Renegotiating the value of a museum

dia levy passes

Over the past couple of weeks quite a few people have weighed in on the Detroit Institute of Art’s successful appeal to three counties in Michigan to pass a “millage” (a property tax) which would provide $23 million per year for the museum (91% of its budget) over ten years, while it raises $400 million for its endowment to replace the tax revenues when they run out. One of the most interesting aspects of this strategy is that the DIA offered free admission to the museum only to people living in the counties that passed the levy (which equates … [Read more...]

As nonprofits do we (or should we) put all art in service of instrumental ends?

whip

This past Thursday and Friday I had the honor of attending a convening on global performance, civic imagination, and cultural diplomacy at Georgetown University, hosted by Derek Goldman and Cynthia Schneider. By bringing "leaders in international theater and performance together with foreign policy leaders from academia, think tanks, and government," the stated hope of the organizers was to bridge the gap between the fields of politics and culture, to the mutual benefit of both. Over the course of the first two days of the convening some … [Read more...]

Theatre Bay Area’s “Counting New Beans”

counting new beans

Clay Lord and the fine folks at Theatre Bay Area have a new publication out: Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art, which includes interviews with 20 prominent artistic directors and essays by Alan Brown, Rebecca Ratzkin, Arlene Goldbard, Rebecca Novick, and Clayton Lord. It also includes an interview with yours truly. Here's an excerpt from my long and winding conversation with Clay Lord. I've edited together excerpts (elipses mark missing sections) from two different parts of the interview. Clay Lord: You’ve written … [Read more...]

A planned ending for Merce Cunningham Dance Co.

Merce_Cunningham

Merce CunninghamIn last week’s post on direct subsidies to artists, I expanded upon a premise from artist/economist Hans Abbing--that direct subsidies to artists may provide incentives to more people to become artists, thereby increasing competition, and making it more difficult for any to make a living--and suggested that the same may be true of arts organizations. I wrote, "We have incentivized the exponential growth of the arts and culture sector in the US and, despite significant resources (government and private) flowing into the sector on … [Read more...]

What are the aims of direct subsidies to artists?

why are artists poor

Polly Carl has posted a new piece on HowlRound, A Virtual Theater Movement,  in which she remarks on a recent trend in arts philanthropy: increased direct support for artists. This philanthropic trend prompts me to ask, “What are funders hoping to achieve by providing direct subsidies to individual artists?” and to raise the ideas of a colleague from Erasmus, artist/economist Hans Abbing, who wrote a book in 2002 called Why Are Artists Poor? The Exceptional Economy of the Arts, an excellent summary of the chapters therein you can … [Read more...]

The times may be a-changin’ but (no surprise) arts philanthropy ain’t

bullballerina

The Philanthropy News Digest recently sent me a bulletin with the headline, “Arts Funding Does Not Reflect Nation's Diversity, Report Finds” which linked me to an AP Newsbreak article with the headline “Report finds arts funding serves wealthy audience, is out of touch with diversity”. My initial thought was, “Seriously? We need a report to tell us this?” The report, Fusing Arts, Culture, and Social Change: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy, was produced by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and written by Holly … [Read more...]

50+ years of backing away from the hazardous ledge of imagination

salary_ledge

Last week the NEA announced a round of 34 grants totaling $11.5 million as part of a new program, ArtPlace, which aims to integrate artists and arts groups into local efforts in transportation, housing, community development and job creation as an important tool of economic recovery. ArtPlace is a joint-initiative of the NEA and a consortium of foundations, corporations and federal agencies. Luis A. Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation and chairman of the ArtPlace Presidents’ Council, is quoted saying: “The arts are inherently valuable, and … [Read more...]

The lesson in my new tree for arts policy makers

DSC01879

About my tree: Last month my husband and I hired a small family-owned landscaping business to help us renovate the small gardens in the front and back of our house. They planted three new trees, two of which are young (thin) but already quite tall. They planted the trees with support poles on either side to ensure they grow straight (see pic). As I have never had a garden I asked how many weeks the poles would need to stay. The answer: three years. About the production houses in the Netherlands: For years the Netherlands has had a … [Read more...]

Which nonprofit arts orgs deserve these pennies?

shutterstock_1347453 penny jar cropped

In response to last week's post, Leonard Jacobs posted a thoughtful essay at The Clyde Fitch Report in which he made many excellent points--many of them fair criticisms of my post. I cannot adequately address all of Jacobs' points in this post, but I hope to address a few while expounding upon some of my previous comments. In my first post, I was endeavoring to both (1) discuss perceptions of the current threats to funding (which Jacobs rightly says are not 'attacks' in the sense of the culture wars) and (2) make the assertion that the … [Read more...]