Scorekeeping, by whom?

By Andras Szanto
The previous two posts, in particular, serve as a reminder that we lack broad, independent research and think-tank infrastructure to deliver the kind of informed, disinterested, inclusive measures--and the debates surrounding them--that are key to the sort of enlightened arts policy that Bill is challenging us to imagine. 

We tried. The money ran out. The same funding mindset that has a hard time going beyond direct subsidies to nonprofits and attacking system-wide concerns also has a really hard time devoting money to this kind of research and thinking capacity. As a result, it is left to advocacy groups and market-research and consulting firms. Their efforts are well intentioned, but they will not provide a credible long-term basis for objectively-rooted policy to get us to the next step. 
January 28, 2010 5:53 AM | | Comments (2) |


A similar case can be made regarding preservation (and was, here:

Overall the priority in funding art is (appropriately) funding art - not art writing, or art research. If we are to expand administrative focus in the arts sector (toward research, or preservation) we best be prepared to contract somewhere else. What can we now do without that we had to have a generation ago?

Yes, our field would benefit in the future from the collection and development of real data. Not to kitchen sink with this comment, but the Dana/Hopkins Arts Learning and the Brain proceedings ( contain few conclusions other than just such a call.

The problem isn't just a lack of think tank and data collection infrastructure or funding. We don't have a culture of research in the arts/expressive lives community. We tend to feel the coupling of expression and rigorous assessment are incompatible. Check out this article from the January Atlantic to get an idea of what could be achieved if we started to collect data in a systematic way:


This Conversation Are the terms "Art" and "Culture" tough enough to frame a public policy carve-out for the 21st century? Are the old familiar words, weighted with multiple meanings and unhelpful preconceptions, simply no longer useful in analysis or advocacy? In his book, Arts, Inc., Bill Ivey advances "Expressive Life" as a new, expanded policy arena - a frame sufficiently robust to stand proudly beside "Work Life," "Family Life," "Education," and "The Environment." Is Ivey on the right track, or more

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