Monday, August 13, 2007

Arts Advocacy Update X

Council, Grant Support Creative Economy (North Adams, MA), 8/2/2007

In Stockbridge, MA, "the simultaneous announcement of a $100,000 [Massachusetts Cultural Council] grant and the official formation of the Berkshire Creative Economy Council signals a commitment in the region to expanding and investing in the 'creative cluster' - which includes nonprofit institutions, individual artists and commercial businesses that produce and distribute creative products and services. Officials feel this investment in the Berkshires’ creative efforts will stimulate job creation and economic growth."
Having just been to the Williamstown Theatre Festival a week ago, I'd say this is a terrific move. Pretty as things were, with nothing but the theatre on one side of the block and Williams College on the other, it would seem to me that the whole area is ripe for further cultural development, with all the economic gains that might entail.

Book Tackles Old Debate: Role of Art in Schools
New York Times, 8/4/2007

"When two researchers published a study a few years ago concluding that arts classes do not improve students’ overall academic performance, the backlash was bitter. . . . In a new book due out this month, [the authors of that study] argue forcefully for the benefits of art education, while still defending their 2000 thesis. In their view art education should be championed for its own sake, not because of a wishful sentiment that classes in painting, dance and music improve pupils’ math and reading skills and standardized test scores."
I actually agree with this. Selling arts education as a cheap and easy way to improve test scores is just cynical and facile. I happen to believe that arts education, having received it, makes you a smarter person, more well-rounded, more curious about the world. But I don't think arts education necessary makes you more skilled at sine, cosines and tangents -- or parsing sentences.

Take action to protect arts education in public schools
Telegraph (Macon, GA), 8/3/2007

"Astonishing as it may sound, Georgia is about to take yet another step backward in arts education. According to an announcement from the Arts Leadership League of Georgia - distributed locally by Macon Arts - Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox has recommended that fine arts be removed from the list of courses that will count toward graduation. Arts supporters are fearful this move will result in the disappearance of arts courses from public schools, since such courses will no longer fulfill the demands of the state's new basic curriculum - as if these programs aren't meager enough as is."
Georgia on my mind...not. So stupid. Such a shame. I wish they had been a success at seceding in the first place.

Corzine Considers Bill That May Lure Jobs to N.J.
New York Sun (NY), 7/27/2007

"New York City jobs could be lured away to New Jersey if a bill sitting on Governor Corzine's desk gets signed. The bill promises up to $30 million of incentives each year to digital media or film companies that move to or expand in the state."
Yeah yeah, he throw down, he throw down. Very savvy.

Cultural arts funding in need of overhaul
San Antonio Express-News (TX), 8/4/2007

"Few issues in city government have been more charged than San Antonio's cultural arts funding. The debate about who gets municipal dollars, and how much, landed the city in federal court in recent years. And a judge's ruling forced the city to pay monetary damages and abide by established criteria and procedures for arts funding. A new report from City Auditor Pete M. Gonzales Jr. suggests those criteria are malleable, and the Office of Cultural Arts isn't uniformly following the procedures."
But why? Why such fuming antipathy toward the arts?

Find a way to fully fund New Jersey arts
Herald News (NJ), 7/31/2007

An editorial in the Herald News calls for the New Jersey state government to stabilize yearly funding for the arts and culture. "The hotel and motel sales tax was supposed to provide permanent funding for the arts. But like every other pot of money in the state, it now gets tapped to close budget gaps. This should not happen. Music, dance and theater are important enough to New Jersey that they should have a regular revenue stream."
Hallelujah! It does seem like Corzine is listening, thankfully.

Redford's `Davos for the Arts' Pitches Ways to Boost Funding
Bloomberg News, 8/2/2007

Actor Robert Redford and Americans for the Arts "have teamed up to urge corporations, foundations and individuals to think of the arts as a way to address educational, health and environmental problems rather than as a competing philanthropic cause. Redford hosted a three-day conference of 29 executives from business, philanthropy and the arts last October to discuss the lack of arts funding. . . . The Sundance event will be held annually and could become 'a mini-Davos for the arts,' akin to the annual meeting of political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Robert L. Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, said in an interview. The next Sundance meeting in October will focus on the role of arts education in developing an innovative workforce."
Of course, discussing these things in abstract terms, and in such broad brush strokes, has some negatives as well. We've got to also be talking in terms of how such funding is to be directed -- do we fund nonprofits, individual artists, quasi-governmental agencies, or a combination? Do we target funding to spur economic growth? Are there limits, be they artistic or otherwise?

Tax break lure Hollywood east
Greenwich Time (CT), 8/6/2007

Connecticut's expanded tax credits for film production "has so far done its job in attracting dozens of movies to the area. But some analysts believe Connecticut and other states are placing too much faith in the film industry without fully weighing the downside of lost tax revenues." Darcy Rollins Sass, a policy analyst at the New England Public Policy Center in Boston "recently published a report that questions the value of film credits, saying that based on the experience of other states, the benefits have not been proven to outweigh the costs."
Buuuut they still tawwwwwwwwk like thiiiiiiiiiiis...

After Protests, City Agrees to Rewrite Proposed Rules on Photography Permits
New York Times, 8/4/2007

"Responding to an outcry that included a passionate Internet campaign and a satiric rap video, city officials yesterday backed off proposed new rules that could have forced tourists taking snapshots in Times Square and filmmakers capturing that only-in-New-York street scene to obtain permits and $1 million in liability insurance. In announcing the move, officials at the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting said they would redraft the rules, intended to apply to commercial film and photography productions, to address complaints that they could be too broadly applied."
How about leaving things as they are? Where's the crying need to meddle in constitutional issues?

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