Thursday, June 12, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update XLVI

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of June 11, 2008:

Austin mapping out course of its creative future
Austin American-Statesman, 6/6/2008
"Keeping Austin creative into the next decade is at the heart of a new cultural master plan presented Thursday to the City Council. Among the top recommendations are a private nonprofit alliance to offer services to Austin's creative community and the consolidation of the city's cultural functions into one new municipal department. The Create Austin Cultural Master Plan, commissioned by the city, is the product of almost two years of planning involving dozens of public and private sector leaders who drafted the plan to chart a course for Austin's cultural development in the next 10 years."
Must be interesting being an oasis of forward-thinking, progressive sanity in the Lone Star State.

Local arts are a big business
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA), 6/7/2008
In Columbus, GA, a new study tallies that economic impact of 14 nonprofit arts organizations: a total budget of $22 million, 620 full-time employees, and a payroll of nearly $11 million. "[H]aving seen the numbers -- including an estimated $52 million annual economic impact in the Chattahoochee Valley -- the city is now paying attention. 'It's information we needed to hear, we needed to know,' said Isaiah Hugley, Columbus city manager. 'I'm impressed with the numbers they presented. Obviously they have a much greater impact on Columbus and the region than I had realized. It points to the need to do more for the arts because of the tremendous impact.'"
Amazing how these kinds of reports always wake people up. Good for them.

New affordable housing will help artists stay put
Oakland Tribune (CA), 6/6/2008
"In one of the few projects of its kind in the country, the Northern California Land Trust is turning an old industrial noodle factory at 26th and Union streets in West Oakland into permanently affordable spaces that will be sold to working artists at steeply discounted prices. The space already had been taken over as an underground artists collective. Once completed, the bright blue building will feature 11 work/live spaces, a cafĂ©, and a 2,700-square-foot rehearsal and theater performance space. It incorporates green technology and features solar panels that will power up to 75 percent of the building's electricity and hot water. It also has heavy-duty finishes, soundproofing and ventilation that allows artists to do whatever it is they do — sculpt, solder, paint, compose, edit film and more."
Great story. But what's an industrial noodle?

Although business still dominates, the performing arts are flourishing on college campuses
Chicago Sun-Times, 6/9/2008
More than 25,000 Illinois college students are majoring in visual or performing arts, "making the field of study the second most popular, according to unpublished data released by the state at the request of the Sun-Times. While still lagging business majors by a wide margin -- there are nearly twice as many business students in the state -- the arts' popularity has increased faster than any of the other 10 most popular majors in the past decade. The number of arts majors is up 110 percent since 1997."
And there's Chicago to support it. Sweet.

L.A. arts agency funding cut less than 1%
Los Angeles Times, 6/4/2008
"L.A.'s municipal arts agency took a smaller hit than at first seemed likely under this year's austere city budget. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had proposed cutting the Cultural Affairs Department's spending by 6.1%, but the final $9.98-million department budget for 2008-09 passed by the City Council is down just $89,000, or less than 1% of this year's figure."
And what's the arts budget for the state of California as a whole? Isn't it less than that of LA? I'll check...

Lawmakers look to tweak film incentives
Green Bay Press Gazette (WI) - AP, 6/9/2008
Wisconsin is considering a change to its generous tax breaks for filmmakers. "Right now, if filmmakers' tax credits exceed their tax liability they can only use the leftover credits if and when they return to Wisconsin. Lawton and others want to make those credits transferable, possibly to other film companies for a small fee. The state's film office, Film Wisconsin, has heard feedback from the industry that it is less competitive without the ability to transfer credits, Lawton's spokesman Robert Chappell said."
Never thought about this. I almost wonder if a comparable model for theatre couldn't be created.

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