Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update XLVII

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of June 18, 2008:

First off, here are two very important reports that everyone should take a look at:

New Artists In The Workforce study looks at 21st century labor trends among working artists National Endowment for the Arts

Creative Industries 2008: The 50 City ReportPresents detailed analysis of arts-related businesses, institutions, and organizations in the country’s 50 most-populated cities.

And now to the update:

White-Spaces Debate Hits Broadway
Broadcasting & Cable, 6/18/2008
"The lights of the 'Great White Way' could be extinguished by mobile wireless devices in the 'white spaces' between digital-TV channels, at least according to the people who pay the light bills. Broadway-theater owners squared off with the technology industry Wednesday over the issue of using those white spaces (opponents of the devices call them 'interference zones') between DTV channels for unlicensed mobile devices like laptops and spectrum-sensing radios." Theater microphones also make use of the white spaces, the article explains.
There could, of course, be a joke here: "I thought by 'white spaces' they meant the cast of Grease, hardy har har. (See, Broadway is very white, see?) Anyway, this is actually a pretty good story and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. I would wager that Broadway producers will have to shell out money somehow -- and we all know what that means, right?


A 21st-Century Profile: Art for Art’s Sake, and for the U.S. Economy, Too
New York Times, 6/12/2008
"Drawing from the census, the [NEA] has compiled what it bills as the first nationwide profile of professional artists in the 21st century. In 2005 nearly two million Americans said their primary employment was in jobs that the census defines as artists’ occupations — including architects, interior designers and window dressers. . . . Over all, artists [at $34,800] make more than the national median income ($30,100). They are more highly educated but earn less than other professionals with the same level of schooling. They are likelier to be self-employed (about one in three and growing) and less likely to work full-time, year-round."
God, if artists are over the median, who's under? Wal-Mart workers? (Please don't snicker. I suspect that's very much the point here.)


Are Connecticut's Film Production Tax Breaks Paying Off?
Hartford Courant (CT), 6/11/2008
"A state study of 13 film productions that qualified for Connecticut's generous tax credits estimates that 78 percent of the money spent on filming stayed in the state and that nearly 400 jobs were created. But the economist who led the study said it's too early to know if those tax credits for the movie and television business is paying off."
Does the phrase "economic impact" mean anything anymore? Isn't this meant to be the whole point of such breaks? More information, please.


County Administrator Bob Weisman to submit budget that will slash funding for small, emerging arts groups
Palm Beach Daily News (FL), 6/17/2008
In Palm Beach, FL, "County Administrator Bob Weisman to submit budget that will slash funding for small, emerging arts groups. The Palm Beach County Cultural Council approved $400,000 in grants to the groups earlier this year. Weisman's budget reduces the grants, which are paid for by general revenues, to $150,000."
The problem here is that the other thing that's small and emerging is Weisman's head.


Cuyahoga County cigarette tax funds allotted to 54 programs
Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/11/2008
After awarding $15 million in 3-year operating grants last fall, funds from the Cuyahoga County, OH, cigarette tax will now provide in $980,000 in grants for special projects that "contribute to the cultural advancement of the county."
You know, I'm all for dedicated revenue sources, but something about this one program bothers me -- it's like, "support the arts -- light up!" Not the kind of beahvior we ought to be encouraging, and not the kind of thing we ought to be tying the arts to. Pardon me now while I hack my lungs up. (Look, Mabel, we're supporting the arts!)


Durham restores funding to arts groups
Independent Weekly (Durham, NC), 6/11/2008
"Arts supporters won major victories Monday night when the Durham City Council restored funding that had been cut in its preliminary 2008-09 budget." Among the victories is "$100,000 for the city's Cultural Master Plan, charged with guiding the development of arts and culture in the city and county through 2020. . . . Nonetheless, several venerable arts and culture organizations that the city has long funded—the Durham Symphony, the Mallarm√© Chamber Players and the American Dance Festival, for example—will still suffer cuts. Most organizations will see a 30 percent drop in funding in the upcoming fiscal year, and city officials promise similar cuts through 2010."
There's a company named for Stephane Mallarmé? Wow, there is.


NEA Receives Funding Increase in House Subcommittee
Americans for the Arts website, 6/16/2008
"The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets the initial funding level for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), approved a $15.3 million increase for the NEA in its FY 2009 spending bill. If this funding level is maintained in the Senate and signed into law by President Bush, it would bring the agency's budget to $160 million from it's current funding level of $144.7 million."
Amazing how when things get truly crappy in this country is the moment we start really upping the NEA appropriation. Sigh.


NJ budget includes added money for arts, health
Star-Ledger (NJ), 6/17/2008
"State lawmakers tonight finally released the details of a pending $32.9 billion budget deal worked out yesterday between the governor and legislative leaders. The revised budget scrounges up some extra money for the arts, health care, small business owners and other groups while still trimming the governor's original spending plan by $100 million."
Good!

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