, financial statements from the council and the library show.”

Argument: The Creative Economy Is Dying. (But It’s Not, And The Reasons Are Complex)

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“The thrust of this argument is simple and bleak: that the digital economy creates a kind of structural impossibility that art will make money in the future. The world of professional creativity, the critics fear, will soon be swallowed by the profusion of amateurs, or the collapse of prices in an age of infinite and instant reproduction will cheapen art so that no one will be able to quit their day jobs to make it — or both.”

The Problems With Cellphones In Theaters Aren’t Just In The Audience – They’re Everywhere

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“Performing artists across genres say the situation can be just as bad offstage, where cellphones are increasingly intruding on rehearsals, auditions and backstage culture. ‘I’ve had to scream at dancers in rehearsal,’ said choreographer Anthony Rue II … ‘The moment they have a second to breathe, they run to their phone. It takes them four or five minutes to mentally get back.'”

Santa Monica’s Troubled Arts Center Brings In New Chief To Shake Up Programming

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The Broad Stage, which has seen a serious decline in box office income and donations over the past three years – even as it prepares to open a third performance space next year – has hired Stanford Live director Wiley Hausam. He says, “My sense is that this is a community willing to take artistic risks and do stuff that’s more interesting.”

Are Big Arts Events More About The Audience Than The Art?

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“A great deal of event art is more about the event and the audience than it is about the art. The throng – the sight of people congregating – is being used to prove relevance, to demonstrate that cultural institutions are hip and popular. But in chasing the buzz and pursuing the people, the art – a poem, exhibition, orchestral work or a play – can get lost. The danger is once the novelty wears off there is little to show for it. The crowds will vacate.”

MacArthur Foundation Makes Big Change In Focus Of Its Grants

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“Julia M. Stasch … explains in the organization’s annual report that the emphasis going forward will be on a smaller number of bold and even risky ‘big bets.’ These will be results-oriented, defined-time projects, as opposed to the more open-ended organizational support it has provided in the past.”

She Sculpted New York’s Frederick Douglass, But She Can’t Afford Her Studio Anywhere In The City Anymore

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“The relentless tide of gentrification has made it impossible for her to stay. One by one, the craftsmen and artists have vanished from the red brick building on Jay Street where Ms. Koren worked. The cabinetmaker? Gone. The photographer? Gone. The lamp maker, the painter and the dealer of 1950s furniture? All gone.”

Can Anything Save Small Businesses In New York?

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“When I say they’ve destroyed New York’s old stores, bars, restaurants, hangouts, I’m saying the real estate market has destroyed the sacred watering holes and gathering places of the 20th century.”