Thursday, November 29, 2007

Arts Advocacy Update XXI

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv.

After Katrina, Louisiana's Film Industry Flourishes
CNN - Dow Jones, 11/23/2007
"While it isn't exactly pirating away thousands of jobs and making Southern California economists nervous, the boom in Louisiana's film industry is raising hopes it can be a catalyst for recovery from economic devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. According to state officials, Louisiana now ranks behind only California and New York in U.S. film production. It's adding film-related jobs at a rate of 23% a year, the strongest growth rate in the industry throughout the U.S, officials say."
If true, that's a staggering statement: "Louisiana now ranks behind only California and New York in U.S. film production." This strikes me as rather an unreported story (even if it's on CNN Money). The question I have is who -- or what -- is driving this activity? Is it possible that it is now so cheap to work in Louisiana that it has effectively priced every other region out of the market? I am all in favor of anything that prevents so-called runaway production, but I'd also like to know whether this boom in Louisiana is increasing major (i.e. studio) production or more indie work, or both. Both would be very encouraging for writers, it seems to me.

Richard Florida
Globe and Mail (Canada), 11/24/2007
Richard Florida complains that the "most overlooked — but most important" element of his creative class theory "is that every human being is creative. . . . our society continues to encourage the creative talents of a privileged minority. We systematically neglect the creative potential of the 60 to 70 per cent of the population that lies outside a narrow view of the creative class. There are fewer and fewer rewarding jobs for people without college degrees. This amounts to a huge inefficiency in our system for harnessing creative energy and turning it into wealth and productivity capacity. The great challenge of society is to tap the creativity of much larger segments of the work force."
This is a very provocative essay. I would argue that while Florida's point is, well, sort of obvious and certainly unassailable, I don't think that absolutely anybody can be a playwright or director or artist -- at least professionally. I think there have to be standards and practices and qualitative threshholds to be met. That said, I agree that everyone has a creative side and an absolute right to express it -- a need, a desire, an imperative to do so, in fact. I'm copying a little bit of Florida's essay because I think it really should stir up some discussion.

"In North America, people who are employed in fields considered part of the creative class — science, technology, arts, culture, entertainment and professions — account for 35 to 40 per cent of the work force and produce more than half of all wages and salaries. But here's the rub: It's not enough to try to boost this creative economy just by increasing the pool of engineers and scientists, filmmakers, entertainers, media types, financial professionals and scientists.

The most overlooked — but most important — element of my theory and of the creative economy itself is that every human being is creative.

One of the great fallacies of modern times is the idea that creativity is limited to a small group. Most people, the belief goes, don't want to be creative, couldn't do it if asked and would be uncomfortable in an environment where creativity was expected of them.

This is false. Creativity is a virtually limitless resource that defies social status..."

Michael Kaiser And the Quest For a New Global Theater
Washington Post, 11/22/2007
Arts management as cultural diplomacy: Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser "has developed an almost messianic urge to teach the art of arts management to struggling cultural institutions around the globe." He recently traveled to Ramallah to help an ambitious but challenged theater, following a Kennedy Center-sponsored symposium in Cairo last March "at which he presented a workshop to 140 arts administrators from 17 Arab nations."
Headline is a little misleading on this one. Kaiser's work is much-admired in many corners of the globe, and rightly so.

The Nation's Mayors to Join Arts Leaders in New Hampshire During Presidential Candidate Forum
PR Newswire, 11/27/2007
"The United States Conference of Mayors will join Americans for the Arts Action Fund and ArtsVoteNH, an initiative of New Hampshire Citizens for the Arts, in a Presidential Candidate Forum to hear from presidential hopefuls on their support for the arts. With over 85% of people in the United States living in our nation's cities and metro areas, mayors clearly understand how urban issues impact everyday Americans and have included the arts as part of the Conference's 10 Point Plan that will be unveiled during the forum."
So who, other than Mike Huckabee (if he's smart) is going to show up? What is John McCain going to do, talk about how there shouldn't be torture in the arts? (Clearly he's never worked Off-Off-Broadway.) Or maybe Mitt Romney will talk about how he was for the arts before he was against it. Or maybe Ron Paul, who is making me think about giving him money (seriously!) will plead for us to get the arts out of our lives.

Where Are All the Charitable Bequests?
Christian Science Monitor, 11/19/2007
"Americans are very generous in life, with two-thirds giving to charity. But only 8 percent remember charities in their wills. One reason: federal tax cuts."
The moral? Don't drop dead.

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