Saturday, February 07, 2009

Arts Advocacy Update LXXV

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of February 5, 2009:

Recession Can Change a Way of Life
New York Times, 1/31/2009
"All recessions have cultural and social effects, but in major downturns the changes can be profound. . . . Many studies have shown that when a job is harder to find or less lucrative, people spend more time on self-improvement and relatively inexpensive amusements. During the Depression of the 1930s, that meant listening to the radio and playing parlor and board games, sometimes in lieu of a glamorous night on the town. These stay-at-home tendencies persisted through at least the 1950s. In today’s recession, we can also expect to turn to less expensive activities — and maybe to keep those habits for years."
In truth, I play online Monopoly when I'm bored. So there.

Why the arts matter
San Francisco Chronicle (CA), 2/3/2009

The President and CEO of the James Irvine Foundation writes about why it is important to "fundamentally change our collective understanding of why the arts matter. When times get tough and choices must be made, it is often the arts that lose. . . . Until we fully recognize how essential the arts are to the vitality of our communities and our quality of life, our cultural infrastructure will continue to be given short shrift. . . . [T]he importance of the arts extends well beyond economics and education. The arts expand our horizons, unleash creativity and build social bonds. During this period of unsettling change, the arts can provide us with pleasure and comfort, while also challenging us to see the world in new ways. . . . So, as your resources permit, attend a performance, buy a membership, and consider a contribution of any size. But also talk to your friends and neighbors about the transformative power of the arts and encourage them to support and advocate for the arts."
Republicans, as a race, either do not understand or do not comprehend the very sensible and, most important, true thought contained in this piece. So while I am utterly on board with the sentiments here, it's probably too crunchy-granola for the right. As the party of big business, the GOP understands money. This is not the case to make to them. Money -- fiscal impact -- is the case to make to them.

A Secretary of the Arts for America?
WNYC's Soundcheck, 1/21/2009
"In France, the government has had a minister of culture for over 50 years, but here in the U.S., a cabinet-level cultural affairs post has never existed. That could soon change, as members of President Obama's arts review transition team have expressed interest in creating an 'arts czar' position. William Ferris, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Reason magazine columnist Ronald Bailey join [WNYC] to discuss the possibility - and necessity - of a Secretary of Culture."
Everyone should listen to this. They're both right and both wrong and kind of miss the point. A Secretary of the Arts -- or Secretary of Culture -- would not be charged with determining what art or culture is. It would, however, serve to help focus arts policy from a fiscal-impact point of view.

Conservation, arts advocates cry foul over proposed cuts
Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN), 2/2/2009
"After voters passed a constitutional amendment giving Minnesota another revenue source for the outdoors, clean water, parks and arts projects, Gov. Tim Pawlenty promised to do as the measure outlined and not raid it to plug holes in the state budget. But did the governor, facing a worsening budget climate, renege on that commitment? Some people believe or suspect he did."
He's not to be trusted for other reasons, too.

Fifth cent on tourist tax closer to reality
Tallahassee Democrat (FL), 1/30/2009
"Adding a fifth cent to the tax local hoteliers collect from visitors is one step closer to reality following a unanimous vote Thursday by the Leon County [FL] Commission to schedule a public hearing on the matter. Hoteliers are strongly against charging guests any more tax. The arts community, however, says adding another cent to the bed tax allows for a consistent source of funding for cultural activities in the community."
The article, alas, is sketchy regarding what cultural activities there are in Tallahassee. Any help on this?

Funding for the arts, state parks in jeopardy
Las Vegas Sun, 2/2/2009
In Nevada, Gov. Jim Gibbons’ proposed budget would hit the tourism industry hard, including "no funding for the Nevada Ballet Theatre, the Neon Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, the Las Vegas Performing Arts Center, a Las Vegas Wash trail system, the Atomic Testing Museum and rural tourism development grants."
No money for the Neon Museum or the Atomic Testing Museum! OMG!

Groups worry about state cuts
Detroit Free Press (MI), 1/3/2009
"News that Gov. Jennifer Granholm plans to eliminate the state Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL) has arts organizations and libraries worried whether state dollars will continue flowing their way. Mike Latvis, director of public policy for ArtServe Michigan, the state's leading arts advocacy group, said closing the department would hurt the stature of arts and culture at the state level. 'For all we know, it could come with a cut in grant funding,' Latvis said. He said there is speculation that council would simply shift its administrative home to the Department of Management and Budget and that funding would continue."
I would not want to be a nonprofit in the upper Midwest as a whole right now.

Nearly 220,000 sign petition for US arts secretary
Google News - AFP, 1/30/2009
As of Friday, nearly 220,000 people had "signed an online petition asking President Barack Obama to appoint the first ever US secretary of the arts."
I am signatory 13,869. But as I said in my essay on Fox Forum, I signed it with major reservations.

What kind of cultural leader will Obama be?
The Art Newspaper, 1/30/2009

András Szántó considers what President Obama's arts policy might be. Given the views of Bill Ivey, who headed Obama's arts and culture transition team, Szántó expects a broadening of perspective -- "a new school of arts-policy thinking that places value on hitherto underappreciated, amateur, community-based, digitally-mediated, often commercial arts—the kind of creative pursuits, in short, which most Americans enjoy. This broadening of perspective would constitute the biggest shift in policy since the implementation of large-scale cultural support in the post- war era." Although not predicting an "arts czar" or "Secretary of the Arts," Szántó expects the administration "will likely emphasise coordination across the full breadth of government." Szántó also believes that public arts investment "will be directed to education and national-service initiatives." The article also touches on implications for the arts in public diplomacy, intellectual property, media and the FCC, and tax policy.
Much of which will be misinterpreted and twisted and pulled around by the radical right.

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Nevada Scandalmonger said...

So, what is art? What is beauty?

In Nevada, which underfunds the Arts always, we take what we can get.

Besides, those old time neon signs have a beauty of their own worth preserving. You would prefer, I suppose, that they get sent to the trash heap despite the fact that in numerous movies and historical photos they are icons of an era and, granted, represent a not always pleasant strain of the American consciousness.

The Atomic Testing museum documents another unpleasant era, as well, but one that has played a huge role in the history of Las Vegas, Nevada, and the U.S. I suppose your view is that the era should remain ignored so that the next time we have to deal with a new weapon techonology, we simply make the same mistakes we made building the bomb--like open air tests near a major metropolis.

Leonard Jacobs said...

Oh, boo friggin' hoo, Scandalmonger. Get over yourself.