Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update XLIX

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of July 9, 2008:

Entering Cultural Communities
Rutgers University Press, 2008
From the publisher: The chapters in this book draw on interviews with leaders, staff, volunteers, and audience members from eighty-five nonprofit cultural organizations to explore how they are trying to increase participation and the extent to which they have been successful. The insiders’ accounts point to the opportunities and challenges involved in such efforts, from the reinvention of programs and creation of new activities, to the addition of new departments and staff dynamics, to partnerships with new groups. The authors differentiate between “relational” and “transactional” practices, the former term describing efforts to build connections with local communities and the latter describing efforts to create new consumer markets for cultural products. In both cases, arts leaders report that, although positive results are difficult to measure conclusively, long-term efforts bring better outcomes than short-term activities.
They really do want you to buy this book -- when you click on the link, there's not much more other than the abstract above.

Let's aim for the cultural omnivore
The Australian, 7/4/2008
The Australian shares an excerpt from Diane Ragsdale's July 3 keynote address at the Australia Council for the Arts marketing summit in Melbourne. "What if performances and exhibitions from all of Melbourne's arts organisations were aggregated by a website called MelbourneCultureClub.org? What if that website could send emails to potential ticket buyers, making personal recommendations from the array of cultural activities on offer in the city? In much the same way as online dating services use surveys to gather information and match up people, a community-wide website could collect data on customer preferences - favourite composers, actors, directors, authors, styles, types of experiences, books, movies, television shows, radio programs - and develop a sophisticated system of recommendations. Coupled with a social networking site and reviews, these tools could help people make more informed decisions, make recommendations to each other and perhaps even entice them to try performances they may not otherwise have sought out."
Nice idea, but there must a reason no one is trying it. What is it?

Weak economy forces festivals to rethink, cancel
Associated Press, 7/8/08
"From a hot air balloon festival in Jackson, Mich., to parades in Clearwater, Fla. to a seafood festival in Annapolis, Md., organizers grappling with the effects of a weakening economy are calling it quits. Or at least putting off their events until next year. Corporate sponsors are pulling out as they worry about their own financial well-being, let alone donating money to a festival. Organizers are reluctant to raise ticket prices since families shelling out $4-a-gallon for gas may not want to pay the extra money. And costs for hiring bands, vendors and renting grounds are rising."
And today I was reading about a bank run in California. Not good, my friends, not good.

Mayor: Denver strong, poised for even better days
Denver Post, 7/1/2008
In his recent State of the City address, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper called attention to the importance of the arts and culture. "Hickenlooper said city and arts-committee collaboration was helping to attract cultural investments. 'Culture provides a competitive advantage' for Denver, he said, citing the upcoming opening of the 31,000-square-foot Clyfford Still Museum."
And the Democratic National Convention, which will have actual creative people, not Republicanbots.

Artists network asks Kent council for funds, Seeks 1 percent of construction projects' budgets
Ravenna Record Courier (OH), 7/8/2008
"The Artists Network of Kent [OH] has asked Kent City Council members to consider adopting a program to allocate 1 percent of funding for all of Kent's capital construction projects to support public art. . . . According to the Americans for the Arts' Public Art Network, more than 300 public art programs exist in the United States at the federal, state, and local level."
How big is Kent? Is that too personal?

SCFD: Sea change on arts-funding decisions in Denver
Denver Post, 7/6/2008
"The [Denver] Scientific and Cultural Facilities District has awarded $1.4 billion to metro-area arts organizations since 1989, but the recent severing of one of its longest and smallest beneficiaries marks a sea change in the way tax dollars will now be doled out to all Denver County arts organizations. Now, what you do for your community counts more than what you do for your audience's souls. . . . [T]he new formula doesn't take into account a company's longevity, nor does it even attempt to determine artistic merit, because of its inherent subjectivity."
I refer my right honorable friend to the link two up from this one, in which Denver mayor Hickenlooper waxes optimistic about Denver. It takes a Village, I guess. Two separate ones, apparently.

State okays $6.5 million for cultural facilities fund
Boston Business Journal, 7/3/2008
"The Massachusetts Cultural Council announced Thursday the state Legislature has approved a $400,000 budget increase for the organization, and approved a $6.5 million budget for the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund for fiscal year 2009, which started July 1, 2008."
Awesome. Good deal!

Without plates, arts, roads would suffer
The Tennessean, 7/8/2008
Tennessee state senator Mark Norris writes in support of the state's Specialty License Plate Program and the Tennessee Arts Commission, which is funded by the program. He explains, "Since 1983, Tennessee law has authorized the sale of premium-priced license plates bearing special logo types to raise revenue for specific agencies, charities, programs and other activities affecting Tennessee. Half the profits go to the nonprofit groups publicized on the plates. Forty percent goes to the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the remaining 10 percent goes to the state's highway fund. Last year, the program generated $4,408,698 for the Arts Commission. . . . Seventy-six percent of its budget is funded by the plate program."
It's such a smart idea. Glad a politician came out and supported it so strongly.

For-profit fundraisers collect loads, but nonprofits see a sliver
Los Angeles Times, 7/6/2008
According to research by the Los Angles Times, "[r]ecords filed with the California attorney general's office show that over the last decade, for-profit fundraisers for the nonprofit kept more than 94 cents of every donated dollar." However, "[t]hose that specialize in nonprofits with long-standing patron networks tend to offer better returns. New York-based telemarketer DCM Inc. works exclusively for arts groups, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, targeting ticket buyers and former donors. It enjoys one of the best records in the business, returning, on average, 72 cents per dollar raised."
94 cents of every donated dollar to pay for the fundraising? That's obscene. This sort of thing really ought to be regulated.

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