Friday, January 09, 2009

Arts Advocacy Update LXXI

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of January 7, 2009:

Arts groups offer deals for furloughed state employees
Baltimore Sun (MD), 1/5/2009
"Today, Maryland Citizens for the Arts, an advocacy group that has been active for more than 25 years, announced that several organizations have joined an effort to support the 67,000 state employees who are facing furloughs as part of a budget-balancing move. The employees will be able to obtain various deals, including free or discounted tickets, from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, CenterStage, Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum and others."
I applaud the idea, of course, but telling the furloughed/unemployed that they can take solace in free or discounted tickets isn't the same thing as, um, a job, is it?

Economic Stimulus Bill May Drive U.S. Broadband, 1/6/2009
"The 111th Congress convenes today, and its first order of business is clear: sending an economic stimulus bill to President-elect Obama's desk within two weeks of his inauguration. . . . Observers expect provisions to spur broadband adoption to be included in the stimulus package. . . . Part of the impetus for increasing broadband deployment is the growing sense that the United States is falling behind. A prominent report in fall found that the nation had slipped to 15th place in per capita broadband adoption, down from fourth place in 2001."
Fear time. In looking at this, it's unclear what areas of the nation remain underserved. Clearly it's the rural areas and areas, as the article says, "inhospitable" to laying broadband cable, but how much will this really cost us and what will be the ROI if the government pays for it all?

Los Angeles Kicks Off First Annual Arts Month
ARTINFO, 1/7/2009
"Mayor Antonio Villairagosa announced this week that January 2009 is the first annual L.A. Arts Month, reports the Los Angeles Times blog Culture Monster. . . . Villairagosa called L.A. 'the Venice of the 21st century,' adding that it is the 'creative capital of America,' where some 900,000 are employed in creative jobs and the arts generate '$100 billion in revenue for the area each year.'"
Personally, I don't buy those numbers. $100 billion in more than New York City and New York State, isn't it?

The ka-ching of culture
Colorado Business Journal, 12/31/2008
"The CBCA [Colorado Business Committee for the Arts] 2008 Economic Activity Study of Denver Metro Culture, conducted biennially, measures the economic impact of arts and culture in the Denver metro area. Beyond the nearly $1.7 billion in activity reported in 2007, the study also states that more than 16.4 million Coloradans and other visitors attended cultural events in 2007, and that tourism at arts, cultural and scientific institutions generated $331 million. . . . The critical number, however, is the one that shows the amount of 'new money' infused into Colorado’s economy: $392 million, says Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp."
I've been saying for years that Denver's arts-funding model should be replicated elsewhere in the country. It's the smartest, soundest, most forward-thinking and -- most important -- it's the most revenue-generating.

No artist left behind
San Francisco Bay Guardian, 12/24/2008
"Spearheaded by San Franciscans with spirited and creative allies all across America, a National Campaign to Hire Artists to Work in Schools has been formed. The effort has caught on like wildfire among artists, arts advocates, and arts educators."
Brilliant. I totally approve. Let's all get our asses on board.

No Bailout for the Arts?
Washington Post, 12/29/2008
Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, writes about the "perfect storm" that is weakening "our nation's arts ecology." He pleas, "We need an emergency grant for arts organizations in America, and we need legislation that allows unusual access to endowments. Washington must encourage foundations to increase their spending rates during this crisis, and we need immediate tax breaks for corporate giving."
Yeah, ok, sure, that's fine, I support that. But that our arts are so vulnerable does not address the fact that they have been that vulnerable for years. This is partly just hop-on-the-gravy-train self-aggrandizement, too. Sorry, Mr. Kaiser, but it's true.

Obama’s pledges for the arts
The Art Newspaper, 1/7/2009
During the election, Barack Obama shared detailed plans for supporting the arts, including "an 'Artist Corps' of young artists to promote art in schools and low-income communities, increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), health care for artists, and allowing artists to deduct the market value of any works they donate to museums or public institutions." Since the election, Mr. Obama "has announced a three-person advisory team dedicated to reviewing the two main agencies responsible for providing government grants to arts and culture projects, the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). . . . But some groups think Mr Obama can do more. A coalition of arts organisations . . . submitted a report to Obama’s office recommending further measures to improve government support of the arts. Among the suggestions—such as increasing the NEA’s annual budget to $319.2m, expanding international cultural exchange, and reinstating an arts curriculum in schools—is the important idea of appointing a senior-level official in the White House that would be responsible for overseeing the administration’s entire arts and cultural policy."
It's funny -- I think having a senior-level official in the White House to deal with cultural policy is potentially more important than whether we ratchet up the NEA to $319.2M, although I'd take the money if offered. The question is -- what does the NEA use it for?

White House Office of the Arts?
artnet, 1/6/2009
"The transition team of President-elect Barack Obama is keeping a firm hand on any appointment news, but the buzz in art-and-politics precincts has the new administration seriously considering the idea of an official White House Office of the Arts, overseeing all things having to do with the arts and arts education. The new arts czar wouldn’t be a cabinet-level position -- too complicated and too limiting, say insiders -- but rather a liaison with the president with real access to funds and power."
The question is this: Will the arts czar be Catherine the Great or Ivan the Terrible?

Overall Climate for Nonprofit Fundraising Worst Since 1998, Report Finds
Philanthropy News Digest, 12/22/2008
"Nonprofit professionals reported the lowest level of confidence in the fundraising climate in more than a decade, the latest edition of the Philanthropic Giving Index (PGI) from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University finds."
I'm quite sure that's not even the half of it -- just wait for 2009.

Recession Hits Arts Groups Especially Hard
Chronicle of Philanthropy, 1/2/2009
"[A]s the economy worsens, philanthropy experts say arts groups could have a harder and harder time competing for donations against social-service groups. . . . As social-service needs become more pressing during these tight economic times, many arts groups are looking for ways new ways they can work with such groups."
We went through all of this at the beginning of this decade, and now we're back to where we were. What have we learned?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi - I live in Baltimore, so I wanted to respond to your post abotu the furloughed state workers. They DO have jobs. Most are being furloughed for 2 days (December 26 and January 2). Higher-level employees are being furloughed for up to 6 days, depending on salary level (highest pay=most furlough days). The salary for the two furlough days will be deducted from paychecks, spread evenly over the period January 1-June 30, to minimize the impact.

You seem to misunderstand and think that a furlough is the same thing as being laid off.