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Is there a Better Case for the Arts?
A Public Conversation Among People Who Care

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March 11, 2005

Many Thanks...

I would like to thank everyone - bloggers and readers - who participated in this weeklong public discussion. There have been so many ideas and observations, it's rather dizzying to try to keep up.

If I may offer a personal observation: I think one of our real challenges today is finding ways to have debates about culture in public. Politics is endlessly debated. So is sports. But where are the frank public conversations about art and about culture? Not just someone spouting an opinion. Not just another self-promotion or evangelical sermon. How do we get the public engaged in talking about art? We have to promote the conversations wherever we can.

To me, art is about wrestling with ideas, about engaging with creativity in a vigorous back-and-forth that leaves me changed in some way. I love that an encounter with really good art usually provokes more questions than answers and sends me out looking for more.

Maybe that's one reason that having a conversation like this and expecting clear answers and an action plan is impossible. Yet I think it is crucially important to try. How great to see people engage and talk about art as if it mattered. As demonstrated over and over, passion is one of the most attractive and effective ambassadors for art. Thanks to Andrew, Bill, Joli, Midori, Russell, Jim, Phil, Bob, Adrian, Glenn and Ben, as well as the astute and provocative reader/contributors who posted more than 100 comments and significantly broadened the conversation. Also thanks to Lucas Held and Mary Trudel and The Wallace Foundation, who helped make this blog possible.

This week we will archive the blog here on ArtsJournal (see "Blog Heaven" at the bottom of the right column). And we'll also prepare a version of the blog that can be downloaded and printed without killing too many trees. Thanks again, everyone.

Posted by mclennan at March 11, 2005 10:03 PM


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Remember Me?

This weeklong weblog is now closed, but will remain on-line as an archive of our conversation. In addition, the entries and reader comments are available for download in Adobe Acrobat format, suitable for reading on-screen or printing. You will need the free Acrobat reader software to open the files below:

Participant Entries (~880K, pdf)
Full text of the posts of our 11 invited participants.
Reader Comments (~900K, pdf)
Full text of reader comments posted to the site.

Is there a better case to be made for the arts? more...

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· Participant Bios
· Reader Comments

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Ben Cameron
Executive director of Theatre Communications Group more

Adrian Ellis
Managing consultant of AEA Consulting more

Bill Ivey
Director of the Curb Center, Former Chair, NEA more

Joli Jensen
Professor, University of Tulsa, Author: "Is Art Good for Us?" more

Jim Kelly
Director, 4Culture, Seattle, WA more

Phil Kennicott
Culture critic, Washington Post more

Glenn Lowry
Director, Museum of Modern Art more

Robert L. Lynch
President, Americans for the Arts more

Violinist more

Andrew Taylor
Director, Bolz Center, University of Wisconsin more

Russell Willis Taylor
President, National Arts Strategies more

Doug McLennan
Editor, ArtsJournal.com

Gifts of the MuseGifts of the Muse
Free access to the full RAND study at the core of this conversation, funded by the Wallace Foundation. An executive summary is also available. Other Wallace Foundation publications and reports are available through its Knowledge Center.

Top arts researchers will come together to present and dissect the latest data at Measuring the Muse, an unprecedented National Arts Journalism Program-Alliance for the Arts conference at Columbia University.

The Values Study
A collaborative effort of 20 Connecticut arts organizations, the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, and facilitator/author Alan S. Brown. The effort trained arts leaders to interview key members of their constituency, to discover what they valued about the creative experience -- in their own words. The process was sponsored by The Wallace Foundation's State Arts Partnerships for Cultural Participation (START) Program.

Valuing Culture
An initiative of London-based think tank, Demos. This effort brought cultural and policy leaders together to discuss the public value of culture in the UK. Resources include (with a downloadable briefing report by Adrian Ellis), a collection of speeches from the event in June 2003, and a summary report by John Holden called Capturing Cultural Value.

The Arts and Economic Prosperity
The 2002 report and related resources assessing the economic impact of America's nonprofit arts industry, based on surveys of 3,000 nonprofit arts organizations and more than 40,000 attendees at arts events in 91 cities in 33 states, plus the District of Columbia.

The Value of the Performing Arts in Ten Communities
A project of the Performing Arts Research Coalition, researched by the Urban Institute, exploring measures of value in specific cities across the United States. Reports are available for download.

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