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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

Some More Readers...

To read all reader comments, go here.

How do you get a principal violist or a Renaissance art curator to become more expressive and communicate her passion more directly and immediately to her audience? And what would have to change about the concert or the gallery (not the music itself or the art itself)? Real questions, but worth answering, if only as a thought-experiment. We'll never know whether there's a larger audience for the arts, or a larger role for it to play in society, until we get it out of its own way. - Peter Linett
The simple statement "No modern nonprofit could tolerate the failure rates accepted in movies, TV, or record business" is startling. Of course this does not mean that the corporate arts world is full of bold risk takers, but it should give pause to those of us who feel the not-for-profit world is the place to nurture risk taking. And it reiterates the need to build endowments, which may be the single dullest thing a not-for-profit director can say, but it is true. - Harry Philbrick
Europeans will never use language like American administrators who refer to artists as “entitlement seekers.” Europeans will hold to their centuries old belief that genuinely qualified artists are workers who deserve good jobs just like everyone else. - William Osborne
Midori suggests that more artists advocate for the arts, but how about taking it a step further? Instead of just lobbying for support, shouldn't artists aspire to positions in political offices and funding entities where they can make these decisions themselves? It is not enough to try and convert our Senators and foundation officers into full-blooded arts enthusiasts. If we're distressed over the state of arts education in our schools, then we should choose one of our own to sit on a school board and represent our interests. Some of us must answer a call to become policymakers and shape our communities in a manner influenced by our time spent creating and producing art. - Michael Newberry
Even if the arts had significantly greater funding levels and support, and there was a symphony, theater, opera company, and museum in every major city in the U.S.; I cannot be convinced that we would see more people in the theater, concert hall, at the museums, or even involved with the arts at all. Availability is one thing, Involvement is another. - Derek
Ask an artist, if the uniquely compelling power of art is transmitted through brief, passive and/or virtual encounters? Yes, performers and their audiences – be it baseball or violin – grow out of consistent, sustained, early exposure, with lots of “hands-on” practice. But to be fully engaged (some say “hooked”) at the deepest level – the level of art –requires that it spark creativity through as many senses as possible, and quench the insatiable human need to make sense of oneself. Without that visceral “high” there will be no buy in and no repeat customers. - Jan Yager

Posted by mclennan at March 11, 2005 12:06 AM


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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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