Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update XLVIII

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of June 18, 2008:

Putting the Arts back into the Arts
Utne Reader, July-August 2008
"During his stint at the NEA, [former chairman Bill Ivey] dreamed up an unofficial Cultural Bill of Rights, which he fleshes out in his book 'Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights' (University of California Press, 2008). [He] argues that arts policy has long targeted two issues, arts education and increasing funding for nonprofit organizations, that aim to 'bring more fine art to the American people' without encouraging more people to actually create. Amateurs who might like to dabble in photography or the guitar, for instance, aren’t empowered by our society (or our schools) to do so. 'Utne Reader' talked with Ivey about why we’re making less art and what public policy’s got to do with it."
Because creativity is threatening to Republicans?

Economic impact of arts more than $105 million
Jacksonville Daily Record (FL), 6/26/2008
"A study by the Northeast Florida Center for Community Initiatives at the University of North Florida found that in 2007, Jacksonville’s nonprofit arts and culture industry contributed more than $105.6 million to the local economy. The research study was commissioned by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and measured the economic contributions of 38 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Duval County. The report summarizes data from a wide variety of cultural organizations representing music, dance, visual arts, theater, history, and arts education. The groups reported total expenditures of over $54.5 million, primarily in the areas of personnel, rent, advertising, and artistic fees. Using a multiplier developed by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the economic impact of the arts and culture industry was determined to be more than $105.6 million."
And the cost of counting all the ballots in the 2008 presidential election: priceless. Seriously, this is good news.

The proposed new law is a nightmare for artists
The Art Newspaper, 6/19/2008
Artist Frank Stella criticizes the proposed "Orphan Works" legislation, saying, "[I]t would give carte blanche to infringers even if they wished to exploit an artistic work for commercial advantage. Under the proposed legislation, if a copyright holder finds out about an infringement after the fact, his only remedy would be to bring a lawsuit in federal court where a judge could order the payment of what he determines would have been paid by “a reasonable willing buyer and reasonable willing seller” before the infringement took place. This is in sharp contrast to existing law where a copyright holder may obtain a halt to the infringement, the destruction of infringing copies, and damages that may be up to $150,000 for each work of art infringed. This would remove the deterrent that keeps piracy rates at a manageable level. . . . Few artists can afford the costs of federal litigation: attorneys’ fees in our country vastly exceed the licencing fee for a typical painting or drawing."
Again, we live in a society profoundly hostile to artists. If Bill Ivey wants to know why amateurs are not encouraged to be creative, perhaps it has something to do with a mentality like the one described in this legislation.

ADAA President Resolves to Secure Donation Pledges in Return for Tax Code Changes
Maine Antique Digest, 2008
"Year after year, artists, art dealers, and art museum directors have called upon Congress to enact legislation that would permit artists to receive a full, fair-market deduction on their tax returns when they donate their own artwork to museums. (Since 1969, artists making donations of artwork are permitted only to deduct the cost of materials, rather than the full value of the art.) Year after year, legislation authorizing this change in the law has failed even to come up for a vote. Roland Augustine, a New York City art gallery owner and president of the Art Dealers Association of America, has a new idea, a sort of carrot to hold before legislators. 'I plan to secure pledges from fifty living American artists for one important work from their own collections that they would donate to a museum if legislation is passed,' he said."
I'd love to see the names on this list.

Arts budget cuts add up to a $3M victory
Star-Ledger (NJ), 7/1/2008
"The state Council on the Arts will receive $19.2 million -- $2.7 million less than last year -- as part of the $32.9 billion spending plan signed into law Monday. Despite a 12 percent cut, the arts council budget exceeds by $3 million the amount proposed by Gov. Jon Corzine at the start of the budget process." The approved budget also cuts or eliminates annual funding to numerous state arts organizations.
Interesting information in this article.

Hollywood East costly act
Boston Herald, 6/28/2008
Massachusetts state Rep. Steven D’Amico argues against a bill that provide a state subsidy for 20 percent of the costs of building movie studios, because "[o]nce studios are built it will be impossible to sunset the production tax credits, which are scheduled to end in 2013. Like New York, we will be forced to defend our studios with ever-escalating subsidies. . . . [W]e will be committed to funding 25 percent of their operating costs. Forever."
People are never goddamn happy. There's runaway production in Canada in the early part of this decade and people scream that we've got to bring it back. A few states get the bright idea of tax incentives to lure production back stateside and then everyone starts complaining that incentives are forcing states to compete against each other (that's the point). Suddenly states compete against each other for production via tax incentives and when economic times turn tough, people like this dude turn on tax incentives. Vicious goddamn cycle, and dumb.

Portland's arts funding should increase
The Oregonian, 6/29/2008
Although Portland currently ranks No. 23 per capita among U.S. metropolitan regions in arts funding, art advocates anticipate "[t]hat will likely change with Mayor-elect Sam Adams and newly elected City Commissioner Nick Fish in office. Portland now has perhaps the strongest arts and cultural advocates since the days of Commissioner Mike Lindberg in the '80s and '90s. But the road to arts heaven will be hard-earned. Adams, Fish and other arts and culture leaders say Portland will move up the arts-funding chart only if the city doubles the arts budget and encourages support from private businesses. Most of all, they say, the arts community must learn how to master the political system for its own ends in the way that the affordable housing and sustainability movements have."
There's a beer running Portland?

Report: Out-of-state actor salaries help trigger big tax credits in Mass
Malden Observer (Medford, MA), 6/28/2008
In Massachusetts, "[l]egislators moved to advance a tax credit bill for film studios late last Tuesday, hours after a Patrick administration analysis showed tax credits are subsidizing millionaire actor salaries and raised questions about the economic prudence of additional incentives for the industry. The Department of Revenue report released quietly late Monday, which hypothetically analyzes film industry spending, estimated the state collects under 18 cents in budgetary revenue for every dollar it furnishes in tax credits, and that roughly one-third of the spending so far in 2008 has paid actors earning over $1 million per film, virtually all of whom live out of state. Most of the hefty salaries are likely spent or saved out of state, the report said."
So modify the incentives, but don't get rid of them. Also, which specific actors? Very, very, very few actors make millions on a film -- it should be easy to figure out these individuals might be. Mark Wahlberg? Ben Affleck?

Giving's Tough Climate
Chronicle of Philanthropy, 6/26/2008
"The sluggish economy is showing its effects on charitable donations, which rose just 1 percent last year after inflation, according to Giving USA, the annual tally of American philanthropy to be released this week. . . . Charities report that donors of all types have recently delayed or reduced gifts — or stopped giving altogether. But not all charities faced trouble last year. Organizations that increased donations in 2007 tended to be large, sophisticated institutions and those that have worked hard in recent years to expand and diversify their fund raising and develop other sources of revenue that can offset the effects of a shaky economy."
Get ready -- these numbers are going to get worse next year, especially if the market continues to tumble.

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