Cuyahoga Arts and Culture CEO and executive director Karen Gahl-Mills has resigned, effective June 7, according to a press release sent this morning, April 18. In a challenging atmosphere of funding cuts, the leader of one of the nation’s largest public funders of the arts became embattled on several fronts: first in an attempt to address racial inequity in grantmaking to individual artists, and subsequently by choosing to significantly reduce operating support to nonprofit organizations all at once, rather than gradually, in the hope of keeping grant amounts stable for a period of years despite a projected continual decline in cigarette tax revenue.
“For Saddam, the ruined city of Babylon had always held a special fascination. He ordered an ambitious reconstruction of the city’s walls, costing millions of dollars at the height of the Iran-Iraq War. … When archaeologists told him that ancient kings like Nebuchadnezzar had stamped their names on Babylon’s bricks, Saddam insisted that his own name be stamped on the modern bricks used in the reconstruction. … In 1981, Babylon was where celebrations took place to commemorate the first anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Iran, with officials using the slogan, Nebuchadnasar al-ams Saddam Hussein al-yawm (yesterday Nebuchadnezzar, today Saddam Hussein).”
Pia Catton: “For non-profits, misconduct can pose a real threat to funding. Foundations don’t want molesters and predators operating with those they fund. Why should individual donors give to theatres turning a blind eye? If people act that way, a new level of board involvement in hiring and oversight is needed. One path to that is more direct input from artists about what’s happening in the company and during the hiring process. … There is no shortage of knowledge among artists and their peers about who’s handsy, manipulative or abusive.”
The secret of an effective pricing strategy is differentiation and airlines do this on a number of levels, harnessing as many of the factors that affect demand for flights as they can.
“Stories have been circulating for nearly 400 years about the apparently strange compulsion that led otherwise sensible merchants, nobles and artisan weavers to spend all they had and more on tulips, only to land in bankruptcy and ruin” – and pulling the entire country’s economy down with them – “when the bottom fell out of the market in February 1637.” Historian Anne Goldgar argues that this narrative is a moralistic Victorian invention and that primary documents from the late 1630s tell a somewhat different story.
In the run-up to H-Day, each local municipality had to deal with issues ranging from repainting road markings to relocating bus stops and traffic lights, and redesigning intersections, bicycle lanes and one-way streets.
“A 2017 European Parliament report floated the idea of granting special legal status, or ‘electronic personalities,’ to smart robots, specifically those which (or should that be who?) can learn, adapt, and act for themselves. This legal personhood would be similar to that already assigned to corporations around the world, and would make robots, rather than people, liable for their self-determined actions, including for any harm they might cause.”
“After two years of planning and construction, and having raised an estimated $20m from Google, the Ford Foundation and private philanthropists such as the billionaire activist siblings Pat and Jon Stryker, the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice [in Montgomery] will be inaugurated with a two-day ‘peace and justice summit’ starting on 26 April.”
“Summer performances at the Royal Opera House face disruption if security staff vote to go on strike over allegations of bullying and poor pay. Union Unite represents the vast majority of the 30-strong security workforce at the ROH, who will start voting on whether to take strike action on April 16, with the ballot closing on May 4.”
As online learning extends its reach, though, it is starting to run into a major obstacle: There are undeniable advantages, as traditional colleges have long known, to learning in a shared physical space. Recognizing this, some online programs are gradually incorporating elements of the old-school, brick-and-mortar model—just as online retailers such as Bonobos and Warby Parker use relatively small physical outlets to spark sales on their websites and increase customer loyalty. Perhaps the future of higher education sits somewhere between the physical and the digital.
Although differences emerge within the sector, the overall picture is of a homogenous workforce whose social networks are largely limited to other culture professionals and whose values are markedly different to those of any other occupation. Cultural workers are ‘the most liberal, most pro-welfare and most left wing of any industry.’ These same descriptions apply both to makers of culture and consumers: cultural workers attend four times as many cultural activities as people in working-class occupations. ‘Many in the sector really do have a distorted picture of just how unlikely it is for a working-class person to visit their institution,’ says Dr O’Brien. ‘Basically, you have a set of people who look very much like the audience that they are serving. We could consider the cultural sector a closed segment of society.’
The percentage of people working in publishing with working-class origins was given as 12.6%. In film, TV and radio it was 12.4%, and in music, performing and visual arts, 18.2%. “Aside from crafts, no creative occupation comes close to having a third of its workforce from working-class origins, which is the average for the population as a whole,” the report said.
The disorienting and thoroughly unsatisfying Cambridge Analytica saga is a preview of what trailing indicators of the collapse of the data boom might look like: revealing signs, evident years later, that something was rotten with these arrangements, arriving too late to be actionable but soon enough to foster resentment against companies and services on which we’ve come to depend.
At first glance, the case looked like a fairly straightforward dispute—a small, non-profit education publishing company alleged that FedEx violated its copyright by printing copies of its mathematics curriculum. But two factors make this case exceptional.
Whew, Met Museum. Some people are not thrilled with your selection of Max Hollein: “It feels like a very ho-hum decision on the part of the Met, almost like electing an old pope who will only be around for a few years until someone better comes along.”
The Echo prize went to Kollegah and Farid Bang, whose lyrics include claims that their bodies are “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners,” which they say is not anti-Semitic. The upshot: “The BVMI group initially defended its decision, saying the award recognises sales, not quality, but its chief Florian Druecke told the RND newspaper chain the Echo prize would be revamped in light of the protests and that the association rejected all forms of antisemitism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and the glorification of violence.”
And no auditions in “private residences” either. At least, that’s the SAG-AFTRA goal, part of a #MeToo result: “The hotel audition guidelines build on the union’s Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment released in February. Hollywood figures, including disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, are accused of making unwanted sexual advances on dozens of women in these private meetings.”
She’s definitely not happy with Netflix and Amazon Prime video turning moviegoers into watch-at-home fans. Mirren “said the ‘communal’ experience of cinema is in danger of dying out. ‘An audience, a movie, and you’re all in it together,’ she said. ‘You’re frightened, you laugh, you cry all together. … And that’s beginning to disappear.'”
Economic impact was calculated using the amount spent by the arts institutions and by visitors, both “directly,” at the arts venues and “indirectly,” at other businesses such as restaurants, shops, and hotels. It also includes “induced impact,” which is a sort of ripple-effect estimation of the value of things like jobs in other industries supported by the direct and indirect spending.
While the arts may not always seem to be an obvious area for investment, the sector has uniquely comprehensive impact. Cultural activity creates social cohesion, builds neighborhood identity, supports local economies by providing direct and ancillary jobs for residents, and generates spending at a range of businesses, large and small—from equipment suppliers and caterers to parking garages, dry cleaners and babysitters.
“I believe there needs to be a radically different institutional framework for cultural intermediation that brings both official and everyday culture and cultural actors together in order to break down barriers between them. This must include the democratisation of cultural intermediation at management level to waft some much-needed fresh air into the corridors of cultural policy.”
Museums, galleries and universities often find themselves confronted with a common problem here. On the one hand, they are working hard to make themselves more approachable and accessible – often with real success. On the other hand, they are simultaneously invested in building up ‘prestige’ in a way that can make those who work in them seem superhuman and the institutions themselves seem overpowering or otherworldly – distant from everyday experience.
I believe that art has its own life, independent of the people who make it. And I know that artists are, at least as much as the rest of us, complex creatures. I don’t enjoy damning anyone. I am an art critic, not an ethics panel. I only want to register my dismay.
It’s not just men, often of a certain generation, who seem unsettled by this newfound determination to speak out – demonstrating cultural leadership while doing so. I’ve heard some women in theatre talking about MeToo as a “bandwagon”. These are often women who have scaled the ladder of success and found their own ways to deal with predatory male sexual behaviour. The argument is that to make a fuss about an unwanted hand on a knee or a breast casts women in the role of victims, when of course it is a women’s job not to make a fuss and to deal with these advances from men. Because boys will be boys. But that does nothing to change the culture in which such behaviours thrive.
Outsiders have long been curious how admissions decisions are made. Most of the time this desire for transparency stems from a desire for fairness: Given how few acceptances elite institutions can offer, admitting any group of students almost always means excluding a much larger group that is just as qualified. So the unfortunate truth that investigators and the public may discover after peering into the black box of college admissions is that there are few, if any, procedures for deciding who gets in that would be perceived as fair.
“For the better part of a year, students, faculty, staff, librarians, museum professionals, artists, and many members of the public [in Austin] worked tirelessly to protest further removal of books and materials, after discovering that, over the summer of 2017, around 75,000 items from the Fine Arts Library had been removed to off-site facilities. The rest of the items held by the library – which predominantly occupied the fifth floor of the Doty Fine Arts Building – also appeared to be at risk of removal.”
Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders. Art teaches us that lives other than our own have value. Like the proverbial court jester who can openly mock the king in his own court, artists who occupy marginalized social positions can use their art to challenge structures of power in ways that would otherwise be dangerous or impossible. Authoritarian leaders throughout history have intuited this fact and have acted accordingly.
“A quarter of the 40 major arts and culture organisations that had to report their gender pay gap details to [the UK] Government this week paid their female staff a higher average hourly rate than their male employees last year. Overall the major arts employers still pay men more than women – there is a median hourly pay gap of 4.4%, but this is lower than the average of 12% across all 10,000 reporting employers.”
One man runs a bookshop in Berlin’s old Jewish Quarter, and he helped lead a protest against neo-Nazi marches in the quarter. “Braunsdorf, who has hosted German-Arabic reading events at his shop for refugee children and moderated debates about gentrification, the economy and politics, said he ‘can’t imagine running a bookstore just as a selling point.'”
This is a fine, nuanced, complex piece of writing. For example: “How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose? What if we are in the unusual position of having helped create it?”