Thursday, July 31, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update LII

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of July 30, 2008:

Group: Montana near bottom of widening philanthropic gap
Missoulian (MT), 7/22/2008
"The philanthropic gap has widened even further between the 10 states with the most private foundation assets and the 10 states with the least, including Montana, a Helena group said Monday. In 1988, the average total foundation assets in each of the top 10 states was $9.26 billion, compared with an average of $63 million in Montana and the nine other states with the least foundation assets, according to the Big Sky Institute for the Advancement of Nonprofits of Helena. . . . The latest statistics - for 2005 - showed the top 10 states with foundation assets averaging $36.8 billion, compared with the bottom 10 states' average of $766 million. . . . In 2005, the top 10 states averaged $171 per capita in making grants, while the 10 bottom states averaged $34, for a gap of $137."
And yet, according to the polls, Obama is ahead. I'm not suggesting there's any kind of relationship between Obama and the philanthropic shortfall in Montana, but I just find it interesting.

Indiana Arts Commission Revises Funding Formula
Inside Indiana Business, 7/25/2008
"The Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) has established a new regional funding formula to distribute public arts funding more equally around the state. The adjustments to the IAC's regional block grant distributions are designed to more fairly reflect the geographic size and population of each region. The new formula will be introduced in stages. Fifty percent of the change will be implemented in fiscal year 2010 and the rest will take place in fiscal year 2011."But the total funds is...? Interestingly, unless I missed it, the article doesn't say. If memory serves, Indiana is not one of the nation's more lavishly giving states when it comes to arts appropriations.

Looking for Equity in Arts Financing
New York Times, 7/24/2008
In New York City, the Cultural Equity Group has asked city officials "for $15 million in the city budget that would go to so-called culturally specific organizations, serving blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and American Indians. The money — to be used for things like programs and administrative support — would be separate from financing awarded by city agencies, like the Cultural Affairs Department. That agency’s grant panels do not use culturally specific criteria when awarding money. . . . [T]he Cultural Equity Group’s quest has reignited a lively debate in the arts world about just what cultural equity means."
To what degree, if at all, is it racist or sexist or white-ist to find this offensive? I'm not saying I do, I'm simply asking for comments.

Shaking Down Philanthropies\
Wall Street Journal, 7/26/2008
"A proposed bill [in California] would have required foundations with more than $250 million in assets to report the racial, gender and sexual orientation of their board members, staffs and grantees. The bill's sponsors recently agreed to drop the issue in return for a political payoff of millions of dollars from 10 of the state's biggest charities. . . . The message, from the bill's supporters, he says, was that 'well-heeled philanthropy is too busy spending money on opera and museums of fine art to make their resources available to minority and low-income communities.'" The article warns, "With similar legislative initiatives being discussed in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and even in Congress, the great philanthropy shakedown may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you."
Wow. What the hell? "...and sexual orientation"? Who the hell has a right to know that? What about the sexual orientation of legislators?

How to make a live/work space a reality in your house
New York Daily News, 7/29/2008
Artists spaces in suburbia: "Although commuting to work has become a part of the American cultural landscape, recent sharp increases in the price of gasoline and other energy fuels now has many people who would have never considered living and working in the same space thinking seriously about doing just that. As a result, the demand for live/work space has begun to outrun the supply of buildings that can be remodeled to fit the needs of those who want to take advantage of the idea. That could change soon, however, now that a growing number of developers are looking to create live-work spaces in suburban areas."
Great story. Doesn't entirely make me want to live in suburbia, but at least there are maybe going to be options in the future that don't quite exist today, especially if the economy really tanks more than it already has.

Editorial: Cultural Affairs Office\
Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/23/2008
The Philadelphia Inquirer applauds Mayor Nutter for reopening the city's cultural affairs office. "In launching the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy on Friday - and naming an experienced leader in New Yorker Gary Steuer as culture czar - Nutter took another concrete step toward making the city's arts a focus of his administration. . . . For Nutter, restoring the office is a case of his arts policy following public dollars already pledged toward cultural grants by his administration. The mayor's first budget included a $2 million bump in the city's Cultural Fund, fulfilling another campaign pledge."
Good for Nutter and good for the Inquirer.

Massachusetts House OKs tax breaks for film companies to build studios; measure moves to Senate
Patriot Ledger, 7/25/2008
"After a fierce and lengthy debate, the state House of Representatives voted Thursday night to give new tax credits to the film industry. The bill, which passed on a voice vote, would offer tax breaks to film companies that build studios in Massachusetts and is intended to solidify Hollywood’s growing presence here."
Should have been a slam-dunk.

Pols should yell ‘cut’
Boston Herald, 7/28/2008
The Boston Herald speaks out against a bill approved by the state House that "would provide a 20 percent tax break for the cost of building new studios and production facilities. . . . The fact is that the film tax incentives are a proven lure to the industry, which happily doesn’t then have to make Vancouver look like Boston, and they are issued only when the cameras start rolling. With the studio credits, the state would be taking a chance that they won’t turn out to be empty monuments to big Hollywood dreams, courtesy of the struggling taxpayers."
They're wrong. Next!

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