Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update XXXV

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv.

Royal Opera raises top ticket prices to allow for more cheaper seats
Guardian Unlimited (UK), 3/20/2008
In the U.K., "[t]he Royal Opera House is turning Robin Hood in a move to make high culture more affordable for a new audience. From next season it will send its top price tickets to a steepling £210 each for popular productions, and use the extra money to make a raft of seats cheaper. At the same time, cinemas around the country will begin screening top opera and ballet productions at £12 a head."
What qualifies as a "raft"? Ostensibly the same thing happens on Broadway, but I'm sure whether it matters when you've got shows charging a $120 top so the less onerously priced seats can be, what, $80? Nice idea, Brits, but I hope my various stateside brethren don't start getting ideas. Their ideas are already creating a horrible mess for the New York theatre.

Artspace Could Be A Cure For Columbus' Economy
NBC 4 (Columbus, OH), 3/23/2008
"In a struggling Ohio economy, could arts be the answer? Some Columbus leaders seem to think so and are asking people involved in any kind of creative career in the city to share their opinions on a new development idea. Art influenced the Short North's growth. Now Columbus leaders want to go down a similar path again with Artspace. The nationally known group takes old buildings and creates live-work spaces for struggling artists."
Maybe there should be a similar organization for the performing arts? Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Effort to increase Bridgeport arts funds
Connecticut Post, 3/24/2008
With a Bridgeport cultural plan in hand and support from the mayor, "representatives from the area's arts and culture community have banded together — meeting regularly as an arts task force — to reinvigorate and reorganize the arts/culture scene. . . . Says Bridgeport [CT] Mayor Bill Finch: 'If we don't foster the arts and the creative class, we're doomed. Throughout history, cities have always served as cultural hubs. It's not just rhetoric; the arts and the creative class pump money into a city. They're what give a city vibrancy the arts are what add enjoyment to life. Promoting the arts is part of what I need to do as mayor, it's part of what we need to do to make Bridgeport better.'"
No offense, but have you been to Bridgeport?

Entertainment area boundaries OK’d
The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), 3/20/2008
"The Metro Council on Wednesday approved the boundaries for an arts and entertainment district in downtown Baton Rouge, complete with design guidelines. . . . Jeff Fluhr, assistant executive director of the DDD, has said the next phase of the Arts & Entertainment District committee’s work is a $65,000 economic development study by an independent consultant to recommend an incentive package to attract arts and cultural development."
Good deal. I'll keep an eye out for this one.

Jenkins’ vote saves tax credits for artists
Business Gazette (Gaithersburg, MD), 3/20/2008
"Frederick [MD] County Commissioner Charles A. Jenkins cast the deciding vote Tuesday to stop a proposal that would have eliminated property tax credits for artists and entertainers who revitalize buildings in Frederick’s downtown."
One of my very dearest friends in the world, Becky Kemper, runs the Maryland Shakespeare Festival, which operates out of Frederick. Certainly I don't want to say anything pejorative about the town, which is lovely, but the idea that it all came down to this one fellow tells you something about how weirded out they are about the idea of the arts. And we all thought Maryland was a serious bastion of Democratic (large D) ideals. Not entirely. Thank you, Mr. Jenkins.

Kulongoski: State success depends on new entrepreneurs
Portland Business Journal, 3/21/2008
In his 2008 State of the State address Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski says that young entreprenuers are coming to the state "because they're attracted to our creative economy, and because we don't treat culture, history, art, movies and preservation as frills, but as essential pieces of our quality of life."
Most governors wouldn't have the guts to be so honest about how the arts invariably are treated. Maybe that's because most governors are busy being bitter and holding onto conservative ideals along with their guns and faith. :-)

Arts education fund shouldn’t be strip-mined
East Valley Tribune (Mesa. AZ), 3/23/2008
This editorial opposes Arizona Senate Bill 1330, which "would forever transfer the $1.5 million in annual funding to gradually secure or seal off thousands of old mine shafts. . . . SB1330 makes it appear Arizona must choose between protecting the lives of children from hazardous mine shifts or enriching their minds through exposure to the arts. That’s true only as a long as the state demands nothing of the industry that put our children in danger in the first place."
Gotta love it. And the people who believe that it is ok not to hold industry responsibile for its actions and that it is better to keep our children dumb as stumps when it comes to the arts will likely vote for McCain, too. Dumb-asses.

Bill to close abandoned mines cuts arts funding
East Valley Tribune (Mesa. AZ), 3/19/2008
In Arizona, "[l]egislation to help close thousands of abandoned mines across the state would eliminate a fund that brings visual and performing arts to thousands of children and helps support some of the East Valley's largest cultural organizations. SB1330 pits mine safety against the arts community in a showdown over what's best for children. . . . Arts supporters have mobilized since the bill re-emerged in the Senate Appropriations Committee last week, arguing that abandoned mines are a much larger problem than the annual trust fund, generated through corporate filing fees and fines, can solve."
Same issue, another story. So dumb.

City Cultural Fund grants arts groups $2.1 million
Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/20/2008
"More than 200 arts and cultural organizations in Philadelphia have been awarded grants totaling $2.1 million through the city's Cultural Fund. . . . 'These grants are for general operations,' said June W. O'Neill, manager of the cultural fund. 'The money is unrestricted. It can be used for anything.' Such unrestricted grants are highly prized by organizations, which, while they may be able to attract programming or capital donations, often have trouble paying utility bills or covering salaries, she said. The city money can be used to cover such costs."
Unrestricted -- now that's incredible. Good for the City of Brotherly Love.

Finch, Shays sponsor forum on arts funding
Connecticut Post, 3/24/2008
"Mayor Bill Finch and U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, have joined forces to sponsor a day-long arts and culture funding forum on Friday at Housatonic Community College [in Bridgeport, CT]. The free event is designed to help individual artists and nonprofit organizations identify potential federal, state and private funding sources. HCC and the Fairfield Arts Council also are sponsors. The well-being of the area's nonprofit arts, cultural and historic preservation organizations is essential to the region's economic growth, Finch points out. But in these difficult economic times, many artists and arts groups are barely staying afloat, the mayor said."
Nice way for Shays to change the subject from his support of the Iraq War. He's another one who should burn in hell.

Movie Money
Providence Journal (RI), 3/23/2008
Rhode Island's tax-incentive program for filmmakers, which offers 25-percent state tax credits to filmmakers who spend more than $300,000 in the state, has lured nine feature films, two television series, and a number of commercials since it was created three years ago. But with the state facing a massive budget deficit, some are calling for an end to the credits. "Governor Carcieri has asked the state’s new office of tax-policy analysis to examine the costs and benefits of the program 'to make sure the film tax credit isn’t more costly than it’s worth,' according to Jeff Neal, a spokesman for the governor."
Are you serious? Does the phrase "economic impact" mean nothing? Good, let them find out how smart those credits there. They're better for the Rhode Island economy than they think.

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