2003 national arts news archive
Gioia's Plan For The NEA
New NEA chairman Dana Gioia is out talking about how he intends to strengthen the National Endowment for the Arts. "I go back to the original vision, which was to foster excellence in the arts and to bring art to all Americans. This doesn't seem to me a controversial mission. The average American wants art in their communities and their schools. It's not a program of the left or the right. It's mainstream American opinion. One of the major needs is to build a public consensus for the support of art and arts education, and we're going to do that by building a kind of inclusive coalition, by refusing to polarize."
The Boston Globe
Debating NY Arts Cuts
New York Gov. George Pataki proposes cutting the state's arts budget as part of a series of cuts of the state budget. "He wants to trim the grants to arts organizations by 15 percent, from about $44.4 million to $37.8 million. But critics want far deeper cuts. The grants totaled more than $50 million a decade ago but have ebbed and flowed with the state's economy. New York spent more than any other state on the arts last year, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies."
Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, NY)
Are NPR Underwriting Spots Too Commercial?
Are public radio underwriting spots sounding too much like commercials? Many local public radio stations have been complaining about spots carried on National Public Radio. "In the past several months, stations have blasted the network for accepting a Microsoft spot that urged listeners to 'learn more about...' and one for Saab heralding a '. . . dynamic new look'."
Alaska Pols Looking To Kill Public Art Program
Alaska state legislators are attempting to abolish the state's public art program.
Anchorage Daily News
Florida Lawmakers Vote To Slash Arts Funding
Florida's Senate votes to zero out state arts funding. "Gov. Jeb Bush in January recommended slashing more than 50 percent from last year's $27.9 million funding for the arts. The House also voted unanimously Tuesday for its budget, which offers only slightly better prospects: $6,115,000 in state funding for museums, arts in education, cultural program support and other programs. In the next two and a half weeks, Senate and House committees will work out a compromise budget to send to Bush."
Florida Arts Facing State Budget Axe
No matter whether the Florida senate, house or governor wins out, Florida's arts groups will see drastic reductions in the state's arts budget. Proposals range from a 50 percent cut to cancelling out funding altogether. Arts officials are outraged: "People use the state money to leverage for other grants and local contributions. I see this as a panic reaction to Florida's economy at the moment.
Obviously, we find this hurtful. It doesn't pay attention to how many dollars arts groups circulate in the community. This just makes a tough job harder."
US States Sharpen Their Arts Budget Cuts
Across America, states are considering drastically reducing or eliminating arts funding. "State arts funding plunged from $410 million two years ago to around $350 million in 2002-03, and this year looks to be worse. But the proposed cuts have a long way to go before they become law, and by the time they are approved in early summer, reductions may be significantly less severe. In fact, some believe the dramatic announcements are calculated to shock the arts community into accepting more modest cutbacks." But it's not all a bluff...
The Art Newspaper
Visa Difficulties/War Cancellations Take Toll On Arts Groups
In Minnesota, "immigration difficulties and terror worries have led to the cancellation of scores of events since Sept. 11, 2001. Other artists have canceled in protest of U.S. policies, adding to the mounting financial and artistic costs."
The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)
Gioia And The Bureaucracy
When he quit business, new NEA chairman Dana Gioia says he vowed not to be involved with bureaucracy again. "Appointed to his four-year term by President Bush, Gioia sees the bureaucratic dimension of his job as 'a necessary obstacle. There's no other way of administering these grants... except through a bureaucracy.' The key, he says, is to remain 'conscious of what your mission is. The constituency of the arts endowment is not merely artists. It's all Americans'."
Denver--More Interest In Arts Than Sports
A new study reports that in Denver "more people in the Denver area patronize the performing arts than professional sporting events, according to an unprecedented new study of attitudes and attendance patterns. It also shows that among the primary performing arts disciplines, theater far outdraws dance, opera, and the symphony."
Colorado State Arts Budget Depends On Cigarettes?
The Colorado legislature, which had been debating whether to cut state arts funding, voted to restore some of it, but there's a but (or is that "butt?"). Funding for the interlibrary loan program and the arts council would be contingent on the state receiving its tobacco payments."
Florida Contemplates Eliminating Arts Funding
Florida arts groups are bracing for the worst - that state arts funding will be eliminated. "Even in the dark days of the early 1990s, when the National Endowment for the Arts was under attack, no state government joined the chorus to eliminate arts funding within its own borders. Florida in particular was among some that increased support to compensate for the reduced role of the NEA. But that was before the economic shudders of the dot-com bust, the Sept. 11 attacks, Wall Street scandals and wars on terrorism and Iraq caused tax revenue collections to plummet." However, "this is not an economic issue. The legislators have turned it into a policy issue."
The Sun-Sentinel (Florida)
Did Americans Allow Iraq Museum Looting Because Of A Lack Of Appreciation For Art?
Is the fact that American troops protected oil fields but not museums significant? Caroline Abels writes that "we might never know why the looting continued unchecked despite strong early warnings from the world art community that Iraq's treasures required protection. But the cynic in me wonders whether the American military would have done more to protect the museums had we been a country that better recognized the value of art."
Milwaukee Schools Slashing Arts Education
Milwaukee's public school district is having a budget crisis. So how does it propose solving it? In part, by decimating its arts programs. "Although the district's financial officers will not submit a proposed budget to the School Board until May 1, a preliminary analysis shows that the district will likely lose 21 art instruction positions and 13 music positions. The cuts would reduce the district's costs by more than $2.4 million. It seems pretty obvious to us right now that the arts are where there are going to be some big cuts."
Doing The Numbers
All five streams of financial support are down for Bay Area arts groups--corporate, government, and individual donations, ticket sales, and endowment income.
San Francisco Chronicle
Major Foundation Endowments Decline - And So Do Grants
The Pew Charitable Trusts are major investors in the arts. But the decline in the stock market has sharply reduced the grants that Pew will give this year. "At the end of 2002, Pew's endowment was valued at $3.75 billion, down 23 percent from its year-end peak of $4.89 billion in 1999."
Florida Arts Supporters Protest Funding Cuts
Staffers from arts organizations and their supporters from all over Florida left their offices Tuesday to go to the state legislature and appeal against proposed arts funding cuts. "At a time when thousands of Floridians face losing vital medical treatment to budget cuts, arts officials know they face an uphill battle. But a major part of their argument for legislators is that the arts are vital to propping up the state's sagging economy. The arts are tourism, the arts are economic development. Every dollar that the state invests in the arts generates $41. It's an investment, not a handout."
St. Petersburg Times
Shakespeare In The Towns
Thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, "the Shakespeare in American Communities project, which is to be officially unveiled today (the 439th anniversary of Shakespeare's presumed birthday) will bring professional-quality performances of some of his fundamental works, accompanied by educational programs, to some 100 small and midsize American cities in all 50 states."
The New York Times
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Cincinnati Boosts Arts Spending
While cities and states across America are cutting their arts budgets, Cincinnati is doubling its arts spending. "Even as budget cuts are forcing the elimination of entire city services, city leaders are doubling government support of the arts. City Council will vote today on a plan by Councilman Jim Tarbell to divvy up an unprecedented $2.2 million in grants to 17 organizations, including $350,000 to the opera to help fix up the north wing of Music Hall. "I will admit that I don't know much about the opera, the symphony or the ballet--though I do enjoy going to them. It has just seemed to me that the city must recognize its growth potential, and the arts provides the biggest growth potential I can think of'."
New Jersey Artists Protest Cuts
New Jersey's arts council says that Gov. James McGreevey's proposal to cut the state's arts budget by 50 percent rather than eliminating it is not enough. "Of the cuts McGreevey made in the budget--which include social service programs and higher education--the loudest outcry has been from arts groups, who have made daily pleas at performances, waged letter writing campaigns, and sent a barrage of e-mails to lawmakers."
NEA's Shakespeare Initiative Plays It Safe
So the National Endowment for the Arts is paying to bring Shakespeare to the far corners of America. "On the face of it, it seems like a sound idea, but you don't have to scratch far beneath the surface to detect the icky stench beneath," writes Dominic Papatola. "By aiming high, the program targets the lowest common denominator: The NEA's decision to do a nationwide Shakespeare program speaks more to the once-controversial agency's fear of offending than it does to bringing a master playwright to the masses."
St. Paul Pioneer-Press
America's Arts Squeeze
Across America, arts organizations are pressing their supporters for more help as budgets bust. "The year 2003 is proving a major challenge for advocates and fundraisers. Even with the greatest hearts and keenest minds pushing the arts funding message, the going is tough if the money just isn't there."
Survey: Seattle Loves Arts
A new study reveals that: "Seattleites love their performing arts, with more than two of three residents attending at least one such event every year. And Seattle's support is strong across all almost all demographic groups, including age, sex, and economic means. Yet among those who attend arts events in Seattle, only one-quarter make an annual financial donation to even one arts organization. And almost two-thirds of those who frequently attend make no such contribution."
Florida House Votes To Slash Arts Funding
Florida's legislature takes its first steps to kill or drastically reduce state arts funding. "The House wants to slash arts funding to $6 million--down from $28 million--while eliminating the Corporations Trust Fund, which comes from a tax on corporations and helps fund Florida arts programs. The Senate would keep the trust but allocates nothing for arts programs. The bill, which passed on a 67-44 vote, was immediately sent to the Senate. It is expected to come into play during budget negotiations."
Wiping Out Florida's Arts Trust
"Both the House and Senate passed bills Thursday eliminating the trust fund for the arts and putting the money into the state's general-revenue pot. The only difference between the bills: The House budget includes $6 million from general revenue for the arts. The Senate version: zero. The House version now goes back to the Senate. If the Senate approves, the bill would go to Gov. Jeb Bush for his signature."
State Poets Laureate Convene
A first-ever meeting of American states' poets laureate gathered in New Hampshire. "There was an aura of self-congratulation about the conference, with many of the poets extolling what they said was poetry's newfound power. Many said the best thing that ever happened to them was the postponement by the first lady, Laura Bush, of a White House poetry conference this year after she learned that the invited poets were sending antiwar poems to one of the scheduled participants, Sam Hamill, who was organizing a protest. "Ever since Laura Bush, my readings have been crowded," said Grace Paley, poet laureate of Vermont and, at 80, a rabble-rouser. "Even if they're not about the war, they've been crowded."
The New York Times
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Florida's New Dark Age?
"Florida's age of enlightenment comes to an end this week. The Legislature is still working out the final figures of a $53 billion state budget, but for arts groups the message is all too clear: This is the beginning of a new dark age. The Legislature seems to think that a fair level of sacrifice for the state's cultural groups is something near 100 percent. The Florida House of Representatives has proposed an arts budget of $6 million, or 78 percent below last year's level. The Senate's budget eliminates arts funding altogether."
The Sun-Sentinel (South Florida)
Florida Arts Cuts Rolling In
Florida arts supporters can see the cuts in arts funding by the state legislature rolling towards them. It's not a question of will there be cuts anymore but whether there will be any arts funding left after the House, Senate and Governor get done. Last year the arts got $28 million. This year?
The Tally So Far
Across America states are cutting or eliminating arts funding. Here's a list of the damage so far.
NJ Arts Supporters Fight Funding Cuts
New Jersey arts supporters flood the state capital as debate begins on cutting or eliminating arts funding. "Altogether, funding for arts groups and historical programs accounts for about $40 million each year. With the money, the groups maintain they are able to provide education programs and support to local historical groups. The cultural and arts money also is used to fund groups such as theater troupes and even print books. Proponents maintain the money is repaid to the tune of $1 billion each year. At issue is the economic effectiveness of the programs."
Bridgeton News (New Jersey)
Investigators Probe $1 Million Salt Lake Arts Funding Irregularities
Salt Lake County investigators are looking into charges of "$1 million of allegedly misspent taxpayer funds in the county's Center for the Arts Division. Officials admit the investigation has uncovered more than $1 million in discrepancies, blaming most of it on shabby accounting practices. Whistle-blowers have also alleged, however, the unauthorized taking of equipment from county facilities and liberties taken on expense reports for entertaining and other questionable spending practices."
Salt Lake Tribune
Feld Shuts Down Company For 2003-04
Eliot Feld's Ballet Tech is suspending operations for the 2003/04 season, citing difficulty in raising money. "The suspension is the first among major American dance companies as they try to cope with the troubled economy. "There has been a general consolidation within many of the companies. Companies have shortened seasons and downsized dancers. Middle-size companies like Mr. Feld's, which has 14 dancers and a budget of $4 million, appeared to be struggling the hardest."
The New York Times
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Colorado Cancels Grants Deadline
Anticipating drastic cuts in its funding, the Colorado Council on the Arts cancelled this year's filing date for funding (it was supposed to be April 30). "This agency has been all but eliminated. It is no longer business as usual. We will be eliminating most of our programs as a result of these cuts. Nobody can expect us to do a $2.5 million job with only $200,000." In January, the council awarded 97 grants totaling $689,000 to various programs statewide. Last year, it gave out about $1.3 million in 154 grants.
Durango Herald (Colorado)
Can Culture Be Good (Or Effective) Diplomacy?
A conference mounted by the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University considers the role of American culture in diplomacy. "Would we, for example, be breeding goodwill toward the American way of life by spawning a generation of Iraqi rappers? Or how about appointing as cultural ambassador the documentary director Michael Moore, who used his Oscar moment to pillory the president, thereby making himself a poster boy for freedom of speech? Do we stick to commercial fare and disseminate movies in which American action heroes gun down large numbers of anonymous villains? Or should we funnel funds to an independent American cultural center in Baghdad, whose director might misjudge the local sensitivity to sexually suggestive images and curate a show of, say, the pornographic sculptures of Jeff Koons?"
Cincinnati - The Next Arts Mecca?
Seriously--is there something in the water? From Cincinnati, the city that recently doubled its public spending on the arts, news that the city's Fine Arts Fund raised $10,003,550 in its 2003 campaign, 7.5 percent more than last year. This while fundraising for the arts in the rest of America has been increasingly difficult
Where Will Federal Arts Money Go If State Arts Agencies Disappear?
Forty percent of the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts--$116.5 million this fiscal year--goes directly to state arts agencies, which then pass most of it on to local arts groups and projects. But what happens if states eliminate their arts agencies? "By law we cannot write a check if there is no agency to write a check to," says NEA chief Dana Gioia.
Belafonte: An Artist's Obligation
Should artists speak out on political issues? Harry Belafonte has always been an activist. "It's a peculiarly modern idea that artists shouldn't express a point of view on issues. But often the cultural and intellectual communities are the first to be attacked, because we're first to protest the social order."
San Jose Slashes Arts Grants
States are slashing arts funding. So are cities. This week the San Jose City Council revealed that "grants for 2003-04 would drop 24 percent below last year's, to a total of $2.54 million."
San Jose Mercury-News
Assessing New York Arts Funding Cuts
"In the past year's budget, New York spent more than any other state on the arts, $44.4 million. Now, with the state arguably facing the biggest budget crisis since the Depression, Governor George Pataki proposes to trim grants to arts organizations by 15 percent, to about $37.8 million. But critics want deeper cuts."
Gotham Gazette (NYC)
McGreevey: New Funding Source For NJ Arts
New Jersey Governor James McGreevey says he'll find a new dedicated source of funding for the arts. McGreevey had proposed eliminating arts funding altogether, but an intense statewide lobbying effort for the arts seems to have changed his mind. "The governor made the pledge Thursday during a private meeting with the leaders of several major arts institutions. While he did not specify any details about the funding source or how much money it might generate, administration officials have been considering plans to use a portion of proceeds from a proposed new hotel tax to fund the programs."
Can Miami Afford Its New $265 million Performing Arts Complex?
Miami is building a new $265-million Performing Arts Center with a 2,200-seat symphony hall, a 2,480-seat ballet opera house, and a 200-seat studio theater. Plans to fill the hall are grandly ambitious, envisioning a flowering of arts and culture that will benefit the region for years to come. "But can we afford it? With the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the PAC's crucial five resident companies, already threatening bankruptcy, a disturbing question is raised: Even after the center's construction is paid for, can South Florida come up with the money to run it?"
A Crisis In American Orchestras
America's orchestras are slipping away. "Nearly a dozen orchestras across the country have either closed or are in danger of doing so. This season's first orchestral casualty was the San Jose Symphony, which shut down in November. The Tulsa Philharmonic, the Colorado Springs Symphony, and the San Antonio Symphony followed. In February the 49-year-old Savannah Symphony Orchestra canceled the rest of its season. It was $1.3 million in debt, had gone through five executive directors in seven years and was unable to meet its payroll."
The New York Times
More Arts Cuts In San Jose
Last year the city of San Jose cut its arts funding 19 percent. This year there's another 24 percent cut coming. In a city with struggling arts organizations, the news is discouraging.
San Jose Mercury-News
After Orchestra Fails - Can Miami Support Ambitious Arts Plans?
After the Florida Philharmonic collapse, arts watchers in south Florida are wondering whether the region can support a new $263 million performing arts center, currently under construction. "The issue, arts experts say, is whether the South Florida arts donor base is too narrow: too heavy on the elderly, substantially but not wholly Jewish crowd, often from the Northeast, and too light on young professionals, local Hispanics, and wealthy, part-time residents from South America."
Mid-Size Threat - Mid-Size Arts Take Biggest Public Funding Hit
If states like New Jersey eliminate their arts funding it will be inconvenient for large arts groups. Most small groups won't notice because they're small, have small budgets, and don't count on public funding. But for mid-size groups... it's a life-threatening situation.
Arts Funding In Decline
Arts funding across America is declining--in some states being cut altogether. "Although national state arts funding for fiscal year 2004 won't be known until current legislative sessions conclude, it is almost sure to be less than the $354 million in 2003, which was already 20.8 percent smaller than the high of $447 million in 2001."
A Good Reason To Tour
"For most of the last two weeks, North Dakota's major cities, and nooks and crannies all around, resonated to the strains of the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington and its individual members. The visit was part of the orchestra's American Residencies program, which has so far consisted of 11 tours to 12 different states over a dozen years."
The New York Times
NEA Fundraising Plan Runs Afoul Of Arts Advocate
The National Endowment for the Arts want to fundraise privately, but one of New York's most important arts advocates--Norma Munn Chair of the New York City Arts Coalition--is strongly opposed. "As a matter of principle, I'm opposed to government using fundraising in the private sector to supplement an agency budget at the city, state, or federal level. It means they're competing directly with not-for-profits for precisely the same funds; and their clout and ability to publicize their efforts is a lot greater than other arts groups. It's a substitute for public funds and a move for privatization of funding that isn't appropriate."
Reimagining Lincoln Center (On A Budget)
All that wrangling about how Lincoln Center would get a $1.5 billion makeover seems so far awaay now. "Now the City Opera has decided to move downtown. Avery Fisher Hall is likely to be renovated rather than rebuilt. New York City, in perilous fiscal straits, appears unlikely to be able to fulfill the $240 million pledge that Rudolph W. Giuliani made for the project when he was mayor. The private sector is feeling the economic pinch before fund-raising has even begun. What's left of the redevelopment project? What part of it can Lincoln Center hope to accomplish? With the economic downturn, all the grand plans now seem like pipe dreams. The 11 private and public groups involved in the redevelopment have been forced to reassess."
The New York Times
Why Museums? Because They Teach Us
"Over the past decades, museums have come to play multiple roles in our lives, but surely none is more important than their ability--in the current period of international turmoil and political realignments--to connect each of us with what other people value culturally and artistically."
The Wall Street Journal
New York Arts Orgs Warn Of Cuts If City Budget Passes
New York cultural groups detail the cuts they will have to make if the city's proposed budget goes through with arts funding cuts. Closed galleries at city museums, new admission fees... "The report warns in particular that as many as 1,000 staff members would have to be dismissed under the mayor's budget plan, adding to the 450 jobs already eliminated in the 2002-3 fiscal year."
The New York Times
Protesting Arts Cuts In New Jersey
Some 500 arts supporters gathered in New Jersey's state capital to protest proposed cuts in the state's arts budget. The governor had originally proposed eliminating arts funding, but has recently suggested that half the cut might be restored. "This is a national calamity. It's going to leave us a poorer and dumber nation. And we're dumb enough."
In The (Culture) Zone
A proposal in the New York state legislature would create culture zones in cities. "The program would provide for designation of culture-zone areas, and calls for tax incentives for owners to improve properties and provide low rents for artists. Local governments would receive the ability to identify specific geographic areas that would benefit from 'enhancements to the local arts community'."
U.S. Congress Considering Artist Tax Break
The U.S. Congress is close to passing a law that would allow artists a tax deduction for donating their work to a nonprofit institution. "The Artists' Contribution to American Heritage Act of 2003 (HR 806) would allow artists a charitable tax deduction 'equal to fair market value' for contributing 'literary, musical, artistic, or scholarly compositions created by the donor' to qualifying public institutions such as a library or museum. Under current law, artists may deduct only the cost of materials used to create the work."
FCC: We Don't Care What The Public Thinks
The FCC's Michael Powell seems determined to deregulate media company ownership. This despite overwhelming public opposition. "Powell's contempt for public opinion, evidenced by his scheduling of only one official hearing on the proposed rule changes, is so great that he refused invitations to nine semiofficial hearings at which other commissioners were present. The hearings drew thousands of citizens and close to universal condemnation of the rule changes. Likewise, an examination of roughly half the 18,000 public statements filed electronically with the FCC show that 97 percent of them oppose permitting more media concentration. Even media moguls Barry Diller and Ted Turner have raised objections, with Turner complaining, 'There's really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It's not healthy'."
NAJP Chooses New Arts Journalism Fellows
"The National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) at Columbia University has selected this year's fellows. In a departure from previous years, all seven of the critics and arts writers chosen for the program will participate in a research project - Reporting the Arts II - which will follow up on a 1999 study which measured arts coverage in 10 cities across America. This year's fellows include: Caryn Brooks, arts and culture editor, Willamette Week; Willa Conrad, classical music critic, Star-Ledger (Newark); Paul de Barros, jazz and world music critic, The Seattle Times; Bill Goldstein, books editor, The New York Times on the Web, and contributing editor, WNBC-TV; Laurie Muchnick, book editor, Newsday; Valerie Takahama, staff writer, Orange County Register; Lily Tung, segment producer and writer, KRON TV (San Francisco)."
National Arts Journalism Program
Foundations Upset At Potential Law Changes
The U.S. Congress is considering a bill that would force charitable foundations to give away five percent of their assets each year. This would result in a big increase in money going to charities (and arts nonprofits). "The bill has created a furor in the philanthropic world, with foundations warning that they could be forced to squander their assets and spend themselves out of existence. Its supporters, however, say it will actually rein in wasteful spending ? on salaries and overhead ? as it gives charities needed help in a time of withering government budgets and growing economic pain."
The New York Times
Texaco Pulls Out Of Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts
After 63 years, ChevronTexaco says it is withdrawing its radio sponsorship of Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. Texaco's sponsorship was the longest in commercial broadcast history. "Beginning in 1940 Texaco was the sole sponsor of the broadcasts, which are now heard live from the Met stage at Lincoln Center 20 times a year on 360 stations at an annual cost of about $7 million. Broadcast December through April, the broadcasts reach an estimated 10 million listeners in 42 countries."
The New York Times
California Governor Proposes To Take Meat Cleaver To Arts Budget
After having its budget chopped 50 percent this year, it looks like the California Arts Council is in for another huge cut. "Looking to close an overall deficit now estimated at $38.2 billion, Davis is calling for cuts that would slash the CAC's funding from $22.4 million this year to $8.4 million in the 2003-04 fiscal year." In 2001 the CAC's budget was $32 million.
Los Angeles Times 05/16/03
Artists In Schools
"With public education struggling to stave off steep budget cuts and forced to cope with the extra emphasis on standardized testing, it has become difficult if not impossible for schools to add their own art, music, drama, and dance teachers. Partnerships [with arts organizations] are sometimes hailed as an alternative to these arts classes. Adding to the desirability of partnerships is that the arts organizations pick up most of the tab for the program; they, in turn, have diverse sources to go to for funding, which has provided a significant impetus in the growth of such programs. But what do partnerships deliver? Are their promises fulfilled? Who really benefits? Until recently, it was hard to answer these questions."
Orange County Register
Future Doctors Studying Art
The number of medical students taking "literature, art interpretation and other humanities courses has surged over the past decade. They are trying to awaken their feelings and intuition as a way to connect with patients who often feel as though they've been reduced to a collection of symptoms. Educators say the distilled emotions and insight in the arts offer students a crash course in the old-fashioned skill of the bedside manner. Art, they say, is a textbook on the human condition."
Los Angeles Times
Kaiser's Prescription For Bad Times: Do More
The Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser says that in hard times arts organizations need to do more, not less. "When an organization has a little bit of a problem, it is the first reaction of the board and staff that tends to make the problem worse. Their natural reaction is to pull in and say, 'We have to do less.' Organizations get into a vicious cycle. They cut back a little bit on art and marketing. They get a little bit less revenue the next year, and they cut back a little more. And they have less. They have less, they have less, they have less."
Washington DC's Building Boom
Washington is in the midst of a building orgy, as $2.4 billion worth of new museums, theatres, and other arts projects go up. "The grandest plans are taking shape at the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex, which is adding two new museums—the National Museum of the American Indian, on the National Mall, and an immense hangar-style addition to its popular National Air and Space Museum adjacent to Dulles International Airport in nearby Virginia."
The New York Times
Charitable Giving To Arts Plummets
"With the stock market, the economy, and corporate earnings all lagging, charitable giving is in a huge slump. Total U.S. giving by individuals, companies, and foundations is likely to fall this year by about 22%, or about $47 billion, to $165 billion, estimates Charity Navigator, a New Jersey-based organization that tracks and rates charities according to their financial efficiency. Museums and other nonprofit arts organizations are being slammed the hardest: Gifts to such organizations are expected to fall by one-third, to $8 billion this year, down from $12 billion in 2002. The reason arts organizations are being clobbered so hard is pretty obvious. When faced with having to pare their giving, most people and companies reduce arts donations before they cut back on support for organizations such as the Salvation Army."
Arts Generates $85 Million In Montana
A new study by the Montana Arts Council reports that the arts generate $85 million a year in economic activity in the state and are responsible for almost 2000 jobs.
Billings Gazette 05/28/03
Why Government Is Bailing Out Of The Arts
In America state governments are getting out of the arts business. State after state is slashing arts funding. Why now? ArtsJournal editor Douglas McLennan suggests that in trying to recover from the culture wars of the early 1990s, arts leaders may have unintentionally pursued an endgame strategy. "As the current arts-funding crisis suggests—the survival strategy might have topped itself out and ultimately killed public arts funding."
Killing Florida Arts Funding
Florida takes a slice-o-matic to its state arts budget. "The Florida Legislature approved a budget that slices annual cash for the state's arts facilities from $29 million to $8.7 million."
Is There Really A Harlem Renaissance?
"In the past few years, fueled by a real-estate boom and the $300 million budget of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), a community-development organization, the arts as well as the neighborhood have been revived in Harlem. 'Harlem is the new Greenwich Village. People are rediscovering it. It is what I remember the Village being in the '70s--a little edgy with an element of danger, but exciting, full of life and soul'."
Christian Science Monitor
NEA Shakespeare Tour - A Good Idea?
NEA chairman Dana Gioia's most visible initiative so far is a plan to tour Shakespeare around America. The plan would be "the largest theatrical tour of Shakespeare in American history. Indeed, no fewer than six American theatre companies would be funded to bring forth the Bard in over 100 small and midsized communities in every state. Yet not everyone in the regional theatre scene appears pleased with Gioia's plans, and they're speaking out."
Montana Transfers Arts Money To Fund Emergency Medical Communications System
Just as the Montana state legislature was closing its session, it passed an amendment that canceled $100,000 from the Montana Arts Council budget and transfered it to fund an emergency medical communications system.
Montana Standard 05/30/03
Florida Fallout From Arts Cuts
After the Florida legislature hacked down the state's arts budget, "all across South Florida, arts groups are tallying their potential losses, which range from $1,500 to more than $500,000 per year. The fallout will include delayed construction projects, reduced services and, perhaps most damaging in the long run, cutbacks in educational programs for children. 'We can no longer count on state arts funds as a part of our annual operating budget. Because the grants are non-recurring and the trust funds are eliminated, we would do ourselves a fiscal disservice to rely on the state'."
South Florida Sun-Sentinel 06/01/03
The President And The Arts Advocate
How did an outspoken advocate of publicly funded art wind up as part of an administration which is, at best, indifferent to art, and at worst, opposed to anything remotely controversial? No one seems quite sure of the answer, but Dana Gioia is clearly not intimidated by the president who appointed him to the top job at the National Endowment for the Arts. Frank Rich thinks that the key to Gioia's success may be his refusal to get involved in "the ugly culture wars that the likes of Lynne Cheney and William Bennett embraced during the Gingrich revolution. Many of those battles were in one way or another about N.E.A. grants to artistic projects with sexual content, especially homosexual content. Mr. Gioia will have none of it."
The New York Times 06/01/03
NY Philharmonic To Move To Carnegie Hall
Forty years after it left for Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic plans on moving back to Carnegie Hall. "The move would give Carnegie Hall the oldest orchestra in the country and deprive Lincoln Center of the first cultural institution established there. For the Philharmonic, going to Carnegie Hall means it can exchange the flawed acoustics of Avery Fisher Hall for a stage of undisputed sound quality, without having to foot the bill for a costly renovation. It would also turn the orchestra, now led by Lorin Maazel, from a rent-paying tenant into a managing partner."
The New York Times
NY Philharmonic Move - What Will Happen To Lincoln Center?
"The Philharmonic's decision to leave comes on the heels of New York City Opera's proposal to leave Lincoln Center, too, for a new site at ground zero. Simultaneously, the weak economy has forced Lincoln Center's new management team to scale back plans drastically for the institution's redevelopment—a project now expected to cost less than a third of the $1.5 billion originally projected."
The New York Times
Foundation Reform - Who Pays The Expenses?
A proposal before Congress would force foundations to cover their administrative costs outside the five percent of their assets they're required to give away each year. "Foundation execs are in a flutter. They see the bill as a threat to the immortality of their institution, and perhaps of their founders' names. In their view, the bill demands that they either cut costs to the bone (at the expense of more difficult or adventurous projects) or go extinct. Susan Berresford, president of the Ford Foundation, has said the bill will force foundations "to eat into capital and the country will lose these... public assets for the common good'."
Boston Globe 06/01/03
After The Building, What?
Building a new performing arts center is only the beginning. After it's beuilt you have to invest money on what goes inside it. Mangers of the new Miami Dade performing arts center in Florida project it will take a $100 million to get programming and resident companies on sound footing once the hall opens. With the Florida Philharmonic recently imploding, some wonder if the community is ready to step up and make the investment required.
Miami Herald 06/02/03
NY: Will Standardized Arts Education Requirements Help?
Arts education in public schools in New York City is haphazard."It's completely hodgepodge. We have in some schools almost no arts, in many schools no music, schools that are not taking advantage of the cultural resources of the city, arts educators who may be asked to decorate the school for Halloween." Now the schools chancellor has proposed a standardized arts regime for the city.
The New York Times
Colorado Governor Slashes At Arts Staff
First Colorado Governor Bill Owens is instrumental is slashing the state's arts budget from $1.9 million to $200,000. Now Owens is telling the arts council that it mustn't spend the money on itself. "Currently, he said, 82 percent - $165,000 - is allotted to infrastructure. Owens asked that only $40,000 be used."
Rocky Mountain News
Foundations Protest Proposed New Giving Rules
American charitable foundations are protesting a proposal in Congress to force them to give away more money each year. "U.S. giving by foundations, corporations, and individuals will fall this year from $212 billion to $165 billion, a 22% drop. For arts organizations in particular, Charity Navigator predicts even worse news: Giving may decline by as much as one-third, from $12 billion in 2002 to $8 billion in 2003."
Colorado Arts Commission Fires Director
Completing its gutting of the Colorado Coucil on the Arts, the CCA's director was fired Friday. "The action effectively completes the elimination of the current CCA staff, a move that could also cost the state an additional $614,000 in federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts because it only distributes its grants through viably functioning state arts councils. On Wednesday, Owens ordered that no more than $40,000 of the council's 2003-04 budget of $814,000 could be spent on payroll, utilities and all other operational costs. A year ago, the office had seven staff members, each making more than $40,000, Holden said. Since then, the CCA's state funding has been cut from $1.9 million to $200,000, and the staff had been cut to three even before Friday."
Denver Post 06/08/03
Jane Alexander: On Saving The NEA
Jane Alexander is back performing on a Washington stage again. "It's possible, though, that her four-year run as NEA chairman, during the political tumult dubbed the Culture Wars, will prove to be her most memorable local performance. It had everything: hostile congressmen vowing to take the NEA apart, life-or-death budget battles year after year, angry artists urging defiance. 'Jane kept it alive and reinstated a sense of credibility for the agency.' Alexander is proud of its survival. A weakened agency can be strengthened again, she reasoned at the time. But 'if it had gone under, it's doubtful it would have been revived within 20 years. Certainly not in this climate.' Could she have done anything more, or differently? Arts supporters doubt it. The consensus is that Alexander salvaged what could have been salvaged."
Washington Post 06/08/03
Can Colorado Arts Council Survive?
Now that the Colorado Arts Council has seen its budget cut to $40,000 and its director fired, can it survive? "The council, a key player in the state arts community for 36 years, is barely hanging on. In order to survive, it must learn to get by with volunteers and donations from new sources. But the council also needs a commitment from [Governor Bill] Owens and other state leaders that they will support it and increase its funding when the economy turns around."
The Coloradoan (Fort Collins) 06/11/03
Next On The Cutting Block: Missouri
"The Missouri Arts Council could lose about 75 percent of its budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. A bill signed by Gov. Bob Holden authorizes the council to use money from the Missouri Cultural Trust, intended as an endowment to leverage private arts funding, for the new budget year. The council will receive no money from general revenues."
Kansas City Star 06/08/03
U.S. Arts Cuts To Top $100 Million
Budget cutting, petty politics, and a flat economy are combining to force many U.S. states out of the business of funding art, and the cuts may total $100 million or more. "In the last 12 months, 42 states have cut their funding to the arts, wiping 13% off the total amount of funds available. But organisations are bracing themselves for an even more difficult 12 months ahead." According to ArtsJournal editor Douglas McLennan, while the cuts are devastating for arts agencies, even more frightening is the message: "What the government is saying right now is that culture is not important for us to fund."
The Arts Tax?
If states are slashing their discretionary spending on the arts, maybe the way to save arts funding is to use dedicated taxes for the arts. "There is a variety of indirect taxes for the arts, which are more prevalent than we realize and have proven quiet successes. These taxes bring consistent funding for the arts through the back door and are not as much subject to the fate of appropriations-based government support, which can be a real roller-coaster ride."
Foundation Spending On Arts Decreases
A new report describes trends in foundation spending on the arts. Last year foundation spending on the arts decreased 3/5 percent to just over $4 billion. "Arts funding accounted for 11.8 percent of overall foundation grant dollars in 2001; nearly nine out of ten foundations in the sample supported the arts in 2001; and museum activities received the largest share of grant dollars in the 2001 sample (34 percent), followed by performing arts (30 percent)."
Philanthropy News Digest 06/10/03
Trying To Lure The Young With Arts
Cincinnati is losing its 20-somethings, who are moving out of the city. But instead of trying to lure new businesses to the city in an effort to keep its younger citizens, the city is promoting lifestyle and the arts. "New plans promote sidewalk cafes, hip local music, and an energized entertainment strip. Attention to arts, culture, and downtown living are replacing old ideas about building new department stores and riverfront towers. 'I would love to see a Cincinnati that has sidewalks full of people after the offices close, that has local music all the time, that has people attending arts events on a regular basis'."
Cincinnati Inquirer 06/09/03
World Through The End Of A Bow
Yo-Yo Ma has had remarkable success attracting audiences to hear his latest musical explorations. So does he ever think about slowing down? "There have been times at the end of the year when I can't even remember where I've been. I'm trying to spend more time with my family and only to go to places there's a good reason for going and do only things I really care about."
The Telegraph (UK) 06/10/03
California's Dollars-For-Arts Protest
As a protest against California's cuts in arts funding, arts supporters are being asked to mail the Art Council dollar bills with the names of state senators written in red on the bills. "The suggested donations would be part of a protest against Gov. Gray Davis' proposed cuts in the council's budget. Grappling with the state's fiscal crisis, he has suggested trimming that budget from $22.4 million to $8.4 million."
Los Angeles Times 06/16/03
NY Philharmonic's Carnegie Gambit: Not Good For America
Mark Swed writes that while the New York Philharmonic's move from Lincoln Center to Carnegie Hall might make financial sense for the orchestra, it isn't necessarily good for New York music or for musicians elsewhere in America. "What is good for business isn't necessarily good for art, the community or the country. This is a dire move, and its ramifications will be felt throughout America. At the heart of it are two important questions: Whom does an orchestra, or any major arts institution, serve? And what is its social responsibility?"
Los Angeles Times 06/15/03
Neither The Best Nor The Worst Of Times
The sky is not about to fall down on the world of symphony orchestras, but neither is the future outlook as rosy as some industry soothsayers think, says Paul Horsley. The fact is that orchestras with responsible fiscal policies are thriving, even in the down economy, but that doesn't make it any easier for the groups in trouble to dig their way out of the financial hole. The 'X factor' in orchestral success remains a commitment to artistic quality, and the orchestras that stay afloat are the ones that can find a way to maintain their standard, even as they cut the necessary monetary corners.
Kansas City Star 06/15/03
Execs Needed In Milwaukee
Executives of several of Milwaukee's high-profile arts groups have stepped down recently, leaving something of a power void at the top levels of the city's cultural scene. The latest to resign is Judy Smith of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, who has reportedly been exhausted by a massive fundraising effort she was spearheading. In fact, many of the Milwaukee execs have left their posts not because of controversy or dissatisfaction with their work, but because they were simply burned out by the intensive fundraising work required during an economic downturn.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 06/17/03
Florida Arts Cuts = Unhealthy State
The state of Florida recently cut its arts budget by $22 million. Now arts groups across the state are trying to figure out what that means to them. "I think the Legislature made a very disturbing statement in terms of priorities, that the arts are disposable. One sign of a healthy state is one that supports the arts."
Gainesville Sun 06/17/03
Lincoln Center In Search Of A Plan
What's to become of Lincoln Center now the New York Philharmonic plans on leaving for Carnegie? The planning is complicated. Center officials even considered turning Avery Fisher Hall into an opera house in hopes of enticing New York City Opera to stay...
The New York Times
When Benefactors Default (What Should Happen?)
Recently the Metropolitan Opera took the unusual step of prying off a donor's name from its building when the promised gift failed to arrive. So "what can be done when donors can't meet commitments? Nonprofits can bring lawsuits to force donors to pay up, but seldom do so. Lawsuits are unproductive if the donor does not have the funds and usually spell public relations disaster for both parties. The public, off-with-his-head (or in Vilar's case, off-with-his-name-plaque) approach may be the last, necessary resort in some cases, but it's not likely to win future support from the donor if his fortunes recover. It also may have a chilling effect on prospective donors.
Opera - State Of The Art
Opera America meets in St. Louis to discuss the state of the art. "On one hand Opera America touts opera's growth in the last 20 years: more than half of its 119 member companies were founded after 1970, and the organization reports growing and increasingly younger audiences. On the other hand the troubled economic climate has meant shrinking endowments, a falloff in donations, and a consequent need for companies to rethink and even to restructure along conventional business lines."
The New York Times
Is Corporate Philanthropy On The Rise Again?
"Overall corporate giving decreased in 2001, according to the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, which will release 2002 estimates Monday. But anecdotal evidence suggests that Philanthropy Inc. is growing again. Despite the struggling economy, many socially responsible companies are not only matching past giving, they're increasing it."
The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 06/22/03
Dana Gioia, Poet Politician
Dana Gioia turned down the Bush administration when they first asked him to be chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The second time he said yes. "It sounds terribly Jimmy Stewart, but I guess I'm a terribly Jimmy Stewart kind of guy. I felt a certain duty to put aside my own artistic career for however many years and try to rebuild this agency."
Newark Star-Ledger 06/22/03
America's Theatres - How're We Doin'?
Leaders of America's nonprofit theatres gather in Milwaukee to talk about the state of the business. "Last year more than 50 percent of the membership's theaters ran deficits (compared to 29 percent the previous year). 'For this [current] year, if I'm hearing the murmurs in the field correctly, it brings an even darker picture'."
Hartford Courant 06/22/03
Louisville's Photo Finish Keeps Orchestra Alive
Good news is hard to come by in the world of professional orchestras these days, but a huge sigh of relief could be heard coming from Louisville this weekend, as the Louisville Orchestra not only reversed its earlier position that bankruptcy was its only option, but approved a new three-year contract with its musicians. The contract is hardly a windfall for the players - it includes short-term wage cuts on already miniscule salaries, and trims weeks from the orchestra's season - but with other troubled orchestras folding right and left, everyone seems to be at least satisfied with the result. As a direct result of reaching agreement on the contract, the orchestra will receive a much-needed $465,000 gift from a local developer who had been backing the musicians.
Louisville Courier-Journal 06/21/03
Chicago Philanthropy Down
A survey of Chicago foundations reveals that their giving will decline this year. "The survey indicates an average decline in grantmakers' assets of 15 percent in the most recent fiscal year. But requests for money from non-profits showed no letup. According to the survey, donors are responding by awarding fewer grants, but of somewhat larger amounts. They also are giving more toward general operating expenses, rather than specific programs of non-profits, allowing the groups more flexibility in the use of the funds."
Chicago Tribune 06/23/03
Minnesota Cuts Arts Employees
The Minnesota State Arts Board administrative budget has been cut 61 percent, so eight of 19 employees were laid off Monday. The cuts represents "a 42 percent cut in the staffing of an organization that has supported art and artists in the state for a century."
St. Paul Pioneer-Press
The Ups And Downs of Philanthropy
"Two New York-based not-for-profit research organizations, the Foundation Center and Grantmakers in the Arts, have issued a report showing that while the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had a deleterious effect on arts and culture philanthropy during 2001 and 2002, the drop in giving wasn't as steep as first feared. Meanwhile, a new survey... suggests that charitable giving by corporations slackened in 2001, but then, in a surprise, rose dramatically in 2002." Still, these numbers don't mean that arts giving isn't at disturbingly low levels, and the scramble in dozens of U.S. states to fix deficits by slashing arts funding is making matters even worse.
Zeroing Out The Arts In California
The budget crisis in California is dire, so dire that the Democrats in control of the State Senate are seriously considering a proposal to completely eliminate the State Arts Board, which issues $18 million in grant money to California artists each year. The wholesale destruction of the board, which draws $20 million from the public coffers annually, wouldn't go far towards eliminating the Golden State's eye-popping $38 billion deficit, but Senate leaders say there may be no way around it.
Los Angeles Times 06/29/03
Shakespeare In Alabama. And Oregon. And, Well, Everywhere.
"After the Civil War... consumers moved away from communal celebrations and began to enjoy culture in small groups or alone, a development heralding the eventual triumph in our day of the home entertainment center. Yet 150 years later, Shakespeare is undergoing a rebirth in this country, thanks to dozens of well-entrenched festivals devoted to his work, as well as a new initiative by the National Endowment of the Arts. Paradoxically, the biggest name in literature once again finds himself most at home in smaller cities and towns."
The Christian Science Monitor 06/27/03
Why The Symphony Orchestra Is Dying
Why is the symphony orchestra dying? Bernard Holland spells it out in clinical style. "Classical music has only itself to blame. It has indulged the creation of a narcissistic avant-garde speaking in languages that repel the average committed listener in even our most sophisticated American cities. Intelligent, music-loving and eager to learn, such listeners largely understand that true talent and originality must find their own voice. What they do not understand is why the commitment to reach and touch listeners in the seats does not stand at the beginning of the creative process, as it did with Haydn and Mozart. This kind of art-for-art's-sake has much to answer for."
The New York Times 06/29/03
Good Old-Fashioned Entertainment Outsells Empty Flash
Last weekend, the latest Harry Potter book outsold Hollywood's biggest movie. This disproves the idea that kids need the fast-cut media rush to be entertained, writes Frank Rich. "We live in a blockbuster entertainment culture, where the biggest Hollywood movies, most of them pitched at teenagers, saturate the market for a week or two, then vanish with little lasting trace on the collective consciousness. There's not enough time for the word of mouth that might allow something special but not instantly salable to find a mass audience, so why should a big studio take the chance? It's easier just to churn out the proven formulas and franchises, dumb and dumberer with each installment. This disposable blockbuster machinery is the antithesis of the career trajectory of the 'Harry' series."
The New York Times 06/29/03
Gioia: State Arts Funding Crisis
NEA chief Dana Gioia says there is a crisis in state arts funding. "He said although no state has eliminated arts budgeting, "the mere debate suggests that the political and social consensus that once existed on the necessity of public support for the arts and arts education is breaking down."
New York Restores Some Arts Cuts
New York has restored some of its planned arts budget cuts. "While the arts budget will be cut by more than $11 million, another $16.2 million in planned cuts was restored, leaving cultural institutions surprised and relieved. 'It's a significant restoration. It will prevent us from having to do things like charging New York City school groups, closing galleries and closing days'."
The New York Times
Assessing The Sea Change In Arts Funding
It's not easy being in charge of a big museum in the middle of a major expansion while, all around you, budgets are being slashed and legislators are calling you an expendable piece of the state funding puzzle. Eugene Gargaro, Jr is a month into his new job as board chair at the Detroit Institute for the Arts, and after only a few weeks, he's feeling the legislative pinch. "There's been a significant change in state funding. Ten years ago, the museum received about $16 million. It's possible that we'll only receive $2 million or less next fiscal year. We've come a long way since the early 1990s, and yet we still need that vital state support, and we have to get better at making our case."
Detroit Free Press
Cleveland's Hard Times
"Things are about as bad as they've ever been for the arts in Cleveland. Three of the region's most important theatres (Ensemble, Dobama, and Cleveland Public Theatre) cancelled the tail end of their 02/03 seasons earlier this year, mainly in an effort to stop the red ink. The Cleveland Film Society laid off half its staff after trying to compete with a made-for-TV "reality" series set in Iraq. Meanwhile, the majors are nervously raising and spending millions for huge capital projects..."
Cleveland Free Times 07/02/03
Miami Building Its Center Of Art
Miami's new performing arts center is rising under construction cranes. "For many, the $255 million PAC - which includes a 2,200-seat symphony hall and a 2,480-seat ballet opera house - represents the arrival of Miami's burgeoning cultural scene. The PAC has drawn comparisons to New York City's Lincoln Center and Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center. But beneath the surface, Miami's arts community remains a work in progress that will take at least another generation to complete."
Miami Herald 07/06/03
Is The Performing Arts Center A Dinosaur?
Is the performing arts center an idea whose time has passed? "Those performing arts complexes were conceived in the '50s, when the country was puffing out its civic chest and no one quite knew what burgeoning suburbs would mean for the cities they surrounded. By the time the first of the complexes was ready for audiences—Lincoln Center in 1962—there were 68 others under construction, or planned, around the United States. Many were seen as tickets to legitimacy, playing the role that sports stadiums and museums would assume in later years. Now, decades later, the leaders of these monuments to the arts find themselves searching for new uses of aging halls and for more diverse new generations of patrons, all while spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make their fortress-like campuses more open. The performing arts center is being rethought, if not reinvented."
Los Angeles Times 07/06/03
Why Invest In Arts? Because Of "We The People"
California legislators are deciding whether to eliminate the California Arts Council. The state has a huge budget deficit, but doesn't the state have a compelling interest in investing in culture, too? "Not as a matter of deciding what pictures get painted, not as a matter of supporting this or that artist, but as a matter of promoting excellence, the 'common wealth.' We certainly pay enough lip service to these ideals..."
Los Angeles Times 07/04/03
Indianapolis' Big Cultural Initiative
While other American cities have been cutting back their cultural initiatives, Indianapolis has been putting together a new $10 million plan for the arts. "The thing I've been most struck by is the intense emotion everyone feels about this initiative. Right or wrong, individual or organization, there is a very strong conviction that this is our chance, and we'd better not blow it."
Indianapolis Business Journal
NEA: Colorado Can Keep Grant Money
The National Endowment for the Arts has decided to let the state of Colorado keep this year's NEA grant of $613,000. "The funding was at risk after the Colorado legislature reduced next year's funding to the CCA from $1.9 million to $200,000, leaving the agency with just one full-time employee. In the past, the NEA has not funded states lacking a fully functioning state arts council."
Denver Post 07/04/03
Dismantling Colorado Arts Funding
Colorado has all but eliminated its arts council, reducing funding to $200,000. The NEA has come across with another $600,000, but things are bleak. "The dismantling of the council has been slow and insidious, and painful to watch. Though some legislative support exists, there also has been a certain disinterest, if not scorn, for the agency's role in bolstering the state's cultural profile."
Rocky Mountain News 07/05/03
California Arts Council Fights For Its Life
The California Arts Council is in dancer of going out of business next week. "The arts council is listed on a seven- to eight-page document totaling $11 billion in cuts, and it includes things like hearing aids for people with hearing disorders - so when you're looking at things that are sustenance for the elderly, the blind and the disabled, you have to keep that in mind when you're looking at the arts council."
San Francisco Chronicle 07/04/03
Impact Of California Arts Cuts Would Be Severe
"The 27-year-old agency is best known for its grants to local organizations, and much of the funding is used to send artists and performers into public schools. In the fiscal year that ended Monday, the Arts Council spent almost its entire budget of $18.2 million on grants."
Contra Costa Times 07/03/03
NJ Abolishes Poet Laureate Position
The New Jersey State Legislature has passed a bill abolishing the position of state poet laureate. The move is the culmination over unhappiness over poet laureate Amiri Baraka, who wrote a poem last year suggesting Israel had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "The Assembly approved a bill Tuesday that passed the Senate in January. Gov. James E. McGreevey, who cut off the $10,000 annual stipend that goes to the poet laureate after Baraka refused to resign, intends to sign the bill, according to a spokesman."
Yahoo! (AP) 07/01/03
Eliminating Arts Funding Will Damage California
California is considering eliminating its state arts funding. John Killacky writes that the idea is shortsighted. "Should the arts be held exempt when funding for human services, libraries, road repairs, affordable housing, and education is being slashed? Of course not, but the intellectual and social capital the arts contribute to the vitality of life in California must not be underestimated. Multiculturalism and innovation are essential elements in making our state's economy among the largest in the world."
San Francisco Chronicle
Boston Wants More Public Art
Boston is an old city, by American standards, and most of its public art seems to be nearly as old as the city itself. "Boston often is criticized for lacking a bold or effective plan to develop new public sculpture. But some long-overdue appointments could change that. In May, artist Sarah Hutt was named director of public art for the city. Hutt now oversees the Boston Art Commission, which recently has been revived with an all-new membership. The four-member commission hasn't been active since Director Mildred Farrell resigned two years ago. Even before that, the group frequently was criticized for a lack of discrimination and being out of touch."
Fund-raising Slump Hits Smithsonian
It won't come as a surprise to any arts organization which has tried to mount a major fund-raising campaign in the last year, but the Smithsonian is facing a rather severe drop in donations. "In the six months ending in March, the Smithsonian raised $51 million. In the same period a year earlier it brought in $117 million--including $10 million gifts from Lockheed Martin, General Motors, and the James S. McDonnell Charitable Trust. But even without $30 million in major single gifts, the fundraising is down $36 million." Officials at the nation's largest museum complex are staying upbeat, however, saying that they believe the drop to be a temporary problem.
Do Florida Politicians Dislike The Arts?
Florida legislators recently turned art-unfriendly. "Increasingly, this state's leaders seem to regard arts and cultural endeavors as expensive luxuries, in cities, towns and schools alike. Even worse, they regard government funding for cultural programs with an air of disdain and suspicion. In the recent legislative session, legislators diverted most of the state's cultural funding to cover gaping holes left in other parts of the budget..."
The News-Journal (Florida) 07/13/03
Will California Wipe Out Its Arts Funding?
California--known as a center of creativity--could soon become the first American state to eliminate its arts funding. "Cultural groups and artists say the death of the 28-year-old agency would have a ripple effect throughout the state. They predict as many as 14 regional arts councils receiving Arts Council funding could be eliminated, and the National Endowment of the Arts would divert $1 million earmarked for Arts Council distribution to other states. The state ranks 40th in the nation in per capita arts funding."
San Jose Mercury-News 07/15/03
Boston To Create New Artist Center
Boston is about to break ground on a new project to develop artist spaces in three hundred-year-old warehouses. The Fort Point artist project is a $23-million, 206,000-square-foot complex. "Architectural designs for the project include 200-seat and 50-seat black box theaters, classroom and rehearsal space, an art gallery and cafe, and 89 units of artist housing ranging from 920 to 2,300 square feet. The collaborative also plans to rent about 7,000 square feet of office and retail space to nonprofit arts groups and arts-related businesses."
Californians Rally To Save State Arts Funding
Hundreds of Californians rallied in San Francisco Wednesday to protest state legislature plans to eliminate arts funding. "Beating drums, reciting poetry and waving signs, the crowd of artists and arts lovers danced, chanted and cheered as speakers urged the state Legislature to spare the 27-year-old California Arts Council. Legislators are considering slashing the agency's budget to help close the state's $38.2 billion deficit."
San Francisco Chronicle
Ending Cal. Arts Funding Is Shortsighted (And Costly)
A proposal to zero out the California Arts Council will make recovering it difficult later. "Eliminating the Arts Council in a bad budget year is like taking your car to the junkyard because you can't afford to buy gas this week. Times will get better, and when they do, re-creating a state arts council will be far more costly and complex than keeping the existing one in place."
San Jose Mercury-News 07/16/03
Cleveland's Arts Industry Takes A Big Hit
A new study showing that Cleveland's arts industry has lost 163 jobs and millions of dollars in the last year is raising serious red flags among the area's cultural and political power players. The arts are hurting all over, of course, but in Cleveland, which has never made arts funding a priority, the economic pain is multiplied, and arts advocates are saying that only a large infusion of cash can hope to turn around the city's slumping cultural fortunes.
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
Fortifying An 'Arts Neighborhood'
"Standing by a South Boston construction site, Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday quoted Pablo Picasso, as the Fort Point Cultural Collaborative announced plans for Midway Studios, a 200,000-square-foot development that will house 89 new artists' live/work studios, a gallery, a black box theater, and other cultural facilities in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood." The project is designed to combat the seemingly endless cycle that sees artists move into a run-down urban neighborhood and breathe new life into it, only to be forced out by the rising property values that their good work makes inevitable.
Committing To The Arts In Elvis City
The city of Memphis is known mainly for barbecue and Elvis, but lately, the western Tennessee city has been making a concerted push to become what is commonly referred to as a "big-league town." That means getting at least one major league sports franchise to move in: Memphis swiped Vancouver's NBA team last year. It means a serious effort to revitalize the downtown area: check. And, according to the folks in charge of Memphis, it means creating major public-private partnerships to support the arts and cultivate a unique musical and artistic scene in the city. Despite the nationwide trend towards slashing arts funding, Memphis is launching "a fund drive to generate $25 million for the Greater Memphis Arts Council."
Memphis Commercial Appeal
They're Old, But They're Smart, Too
A new study by the National Endowment for the Arts finds that audiences for live classical music events grew slightly in the last ten years, but that a slightly smaller percentage of the public attended concerts than in 1992. "At 49, classical music audiences have the highest median age of any of the categories in the survey... Classical and opera audiences have also become more educated. About 85 percent of concertgoers had at least a partial college education in 2002, up from 77 percent in 1992."
Everything But The Cash
The city of Orlando wants to build a new performing arts center, and everything has been falling into place lately. The mayor is on board, and a prime plot of land in the downtown district has been acquired and earmarked for the project. There's just one thing missing: $200 million. So far, not a single donor has come forward to offer assistance for the project, and one official has suggested that "presenting a community such as Orlando with a fund-raising goal as large as $200 million can be overwhelming."
Orlando Sentinel 07/20/03
Minnesota's Biggest Arts Benefactor Dies
It is not an overstatement to say that without Ken Dayton, Minneapolis would never have gained a national reputation as a city of the arts. "He and his wife, Judy, were key players in a small group of wealthy, socially prominent Minneapolis families who remade the city's artistic life in the last half of the 20th century. They helped it evolve from a Midwest city with a few robust old civic institutions into a national model of thriving contemporary and traditional culture, renowned for its philanthropic support... [They] contributed more than $100 million to the Minnesota Orchestra, the Walker Art Center and other civic, social and cultural causes." Ken Dayton died this weekend, one day shy of his 81st birthday.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Austin Arts Scene Drooping
Austin, Texas is frequently cited as the Lone Star State's cultural oasis, a small city with a legendary music scene and more arts than it knows what to do with. But things are tough all over. Last year, "Austin Lyric Opera fired one of its founding members, the Austin Musical Theatre couldn't afford to finish its season, and the city slashed arts funding by 33 percent across the board. With these uncontrollable events behind them, the need for adequate performing space persists along with a fierce competition for patrons' dollars."
News 8 Austin 07/21/03
When The Money Isn't There
In Austin, arts supporters have been upset over the way the city allocates the funds it receives from the municipal hotel tax, which is earmarked for cultural activities. But the city insists that this year's 30% cut in funding was necessary because of the slumping tourism industry. The city's arts leaders are currently working on a series of economic impact studies, which they hope will convince civic officials that the arts are the type of investment that returns more money to the community than it takes out. But such studies tend to be difficult to quantify.
News 8 Austin
Could The Arts Pull Detroit Back To Respectability?
Detroit has been losing population for years, and the city's image in the national consciousness is hardly a positive one. Everyone wants to see a turnaround, but where to begin? Other cities have harnessed to power of the "creative class" to make their urban core more attractive, more exciting, and therefore more attractive to homebuyers. Paul Horton writes that Detroit has plenty of artists, so why not see what a little unity can do? "A hip and happening atmosphere is a crucial element in a city that 'works' and is a key to prosperity... If the elements needed to draw new residents are not in place, Detroit and other urban cities will continue to lag behind."
Detroit Free Press 07/21/03
Are Orchestras Really Committed To Their Cities?
Last month, the Philadelphia Orchestra nearly had to call off a series of free "neighborhood concerts" for lack of sponsors. A last-minute sponsor stepped in, and all was well, but Peter Dobrin has a question. Shouldn't we be able to expect that an orchestra, which spends a good amount of time asking for financial and moral support from the community, be committed enough to its home city to put on a few free concerts every year, regardless of sponsorship? "Maybe it's too easy to interpret this situation as one of those rich-sticking-it-to-the-poor episodes, but what the orchestra has done with this year's cancellation interlude, intentionally or not, is to reinforce the old cliche that classical music is something only for the wealthy."
Pew Trust To Separate From Parent Company
"The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the nation's largest foundations, is taking steps to separate itself from Glenmede Trust Co., the money-management firm created in 1956 to administer the Pew family's fortune and its charities." The move is largely a financial decision, allowing the Pew to become a full-fledged non-profit corporation, creating a significant tax savings. Glenmede would continue to administer the Pew's multiple trusts, but would no longer employ the Pew's staff.
Philadelphia Inquirer 07/23/03
Is It A Musical If No One Can Hear It?
New York's Roundabout Theater Company is mounting a production of the Huck Finn-based musical Big River this summer, with a groundbreaking twist. The show is aimed at deaf and hearing-impaired audiences, with the actors using a mix of singing and signing to tell the story. "The deaf learned to feel the music they couldn't hear; hearing actors spent months learning American Sign Language." The show's director says it isn't a gimmick, but a concerted effort to bring American theater to an audience that is ordinarily ignored by the industry.
Detroit News (AP)
American Arts Interest Stays Stagnant
"A recently released report from the National Endowment for the Arts indicates that the percentage of adults attending at least one jazz, classical music, opera, musical, play, or ballet performance or visiting an art museum over the course of a year has stayed stubbornly at around 40 percent over the last 20 years. The total number of arts participants has increased, but so has the total U.S. adult population."
Chicago Tribune 07/27/03
As Ohio Cuts, Cleveland Innovates
"Revised legislation introduced at the July 16 Cleveland City Council meeting would require 1.5 percent of the budget for each new municipal construction or improvement project to go for artwork, brightening everything from new firehouses to bridges, parks, utilities and streetscapes." In addition, an upcoming ballot measure could result in a slight sales tax increase with all proceeds going to local arts initiatives. The moves are part of a concerted effort to bolster Cleveland's image through the nurturing of a serious arts scene.
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 07/26/03
Ohio Slashes Arts Budget By 1/5
Ohio has become the latest state to make severe cuts to the amount spent on the arts in an effort to balance the budget. The Ohio State Arts Board will take a 21% hit in its funding level over the next two years. The cuts don't take effect until next year, but the board is already moving to reduce the amount of some of this year's grants.
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 07/26/03
The Free Expression Policy Project has a comprehensive report on free expression in arts funding. "The report includes candid interviews with agency officials regarding funding disputes, political accountability, and most important, ways of reaching out to communities and opening up dialogue about challenging or provocative art. The report also contains extensive background on the "funding wars" of the 1990s, illustrations, and two appendices summarizing free expression statements and policies among all state arts agencies and a random sample of local agencies."
Free Expression Policy Project 07/03
Kennedy Center Boss Named U.S. Cultural Ambassador
Kennedy Center chief Michael Kaiser has been appointed as a "cultural ambassador by the U.S. State Department. Kaiser said he has a different agenda from the artists. 'Funding patterns are shifting. In some countries 70 to 80 percent of an organization's budget was being provided by the government. Government funding is being reduced or not growing. This is a time in history where the arts around the world are in transition.'"
California Eviscerates Arts Funding
California slashes its arts funding from $18 million to a token $1 million, effectively shutting down the agency. "The new budget translates to less than 3 cents per person statewide. California will now rank dead last in per capita state spending for the arts. The national average is $1.10 per person."
San Francisco Chronicle
Bringing Art To Mass Transit
It was nearly 50 years ago when the city of Minneapolis tore up one of the most extensive streetcar systems in the world, in return for a one-time payoff from the auto industry. Now, with traffic reaching crisis levels, the city is spending millions to build a single new light rail line, a project which is viewed as a long-overdue public good by some, and a money-sucking folly by others. In an effort to make the rail line a desirable method of travel for a populace used to climbing into SUVs for their daily commute, the station stops are being designed by local artists and architects with an eye to reflecting their surroundings. In particular, the station rising outside the MetroDome in downtown Minneapolis is "rich with symbolic references to the site's past."
Minneapolis Star Tribune 08/03/03
Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics
A new study suggests that barely two percent of American adults listen to classical music, and the usual panic is setting in amongst the type of people who panic over studies. But Peter Dobrin points out that such horrifying numbers run exactly counter to nearly every piece of reliable evidence about classical audiences. "While skepticism about any survey is a good thing (after all, what qualifies as classical these days, the Three Tenors?), the fact is that Americans clearly like classical music and they're willing to admit it--in large numbers."
Philadelphia Inquirer 08/03/03
The Creativity Factor
A new study by Ann Markusen and David King argues that the arts are a core piece of a local economy. "Good schools, parks, recreation, and housing are important, but also lively streets and ample opportunities for entertainment and artistic enrichment. It's not surprising, then, that cities with high concentrations of artists--San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul--tend to be better economic performers than cities with lower concentrations--Dallas, Cleveland, Pittsburgh. Markusen is right to suggest that nurturing clusters of artists is a sound investment for governments, foundations, and other donors."
The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 08/03/03
Get Diverse Or Lose Your Funding
Arts organizations have often struggled to draw diverse audiences, and it can be even more difficult to achieve true diversity within the ranks of performers and managers. Ordinarily, this is one of those problems that everyone talks about from time to time without really doing anything to solve it. But in San Diego, where the city takes the diversity of an arts organization into account when divvying up available funds, the lack of ethnic and racial diversity on area arts boards is becoming a big financial problem, particularly for the city's celebrated Old Globe Theatre.
San Diego Union-Tribune 08/03/03
San Jose Artists Decide To Stick With the Status Quo
In an effort to find new strategies for local arts funding, San Jose's mayor recently proposed that the area's arts groups opt to switch the source of their funding from a hotel-occupancy tax to the city's general fund. But the deal didn't look too good from the artists' perspective, and the mayor's proposal will likely be officially rejected this week. "Three coalitions of arts organizations and the San Jose Arts Commission unanimously agreed that such a change in funding would put their institutions in competition with critical city services for the same funds."
San Jose Mercury News 08/02/03
Perlman, Brown, Burnett Win Kennedy Honors
This year's Kennedy Center Honors are announced. Violinist Itzhak Perlman is joined by fellow musician James Brown, comedienne Carol Burnett, country icon Loretta Lynn, film and theater director Mike Nichols. "The Honors is an annual ritual, now 26 years old, where illustrious stars and powerful politicians salute five ground-breakers in the performing arts for a lifetime of distinguished work."
Washington Post 08/05/03
Creativity Equals Capital?
"Advocates for the arts have long made a strong case that the local economy benefits from museums, theaters, orchestras, galleries, and similar institutions. Yet looking at the art establishment and its events misses much of the positive economic impact from the arts," says a new study. "The larger business community benefits from the presence of a vibrant arts community, not only because it helps firms recruit skilled workers to the region but also because it provides a pool of talent for them to draw upon for special design, organizational, and marketing efforts."
Getting Creative About Earning Money
Faced with a downturn in government funding for the arts, arts organizations are getting more creative in their fundraising. "On a national level, nonprofit entrepreneurship can be a big business. But wave of the future or not, entrepreneurship is hardly foolproof. Where it is possible to make money, it is almost always possible to lose it."
Hartford Courant 08/15/03
Disney Hall - Sounding Good
"Disney Hall will finally open this fall—16 tortured years after the late Lillian Disney, Walt's widow, instigated the project with a $50 million gift. The ultimate verdict on its acoustics will come from music critics after the gala first concert on Oct. 23. But if the building does sound as good as it looks—and early reports are enthusiastic—it will be a masterpiece, even greater than the spectacular Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which made Gehry an international star in 1997."
Newsweek 0818/03 issue
Artist Visa Problems Keep Artists Out Of U.S.
"Accumulating news reports underscore how visa problems are depriving U.S. audiences of an array of foreign performers." As visas make it more difficult for foreign artists to get into the U.S., the cancellations mount.
Los Angeles Times 08/18/03
Opera House In The Maine
couple from the big city moves up to Maine, buy a dilapidated old opera house and set about restoring it. "While residents here are typically skeptical of newcomers, this village has welcomed the restoration. Last year contributions and revenues totaled more than $200,000, nearly double the income in the first year. Almost all the performances have been sellouts this summer."
The New York Times
A Disney Spectacular
The hottest ticket in LA this fall is the opening of the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall, new home to the LA Philharmonic. "What does this do for the city? I'm quite amused by the fact that the hottest ticket in L.A. is a classical music/architectural event, not some Hollywood thing. I'm going to enjoy that. It won't happen again."
The New York Times
Little To Cheer As Cuts Mount
"In this time of exploding budget deficits, economic paralysis, and persistent revenue contractions, 2003 to date has offered very little news on the subject of state and local arts funding to give cause for good cheer. Dozens of states and hundreds of localities have cut arts appropriations - by half, two-thirds, three-quarters, or more. And while it's been a useful time for arts advocates and thousands of not-for-profits to join together in common spirit, the whole definition of victory at the moment is oddly perverse: If cuts are less draconian than first feared, if arts agencies are spared abolition, that's considered a win. Missing in all this, meanwhile, are pro-arts words from elected figures."
An Arts Town Success Story
Not so long ago, the city of Somerville, Mass. was "dilapidated, a place where artists got harassed; they certainly didn't hold court at major intersections or thrash about in the street like dying fish. Over the past 20 years or so, the stigma of living in Somerville has been reduced, if not completely removed. Whatever the general explanation, most folks credit local artists—and, on a larger scale, the visible integration of art into the community by the Somerville Arts Council (SAC)—for helping to revitalize the city and improve its residents' quality of life. The SAC is much more than a funnel for state grants. It's a relatively high-profile, community-based collective that not only produces independent cultural programming all year long, but works to draw out the artistic strengths of its community. Which makes Somerville a kind of local-arts-scene success story, a city in which the influence of art isn't merely discernable, but recognized for helping improve the town's very tenor."
Boston Phoenix 08/21/03
Florida Philharmonic - Autopsy For The Future
Can the bankrupt Florida Philharmonic be restarted? Perhaps--but a new model is needed. "Clearly what we did did not work. A different business model needs to be considered. Whatever is decided to be done, you've got to be put on good financial footing to begin with, with the money down before you build anything. That was never done with this orchestra."
The Sun-Sentinel (Florida) 08/25/03
MIA - Public School Arts Programs
"As they head back to the classrooms in coming weeks, kids may find their favorite part of school cut or reduced. The culprit, some educators and arts advocates say, is a combination of historic fiscal crises in the states and new federal standards stressing academic basics. Some critics say that if school officials cut unnecessary overhead costs they wouldn't have to touch academic programs and activities."
ABC News 08/25/03
Keep Art Alive
A California state legislator writes of his fight to keep arts funding alive in California: "We are truly at a turning point in the relationship between government and the arts. I had one of the hardest fights of my life this year to prevent the legislature from eliminating the California Arts Council entirely. Not just defunding it, but eliminating it from the state. I have no idea how or why this proposal came about, but it was made and it very nearly happened—California almost became the first state in the nation to abolish all public funding of the arts. As it is, we will continue to fund the arts, but at a level that is the lowest in the nation. Lower than Mississippi. Lower than Alabama. Lower than North Dakota. The state's General Fund, which last year gave the California Arts Council about $18 million, will now fund it at $1 million. We will thus be spending less than 3 cents per capita on the arts. For comparison, the national average is $1.00 per capita. The math on that is fairly easy—California spends about 3% of the national average on the arts."
Los Angeles Times 08/25/03
San Jose Considers Privatizing City Theatres
San Jose is considering privatizing the management of the city's public theatres. The city's arts groups are concerned. "In light of a $4 million loss at the city-run McEnery Convention Center in 2002, the mayor's office sees privatization as a possible way to run the buildings more efficiently. However, the Mayor's Budget Message Task Force, an ad hoc advisory committee of representatives from local arts groups, has urged the city to consider the impact on local groups as well the bottom line when determining who will manage the facilities."
San Jose Mercury-News
The Orchestra As Business Model
Orchestral musicians are not known for their love of corporate types, and the orchestra business itself has been in somewhat dire straits for a couple of years now. So there is unmistakable irony in what conductor Roger Nierenburg is doing under the heading The Music Paradigm. Nierenburg, music director of a small Connecticut orchestra, has been marketing the experience of leading an orchestra to big corporations as a management training seminar, with the orchestra serving as a visible (and audible) example of the necessity of competent, innovative leadership. The program is just one of many arts-based business training programs now popular with Fortune 500 types.
Charleston Post & Courier (AP) 08/28/03
The NEA's New Mission
The National Endowment for the Arts' new chairman Dana Gioia is questioning the NEA's "relatively recent transformation into an isolated entity supporting art for a very limited audience. 'We need to earn the trust and respect of the American people. The NEA exists to serve all Americans, and it must create programs of indisputable artistic merit and broad national reach. Art without an audience is a diminished endeavor.”
Poets & Writers 09/03
Onstage - Turning The Lights Back On In America's Old Theatres
Conservation-minded entrepreneurs across America are taking old theatres on the main streets of America and "turning historical movie houses into "cultural destinations."
Christian Science Monitor 08/29/03
Another Arts Agency Closing?
The Long Beach, California city arts commission may go out business after deep cuts in its funding. The 27-year-old arts agency "has a 10-member staff that helps administer the grants, after-school activities, neighborhood arts programs and Smithsonian Week, which brings in national scholars once a year."
Long Beach Press-Telegram 08/27/03
Gluck Chosen As New US Poet Laureate
LouiseGluck has been chosen as the next US Poet Laureate. "The selection will be officially announced Friday by the Librarian of Congress, who said in a statement that Gluck (rhymes with pick) will bring to the office "a strong, vivid, deep poetic voice." She is a professor of English at Williams College.
Washington Post 08/28/03
A Plan For An American National Theatre
A new national theatre is being proposed for the site of the World Trade Center. "The national theater would cull the finest offerings from the country's regional stages and present them in the performing arts center that Daniel Libeskind, the master-plan architect, has called for at the World Trade Center site. The complex would include three theaters: one with 800 seats, one with 700 and one with 400. The backers envision 15 productions a year, five on each stage, each running six weeks."
The New York Times
Atlanta's Cash-Flow Backup
Arts organizations often find themselves in cash-flow difficulty, only to find banks reluctant to loan them money. "Low-budget arts companies in metro Atlanta can now apply to borrow from a new pool of money supplied by the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund. The fund, which makes annual grants to nonprofit groups in a 23-county area, has announced that it is making $200,000 of its $6.5 million endowment available for an Arts Loan Fund."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution 09/04/03
Robert Redford On Art
Robert Redford gives the annual Nancy Hanks Lecture at the Kennedy Center Tuesday night. Redford "the iconoclast, the Hollywood director who founded the Sundance Institute to raise new generations of filmmakers outside the corrupting influence of the studios and commerce, has the most sweetly arcane ideas about art and artists. He believes, for instance, that art is good for the soul, that it can keep kids off the streets, and that it can correct the ill drift of society. He knows Hollywood puts money before art, but is consoled by the fact that without art they can't make money. He's also impatient with efforts to silence artists, with the ridicule heaped upon those who express political views when they should know that such talk is better left to highly paid, professional, partisan political pundits."
Big Concerns About Miami's New $265 Million Arts Center
Flaws in Miami's new $265 million Performing Arts Center, currently under construction, could "compromise its crucial sound quality, delay its opening and drive up its cost by up to $50 million, officials overseeing its construction and management charged Tuesday. These are issues affecting what the building looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like."
Government Report Criticizes Kennedy Center Management
The General Accounting Office criticizes the Kennedy Center for inadequate management of its construction projects. "The report, which focused on the center's construction of new parking and exterior areas, said what originally appeared to be a $28 million job wound up costing about $60 million more and created only about half as many new parking spaces as estimated. The GAO said the poor management raised questions about how officials will handle the massive additions planned for the center over the next 10 years."
World Trade Center - Rebuilding By Culture?
Cultural groups are vying to relocate to downtown New York at the site of the World Trade Center. "Why are established uptown entities like New York City Opera and the 92nd Street Y now willing to consider a downtown location? Why are prominent theater people urging that a national theater be built there? The answer can be found in part in Bilbao and Barcelona, Spain, and Manchester, England, as well as in Los Angeles and Detroit. By giving new urgency to notions of transformation, the destruction that took place on September 11, 2001, has brought home to downtown Manhattan the phenomenon of urban renewal through culture."
The New York Times
Plans For A Music Museum
Organizers are trying to raise money for a $220 million museum of music. The National Music Center and Museum Foundation would be built in Washington, DC. "At the convention center site, the planners are envisioning a facility on two acres with three theaters and a museum. The 3,200-seat performance hall could accommodate Broadway roadshows and musical acts. A second theater would have 750 seats, more than any of the Smithsonian's current theaters and lecture halls. The third would be a 250-seat black-box venue for dance and experimental theater. The museum would have 50,000 square feet of space for both temporary and permanent exhibitions."
Florida County Wants Artist To "Fix" Rust On Sculpture
Florida artist Bradley Arthur was hired to make sculpture out of melted guns. He did. But shortly after the sculpture was installed, it began to rust. "The county now contends Arthur has delivered a defective product. He must have done something wrong in making the sculpture. Officials with the county's public art program want him to 'fix' it. Arthur, 50, of Land O'Lakes, says there's nothing broken. Of course the pieces are rusting, he said, because they're made largely of gunmetal. He fully expected his artwork to rust in parts, and took that into account in his design."
St. Petersburg Times
70 Cultural Groups Propose Homes At Ground Zero
More than 70 cultural groups have proposed setting up homes in the World Trade Center project. "The development corporation has not set a date by which a decision would be made. Site plans include a museum, a performing arts center and smaller cultural spaces. The proposals will be evaluated by the corporation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts."
The New York Times
Non-Profits Taking Big Economic Hit
America's non-profit corporations, including many arts groups, are being forced to make painful cuts in the face of declining public funding, stagnated individual giving, and tumbling foundation spending, and the situation may not improve for quite a while, even if the economy continues its current rebound. Government funding is the second-largest source of revenue for non-profits, and at the moment, with states strapped for cash and the federal government charting a course which does not include much state aid, the public subsidy situation is dire.
Looking For Crumbs In California
This summer, the California Arts Council's budget was slashed from $16 million to $1 million, a near-zeroing out of the state's commitment to cultural spending. But at least one San Francisco legislator isn't accepting the cuts: Mark Leno is attempting to restore about half of the council's original budget through what he calls a "'minimal' entertainment-related fee--not a tax, he's quick to point out--to directly fund the council."
San Francisco Chronicle 09/20/03
The NEA's Shakespeare Gambit
The National Endowment for the Arts' ambitious new Shakespeare tour begins. "It is the launch of something that could change the political fortunes of the once-embattled, now-neglected national arts agency. NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, at a reception Saturday evening, called the high-profile Shakespeare initiative 'a Hail Mary pass.' Dana Gioia's approach is to try to bring a lot of positive attention, a lot of positive play to the NEA."
The Washington Post
Ownership And The Dance
"Contentious debates over artistic ownership generally seem to revolve around online music piracy or Mickey Mouse. But dance is facing unexpected and vexing questions about artists' rights as well. Do choreographers own their dances? Or are they simply employees who give up ownership to organizations that commission or support their work? As dance moves out of studio and into the world of corporate support, such issues have become more urgent."
The New York Times 09/20/03
The Denver Culture Tax
In 15 years, a Denver tax initiative that set aside .01 percent of sales collections for cultural groups has pumped more than $300 million into arts and culture...
Denver Post 09/19/03
Building For The Future
At a time when many theatres are struggling to keep going and having to downsize, a number of theatre companies--like Minnesota's Guthrie Theatre--re building and opening new projects. "Today's projects are more likely to be about gaining flexibility and space for new programs and activities than merely adding seats. Theater companies are creating 'campuses' that they aim to fill with a variety of artistic activity nearly round the clock. Many are producing extensive education programs' for both children and adults."
Christian Science Monitor 09/19/03
U.S. Congress Votes Insurance Increase For Museums
The US House of Representatives has voted to substantially increase the amount of insurance available to US museums to insure artwork borrowed from abroad. "The indemnity program, administered by the National Endowment for the Arts on behalf of the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, was created in 1975 to minimize costs American museums pay to insure international exhibitions. Unlike standard commercial insurance, government indemnity covers the effects of terrorism both in transit and on site. The program has been flooded with requests from museums trying to organize ambitious international shows at a time when insurance costs have risen as much as 500 percent."
The New York Times 09/18/03
NEA Offers Help To Small Orchestras
The National Endowment for the Arts has started a new program to help struggling mid-size and small orchestras. "The program will award a total of $250,000 to 25 orchestras, including the Augusta Symphony in Georgia, the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra in Biloxi, Miss., the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh, the Stockton Symphony Association in Stockton, Calif., and the Virginia Symphony in Norfolk. The NEA, the country's largest supporter of the arts, does not expect the individual grants of $10,000 to solve financial shortfalls in themselves. The idea is to boost programs that might attract other donations."
The Washington Post 09/17/03
The NEA's Gloomy Forecast For Dance
A new NEA report suggests that "not-for-profit dance companies may see as much as a 30% loss of earned income in the next few years, and even a heavier fall in contributions."
The Detroit Symphony's Miraculous Turnaround
A dozen years ago the Detroit Symphony was destitute, a once-proud institution reduced to penury. But "the $60-million Max M. Fisher Music Center, which opens Oct. 11, puts an exclamation point on what experts say is one of the most improbable turnarounds in the history of U.S. orchestras. The DSO pulled itself up by its financial bootstraps, rebuilt its neighborhood, forged innovative civic partnerships and reinvented itself as a model 21st-Century arts institution. The DSO has woven itself deep enough into the fabric of the city that nearly everyone has a stake in its future."
Detroit Free Press 09/22/03
Fort Worth Proposal To Slash Public Art Money
In a big surprise, the mayor of Fort Worth, Texas proposes slashing the city's public art funds. "Mayor Mike Moncrief's unexpected plan would cut funding for public art from 2 percent to 1 percent in the Feb. 7 bond election, shifting about $2 million in funding."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram 09/24/03
Gambling On The Performing Arts
Civic leaders in Las Vegas are trying to diversify the city. They want to build a new performing arts center. "With the billions of dollars in revenue the industry takes in every year, you would think it would be easy for gaming to foot the bill for the $125 million project. But that isn't happening. The Performing Arts Center Foundation got the city of Las Vegas to donate five acres of prime downtown real estate to the project. But rather than assuming responsibility for bankrolling the project, the casino industry has found a way to pass it off to the car rental agencies which, unlike gaming, already are heavily taxed and naturally opposed to the hike."
Las Vegas Sun 09/23/03
The Arts As Urban Renewal
As cities go, Detroit does not have a good reputation. Decades of urban blight and civic mismanagement left the city in a hole which it has only recently begun to climb out of. But when the Detroit Symphony opens its new $60 million expansion of Orchestra Hall this week, it will represent the latest push by the community to revitalize the urban core. For the DSO, the project means a chance to continue playing downtown, and to do so in one of the finest performance complexes in the nation. For the project's major benefactor, who admits that he was never much of a music fan, it means an opportunity to jumpstart the turnaround in one of Detroit's most blighted neighborhoods.
Detroit News 09/27/03
Shakespeare Hits The Road
This year, the National Endowment for the Arts is promoting an unprecedented 15-month, 100-city tour of Shakespearean drama. The idea for the tour came from former NEA chairman Michael Hammond, and was brought to fruition by the NEA's current bundle of energy, Dana Gioia. According to Gioia, "the NEA is hoping to 'revive the tradition of touring theater, which has been in jeopardy.' By making connections between touring companies and local presenters, he says, 'we're creating a circuit that I hope these companies can go back to.'"
Boston Globe 09/26/03
Theaters Get Compliant
"Half the theaters on Broadway, including some of its most famous stages, will become fully accessible to disabled people under an agreement announced Thursday between the landlord and the government. Work on the 16 landmark theaters operated by the Shubert Organization is to be finished by year's end. The organization has spent $5 million over several years to improve wheelchair seating areas, restrooms, entrances, exits, ticket windows, concession areas and drinking fountains. But legalities formally bringing the theaters into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act were completed only this week."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AP) 09/26/03
Broadcasting From The City's Heart
Pittsburgh public radio station WQED has unveiled a new downtown satellite studio, which the station and the city hope will pave the way for a revitalized cultural district to begin drawing crowds. The studio will be used for live broadcasts five nights a week, focusing on whatever is currently going on in the cultural district. Live performances and interviews will be scheduled on the fly, with performers able to make a quick stop at the studio before or after their main appearance of the night.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/26/03
U.S. Congress Considers Tax Break For Donated Artwork
A change in the American tax law would allow artists to get tax deductions for the full value of artwork they donate to museums. "Now, for example, if a collector gives his Jasper Johns paintings to a museum, he can deduct their full market value. But if Jasper Johns gives the paintings he made himself, he can deduct only the cost of the materials used to make them. Ironically, when their creators die, these same items suddenly gain conventional market value for estate-tax purposes. Definitely out of whack!"
The Wall Street Journal
America: Tallying Up State Arts Cuts
In America, state budget season has ended for another year, and the arts didn't make out very well. "State art spending dropped from $409 million in fiscal year 2002 to $355 million in 2003, and, with State deficits projected to balloon from $60 million to $80 billion this year, arts funding will fall another 23%, bringing the 2004 total to around $274 million."
The Art Newspaper 09/26/03
Texas Mayor Backs Off Public Art Program
Last week, Fort Worth's mayor Mike Moncrief suggested axing his city's public art program. But in the face of opposition from his city council, he's backed off the idea. "This was an appropriate discussion to have. But we need to move forward and close the debate on public art funding."
Fort Worth Star-Telegraph 10/02/03
The Money's There. But Who Knows How To Get It?
You could make a fairly convincing argument that, even in times of economic downturn, there is always plenty of money in America that could be used to fund our perennially underfunded theaters, orchestras, and other arts groups. But for many arts groups, the central problem is finding a truly qualified professional who knows how to find that money and convince the people who have it to give it up. In fact the non-profit development director may be the most understaffed position in the American cultural scene at the moment. And that's a dangerous thing, because, like it or not, money makes the arts world go round.
Chicago Tribune 10/05/03
Holding Tight To High Culture
Is Lincoln Center too devoted to high culture? Deborah Solomon thinks so, and argues that, in the wake of the New York Philharmonic's planned departure a few years down the road, Lincoln Center would do well to start embracing a bit of moneymaking pop culture. "What is art? Philosophers have debated the question for centuries, but at Lincoln Center the answer is clear. Art is anything that loses money... The greatest threat to the institution comes not from within, but from without, as it struggles to sustain a 20th-century, Rockefeller-style conception of high culture in the populist, mass-everything 21st century."
New York Times Magazine 10/05/03
Detroit: The Arts City?
Detroit has had its share of bad times. But a new flurry of arts-related development in the city's dismal Woodward Corridor has even cynical observers speculating that we could be seeing the rebirth of one of America's most notorious urban failures. "Expansion of [multiple local arts] organizations will increase the already huge economic impact of the arts, which in 2002 pumped $700 million and 11,755 jobs into the Detroit economy. And that doesn't count the spinoff from those facilities," which looks like it will be considerable.
Detroit News 10/05/03
Detroit's Culture Czar
As Detroit continues a concerted effort to remake its image and turn its fortunes, the arts and culture have been playing a big role. But according to Karen Dumas, the city's newly appointed Director of Cultural Affairs, what's still missing is a sense of cohesion among Detroit's arts groups. A marketing specialist, Dumas says that her goal will be to find ways to connect the area's larger arts organizations, such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with smaller, more flexible groups, in an effort to craft a cohesive arts strategy for a city on the mend.
Budget Cuts Slam Alabama Theater Groups
In the wake of an overwhelming vote against tax increases by the voters of Alabama last month, the state is making serious cuts to a budget that has already traditionally been stretched to the breaking point, and it appears that the state's theater groups will be some of the hardest hit. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, arguably the only arts organization in the state with a national reputation, will take a 75% hit in state funding, as will the Birmingham Children's Theatre. Worse yet, legislators have announced plans to eliminate funding for 'non-state agencies' completely in the next budget.
Complacency - Enemy Of Art?
Leaders of Hartford's arts institutions get together to talk about the challenges their organizations face. "I think I see a widening complacency on the part of a big chunk of our audience. Not the best of our audience, which remains smart, risk-taking and just as ambitious in their own way as we try to be as the leaders of arts agencies. But I see a creeping complacency. Maybe it's a taking for granted of the uniqueness of so many wonderful institutions in this town. Increasingly I fear that our audiences don't know how good they have it, living in a place like this. I don't think [the public] gets it the way they used to in the 1930s [up until the] early '80s. That's what I'm worried about because that will affect all of us."
Hartford Courant 10/12/03
Staying Solvent, While Holding On To Your Soul
With deficits becoming the rule rather than the exception, and public interest in classical music stagnant at best, American orchestras are searching for ways to reinvent their product without alienating their core audience. No one's done it successfully yet, but many people in the industry are betting that Deborah Card, the Chicago Symphony's new executive director, may eventually lead the way. "Our responsibility as administrators is to make sure that people have the best possible access to those concerts. We have to step up to the challenge of understanding that we're in a marketplace, and the marketplace must be attended to. We have to be sure that our product--that sounds so crass--is delivered in the way people want to receive it."
Foxy Plan For Oakland Arts School
"The Oakland City Council is considering spending $13 million to renovate the long-shuttered Fox Theater downtown, with $5.5 million of the public money helping fund a new home for Mayor Jerry Brown's arts charter school."
San Francisco Chronicle 10/15/03
The NEA's Misguided Populism
The National Endowment for the Arts is taking an ambitious but misguided step with its plan to bring Shakespeare to the hinterlands, says Michael Phillips. "Class is a commodity like any other, and with the Shakespeare touring projects the NEA is spending more than $2 million on a classy image makeover. These days the NEA does not concern itself much with tossing seed money to artists or companies who may be controversial or risky or untested. In [NEA chairman Dana]Gioia's words, the agency intends to focus on bringing 'art of indisputable excellence to all Americans.' It sounds right. It sounds inclusive, and unassailably democratic. Yet somehow a Shakespeare initiative sounds like an investment in yesterday's culture, not tomorrow's."
Chicago Tribune 10/19/03
Detroit's New Digs: Spending Money To Make Money
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra could very well have chosen to spend the last few years hiding under a pile of the Motor City's ever-present downtown rubble, and hoping that the financial roof wouldn't fall in. After all, orchestras are in terible shape just about everywhere, and Detroit is hardly a model for the type of forward-looking urban development that orchestras must embrace to make strides in an increasingly diverse entertainment universe. Instead, the DSO took a big, beautiful chance, and invested millions in a newly revitalized concert hall in one of the city's most blighted neighborhoods. No one yet knows if the plan will succeed, but thank God someone is still trying, says William Littler.
Toronto Star 10/18/03
Arts: The Antidrug?
A consortium of community groups, medical researchers, and arts groups in Cleveland has received a $1 million federal grant to mount a major study intended to determine whether the arts can play a major role in keeping children from indulging in illegal drugs and risky sexual behavior. The study will revolve around 300 test subjects, all African-American youths between 11 and 14 years old, who will participate in a specially designed arts curriculum, which will be partially designed by community leaders in the city.
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
Disney Hall - A French Curve In A T-Square World
Herbert Muschamp writes that LA's new Disney Hall is more than a building. "It's a home for everyone who's ever felt like a French curve in a T square world. Disney Hall is a riotous rebirth. Not just for downtown Los Angeles, where the building is situated, and not just for the whole sprawling mixed-up La-La. What is being reborn is the idea of the urban center as a democratic institution: a place where voices can be heard."
The New York Times
Making The 'Creative Class' Feel Welcome. Or Not.
What with the down economy, the war, and all, it can be easy to forget that an urban revival is continuing to progress in cities throughout North America. Thanks in large part to author Richard Florida's urban planning idea-of-the-moment (that cities should embrace the arts, culture, and something called the "creative class" in order to spur economic development,) cities are seeking out new ways to include the arts in their plans for a bigger and better future. But there's a difference between throwing a theatre festival designed for the same old elite (and mostly suburban) crowd, and actually looking for new ways to bring a community together around a cultural scene.
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/22/03
History - The Good And The Bad
A public art specialist working on a brochure for a historical walking tour for a town in Florida discovers some of the town's racist history. Should he include it in the brochure? The town leaders aren't so sure. "Glenn Weiss said he wants to clarify and showcase black history, not to ignite racial hostilities but to acknowledge an important part of the past."
The Sun-Sentinel (South Florida) 10/18/03
O.C. Register Cuts Back Arts Columns
The Orange County Register cuts back its arts coverage, cutting its classical music column back from once a week to once a month. "Behind the change, of course, is the thinking that classical music is a marginal art form, patronized by a very few."
Orange County Register 10/26/03
Connecticut's New Super Culture Agency
Connecticut creates a "super-agency" of culture that combines all the state's cultural programs under one roof. "What there is plenty of, are politicos. This could bode well when it comes time to go after significant state dollars beyond the $24.48 million the new agency now oversees this fiscal year ($20 million comes from lodging tax revenues) and at least $20 million for the next; but when it comes to allocating those funds politicians haven't the best of track records of fairness, merit and accountability."
Hartford Courant 10/26/03
Public Art Recalled To Make It More Accessible
The state of California recently called up some major changes to a public art project at the state capitol to make it accessible to those with disabilities. "The cosmic recall, scoffed by some and applauded by others, reflects a growing awareness of disability rights among art and design communities."
Sacramento Bee 10/27/03
Santa Cruz: How To Dismantle An Arts Community
Support for the arts in Santa Cruz, California has been evaporating. And the city's artists are leaving. "In the last couple of weeks, not a day has gone by when I haven't heard of an artist moving away. The Diaspora of young artists here is evaporating because it's too expensive to live here and because there's a serious lack of venues in this town."
Santa Cruz Sentinel 10/27/03
Baltimore Looks To The Arts
A wide-ranging collection of arts groups and cultural leaders will meet this weekend in Baltimore for the city's second annual summit meeting on the arts. Mayor Martin O'Malley hosted the first meeting last year, which was billed as a citywide brainstorming session, and which drew 300 artists and activists. This year's event will focus on ways to make up the national shortfall in arts funding, the future of private giving to the arts, and the omnipresent issue of how to draw out a city's "creative class."
Baltimore Sun 10/29/03
Arts Giving Down Sharply In U.S.
For the first time in 12 years, charitable giving in the US was down last year. But cultural groups took a big hit, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. "A large, one-time gift in the 2001 fiscal year from the Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund to two arts and cultural groups in this year's survey had the effect of causing donations to arts groups to decline steeply last year in percentage terms. The 14 arts organizations in the survey saw their aggregate gifts fall 26.5 percent in 2002. Some arts groups, however, say that they expect to raise at least as much in 2003 as they did last year, in part from capital campaigns."
Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/30/03
Useful Research Or A Waste Of Good Public Money?
The Brooklyn Philharmonic is set to receive a $330,000 grant from the federal Department of Education to study whether children in inner-city schools benefit from music classes. Trouble is, everyone already knows that children benefit from music classes, don't they? Anti-tax organizations and government watchdog groups are up in arms over the grants, which opponents say could have been spent on "about 400 drum sets, 800 saxophones, or 900 trumpets--or to pay the salaries of several music teachers."
New York Daily News
Austin Cuts Back Performing Arts Center
Plans for a major performing arts center in Austin Texas are scaled back--for now, at least. "The price tag for the project, stalled by escalating expectations and then an economic downturn, drops from $125.1 million to about $72 million. The group still must raise nearly $25 million--that includes $10 million for an operating endowment--before it can open the center a year later than planned: 2007."
Austin American-Statesman 10/29/03
B of A: A Bank Where A Could Stand For Arts?
Charlotte-based Bank of America is taking over FleetBoston to create the second largest bank in America. That may be good news for the arts. "Bank of America has been 'a real driving force behind the arts really coming front and center in the state, and particularly in Charlotte. It's just offered the most incredible leadership - not just funding and resources, a lot of human resources, but just really understanding the importance of the arts. It's in large part because of the bank's leadership,' that Charlotte regularly leads the nation in per capita arts spending."
Boston Globe 10/29/03
Chicago's New Home For Mid-Size Arts
After "more than a decade of dreaming and planning, having the dreams fall through, regrouping and planning again," a new $52.7 million, 1,500-seat downtown theater for Chicago's mid-size performing arts groups is almost ready to open. There are some worries, though: "With costs of approximately $4,000 a day, it is far more expensive than the theaters previously used by many of its dozen founding members. With 1,500 seats, it is also larger, and groups may find themselves lost on the larger stage or have trouble filling the extra seats."
Chicago Sun-Times 11/02/03
Why North Carolina Increased Its Arts Funding This Year
While 60 percent of American states this year cut their arts funding, North Carolina went the other direction, increasing arts funding by $377,000. This in spite of a proposal by the state's governor for a six-figure budget chop. So how'd it happen? "The majority of the members of our legislature are much more attuned to what the arts are doing back in their home districts than most people would assume," notes Regan. "I don't think it was that difficult for the arts community to make the case, because I think what the arts community was saying to the legislature was very quickly recognized as being the facts."
Independent Weekly (North Carolina) 10/22/03
U.S. Rejoins UNESCO
After boycotting UNESCO for two decades, the U.S. has once again joined the U.N.'s cultural body. "The U.S. has been granted a seat on the executive council for its ambassador, a post for which President Bush has nominated Louise Oliver, a conservative Republican fund-raiser who must be confirmed by the Senate."
The Art Newspaper 10/31/03
Will Arts Get Booted Off the Island?
Hawai'i is more than just another state in the U.S. Its geographic isolation from the rest of the country means that its population is quite insular and, despite the heavy tourist trade, relatively unchanging. These unique qualities make Hawai'i a charming place to live, but are posing a grave danger for the state's arts groups, many of which are in severe financial turmoil, and in need of public support. "Years of financial austerity measures have helped the major arts and cultural organizations survive, but administrators say innovative solutions are needed to cope with a confluence of negative local and national trends."
The Honolulu Advertiser 11/04/03
Miami Performing Arts Center Delayed And Over Budget
Miami's new $344 million performing arts center has been beset by delays and cost overruns. "Center officials recently moved the expected opening date to early 2006, over 16 months behind what was originally hoped for. Meanwhile, cost overruns that accrue from design changes, material shortages or flawed work will eventually have to be covered by someone--either the county or the contractors."
Miami Herald 11/03/03
Will Fort Worth Repeal Public Art Allotment?
Voters in Fort Worth, Texas may get a chance to vote of whether they want to continue setting aside 2 percent of bond-issue construction projects for public art. The city's mayor proposed slashing the public art share to one percent earlier this year, but dropped the plan when many protested.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram 11/06/03
Pew To Change Status - Will Become A Public Charity
The Pew Charitable Trusts is changing its legal status and will become a public charity. "Pew would no longer be subject to a number of other legal and tax restrictions on private foundations, including self-dealing laws, restrictions on outside business holdings, and restrictions on making grants to government officials and individuals, to name a few. To maintain its status as a charity, Pew will have to raise outside money beyond the endowments of its trusts, which it has shown it can do for a number of Philadelphia civic projects, including the Barnes Foundation and the Independence Visitor Center."
Philadelphia Inquirer 11/06/03
Money For The Arts? Get In Line.
The city of Cleveland is trying to get voters to support the idea of putting public money into the arts. But even in a city which desperately needs to reinvigorate its cultural scene, that sort of ballot measure is a tough sell, and the levy which arts supporters are seeking to bring before the public seems to be stuck in a complex set of negotiations over timing and budget priorities. Specific levies for individual projects are common in Ohio, and the arts levy may have to wait its turn behind levy requests for schools, parks, and a convention center.
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
Nat'l Medals of Arts Handed Out
The National Medals of Arts, the U.S. government's highest honor for artists, is leaning heavily towards the music industry this year, with conductor Leonard Slatkin, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, country star George Strait, and bluesman Buddy Guy being selected to receive the award. Among other NMA recipients are director Ron Howard, and PBS's live music showcase, Austin City Limits.
ABT's Sponsor-Loss-Disaster Or No Big Deal?
ABT watchers were buzzing Wednesday over long-time angel sponsor Movado pulling out of its support of the company. Major corporate sponsorships aren't exactly easy to come by these days. "Movado has been a principal sponsor of Ballet Theater, one of New York's premier troupes, for almost 20 years, giving what the watch company estimated was more than $400,000 annually. But Ballet Theater trustees said that Movado's withdrawal would be only a dent in the company's $35 million annual budget and that a substitute would not be difficult to find."
The New York Times
California - Art On 3 Cents A Year
State support for the arts in California is low, after recent budget cuts. How low? "To better understand how low public support has sunk, consider that Canadians spend an annual $145 per capita to fund the arts; Germans, $85; New Yorkers, $2.75; Mississippians, $1.31; Californians, 3 cents. 'That's gum balls,' says Barry Hessenius, director of the council. Three gum balls a year."
Sacramento Bee 11/17/03
Want State Arts Support? Run Artists
In a speech, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm apologizes for declining state support for the arts. "About this disconnect between art and politics: It is true that politics ends up flattening down the artistic edge. For in this line of work, you are either a zero or a sum. You are a Democrat or a Republican. You are pro-this or anti-that. There is little room to be nuanced, textured, deep or subtle. So, I think that we just ought to elect more artists. Not just wrestlers and movie stars, either, but musicians and painters, dancers, filmmakers and poets. Just don't run for governor for another 7 years."
Detroit Free Press 11/17/03
Poetry And The $100 Million Gift - A Year Later
Ruth Lily's $100 million bequest to Poetry Magazine last year has resulted in nicer offices and financial security for the publication. But the magazine certainly hasn't gone on a spending spree. "In some ways, there is an oil-and-water mix to poetry and money. Poets just are sort of ill at ease around a lot of money. This thing has been a shoestring operation for years. I don't think anyone wants to get too fancy. You know, it tends to make me nervous to go out and buy a lamp or something."
The New York Times 11/17/03
How To Make An Arts City
Vancouver has become quite adept at creating win-win situations for developers and arts groups, with the city making a push to increase its cultural visibility, even as it fills a need for new housing in the urban core. "In exchange for increased density for their buildings the developers are paired with non-profits that need new public facilities. The developer gets more condos or more offices to sell; the non-profit groups, 13 to date, get free use of programming space built specifically to their needs."
The Globe & Mail (Canada)
No Hard Times At Spoleto
It's not a good time for the arts in America, with budget cuts, looming deficits, and dwindling audiences seemingly national problems. But somehow, the Spoleto USA festival, based in South Carolina, keeps chugging healthily along, balancing its books and keeping its considerable audience happy with innovative presentations and high-quality music. "Last year's festival set a box-office record, with ticket sales totaling slightly more than $2.5 million. The festival recently concluded a $26 million fund-raising drive that, among other things, increased its endowment fund from $600,000 to $7 million." Among the highlights being planned for next year's Spoleto: a full performance of an 18-hour opera from 16th-century China.
Charlotte Observer 11/23/03
Looking For A New Paradigm
It's not an exaggeration to say that the arts in South Florida are on life support, and in serious danger of slipping into oblivion. With the demise of the Florida Philharmonic still sending shockwaves through the arts community, and legislative funding for all arts having been slashed by nearly 80% in one year, local leaders have convened a summit with the intent of finding new, workable business models for the arts. Lobbyists are encouraging supporters to look beyond the traditional model of state funding, which they say may never return to previous levels.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Looking For A Vision
A longtime Seattle newspaper editor is issuing a call for a newly invigorated vision for the city's arts scene. Noting that the city's Bookfest is held at a substandard facility, and that it was forced to charge an attendance fee for the first time this year to make up a deficit, Lou Guzzo thinks that the city needs to make the arts a far greater priority, even if it means using tax dollars to match private contributions. "Taxpaying citizens have an equal share in all the cultural organizations that provide not only a wealth of great programming for the public but also the teachers of their children in every phase of music, drama, ballet, and all the rest of the arts."
Seattle Times 12/03/03
View From The Top - Museum Directors Speak Out
A roundtable of blue chip museum directors talks about the challenges faced by museums. “The more art museums look like multinational corporations and the more their directors sound like corporate CEOs, the more they risk being cast by the public in the same light.”
The Year That Was (And Not Any Better)
Why do annual reports always make things look as rosy a possible, asks Theatre Communications Group director Ben Cameron. So his assessment of the current year in theatre business: "Conceived in affluent times, the 2002 fiscal year was one redefined by the events of 9/11, by unanticipated new patterns of audience behavior and fears of terrorism, by a crumbling national economy and rapidly escalating unemployment. As our recently released TheatreFacts 2002 demonstrates, it was a year in which local and city funding fell by 44 percent, in which the number of corporate donors fell, in which foundation funding slipped and in which field expenses grew more quickly than earned revenues. It was a year in which 54 percent of theatres finished the year with a deficit—a shocking slide from the 71 percent that had achieved a surplus just two years earlier—and had not individual contributors rallied in unprecedented numbers, covering more than 20 percent of expenses, as opposed to the 9.6 percent covered five years ago—the results would have been far worse."
Theatre Communications Group 12/03
Funding The Arctic Arts
A new initiative from the Rasmuson Foundation will create a 10-year, $20 million arts funding program in Alaska, with money from the foundation going to develop a cultural scene as unique as America's northernmost state. "Over the years, arts groups in Alaska have struggled for money. At the apex, 1982, the Alaska State Council on the Arts received nearly $5 million in state money, handing out more than $4 million in grants... for 2004, it is about $460,000." Alaskan arts groups have relied mostly on private donations to survive, but it can be hard to solicit donations to cover day-to-day operations. That's where the Rasmuson program comes in.
Anchorage Daily News
The Power Of Small-Time Orchestras
Major symphony orchestras are cultural treasures, and a point of pride for the cities which have them. But for every big-budget, 95-member symphony orchestra, there are countless smaller, semi-professional orchestras performing across America, feeding the desire of ordinary concertgoers for an affordable night out listening to great music in a more casual setting than the big boys offer. "These orchestras truly live by their own rules, mixing classical and pops on the same program. They often flourish during tough economic times that bring larger orchestras down... At the very least, these orchestras offer the tactile experience of being in the same room with a masterpiece."
Philadelphia Inquirer 12/14/03
Bad Time For Nonprofits in Minnesota, Unless You're An HMO
A recent summit meeting of Minnesota nonprofit companies was a fairly dismal affair, with executives from the state's biggest arts groups bemoaning the downturn in public and private financing. But at least one corner of the nonprofit sector is raking in the dough - in Minnesota, HMOs and other health care companies are non-profits, too. It makes for an interesting contrast, since the skyrocketing cost of health care is one of the factors causing so much suffering at the state's larger arts groups.
Minneapolis Star Tribune 12/14/03
Paper To Arts Groups: Show Us Why We Should Care
In Detroit, voters and politicians have demonstrated time and time again that they are not interested in a significant public funding program for the arts, and the editorial board at one of the city's newspapers thinks it knows why. "Cultural leaders should have learned from their election defeats that they've not done an adequate job persuading the people that what they offer both enriches individual souls and feeds this community's comeback."
Detroit Free Press 12/18/03
What Kind Of Silly Law Is That, Anyway?
City leaders in Cleveland are moving ahead with plans to place a levy on the March ballot with the intention of dedicating a new source of funding to the arts. But there's a catch: state law prohibits cities of under 500,000 from creating a specific arts district, so Cleveland (population 478,403) must instead use a standard "economic development" levy, which may be used to fund artistic initiatives. The concern with such a non-specific funding plan, of course, is that the ongoing status of the new arts funding would be reliant on the "arts friendliness" of the county commissioners in office at any given time.
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 12/18/03
Fort Worth Wonders - Can We Afford Bass Hall?
Bass Hall is the cultural capital of downtown Fort Worth. "In its five-year history, the hall has easily fulfilled its promise, becoming a grand symbol of Fort Worth's commitment to the performing arts and a striking monument to the private and proud family for which it is named. But over the past year, as the recessionary economy ravaged arts institutions everywhere, the hall's seemingly impregnable facade has begun to show cracks." With revenue and attendance down, "the current economic hardships hint at a deeper problem - one that has persisted since the early days of the hall and now prompts the fundamental question: Can Fort Worth still afford Bass Hall?"
The Star-Telegram (Fort Worth) 12/21/03