Monday, May 19, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update XLII

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of May 14, 2008:

Effort to boost not just attendance, but engagement
Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/8/2008

"The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance believes it can help double audience participation at area arts events over the next 12 years. And the Pew Charitable Trusts has put up $5 million to help finance an elaborate marketing effort - called Engage 2020 - to push for that goal, officials intend to announce today. . . . A key element will be the creation of what the alliance has dubbed the Cultural Engagement Index, which will seek to gauge regional cultural activity through periodic readings of such key statistics as audience size and diversity. Over time, the alliance hopes the index will measure shifting patterns of cultural behavior. The index will also serve as the measure of cultural participation, which the alliance is seeking to double by 2020. Participation is an expansive concept that goes well beyond traditional attendance - about 18 million attended cultural events in the five-county region last year, officials said - to encompass activities as wide-ranging as singing in church to collecting art for the home. In addition, a two-year study of demographics, audience likes and dislikes, and audience values will pull together a vast amount of data in 'a readable format' for leaders of cultural organizations."
Wow. Brilliant. Can New York do the same thing? You betcha. We just need political support for it.

12 Chicago-area Cultural Institutions Awarded Grants to 'Jumpstart the Conversation'
PR Newswire, 5/6/2008
"Twelve organizations in the Chicago metro area have been awarded 'JumpStart the Conversation' grants for projects designed to provide opportunities for older adults to contribute to the cultural life of their communities. The grants were introduced after a recent workshop at the Chicago Cultural Center, Engaging Older Adults Through Arts and Culture: Developing a Livable Chicago for All Ages. The workshop was the fifth of six regional workshops focused on creating livable communities for all ages. The workshops and grants are part of a national Aging in Place Initiative undertaken by Partners for Livable Communities (Partners) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), with funding provided by MetLife Foundation."
Great idea. Actually makes a lot of sense.

One town uses the arts to revive after hurricane Katrina
Christian Science Monitor, 5/14/2008
In Bay St. Louis, MS, the arts are credited with "helping revive a town in one of the rare success stories of post-Katrina life on the Gulf Coast. . . . [A]rts mavens and tourists are returning, and homes and businesses are being rebuilt, helping to resurrect the economy and sharpen the community's identity as a cultural hub. The town, admittedly, has an advantage over many other communities along the Gulf Coast. Even before Katrina, it was a vibrant center for tourism and the arts – a Santa Fe of the South. Yet now artists from across the country are sending money and aid, which, along with infusions of federal cash, are helping the once-sleepy fishing village further reinvent itself and raising a provocative question: Can the arts rescue a town?"
Great question. Here's another: How will they vote in November? For the same people who left them to drown and die, or for people who would actually reform FEMA enough to take care of them if, God forbid, another Katrina were to come along?

Report shows that arts organizations are being “stifled” by a lack of facility space and diversity
Fort Collins Now (CO), 5/8/2008
"For some time, those in Fort Collins' [CO] arts and culture scene have said the lack of space and diversity in local facilities is keeping the city from realizing its potential. And after studying Fort Collins' cultural landscape for more than a year, a team of consultants has confirmed just that. . . . In the newly announced Cultural Facilities Plan final report, the study team determined that there is a continuing need for updating current facilities like the city-owned Lincoln Center as well as increasing the number and variety of local venues. In fact, they have recommended increasing the city's artistic fleet by five cultural facilities, five performance facilities and two infrastructural projects."
No offense or anything, but it took a year to study the cultural landscape of Fort Collins, Colorado?

Arts Council funding approved
KMEG 14 (Sioux City, IA) - AP, 5/12/2008
In South Dakota, "Governor Rounds has approved $1.1 million in State Arts Council funding. . . . Rounds says strengthening the arts is an excellent way to diversify the state economy."
Yes, that and making sure women aren't allowed to have abortions. That certainly is one way to make people more creative. Bastards.

Creative Economy Gets Access to State Tax Credits
WWJ (Detroit,. MI), 5/9/2008
"Michigan's creative business community will get a boost as a result of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's signature on a series of bills that would make creative businesses eligible for state MEGA tax credits. State officials say the bill, sponsored by State Sen. Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac), will have a significant impact on Southeast Michigan's efforts to develop creative economy jobs by broadening the definition of businesses eligible for MEGA credits to include those in the creative sector. . . . Businesses meeting these criteria will be eligible for high-tech or high-wage MEGA credits which are credits against the Michigan Business Tax. A high-wage business is a business that has an average wage of 300 percent or more of the federal minimum wage."
OMG, I'm in a high-wage business. Or maybe I'm just high. Sigh.

NEA Launches National Opera Awards
Washington Post, 5/14/2008
"Think of American art forms, and opera doesn't typically spring to mind. But now the federal government is setting out to change that. Yesterday the National Endowment for the Arts announced the four winners of the first annual NEA Opera Honors, the first new program of national arts awards since the Jazz Masters awards were established in 1982."
The opera ain't over until the fat lady...wins an award! Seriously, this is cool.

Perdue signs film tax-credit boost
Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL), 5/13/2008
Legislation signed by Georgia governor Sonny Perdue will more than double the tax credits for film production in the state. "Companies will now get a 20 percent tax credit on productions that spend more than $500,000 in the state, and another 10 percent credit if the production includes a short promotion touting Georgia."
Let us pray...that it brings them business.

San Antonio voters overwhelmingly approve visitor tax
Houston Chronicle - AP, 5/11/2008
"Voters in San Antonio on Saturday approved four proposals to use visitor taxes to fund $415 million in civic improvement projects for the area. Bexar County voters decided to extend a 1.75 percent tax on hotel rooms and a 5 percent tax on short-term car rentals to fund four separate propositions: improvements to the San Antonio River, new youth and amateur athletic facilities, renovations of arts centers and upgrades to rodeo grounds and arenas. . . . About 65 percent of voters approved renovation of arts centers."
And the other 35% was busy watching Lou Dobbs and figuring out whether artists and illegal aliens are really just the same thing.

Who will perform for the arts?
Los Angeles Times, 5/11/2008
"At a time when the California Arts Council is handing out only one-tenth of the grants funding it did a decade ago, and when the city's Department of Cultural Affairs will take a 6.1% hit to its 2008-09 budget, the race to succeed retiring county Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke is of intense interest to the local arts community," says local arts leader Michael Alexander. "That's because L.A. County government has become the chief public resource for local arts funding. . . . And it is Burke who has been the major driving force for the arts on the Board of Supervisors."
The person ought to be lobbying the California governor, too.

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