December 18, 2010

My wife, son and I became fans of the band OK GO just after they left their record label EMI and it was covered on NPR's All Things Considered. Molly Sheridan wrote on her AJ blog about this high profile split in January too. It even made the cover of Billboard Magazine.

We absolutely became fans because of their videos. If you've not seen them dance on treadmills, their Rube Goldberg machine, or wrangle choreographed dogs you are missing creativity in pursuit of amazing fun.

Fast forward 10 months to the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we went to LA to see OK GO perform their homecoming show at the tail end of their Fall tour. We loved it! So I started digging deeper to understand how they're making their business model as an independent band without a record label work. As I learned more about how they are using their millions of You Tube views to secure corporate sponsorship to make more videos and stage festival events I understood that they are showing the way for artists of all types to monetize their creativity with new technology.

I even planned to write about all I was understanding about their new business model. Good thing I waited a few weeks because the lead singer, Damian Kulash, has done it for me in today's Wall Street Journal. They titled his article The New Rock Star Paradigm

I'd extend the conceit to say we're looking at another facet of the new artist paradigm.
December 18, 2010 8:12 PM | | Comments (2)
September 17, 2010

On Sunday, I'm participating in University of Hartford's President's College Showcase 2010. Dean Aaron Flagg of the Hartt School is convening a panel to focus on the future of orchestras. (We start at 11:30am) He asked each of us to submit a written response to this question for publication in the program.

The orchestra field includes school, community, youth, collegiate, semi-professional, and fully professional orchestras. Describe your ideal future for the American Orchestra. What part of it do you think will actually take place? Why?

I was asked to further comment on these questions related to youth symphonies and university orchestras.

What is different about the young performers in youth orchestras today than 20 years ago? What experiences might higher education be surprised to realize youth orchestra members have and therefore want from a collegiate experience? How might colleges and the professional world adjust to maintain their long-term interest? Having advocated for funding at the county and state-level, what are some of the perceptions of the orchestra field in the public sector and how might or how are they impacting the future?

Here's what I wrote. If you're there please come say Hello!


Orchestra music is inherently a community created art form, yet it is dependent upon the excellence and dedication of each individual participant. Understanding and working with this duality is essential to successfully advancing orchestral music into the future. Inspiring individual musicians to commit themselves to enthusiastically pursuing the goals of the ensemble consistently results in the most successful orchestral experiences for musicians and audiences. Sustaining this enthusiasm in musicians over a lifetime, particularly professional musicians, is a challenge.


Enthusiasm is not hard to find in student musicians. And, we have clues as to how their youthful enthusiasm may be extended beyond their current experiences. The majority of students participating in youth orchestras today don't have the same school orchestra experiences their counterparts had twenty years ago. Unlike in the past, most are receiving their musical instruction through private teachers and spending much more time focused on individual repertoire. As a result, orchestral and chamber music repertoire is novel to them, as is the group experience of an ensemble. This is particularly true of string players whose parents started them in lessons at an early age without giving them an ensemble experience in their musically formative years.


Universities have the opportunity to tap this limited exposure to ensemble. It can actually be the source of ongoing excitement and growth in students. Framing the university music experience as a venture where each student is charged with growing their musical skills in order to prepare for playing repertoire alongside their peers and colleagues would communicate the value of the orchestra as a community project. Instead of viewing their progress as an individual concern, students would understand they are first and foremost contributing to something larger than themselves. We might even see the end of the senior recital.


In addition to focusing on the students' own discovery and embrace of orchestral repertoire, universities have the opportunity to teach them how to share their passion for the repertoire with their wider community. There is little doubt students will continue to come out of college with the musical skills to perform amazing orchestral repertoire. But will universities commit to giving them the skills they need to share their love of the music with friends, family, neighbors, and strangers?


Twenty years from now our nation's college, community, and professional orchestras will have to relate to their communities dynamically to be valued widely. Giving today's student musicians the skills to lead that dynamism will be good for them, good for orchestras, and good for our nation.

September 17, 2010 7:56 AM | | Comments (0)
August 26, 2010

The race for California Governor is sure to be the highest profile, most expensive, and most media focused election in the country this year. This means it's also the most important race for arts advocates to engage. So we're doing it!

This week a consortium of California artists, arts organizations, arts educators, and arts coalitions launched the Arts in Governors Race project. The basic goal is simple. We want to make so much noise about the importance of the arts to California's future that the gubernatorial candidates announce their support for arts-friendly public policies such as:


  • Increasing public funding for nonprofit arts organizations in order to better serve their communities
  • Ensuring that every child has the opportunity for a comprehensive, high quality arts education in grades K-12
  • Nurturing an environment that allows individuals and families affordable access to all forms of the arts
The Steering Committee needs arts supporters from every California community to get involved. We've identified three simple things you can do to advance the arts during this important election. (And you don't have to be from California to participate!)

1. Endorse the campaign - It is a non-partisan effort that doesn't support one candidate or the other. Instead, we need a list of millions to show these candidates the arts matter to people's lives in California. The online form will take less than a minute to complete. While your at it you can start following the effort Facebook and Twitter.

2. Invite your friends and colleagues to become involved in all the ways you are. Send them to the website and encourage them to be part of this exciting statewide effort. If you want to volunteer even more time then let us know.

3. Donate! Money is the life blood of every political effort. Ours is no exception. Your contribution can be of any amount. $5, $20, $50 and larger contributions will deepen the pool of resources we have for engaging the candidates and building momentum for this effort. Every dollar makes a difference so add yours to the cause right away.

Californians have two months to put the importance of the arts on the radar of their next governor. Adding your voice is the only way we'll create enough volume to make that happen.

Do your part today!
August 26, 2010 10:50 AM | | Comments (0)
August 19, 2010

San Diego is hosting the first of a series of events across California to bring attention to the importance of the arts and arts education to candidates for elected office. If you are in San Diego for the day on Friday, join us at 5pm for our 2010 Arts and Culture Election Mixer at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. Get the event detail here.

We have candidates for City Council, School Board, County Supervisor, and State Assembly all expected to attend. With 100 of San Diego's arts and culture leaders along with the board members from California Arts Advoctes surrounding these candidates at the mixer, we think this will be the first step to building relationships with the eventual winners of these races.

If you haven't started planning an election event focused on the arts in your community I encourage you to get started. The election is less than three months away. It really only takes a commited group of people to use their networks to distribute invitations, follow up with campaigns and secure a cultural location. Americans for the Arts Action Fund even has tips and tools to help you.

There is no more fun way to build relationships with candidates than by throwing a party to impress them with the crowd you draw, the calibre of leader in attendance, and the power of the arts as a backdrop. Post info about your party in the comments below!


August 19, 2010 8:00 PM | | Comments (0)
July 26, 2010

I've had the good fortune to participate in a variety of state and national gatherings focused on the future of the arts, arts advocacy, and non-profit advocacy since May. This week, I attended a Nonprofit Advocacy Policy Roundtable organized by the Nonprofit Listening Post Project based at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Civil Society Studies. If you aren't familiar with the Listening Post's work, it is worth checking out. I'm particularly impressed by the data and analysis they provide in their three advocacy communiqués. These (numbers 9, 13, and 18) formed the starting point for the all day conversation.

Being immersed with non-profit agency, coalition, and funding leaders from across all sectors helped me see that arts and culture advocates are basically in the same position as their colleagues in other sectors when it comes to advocacy - only worse. Facts from the Listening Post reinforce this experience. Arts organizations under participate in advocacy with only 59% of theaters and 46% of museums claiming to advocate or lobby compared to 89% for elderly service and 80% for children and family service non-profits. All non-profits primarily focus their advocacy on funding for their organization's programs, less on policy issues of relevance to the people they serve, and all are basically absent from policy conversations about the larger governmental and regulatory structure that surrounds us.

The vast majority of non-profits' absence from policy discussions about what structures define the world we operate in was evident in the Creative Rights and Artists discussions last week on Arts Journal. What I've missed in the forum is a mention that this is endemic to non-profits across sectors.

At the Advocacy Policy Roundtable, we attempted to unearth factors that contribute to this state of affairs. The one that is most fascinating to me is related to how non-profits seem to downplay their inherent private/pubic nature. Government as a social concept has taken a beating over the past 30 years and is no longer viewed as a source of solutions nor quality services. Yet non-profits are providers of services handled by government in other countries. Because of the non-profit tax status, receipt of government dollars and common use of government facilities, non-profits' success is inextricably bound to the success of government at all levels.

Instead of clearly defining to the public and policy makers that we are partners in creating and serving the common good (does anyone even know what this is anymore?) we spend our time fighting to retain what we have and avoid becoming responsible for more than we are already doing. We aren't functioning with a big picture perspective that could result in substantial change if we orient ourselves to the task. Instead, we seem to believe we can't make a difference on such a scale and shouldn't even try. We are passive on the most substantial issues like the majority of the population.

I learned at the Roundtable that the non-profit sector in whole is the fourth largest industry in the U.S. economy, I think by employment but I don't remember if this is the exact measure. We're bigger than the lobbying powerhouses of banking and construction. But we don't operate with the same commitment to advocacy or lobbying as these other sectors. We limit ourselves through a belief in lack of resources. The Listening Post found that the two greatest reasons organizations site as inhibitors to advocating is lack of staff time and training. Yet, as organizations grow they don't prioritize advocacy enough to overcome this barrier. In fact, 85% of large organizations site lack of staff time while 72% of medium and 65% of small organizations give this same answer.

People do what they want, what they like, and what they know. Advocating for more than their organization or program is clearly not what leaders of non-profits are doing. This is entirely by choice. If non-profit leaders begin to recognize that because of the goodwill and trust people have for non-profits, they can positively affect policy and governmental functioning that will in fact advance their own work and success. It just takes making it a priority and slowly building it into the character and culture of an organization.

If people with enough generosity of spirit to dedicate themselves to a career in the non-profit world don't expand their efforts to include advocating for the greater good then I'm not sure who will. And arts organizations seem to me the best to start this effort since they are community gathering points already.

Update: The staff at the Listening Post has just confirmed that their research shows the non-profit sector is the 4th largest employer in the United States.

July 26, 2010 9:50 PM | | Comments (6)


Dog Days For too many years the non-profit arts have related to government as a source of money and aggravation. The founding days of the NEA are gone forever and the glory years of state arts agencies doling out cash are behind us, so let's not settle for aggravation. more

Dalouge Smith is President & CEO of San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory and serves as Chairman of the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition. more

Contact me Click to write


Archives: 48 entries and counting


National Advocacy Stakeholder

-Dance USA
-National Dance Association

-Americans for the Arts
-Association of Performing Arts Presenters
Keep Arts in Schools
-National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

-Performing Arts Alliance
-Western States Arts Federation

-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
-Directors Guild of America
-Motion Picture Association of America
-Screen Actors Guild
-Writers Guild Of America

-American Association of Independent Music
-American Federation of Musicians
-American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
-Association of Independent Music Publishers
-Broadcast Music, Inc.
-Christian Music Trade Association
-Church Music Publishers Association
-Country Music Association
-Gospel Music Association
-Hip Hop Summit Action Network
-League of American Orchestras
-Music Managers Forum-USA
-Music Performance Fund
-National Association for Music Education
-National Association of Recording Merchandisers
-National Music Publishers' Association
-Nashville Songwriters Association International
-Opera America
-Recording Artists' Coalition
-Recording Industry Association of America
-The Recording Academy
-The Songwriters Guild of America

-Association of American Publishers
-Novelists, Inc.
-PEN American Center
-The Authors Guild

-Actors' Equity Association
-Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers
-United Scenic Artists
-Theatre Communications Group

-American Association of Museums
-Art Dealers Association of America
-Association of Art Museum Directors
-National Art Education Association

State Advocacy Organizations

-Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts
-California Arts Advocates
-Arts For Colorado
-Colorado Arts Consortium
-Connecticut Arts Alliance
-Florida Cultural Alliance
-Arts Leadership League of Georgia
-Hawaii Arts Alliance

-Illinois Arts Alliance

-Indiana Coalition for the Arts
-Iowa Cultural Coalition
Division of Arts & Cultural Services
-Arts Kentucky

-Louisiana Partnership for the Arts

-Maryland Citizens for the Arts

-Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities

-ArtServe Michigan

-Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota

-Minnesota Citizens for the Arts

-Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies
-Missouri Citizens for the Arts

-Montana Arts

-Nebraskans for the Arts

-Nevada Arts Advocates

-New Hampshire Citizens for the Arts

-ArtPRIDE New Jersey, Inc
-New Mexico Community Arts Network

-Arts North Carolina, Inc.

-North Dakota Arts Alliance/Alliance for Arts Education

-Ohio Citizens for the Arts

-Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania

-Rhode Island Citizens for the Arts

-South Carolina Arts Alliance

-South Dakotans for the Arts

-Tennesseans for the Arts

-Texans for the Arts

-Texas Cultural Trust

-Utah Cultural Alliance

-Vermont Arts Council

-Virginians for the Arts

-Washington State Arts Alliance/Foundation

-Arts Advocacy of West Virginia

-Arts Wisconsin

-Wyoming Arts Alliance

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About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
State of the Art
innovations and impediments in not-for-profit arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
The Unanswered Question
Joe Horowitz on music

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
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