Thursday, January 22, 2009

Arts Advocacy Update LXXIII

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of January 21, 2009:

Arts groups keep building through recession
Crain's New York Business, 1/14/2009

"Construction spending by New York City cultural institutions will have an economic impact of $2.2 billion and create 2,500 full-time jobs per year in the period from 2006 to 2010, according to a report released Wednesday by the Alliance for the Arts. The report, Culture Builds New York: The Economic Impact of Capital Construction at New York City's Cultural Institutions, also determined that the construction projects will generate around $28.5 million in local taxes for the city."
I referred to this report in an earlier post.

The New New Deal 2009: Public Service Jobs for Artists?
Community Arts Network Reading Room, December 2008

Arlene Goldbard explores ideas for public-service employment opportunities for artists. After surveying the WPA programs of the 1930's and CETA in the 1970's, Goldbard reviews three new ideas - The National Campaign to Hire Artists to Work in Schools; The National Green Arts Corps; and The Music National Service Initiative - and then shares four key lessons for going forward.
Oooooooh, this is just going to scare the bejesus out of the disenfranchised and mortified right-wing. Not only did they bankrupt the country, not only do they have the blood of American treasure running through their fingers on the basis of a war-inducing lie, but with stories and ideas like this one, there are going to be a lot more hyper-partisan, anti-Obama wingnuts screaming about socialism, as in this completely blithering article.

The New New Deal, Part 2 - A New WPA for Artists: How and Why
Community Arts Network Reading Room, January 2009

As a follow-up to her December essay on the idea of a "New WPA for Artists," this second essay by Arlene Goldbard "focuses on two new additional aspects of the topic: what a new WPA might look like, and a summary of strong public policy arguments for its creation."
I refer you, my right honorable friend, to the comment directly above.

7 ways to support artists
Toronto Star (Canada), 1/19/2009
"In Ireland, artists pay no income tax on earnings below 250,000 euros. In Scandinavian countries, artists deemed to have made significant contributions over the course of a lifetime receive special recognition – and income support – from the government. In Australia, legislation allows artists to average income over a five-year span, protecting them from the highs and lows of chosen careers that promise personal fulfilment at the cost of long-term security. In Canada, we have a lot to learn about how to nurture the people who help us define ourselves, say artists and experts who have studied their economic well-being." Bruce Demara offers seven ideas, ranging from income averaging for tax purposes to affordable live/work space to easier access to credit.
But will the right-wing go for it? Probably not. What they want is to silence artists and make their lives fiscally impossible. That gives them satisfaction.

Community Foundations and Arts Groups Ask for Economic-Stimulus Help
Chronicle of Philanthropy, 1/14/2009

"As Congress and President-elect Barack Obama grapple with how to structure their economic-stimulus measures, ...Americans for the Arts, an advocacy group, has proposed a package of measures to increase spending on arts groups.... The group proposed the stimulus measures provide at least $2-billion under the Community Development Block Grants program for projects to build and modernize arts facilities; and emergency funds to the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. It also proposed increased arts funds for a range of federal programs, including the Labor Department’s adult, youth, and dislocated worker programs; the Agriculture Department’s rural-development program; the Commerce Department’s economic-development grants; and the Transportation Department’s transportation-enhancement program."
I've also covered this in a previous post but this story is worthwhile reading.

Does U.S. Need A Culture Czar?
NPR's Morning Edition, 1/16/2009

"The idea of a Cabinet-level official for the arts has gotten some buzz lately. After all, many other countries have ministers of culture. High-profile artists such as Quincy Jones think it's necessary in the U.S., but not everyone agrees."
As of today, there are 181,226 signatures on the petition, but I don't think Obama is going to take this step. It's politically, sadly, too risky. But I think he may well appoint someone at cabinet level or near it to oversee arts policy, which would be far, far better than the snarling and benign neglect of former President Bush.

Ernst & Young: NM film incentives = good ROI
New Mexico Business Weekly, 1/16/2009

"The film industry and its supporters in New Mexico are most likely breathing a sigh of relief. The long-awaited study by Ernst & Young on the economic return by the state’s film and media incentives found that for every $1 extended in state tax credits, state and local governments received $1.50. . . . An earlier study by the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University, commissioned by the Legislative Finance Committee, found that New Mexico gets about 14.4 cents in tax revenue for every dollar it spends on a tax rebate for film productions. Critics, including Richardson’s staff, said the report was not comprehensive enough in reviewing the total economic impact of the industry."
Don't you love when politicians use phrases like "not comprehensive enough" as code for "it's politically impossible to endorse this"?

NEA in Recovery Package
artnet, 1/20/2009

"The vast $825-billion economic recovery package unveiled by congressional Democrats on Jan. 15, 2009, does have a tiny little boon for the arts: a $50-million budgetary boost for the National Endowment for the Arts. Despite the modesty of the request -- about 3/500ths of one percent of the total -- some Republicans have already taken issue with the allocation."
Of course, because that $50 million could be used to furnish jobs to good white supremicists who vote reliably Republican.

Obama eyes NEA head
Los Angeles Times, 1/16/2009

"[I]t increasingly looks like Michael Dorf, a Chicago attorney who has played key roles in shaping arts policy in both his city and on a national level, is the leading candidate to become chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in the Obama administration. At least, he’s won the outspoken support of union leaders who represent workers in the arts and entertainment fields..."
Smart choice, I think. Certainly Dorf should be able to rise above partisanship.

Trends and Future Prospects for the Arts Predict Changing Role for State Agencies
Rand Corporation, 2008

From the Rand website:
State arts agencies — key players within the U.S. system of public support for the arts — face growing economic, political, and demographic challenges to the roles and missions they adopted when founded in the mid-1960s. This report, the fourth and final in a multiyear study, looks at state arts agencies' efforts to rethink their roles and missions, reflecting on what the changes may mean for the direction of state arts policy. Drawing on readings, discussions, and analyses conducted for the study, the author concludes that if current trends and strategies continue, future state arts policy is likely to focus more on developing the creative economy, improving arts education, and encouraging a broader spectrum of state residents to participate in the arts. To achieve these goals, state arts agencies will likely become more involved in policy advocacy, coalition building, convening, and gathering and disseminating information than in grantmaking. The transition to this future poses some risks for the agencies and for the arts community, but it also offers the opportunity to more effectively promote the conditions in which the arts can thrive.
You can download a PDF of the full report here.

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