Saturday, January 17, 2009

Arts Advocacy Update LXXII

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of January 15, 2009:

From Rust Belt to Artist Belt: Challenges and Opportunities in the Rust Belt Cities
Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, 2008

This report explains why artist-based community development (ABCD) is a smart strategy for revitalizing rust belt cities, and discusses issues that cities must address in order to foster such development.
And if not artist-based community development, what are politicians offering as a way to revitalize these areas? I strongly suspect that the right-wing will very soon be seizing upon art as a controversial hot potato, shades of the NEA wars of the early 1990s. Given our economic conditions, they do so at their own peril. Also, for purposes of understanding what the report is focusing on, consider these two graphs:

The term Rust Belt has become synonymous with Midwestern and Northeastern cities that experienced their heydays in the early 20th century and, by century’s end, suffered plant closures, widespread unemployment and general decline. These metropolitan areas were once home to "big factories, big autos, and big steel," but now find themselves the reluctant holders of countless hollowed-out factories, the reminders of a once-prosperous past.

In this paper, the term "Rust Belt" will refer to the area generally bounded by the cities of Syracuse, NY, and Milwaukee, WI, in the north; Milwaukee, Chicago, IL, Indianapolis, IN, and Cincinnati, OH, in the west; Cincinnati, and Allentown, PA, in the south; and Allentown and Syracuse in the east. Not all of the cities found within this region fit directly into the traditional Rust Belt image, such as Indianapolis, IN, Chicago, IL, and Columbus, OH, while many outside of it, including Baltimore, MD; Newark, NJ; and St. Louis, MO, are affected by Rust Belt-like economic patterns.

For this reason, these proposed boundary lines are for general illustrative purposes only. This paper focuses particular attention on Buffalo, NY; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Flint, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Milwaukee, WI; Pittsburgh, PA; Toledo, OH; and Youngstown, OH.

Study: Arts bring area big bucks
Rock Hill Herald (SC), 1/9/2009
"Arts and cultural programs generate $7 million in spending every year in York County [SC], a bigger number than arts boosters say they had estimated. Artists and their organizations account for $4.7 million of that total -- whether it's paying employees, buying supplies or hiring contractors to help set up for festivals. Audiences generate the remaining $2.3 million when they buy tickets, stay in hotels or spring for popcorn during intermission."
Lots of popcorn...

Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate State Economic Development
National Governors Association, 2009
"The creative industries offer numerous benefits to state economies, and states have an opportunity to both improve livability and boost state and local economies by investing in the arts and culture. This report offers insights and examples from states across the country to help governors incorporate the arts and culture into state economic development strategies. In particular, this report provides governors with tips on how to understand and measure their creative industries, develop plans to capitalize on the benefits of those industries, and provide support that helps sustain the contributions of the arts and culture sector. It also explores the arts and culture in the context of their contributions to local community development and state tourism, providing information on how states can incorporate these aspects into their overall economic development strategies."
And yet, what is the first thing that's cut? (Mind you, this doesn't mean I'm going to back away from my post of the other day questioning what is fair to ask the creative community in New York to sacrifice in terms of the NYSCA budget if we all must sacrifice something to do our part to save the economy.)

Report calls for re-energizing arts education
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI), 1/9/2009
"A task force of educators, arts professionals and business people called Friday for efforts to re-energize and expand arts programs at all levels of schooling in Wisconsin. Among the ideas floated by the task force: making demonstrations of achievement in the arts a factor in deciding admission to public and private colleges and universities in Wisconsin and creating a state-funded program to match the amounts put up by local school districts for new efforts promoting the arts and creativity. The 36-person task force was created by Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Elizabeth Burmaster, who says in the report, 'Like a GPS, this report outlines the course of action we must follow to make our schools work for Wisconsin today.'"
Great. Pay for it.

Everybody from government to loyal patrons are bailing
Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, 1/9/2009
A Fort Wayne News-Sentinel editorial makes a pitch for increased public arts funding. "Even in economically healthy times, there are debates about the proper role of the 'fine' arts in society....In these decidedly unhealthy times, the question is not whether to abandon the arts but how fast to bail. Governments are cutting back - the city of Indianapolis has reduced its 2009 arts funding by a third, and the state's contribution will drop by 10 percent. But that's not all. Even dependable patrons - those supporters who donate year after year - have drastically reduced their giving.... [I]sn't it fair to ask why government still subsidizes those who would survive anyway instead of those who are struggling? Think about that the next time you watch the Colts play."
Wow, nice slam on the Colts. Well, it has to do with left-right politics, people, and it has to do with the arts not making a good enough economic case for themselves directly to the people who control the money.


Quincy Jones Leads Chorus Urging a Cabinet-Level Arts Czar
Washington Post - Reuters, 1/14/2009

"A call for President-elect Barack Obama to give the arts and humanities a Cabinet-level post -- perhaps even create a secretary of culture -- is gaining momentum. By yesterday, 76,000 people had signed an online petition, started by two New York musicians who were inspired by producer Quincy Jones. In a radio interview in November, Jones said the country needed a minister of culture, like France, Germany or Finland has.... Recently, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and former NEH chairman William Ferris have pushed for unification of the government's efforts under one office.... Last month, 15 organizations joined Americans for the Arts in petitioning the Obama-Biden transition team to stop the fragmentation of cultural policy."
I was number 13869. As of this writing, there are 133,641 signatures.

The 10 first steps that Barack Obama could take to renew the arts
The Art Newspaper, 1/14/2009
David A. Ross, a gallery owner and former museum director, shares 10 ideas on how President Obama could help renew the arts by amending the tax code, an artist employment program, revitalization of the arts and humanities endowments, increased funding of the IMLS, investment in arts and music education, a new Arts America program, a simplified and expedited visa process, direct grants to artists, a cabinet-level Secretary for Art and Culture or a White House arts advisory office, and an emergency bailout fund for cultural institutions.
Brilliant. Here are the 10 ideas, all of which are worth discussion (though I think number 4 is kind of off the point -- the NEA and NHA should be funded and spun off as autonomous -- and thus depoliticized -- genuine endowments):

1. Support the tax code amendment currently in the works that would give artists tax incentives for donating their work to public museums, and fully restore the tax incentive for gifts of appreciated property to museums and other non-profit educational organisations.

2. Re-establish a programme employing artists in a wide range of cultural institutions.

3. Revive and rebuild the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, de-politicising their processes, and providing them with budgets necessary to support the American cultural community. Nothing less than annual appropriation of $750m (as opposed to $290m today) is needed.

4. Create an independent study of the operating expenses of our museums and libraries, and then fund the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) sufficiently, so that the core costs of our museums and libraries can be properly met. (The same should be done in support of reinvigorating the infrastructure of our institutions of music, dance and theatre.)

5. Invest in art and music education for all school pupils, and ensure that these efforts are coordinated with the increased spending in direct artist support, as well as renewed institutional infrastructure and programme support.

6. Rebuild a new Arts America programme to allow American artists, musicians, dancers and writers to serve as cultural ambassadors and help rebuild the image of the United States around the world.

7. Simplify and expedite the process for obtaining (de-politicised) visas for visiting foreign artists, musicians and academics.

8. Restore direct federal and state grants for artists, musicians and writers (including critics).

9. Establish either a cabinet-level Secretary for Art and Culture, or at the very least, create a White House arts advisory office to coordinate and show presidential support for American culture.

10. Create an emergency bailout fund for cultural institutions in dire need during this current credit crisis. At least $250m will be necessary, but this is a drop in the ocean when compared with the value these institutions return to the nation as a whole. This single act will affirm to all that the federal government will not stand by and allow these great resources to falter.

Minnesota Foundations, Corporations Expect Giving to Decline in 2009, Report Finds
Philanthropy News Digest, 1/12/2009
"After several years of increases, giving by Minnesota foundations and corporate grantmakers is expected to decline in 2009, a new report from the Minnesota Council on Foundations finds.... 40 percent of grantmakers in the state expect their giving to decline in 2009, 41 percent expect their giving to remain flat, and 15 percent hope to increase their grantmaking.... The survey also found that the number of grants awarded by Minnesota grantmakers will most likely fall; that grantmakers expect to maintain their current priorities, adjusting somewhat to meet shifting community needs; and that grantmakers are likely to offer more non-monetary and in-kind support to nonprofits facing economic challenges."
Well, I guess they can forget about any corporate philanthropy from the Minnesota Star-Tribune, right?

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Anonymous said...

Regarding your January 7 entry - Forbes clearly isn't referring only to Broadway shows in his comments. The proposed tax would include both Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. DUH. A quick Wikipedia search tells us that a whammy can also refer to an evil spell or curse which gives rise to the expression "double whammy" meaning a double set back. Plus, when are 80's game shows references off limits in making ones point?

Leonard Jacobs said...

Picky, picky. You're pressing your luck.

Leonard Jacobs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leonard Jacobs said...

Oh -- but in future, have guts and don't comment anonymously. That's just sad.