The gender gap in wages

Enjoying my linear wage schedule

About six weeks ago the Times reported on museum directors' wages, finding something of a gender gap: Women run just a quarter of the biggest art museums in the United States and Canada, and they earn about a third less than their male counterparts, according to a report released on Friday by the Association of Art Museum Directors, a professional organization. The group examined salary data on the 217 members it had last year through the prism of gender, for the first time. The report noted strides made by women at small and midsize … [Read more...]

Capital, inequality, and investments in art

so have you really read this through?

What are the effects of an increased concentration of wealth on the art market? Writing in the New York Times, Scott Reyburn looks for a link between the theories in most newsworthy economics book of the year, Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and what we are seeing at the top end of the art market: Although art is one of the few subjects not mentioned in the index of Mr. Piketty’s 685-page opus, it is worth considering how the unprecedented amounts of money the wealthy have recently been spending on trophy artworks might … [Read more...]

What is big data for?

speak to me

For a number of years I co-edited the Journal of Cultural Economics, and the core duty of the editor of a research journal is to guide through revision and publication papers that have findings new and interesting enough to advance our knowledge, and to turn away those papers that are either mistaken in their applications of theory and empirical work, or simply not all that relevant. The journal had to be selective - fewer than 20 percent of submissions were eventually published - and so a lot had to be turned away. What I found was that few of … [Read more...]

At the record store

I just called to say I love you

I used to love going to record stores when I was a teenager. I couldn't buy much - a back-of-the-envelope calculation tells me it would have taken me 3 or 4 hours of work at my Saturday job at the Oasis Car Wash (it's still there!) to afford one LP - but it was enjoyable to browse, and make the occasional carefully selected purchase. When my friend Mike and I would make the drive from Vancouver to Seattle we would always make a point of going to the neighborhood around UW where there was a handful of used-record shops. So I am not completely … [Read more...]

What do we want from a Culture Secretary?

yes, minister

Sajid Javid has been appointed s the UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. His backstory is here, and misgivings about the appointment of someone from the world of finance with no obvious affinities for the high arts are in the Guardian here and here. Blog neighbour Paul Levy writes: The only thing we really know about his interest in the arts is that he has defended ticket touts. We’ll see. I, of course, want a Culture Minister who is an opera queen, a collector of contemporary art, a theatre buff, a reader of fiction and … [Read more...]

Nonprofit costs are driven by revenues

lots of rent to collect

This post takes us through health care, college sports, and opera... One of the first things arts administration students are taught about nonprofit organizations is that by law, and by definition, nonprofits are not to distribute any net earnings to managers or shareholders, but rather any revenues over costs must be applied to the mission-related activities of the organization, either through program spending or through saving it. Nonprofits that spend all of their revenues, in turn, "don't make any money." But it's not quite so simple. … [Read more...]

The Logic of Collective Action in Music Recording


The New York Times reports on efforts in the music industry to coordinate lobbying: When it comes to the music industry’s lobbying efforts in Washington, it is time for some harmony. That message has gained momentum among music executives, who worry that squabbling among the various players — record labels, music publishers, artists, songwriters — will undermine broader initiatives to push for new legislation and regulatory reform. On Wednesday, the head of the organization behind the Grammy Awards will host a dinner in Washington attended … [Read more...]

Deaccessioning as a singular event (updated again)

in debt

The Delaware Art Museum is planning on selling some works to pay off debt. The New York Times reports here, noting that "selling works to pay for operations or capital projects is widely considered an ethical violation, a betrayal of a museum’s role of holding art in public trust" (and see Art Law Blog here). The museum released a Q&A, and it is the very last question that interests me: 14. What will happen the next time the Museum needs money? I’m worried that the Board will look at the collection as a source of revenue. It is our … [Read more...]

What does it mean to be a ‘strategic’ arts manager? (Updated)

someone is not thinking strategically

The question came to mind when browsing The Economist's style guide, which contains the entry: "Strategic" is usually meaningless except to tell you that the writer is trying to invest something with a seriousness it does not deserve. But I think that is too harsh, and there are times when we could say a manager is thinking strategically and when she is not. There are two components to thinking strategically. First, the manager thinks carefully about the goals she wishes her organization to achieve, whether profit or some other … [Read more...]

Don’t just stand there, build something

build me a new stage?

The San Diego Opera is closing down, unable to see a way to reconcile its finances. Mark Swed, at the LA Times, is upset by the decision. What to do? No town is in more need of a performing arts center. New halls are sexy. I must have been away the day in cost-benefit analysis class when the professor covered the sexiness of expensive building projects when one of your major performing arts companies has just closed due to insufficient funds... … [Read more...]