Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update XXXVI

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of April 2, 2008:

More women are needed in top-ranking arts posts, says Culture minister
The Independent (UK), 4/2/2008
"Britain's creative industries are lagging behind other sectors in the fight for gender equality with leading arts institutions suffering from a dearth of women in high-ranking positions, the Culture minister Margaret Hodge has warned. Outlining the 'huge challenge' facing the arts world, Ms Hodge said it had a 'longer way to go than other industries' before it achieved sufficient diversity. Far too few women occupied positions in the boardrooms and non-executive positions of the country's top arts institutions, she added."
I'm an American. What's a culture minister? Gosh, imagine if we had one...

City, cultural leaders discuss preserving art space
Seattle Times, 4/1/2008
In Seattle, the issue of declining art space is taken up by City Councilmember Nick Licata, who organized a city hall meeting on the issue. "The meeting will focus on solutions to preserve, create and maintain art space on Capitol Hill. One possibility is creating a cultural overlay district which would give incentives — such as tax breaks, zoning changes or low- interest loans — to encourage artistic activities."
Nice article.

Cultural district consultants study development options
Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area (NC), 4/1/2008
With the help of New York-based HR&A Advisors, the city of Greensboro, NC, is creating a plan for a downtown cultural arts district.
Let's keep an eye on this. NC is growing by leaps and bounds and there's a lot more talent there than people realize.

Rep. Jeff Mayes backs arts and culture legislation
Bay City Times (MI), 3/29/2008
"State Rep. Jeff Mayes, D-Bay City, is lead sponsor of an economic revitalization package involving Michigan Cultural Redevelopment Districts. . . . Michigan's program would establish a competitive process for Michigan communities to apply for district designation, based on arts- and culture-centered neighborhood redevelopment plans. Districts would be able to take advantage of incentives based on their particular community's needs, including income tax deductions of up to $25,000 for working artists that live in the district."
Take a look at this and compare it to the story involving Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm down below. Nice dovetailing.

House Votes to Ease US Entry for Artists
Washington Post - AP, 04/01/2008
"The House voted Tuesday to improve the visa approval process for foreign artists, addressing a problem that has resulted in some orchestras and groups not engaging those from abroad. . . . The House bill, approved by voice vote, extends the time period given the Homeland Security Department to process nonimmigrant visas for certain types of artists and entertainers from two weeks to 30 days. If the department fails to meet that 30-day deadline, it must provide premium processing services free of charge. . . . The bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration, affects only visa applications made by nonprofit arts organizations."
It will be interesting to see if the Senate passes this. My guess is that it won't.

Historical perspective on state budget cuts
New Jersey Star-Ledger, 2/29/2008
In New Jersey, a gathering of history community activists discussed the governor's plan to cut $19.5 million in state and federal aid for historic sites, preservation, tourism, arts and culture, museum and library services. "Under Corzine's proposed $33 billion budget, the Historical Commission budget would be cut $1.1 million to $2.7 million; the Council on the Arts would be reduced $5.9 million to $16 million; and state parks and historic sites would be cut $8.8 million to $31.6 million. Other cuts are slated for tourism promotion, library services, the Cultural Trust, museum grants and archives management."
I still don't understand how you slash $19.5 million when your overall state budget is $33 billion. How does this help the economy of New Jersey? There's just nothing else to cut? You would have thought that car crash would have Corzine thinking twice about what's really meaningful in life.

Movie incentives come with price tag
MLive.com (MI) - AP, 3/31/2008
"When Gov. Jennifer Granholm signs tax incentives aimed at making Michigan the country's most attractive place to make movies, they may come with a hefty price tag. The marquee piece of legislation will give film studios up to a 42 percent refundable credit on production expenses in the state — the most lucrative in the United States. For example, if an out-of-state studio has no Michigan Business Tax liability and spends $10 million on production in the state, the state will cut it a check for $4 million. The credit otherwise can be used by in-state and out."
See above story on the Michigan legislator.

Redford lobbies for more arts funding
ABC News (Australia) - AFP, 4/2/2008
On Tuesday, April 1, Robert Redford was among those who testified at a Capitol Hill hearing on the National Endowment for the Arts budget, organized by Americans for the Arts. "Currently the NEA budget is $US144 million ($158 million). Advocates want it restored to its all-time high of $US176 million, reached in fiscal year 1992." Testimony was also provided by Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, "a leading member of the US Conference of Mayors [who] said that cities with rich arts and cultural programs have a better chance of thriving economically," and Jonathan Spector, head of The Conference Board, who "said business leaders complain about the shortage of skilled and creative workers."
God bless the people at Americans for the Arts. But are politicians listening?

Tax breaks draw films, but cost state
Boston Globe, 3/27/2008
In Massachusetts, a new report by the state Department of Revenue finds that tax incentives for filmmakers "have cost the state $119 million to $120 million in lost tax revenue over the past three years," although the film projects have also "generated $545 million in direct spending from 88 productions, which supporters say has given a major boost to the local economy and outweighed the cost of the tax breaks. The report also cited employment data that indicated the state has created hundreds of jobs in the motion picture and video industries."
So then the tax breaks haven't really cost the state, have they?

Waning tax revenue threatens funding for arts, culture, historic preservation in Florida budget
Palm Beach Daily News (FL), 3/30/2008
"Cultural leaders are scrambling to preserve state funding for the arts and historic preservation as lawmakers prune the budget to align with shrinking tax revenue. Legislators are looking to trim about $3 billion from the $70.3 billion state budget by the time the session concludes May 2. . . . So far, the Florida Senate is proposing allocating $8 million for the arts, $1 million for historic preservation and $1 million for history museums. The House is recommending $3.5 million for the arts and nearly $1 million for history groups. The Department of State, under whose umbrella arts and history fall, is recommending that the Division of Historical Resources' South Florida office be closed and its activities routed to the division's headquarters in Tallahassee. Bills have been proposed in the House and Senate to eliminate a requirement that a portion of the construction budgets for certain state buildings be set aside for art."
Wasteland, that state. All that sunshine kills people's brains.

Giving by U.S. Family Foundations Increased 21 Percent, Report Finds
Philanthropy News Digest, 3/27/2008
"America's family foundations awarded $17 billion in grants in 2006, a 21 percent increase from the previous year, a new report from the Foundation Center finds. According to the 2008 edition of 'Key Facts on Family Foundations,' giving by family foundations . . . accounts for 59 percent of giving by independent foundations overall."
So, in other words, snuggle up next to someone who has a family foundation. Like this fellow, in the next item...

Steinberg Charitable Trust Establishes Awards for U.S. Playwrights
Philanthropy News Digest, 3/30/2008
"The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust in New York City has announced the creation of two awards for American playwrights in different stages of their careers. The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award will honor a mid-career playwright whose body of work has already been recognized. With a cash prize of $200,000, it is believed be the largest award to honor American playwriting. . . . Beginning in 2009, the Steinberg Emerging Playwrights Award, also to be awarded biennially, will honor two early career playwrights whose professional work shows great promise; each recipient will receive a cash prize of $50,000."
Great news. And I've briefly met Jim Steinberg for the last two years in Louisville -- very, very nice fellow. Bless those folks for what they do.

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