Thursday, October 30, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update LXIV

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of October 29, 2008:

Free Theater Night Brings New Audiences
NPR, 10/25/2008
"There may not be free lunch, but last week, all across the country, there was free theater. More than 600 non-profit theaters in 120 cities offered a Free Night of Theater, to hook new audiences."
New York City is one of the cities being added this year, and by all indication (from what I hear) it is already a tremendous success.

Give arts a future, plan says
Ann Arbor News (MI), 10/23/2008
"Ask anyone what he or she likes about living in Washtenaw County, and 'cultural opportunities' is sure to be mentioned. But in order to thrive, cultural assets - like any other - need maintenance and stewardship. That's the goal behind a master plan for cultural development in Washtenaw County that was released Wednesday night by the Ann Arbor-based Arts Alliance."
I am including this particular link this week because of how terrible the economy is in Michigan -- and therefore how encouraging this inforamtion is. Not enough arts-service organizations are paying attention to states where the financial crisis is really compounding things, such as Michigan. Hoping they pay attention this time.

Mayor: NYC seeks to boost its economy
Staten Island Advocate (NY), 10/26/2008
In his speech on how New York City is working to boost its economy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg focused on arts tourism, such as is generated by the city's innovative public art (most recently Olafur Eliasson's New York City Waterfalls), art exhibits, and theatrical productions.
If you want to know something about how the citizens of the city are starting to feel about turncoat Bloomberg, click on the link and read the comments at the bottom of the story. Wow. Tip o' the iceberg, kids.

Olympia officials consider artists' housing
The Olympian (WA), 1/28/2008
In Olympia, WA, "[c]ity officials are considering trying to attract an affordable-housing project for artists to downtown. . . . The idea behind such a development is that rising rents can otherwise price out artists, particularly in places such as Seattle, which saw its downtown gentrify in the 1990s."
Now, not to be catty, but I also saw this story awhile ago about there being too may rats in Olympia, too. So...they're putting artists with the rats?

Shot in Texas: More wrangling over film incentives
Dallas Morning News (TX), 10/24/2008
"Family-friendly may be the catch phrase in 2009 as the Legislature looks at increasing the financial incentives offered to films shooting in Texas. One proposal has a little bump for films shot here and deemed family-friendly, says Bob Hudgins, head of the Texas Film Commission. . . . Texas ranks dead last among 42 states offering cash or tax rebates, he says. Neighboring Louisiana and New Mexico each offer incentives of 25 percent, and Michigan's is 40 percent to 42 percent. The Texas Motion Picture Alliance, a film lobby group, is pushing the Legislature to up the Texas amount to a 15 percent rebate on funds spent in-state."
First off, what an awful headline. Second, leave it to those red-state idiots to institute a content provision.

Utah arts groups feel the sting of budget cuts
Salt Lake Tribune (UT), 10/27/2008
Because the annual operating budget shared by the Utah Arts Council and the Division of Arts and Museums was cut by nearly $140,000, "[a]rts organizations will see a 3 percent reduction in arts grants in 2009 - unless even more budget cuts are made in the upcoming Legislative session."
Must be frustrating to be an artist and live in such an anti-Democrat state and then have this happen. Sorry, guys.

Cincinnati's top-ranked fund provides a model to arts communities
Dayton Daily News (OH), 10/26/2008
In a survey of united arts funds conducted by Americans for the Arts, Cincinnati's Fine Arts Fund ranks number 1. Why? The strengths of tradition and corporate support. Also notable is that Cincinnati's program doesn't tolerate budget deficits. "Our donors and the corporations that welcome us into their workplaces expect us to make sure these organizations operate in a financially secure manner," says the fund's director. "Those that don't get some "tough love," she said. They get smaller checks."
Brilliant. Great story and great food for thought.

Wal-Mart charity chief: Nonprofits must team up
Boston Herald, 10/24/2008
"Boston has too many nonprofit groups, Wal-Mart Foundation President Margaret McKenna said at a breakfast meeting yesterday [October 23]. And instead of fighting for survival in an economic downturn, these groups ought to be looking for ways to work together while continuing their mission, she said. 'The argument that "our organization will go out of business" doesn’t resonate with me,' said McKenna, whose foundation distributed nearly $300 million in 2007. What does resonate, she said, is, 'Our population will not be served.'"
First of all, can we have a moment for an oxymoron: The Wal-Mart Foundation. Ok, thank you. And who is McKenna to tell Boston that it has too many not-for-profits. I think Wal-Mart has too many issues around properly taking care of its workers. Nyeh.

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1 comment:

Art said...

Hi Leonard,

This Herald story seems to fit the the latest meme here in Boston.

If you remember, The Boston Foundation came out with a similar report last year.

Thomas Garvey really dug into the assumptions the report made.

Consolidation, you see, helps to create umbrella organizations headed by a highly paid executive to which the funds can be given. The smaller organzitions must sublimate to the umbrella, which will increasingly gain power.

A perfect is example is how the CitiCenter in Boston kicked out the Nutcracker for the Rockettes and acquired the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, only to slash its budget. All while the exec was still collecting greater and greater bonuses.