Night at the museum


Back in February, Business Week reported: When Maxwell Anderson took over as director of the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) two years ago, he told the board he wanted to offer free memberships to anyone willing to share some data—even when it’s just their name and e-mail address. Anderson’s idea is novel in the staid world of art museums, but it echoes what companies such as Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) have long understood: Learning as much as you can about your customers’ behavior can be more valuable than the price of admission. “We’re … [Read more...]

Wellbeing and how to fund the arts

Aye, that's wellbeing!

Via The Stage, what arts funding should have priority? The (UK) All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics has released a report recommending that changes in the wellbeing of individuals ought to be the central concern of policy, beyond calculations of narrower economic measures such as are at the core of standard cost-benefit analysis. They have striking recommendations for arts policy. First, about wellbeing economics. In essence, the leading economic indicators we see reported most commonly have obvious effects on wellbeing. We … [Read more...]

Artists should not retain copyright in publicly commissioned art (Updated)

Good thing he didn't make Mount Hood

An interesting story from Portland, Oregon, on the copyright held by sculptor Raymond Kaskey in his statue Portlandia. Willamette Week reports on his close guarding of reproduction rights in the large, iconic statue made 30 years ago, commissioned by the city: You would think the image of Portlandia would adorn postcards, photos and T-shirts. She doesn’t. That’s because her maker, Washington, D.C.-based sculptor Raymond Kaskey, has, over the past three decades, often threatened to sue those who dare use photos or illustrations of Portlandia … [Read more...]

Local arts funding and urban design: responses

we get letters

My thanks to those who took the time to comment on my most recent post. As usual - and this is for the good! - discussion went in unexpected directions. One commenter wrote, in response to my line that local government arts funders should respond to local tastes: Should “taste” be the deciding factor of who and what get’s funded in the arts? Shouldn’t governmental or even foundational funding sources take into consideration the minority voice just as our constitutional government is required to consider not just the voice (taste) of the … [Read more...]

Local arts funding and urban design

No services

In the United States, most public funding for the arts happens at the local, rather than the state or federal, government level. And there are good reasons for that; this is a big, diverse, dispersed country, and local arts councils are best placed to respond to residents' tastes and cultural traditions. What kind of city design best facilitates a lively cultural scene? I had always thought of density as key - lots of residents around a core give the opportunity for various amenities - culture, cuisine, shops - to generate income and … [Read more...]

How should we rank the employment prospects of cities?

Let's not make an index

News sites on the web demand a stream of content, and a sure way to produce something is to make a list. My previous post knocked a recent list of  'top cities for culture', on the grounds that the way the index was constructed made no sense. Another day, another list, this one from Atlantic's CityLab: 'The best job markets for young college grads now'. Relevant to me, as I teach students in arts administration and hope to understand as best I can what is happening in the labor market. The piece has some of the usual problems of all indices … [Read more...]

How should we rank the cultural/creative scenes of cities?

so many creatives!

Yesterday I came across a ranking of the 'top 20 US cities for culture', from the real estate blog (no, not one I usually follow, h/t Ted Gioia). The internet loves to produce listicles, and diminishing returns have long set in when it comes to ranking cities. But this one raises an important issue for researchers of the creative economy. It ranks cities according to cultural venues (museums, libraries, theatres) per capita. Their reasoning: And while New York City has an impressive number (2,693!) of such properties — … [Read more...]

Dora’s amazing tax credit adventure


The New York Times Arts page reviews the new adventure of Dora the Explorer, now a little older, and starring in 'Dora and Friends: Into the City!', which apparently looks pretty suburban. And Dora's talking backpack is full of dollars, courtesy of New York state taxpayers. Variety reports: While states offering tax credits for filmmaking usually have their sights set on drawing movies that will showcase their locales, there is an increasing battle to draw post-production work, particularly in music scoring, animation and visual effects, … [Read more...]

Amazon and Orwell and Penguins (Updated)

weapons of mass destruction?

By now most everyone who follows and the Amazon dispute has heard of its strange use of George Orwell in its (shockingly mishandled) dispute with the publishing sector. The New York Times reports: The freshest part of Amazon’s call to arms was the history lesson. It recounted how the book industry hated mass-market paperbacks when they were introduced in the 1930s, and said they would ruin the business when they really rejuvenated it. Unfortunately, to clinch its argument, it cited the wrong authority: “The famous … [Read more...]

Know when to fold ‘em

move on

There lies a contradiction within us. As teachers, mentors, coaches, friends, parents, we encourage people to pursue their dreams, to strive, persevere, don't give up. We reward and praise determination, the kid who 'sticks with it.' And we should - these are excellent qualities in a person, very worth fostering. But at the same time we know that there are circumstances when, in fact, the time to 'stick with it' is past, when the costs of continuing to strive for success, in a career path, an artistic pursuit, a relationship, vastly outweigh … [Read more...]