The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of November 19, 2008:
Lawmaker plans bill on Web neutrality
"A senior U.S. lawmaker plans to introduce a bill in January that would bar Internet providers like AT&T Inc from blocking Web content, setting up a renewed battle over so-called network neutrality. Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, believes a law is essential to prevent telephone and cable companies from discriminating against Internet content, even though regulators have taken actions to enforce free Web principles, a top Dorgan aide said on Thursday."
I wonder if there won't be a sub rosa rallying crying led by the Republicans against this. Just a thought.
Smithsonian talks admission fees in open meeting
Baltimore Examiner - AP, 11/17/2008
"Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra promised Monday to 'fight tooth and nail' against any effort to begin charging admission for the Smithsonian Institution museums, speaking at the first open meeting of its governing board in 162 years. . . . Smithsonian officials have struggled with how to tackle a $2.5 billion backlog on maintenance for its 19 museums, the National Zoo and numerous research centers. The museum complex relies on Congress to fund about 70 percent of its $1 billion annual budget, but lawmakers have pressed the Smithsonian to become more self-reliant."
Kind of amazing to think that we got through the Depression, World War II, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, the 70s, Reaganomics, Iraq War I, Iraq War II, 9/11 and so forth and the Smithsonian was free. And now...it won't be? As a nation, we are a mess. A total mess. And yet...I can see how it could be the time to charge an admission.
Denver Arts Week Is Huge For City's Economy
CBS4 Denver (CO), 11/16/2008
In Denver, "[a] new study on the economic impact of cultural attractions shows interest and money surrounding the arts has doubled in the past 10 years. In 1997, 7.9 million people attended cultural events around Denver. In 2007, that number leaped to more than 16 million people. When it comes to money spent, $823 million was spent on arts related activities in 1997. In 2007 it jumped to $1.6 billion."
I still don't understand why the Denver model hasn't been replicated all over the nation. Does Denver do a good enough job of promoting it?
Public art is big money for NYC, but economic impact questioned
Canadian press, 11/12/2008
New York City "has hosted two grand public art installations in the last three years: the saffron fabric 'Gates' exhibit in Central Park in 2005 and the recent 'Waterfalls' show near the shorelines of Manhattan and Brooklyn. In both cases, officials said the projects generated staggering amounts of money for New York. They said that 'The Gates' brought in a whopping US$254 million and four million visitors, and 'The Waterfalls' generated $69 million and attracted an estimated 1.4 million visitors. . . . Public art has become big business in New York in recent years. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called public art 'a signature of New York City' that inspires New Yorkers, helps bring in visitors, swells its coffers and burnishes the city's image as a world cultural destination."
But couldn't one also argue that by discussing this -- by highlighting the fact that these art-related events occurred -- the overall image of New York City is burnished as well. How does one measure that? Isn't that just about long-term branding?
Cigarette-tax arts fellowship information is online
Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH), 11/13/2008
"The diciest part of distributing Cuyahoga County's cigarette tax for the arts is about to start. Beginning in mid-February, individual artists will be able to apply for fellowships worth $20,000 each. The fellowship program, details of which were hammered out this week by two nonprofit organizations involved in creating it, is aimed at building a strong arts community in Northeast Ohio by helping individuals with their development as artists."
Gosh, those poor artists, actually having funding to apply for. Whatever shall they do?
Investment in art pays off for the Houston economy
Houston Chronicle, 11/15/2008
Writing after last week's National Arts Marketing Project Conference, Robert Lynch and Jonathan Gus describes the arts as an "economic powerhouse" generating a 54% return on investment for the city. "Nonprofit cultural organizations and their audiences in Houston alone generate $626 million annually and support more than 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs. These jobs and related audience expenditures return $33 million in local tax revenue and an additional nearly $37 million in state tax revenue. When you compare this to the city of Houston's $10 million public investment in the arts and the state's symbolic $3.9 million investment, the citizens of Houston are getting a fifty-four percent rate of return on their tax investment."
Great statistics -- really glad this story is out there. I hope it gets publicized.
Phila. arts and culture groups brace for cuts
Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), 11/19/2008
"It's been a depressing stretch for arts and cultural groups in Philadelphia. . . . . [E]veryone is reeling from Mayor Nutter's announcement that the national economic wreckage has hit the city hard and will result in major funding cuts."
Sad. Period. Nothing more to say.
Charitable foundations feel economic pinch
Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), 11/12/2008
"Although next year's commitments may be secure, if financial markets remain under pressure, a serious crunch could come in 2010. Foundation endowments are generally invested in a combination of stocks, bonds and cash."
It all depends on the rolling averages, or so I'm told. It was the same thing in 2003 and 2004 vis a vis the post 9/11 fiscal landscape in 2001.
Foundations Not Likely to Make Major Shifts in Causes They Support Because of the Bad Economy
Chronicle of Philanthropy, 11/12/2008
"Arts, environmental, and international charities can take solace in a report by the Foundation Center that suggests that foundations don’t drop their support for such causes even when an economic downturn turns the public’s attention to social-service groups. The center, a New York research organization, analyzed grants awarded by more than 1,000 foundations from 1999 to 2005 to groups that focus on education, health, arts, international affairs, and human services. The study found that the 2001-2003 recession did not have a disproportionate impact on foundation support for any of those causes, suggesting that, even in downturns, foundations do not make sudden shifts in their grant-making commitments."
Fascinating study. However, it also suggests that foundations also don't take on new causes, either.
Tough economy hits St. Louis arts scene
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), 11/16/2008
"Arts organizations in St. Louis say they are feeling the effects of the economic slump. But some research suggest that 'the arts' fortunes are not always linked to economy's. In six of the nation's last 11 recessions, donations to arts organizations increased, according a recent study by Giving USA Foundation/Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Melissa Brown, the center's associate director of research, thinks she knows why: Arts donors tend to be rich. In 2005, the wealthiest 3 percent of American families donated 52 percent of all gifts to the arts. . . . Another report, the Bank of America Study on High Net-Worth Philanthropy, shows $1 in every $10 donated by the rich goes to the arts."
Here's the salient quote:
"There have been bad times before, but the question on my desk is how to proceed in a time of such extreme volatility....There may be an unwillingness to take on new obligations. Every year, I always tell a new agency, you will have to make a very strong case for funding. This year I really mean it."
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