Saturday, January 17, 2009

From the Blogroll VI

At A Poor Player, Tom Loughlin writes about "metatheatre" and opens his post with these two interesting graphs:

In this age of instantaneous information, one has to continually question what, exactly, are we truly interested in. Take theatre, for example. I enjoy creating theatre, but I also enjoy scanning the blogs and the newspapers and collecting information about theatre. Metadata about theatre, if you will. Most of the things I read about I never actually experience. I’ve begun to ask myself the question: what kind of illusion does this gathering of metadata about theatre do to me? And if it is in some way affecting me, is it also affecting others the same way?

This thought hit me as I began to read the run-down of upcoming Broadway shows for the season. It seemed to me that the interest in these shows lay not in the actual show itself, but who was cast in it. I have the impression that all of these recent revivals do not really care much about the actual artistic event itself, but rather the context of the event. Metadata, in technological terms, provides a context for data so we can understand its meaning. But what happens when the metadata becomes more important than the data itself? Is this a problem?

At Arts Marketing, Chad M. Bowman discusses executive compensation for leaders in the arts and even takes a shot at that holy of holies, Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, who penned a now-widely-read editorial in Washington Post wondering why there isn't a bailout for the arts and notes that his salary tops $1 million. As Bowman asks, "how does it look for a non-profit arts administrator who makes more than $1 million a year in salary to be the champion of the suffering arts scene?"

At the Americans for the Arts' Artsblog, the organization's policy recommendations to the incoming Obama team are published for public consumption. Here is the statement in full:

The arts mean jobs and tremendous economic activity in America and must be part of our country’s economic recovery. Nationally, 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations are members of the business community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services within the community, and involved in the marketing and promotion of their cities and communities. Nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion in economic activity every year, support 5.7 million jobs, and return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year—proving that the arts are an economic driver in their communities that support jobs and generate government revenue. Every $1 billion in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations – and their audiences – results in almost 70,000 full-time-equivalent jobs.

By investing in the arts, we’re supporting an industry that is built on innovation and creativity, economic development, and the revitalization of America’s communities and downtowns. When we increase investment in the arts, we are generating tax revenues, jobs, and a creativity-based 21st century competitive economy.

With these facts in hand, Americans for the Arts calls on President-elect Obama and Congress to support the following nine federal programs and proposals in their consideration of an economic recovery package.

(1) Include Artists in Proposal for Unemployment & Healthcare Benefits for Part-Time Employees
The creative economy relies heavily on professionals that make a living from non-traditional employment structures. Artists are disproportionately self-employed, and many work multiple jobs in volatile, episodic patterns; the ability to have access to unemployment insurance and healthcare benefits would offer critical assistance to this population.

(2) Boost Arts Projects in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
Provided by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to mayors’ community development offices, the CDBG program provides “bricks & mortar” funding for a variety of state and municipal projects and is a primary government source for local arts institutions of all disciplines. Further streamlining of the application process would allow grant applicants to work more effectively with their mayor’s community development office to better prioritize cultural projects. We join with the U.S. Conference of Mayors in their call for $20 billion in CDBG funding and seek at least $2 billion in arts-specific projects to modernize, rehabilitate, and construct our nation’s cultural facilities.

(3) Provide Economic Recovery Support to Federal Cultural Agencies
Americans for the Arts calls for increasing FY 2010 annual support to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to $200 million, a similar amount for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and IMLS to $269 million. All three agencies should receive economic recovery emergency funding to increase current grantee projects.

In terms of the economic recovery proposal, the NEA should be allocated at least $1 billion for formula grants, based on population, to be administered through its current Local Arts Agency program to designated local arts agencies. LAAs are a unit of city or county government or designated to operate on behalf of its local government as defined in federal statute. Grants of this kind would be for the purposes of producing cultural and artistic programming and public art initiatives in 2009. These grants awarded to LAAs would a) speedily disburse local funding to all the arts disciplines; b) employ artists and the cultural workforce and c) serve to increase access to the arts in order to leverage spending by audiences.

(4) Include Cultural Planning Through Economic Development Administration (EDA)
Through the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Administration’s Research, National, and Local Technical Assistance grant programs are essential to a community’s thoughtful planning and economic development investment process. These programs should meet the increasing need for local cultural district planning and assisting municipalities with developing the creative economy in their communities.

(5) Increase Cultural Facilities Support in Rural Development Program (USDA)
Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Housing and Community Facilities program funds the construction, rehabilitation, or acquisition of “essential facilities” which includes cultural facilities. Since its inception, about nine percent of the Community Facilities funding has been directed to education and cultural facilities—an amount that should be increased to address the infrastructure needs of these rural cultural communities.

(6) Link Transportation Enhancements (TE Program) With State Arts Agencies
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancemet program funds 12 general transportation enhancement activities including pedestrian and bicycle facilities, historic preservation, and public art projects. This program, administered by state transportation departments, should receive an increase in funding and all projects should be developed and implemented in coordination with the state arts agency.

(7) Create the Artist Corps
President-Elect Obama’s proposal of an “Artists Corps of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities” is a proven strategy to provide jobs to artists seeking to share their skills, provide mentoring, and professional development to students and individuals seeking work in the creative economy. This proposal should be acted upon quickly to establish the Artists Corps as a national training initiative.

(8) Make Human Capital Investments in Arts Job Training
The National Governor’s Association (NGA) has proposed a $1.5 billion increase to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth Programs and Wagner-Peyser Act administered by the states to “help up-skill workers and provide employment services and supports that will increase worker employability and earning power.” We support that effort with an interest in expanding the services available to workers in the creative sector and through arts institutions that can provide professional development training.

(9) Appoint a Senior-Level Administration Official with Arts Portfolio
The president should name a senior-level administration official in the Executive Office of the President to coordinate arts and cultural policy, guiding initiatives from federal agencies responsible for tourism, education, economic development, cultural exchange, intellectual property policy, broadband access, and other arts-related areas. The U.S. Conference of Mayors and others have made similar proposals.

At Butts in the Seats, the question/dilemma/problem of demand-based ticket pricing is up for debate.

At Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals, Chris Caggiano writes one the more cogent and insightful non-mainstream-media reviews of the Broadway-bound West Side Story that I've read. This is really going to be a purist vs. non-purist event, and one wonders whether the people who cavils, moaned and groaned about Spring Awakening's will admit their utter disingenuousness if it proves true that Lin-Manuel's translated lyrics don't scan.

At Just Shows to Go You, Patrick Lee takes down Sam Mendes' production of The Cherry Orchard, part of The Bridge Project at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. (I agree with him, and my New York Press review is soon to go on line.)

At Moxie the Maven, Moxie reveals an issue with Katie Holmes. Katie has an issue with Moxie, too, but isn't talking about it.

At On Chicago Theatre, Zev N. Valancy reviews Chicago Shakespeare's revival of Macbeth and is neither bitchy nor witchy about it. But he is rather twitchy.

At On Theatre and Politics, Matt Freeman considers the dust-up between George Hunka and Joy of the 99 Seats blog. George, it would appear, acted like an intolerant and intellectually baseless twerp, which is really rather a step up in the world for him.

At Steve on Broadway, Steve dissects the final performance of Gypsy on Broadway (as have any number of other show queens and Patti fans), but provides a tiny bit of informatin about who the offending photographer was that makes the whole fracas hilarious.

At Theatre Ideas, Scott Walters openly ponders his reasons for blogging and announces what he's going to do next.

At The Wicked Stage, Rob Weinert-Kendt laments Steven Leigh Morris' layoff from L.A. Weekly and pronounces it a big blow to Tinseltown theatricals. Of course, there's at least one national editor-in-chief of a trade publication that I know who is willingfully, gleefully ignorant of theatre in L.A. -- and elsewhere, actually -- so this news is probably that person's happiest day.

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Chip Michael said...

Interesting blog... as a Classical Music blogger, I find a lot of your references to blogging very informative (or at least very interesting). I'm still getting through the posts but thought I would stop and stay.. "cool - well done."

Leonard Jacobs said...

Thanks! I like your blog, Interchanging Idioms, as well, and you're not on my blogroll.

Leonard Jacobs said...

Now you are!

Moxie said...

Katie's had issues with me ever since I slammed her Dawson's Creek rendition of "On My Own" on All That Chat in '98. Actors, so insecure, ya know.