Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Arts Advocacy Update XII

As always, the following, below, is courtesy of Americans for the Arts and its weekly email blast, the Cultural Policy Listserv.

Comcast denies monkeying with BitTorrent traffic
CNet, 8/21/2007
Comcast is accused of limiting traffic from BitTorrent -- "a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol used to distribute large data files such as video. . . . The issue of shaping traffic or blocking certain applications is a hot one and goes right to the heart of the Net Neutrality debate, which has been raging for more than a year. Broadband providers claim that their networks have finite resources and they must be allowed to identify traffic in some manner to set quality of service parameters to ensure users get certain levels of service. But consumer advocates say that the network ought to be neutral and traffic should flow freely to ensure that all applications are accessible."
Imagine that: a media conglomerate playing dirty pool with a competitor. But hey, let's have endless media consolidation so the U.S. can be an Orwellian paradise. Mmmm, where's that rat, Winston?

FCC Commissioner Connects Pearl Jam Censorship To Net Neutrality
InformationWeek, 8/20/2007
"A Federal Communications Commissioner said that the censoring of political speech during a recent Pearl Jam performance illustrates the need for network neutrality. . . . Copps said there is nothing to prevent AT&T or other companies from censoring material they distribute over the Internet, whether the censorship is deliberate or not."
Stuff about net neutrality usually isn't my bent, but I thought this story dovetailed nicely with the one above.

Survey Aims to Improve Economic Structures for Local Artists (North Adams, MA), 8/17/2007
"This month, the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center in North Adams, Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts unveiled a survey that they hope will shed some light on the needs of working artists. . . . Defined as people who derive 10 percent or more of their total income from their art, working artists are an integral part of the Berkshires’ growing creative economy. In understanding the financial situation, housing preferences and professional development needs of local artists, the partners expect to better encourage the artists community, mostly in the economic sector."
Great survey, but what about theatre? Williamstown is nothing?

The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art, and Music Drive New York City
Princeton University Press, 2007
Which is more important to New York City's economy, the gleaming corporate office--or the grungy rock club that launches the best new bands? If you said "office," think again. In The Warhol Economy, Elizabeth Currid argues that creative industries like fashion, art, and music drive the economy of New York as much as--if not more than--finance, real estate, and law. And these creative industries are fueled by the social life that whirls around the clubs, galleries, music venues, and fashion shows where creative people meet, network, exchange ideas, pass judgments, and set the trends that shape popular culture.
I'm sorry, this is news? I mean, great, glad to have it, but there's already a cacophony of this kind of evidence and argumentation out there. And theatre should have been a much more prominent element in the discussion. Also, how obnoxious: the link takes you to a site where you'll pay $27.95 to read the survey. I'm sorry again, artists have this money? Oh, wait, they interview Zac Posen and Diane von Furstenberg. Yeah, they have the money.

Theater Training Helps Doctors Enhance Patient Care with Clinical Empathy Skills
Newswise, 8/21/2007
"Doctors taught empathy techniques by theater professors show improved bedside manner, according to a pilot study by a Virginia Commonwealth University research team. The findings may help in the development of medical curriculum for clinical empathy training. . . . The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine."
Great story.

Brits to find Broadway work under threat from visa overhaul
The Stage (UK), 8/15/2007
"UK performers are in danger of missing out on lucrative opportunities to work in the US when new visa regulations come into force next year, Equity has warned. The changes, which are being introduced by the Home Office, also threaten to cause an influx of American performers, as it becomes easier for overseas talent to gain entry into Britain." A relaxation of visa regulations are planned for the UK but not for the US.
Nationalism...gotta love it.

IRS Posts Reactions to Proposed Tax-Form Revisions
Chronicle of Philanthropy, 8/17/2007
The Internal Revenue Service is preparing a new version of the Form 990, which must be filed annually by organizations with budgets more than $25,000. Proposed changes "would require organizations to disclose more information about their financial operations and is designed to make it easier for the IRS to enforce tax laws. The IRS is accepting comments from the public through September 14." The IRS has released "nearly 300 pages" of initial comments. Some wrote that "the new form is too unwieldly and would create administrative burdens for their organizations. Others wrote the tax agency to praise the changes."
Oh well, little nonprofits. No more rampant double dealing for you. (Huh?)

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