Thursday, January 31, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update XXVII

Apologies for being so late with this edition of the Arts Advocacy Update. My book is causing me more drama than the history of Broadway I am supposedly delivering in pictorial form. I can't say much more, but I like single malt.


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

Arts seen as vital to economy
Florida Today , 1/16/2008
"The arts play a vital role to help recruit companies and top employees to come to Brevard County. That's one of the findings the Brevard Cultural Alliance and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast will present, as the two entities join forces for a presentation called 'The Economics of Creativity' on Friday night." Lynda Weatherman, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Commission, says that says that "when there is support of the arts, more business comes. When more business comes, there is more support for the arts."
Reading the article, some graphs blew my mind. For example:

The Tourist Development Council is financed through an occupancy or "bed" tax paid by visitors who stay in local hotels. The tourism tax is 5 percent -- 5 cents on the dollar.

"The Tourist Development Council gives us $125,000 to promote the arts," Williams said. "That includes listings, some co-op advertising. We're also doing a new publication that will be in the hotels. So, when you look at what the TDC gives us, and then include the $150,000 it gives to the various festivals, it comes to about $275,000 that's spent on the arts."

Williams said, for every dollar spent on that marketing, it's estimated that $27 is brought into the county.

Here's a follow-up piece...

Arts worth $64 million to Brevard
Florida Today , 1/19/2008
"The arts are good for business. That notion, put forth for years by arts organizations and supporters, was confirmed Friday at the Brevard Cultural Alliance and Economic Development Commission's 'Economics of Creativity' joint event in Cocoa Village. Nonprofit arts and culture contributed more than $42 million to the Brevard County economy in fiscal 2007, according to a report released Friday. And they boosted the local economy by another $22 million when considering indirect benefits enjoyed by other businesses, while also generating about 625 full- and part-time jobs."
Of course, too many of those jobs are going to Repuglicans, but that's just my prejudice...

City plans for new arts district
Annapolis Capital (MD), 1/21/2008
In Annapolis, MD, "Mayor Ellen O. Moyer plans to introduce legislation next month to help create the city's first arts and entertainment district. . . . The special zoning district is designed to draw artists into the area, spur the creation of new performance venues and further brand the city as a cultural center for the arts, she said. Annapolis will apply for the district "through the state's nationally acclaimed Arts and Entertainment Districts program. The program is administered by the Maryland State Arts Council and helps local jurisdictions organize arts communities with tax credits at the state and local level."
Great stuff...

Culture Club
Time, 1/17/2008
Richard Lacayo says that New York City's culture sector -- which helps make the city "attractive to the well-educated professionals who give a place a competitive advantage," employs "more than 8% of the New York City work force," and "drives another of its largest economic sectors: tourism" -- is threatened by the city's "breathtaking real estate prices." Lacoya warns that as creative types are forced to move away, an "art-world diaspora causes a more subtle disruption to the fabric of the creative economy." Will the Bloomberg administration's efforts to help artists and arts organizations save the city's cultural sector?
Of course, what's odd here is how too little, too late it seems. I mean, Bloomberg has been brilliant but not so brilliant as to ever understand how the ballooning real estate situation is picking off artists one by one, encouraging them to leave or stop working on their art or whatever it is. Lacayo makes a good case but a stronger, more sustained, more pointed and aggressive case still needs to be made. Good of Time to cover this, though. Here's a particularly salient graph:
When folks try to place New York in the global economy, they immediately think of Wall Street. But that's not the whole story. In 2005 the Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based think tank, issued a study of the city's cultural sector, which it defined broadly to include art, design, music, theater and dance, as well as TV and film production, architecture, publishing, fashion and even advertising. It found that taken together those professions were second only to financial services as an economic force, employing 309,000 people, or more than 8% of the New York City work force.

Region's creative industries flourishing, a study finds
Philadelphia Daily News, 1/23/2008
"The Philadelphia region is doing surprisingly well in industry that requires a creative flair, a new report has found. Philadelphia ranked first in earnings at $98.6 billion in 2005 in areas such as architecture, engineering and software design, and came in second in employment with 306,000 jobs among its six chief competitors: Boston, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Tampa and Austin, Texas. Only Boston did better in employment, with 360,000 jobs, according to an executive summary of 'Creative Footprint: The Economic Impact of the Philadelphia Region's For-Profit Creative Economy,' released yesterday. 'Creative-industry employment within the Philadelphia region generates an estimated total annual economic impact of nearly $60 billion in total output [spending]. This includes $32.5 billion in total annual earnings and supports 766,000 jobs,' the study found."
So when will the creative economy help the most blighted areas of that city. I was there not long ago and blown away by the gentrification. But there's a long way to go, especially if you know the crime figures there. Anyway, move it, groove it.

MPAA Admits Mistake on Downloading Study
Washington Post - AP, 1/23/2008
"Hollywood laid much of the blame for illegal movie downloading on college students. Now, it says its math was wrong. In a 2005 study it commissioned, the Motion Picture Association of America claimed that 44 percent of the industry's domestic losses came from illegal downloading of movies by college students, who often have access to high-bandwidth networks on campus. The MPAA has used the study to pressure colleges to take tougher steps to prevent illegal file-sharing and to back legislation currently before the House of Representatives that would force them to do so. But now the MPAA, which represents the U.S. motion picture industry, has told education groups a 'human error' in that survey caused it to get the number wrong. It now blames college students for about 15 percent of revenue loss."
And then they said Kirby Dick's "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" is right about just about everything, ended the ratings system, and proclaimed their devotion to the First Amendment. And then I awakened.

Bill Could Bring Movies to Nebraska
Houston Chronicle - AP, 1/18/2008
In Nebraska, a Senate bill "provides for a cash rebate of up to 25 percent of production costs for films, commercials and television programs. Senators gave first-round approval Friday to the measure from Sen. Danielle Nantkes of Lincoln, with a couple voicing concerns about the financial effects. . . . Nantkes and others said the return on the investment would be worth it, citing other states where incentives have yielded huge returns."
Of course, there's a joke here somewhere, but this is so enlightened I just hate to make fun of those people.

City seat tax refunds will help update arts complex
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), 1/17/2008
"The Denver Center for the Performing Arts will save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, beginning this month, with relief from the city's seat tax. The center already has been refunded $317,000, a figure that DCPA President Randy Weeks said was chosen to fund urgent repairs. All future money will go to deferred maintenance on buildings in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, said DCPA Chief Executive Officer Daniel L. Ritchie."
I really do think Denver has one of the most intriguing arts funding situations in the country. Really pioneering and really proud of it, and rightly so.

Lights, camera, action...
Michigan Detroit Free-Press (MI), 1/22/2008
An editorial in the Detroit Free-Press writes in favor of a proposal to make Michigan much more attractive to filmmakers with tax rebates up to 40%, "the best deal in the country. . . . This seems like the proverbial no-brainer. It brings new business and jobs into Michigan, even if only for as long as the filmmaking lasts, so whatever revenue the state gets is new money; 60% of something is better than 100% of nothing."
And everyone knows that Michigan, economically, is getting 100% of nothing at the moment.

Marcus arrangement, tax break aimed at luring filmmakers
On Milwaukee, 1/21/2008
"Marcus Theatres announced Friday that it will guarantee screenings of feature films made in [Wisconsin] in its cinemas. The arrangement, along with a new 25 percent state tax incentive for film, TV and video producers that took effect on Jan. 1, is aimed at encouraging filmmakers and producers to shoot in Wisconsin."
But will those films star my friend Jonathan West?

The Sound Of Money
Hartford Business Journal (CT), 1/20/2008
In Connecticut, "[m]oney — in the form of grants and state funding — is critical for arts groups. That is why the state’s museums and art entities are increasingly turning to lobbyists to help them promote their causes with legislators and foundation officials. The lobbyists representing arts organizations are selling the point-of-view that an investment in the state’s museums is an investment in the state’s economy. . . . Museum and arts organizations have at least one very important ally in Gov. M. Jodi Rell, recognized by the arts community as a friend for her push to increase funding. Though Rell’s proposal to take a portion of the state’s cable tax and dedicate it to the arts failed, state lawmakers have been more receptive towards funding nonprofit arts organizations than they have in the past."
Or tap the Yale endowment...

A Taxing Matter
Chronicle of Philanthropy, 1/18/2008
"Nonprofit organizations make billions of dollars in income from activities unrelated to their core missions, but roughly half of the groups raising such funds pay little or nothing in federal taxes on the income. The pattern holds true for the very largest charities, according to a Chronicle review of the organizations’ most recent 990-T tax forms, which were made available to the public for the first time thanks to a change in federal law."
I did not realize that some of a nonprofit's ancillary, revenue-generating activities are taxable as income. Great article.

Charity Begins in Washington
New York Times, 1/22/2006
"The flip side of American private largess is the stinginess of the public sector. Philanthropic contributions in the United States — about $300 billion in 2006 — probably exceed those of any other country. By contrast, America’s tax take is nearly the lowest in the industrial world. . . . As a result, the United States spends less on social programs than virtually every other rich industrial country, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. . . . Critics of government spending argue that America’s private sector does a better job making socially necessary investments. But it doesn’t," says this New York Times editorial.
Um, because we're cheap?

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