2012 national arts news
Kansas Governor Rethinking Arts Funding
"Gov. Sam Brownback is working on ways to provide funding for the arts after his controversial veto last year that made Kansas the first state in the nation to stop funding the arts.
Rep. TerriLois Gregory (R-Baldwin City) said arts funding strategies are being developed by the governor’s staff.
She said the funds may be channelled through the Kansas Department of Commerce in the form of grants, and that the still-existing, but unfunded Arts Commission could be merged with the Kansas Film Commission.
'The grants would be more focused on job creation,' Gregory said.
The 2012 legislative session started January 9 and Brownback will outline his priorities in the State of the State address on January 11.
At a Lawrence Chamber of Commerce breakfast with legislators, Gregory said some of the avenues being explored is providing arts funding through the sales of a special arts supporter license plate or donations through a tax checkoff.
In a recent interview with the Lawrence Journal-World, Brownback said he would re-visit the issue but didn’t elaborate.
Brownback vetoed state funding of the Kansas Arts Commission, saying that the arts was not a core function of state government and that he expected private donors to step up. After his veto of the $689,000 state appropriation, the state lost $1.2 million in federal funding."
Lawrence Journal-World 01/09/2012
NBC Unveils School Theater Program
"NBC is funding an initiative to create musical theater programs in U.S. schools in need of arts education.
The network said the effort to launch stand-alone musical theater programs will begin this month with a pilot group of 20 schools nationwide. NBC is joined on the Make a Musical project by iTheatrics, which adapts musicals for student productions and provides tools for teacher training.
The nonprofit iTheatrics’ Junior Theater Project aims to begin another 180 programs this fall, building toward a 2014 goal of 1,000 school programs reaching one million students, NBC said. Schools may apply for the fall program at makeamusical.org...
The pilot programs are in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Houston, Nashville, and Seattle, with specific schools to be announced January 15."
Associated Press 01/06/2012
$200K Budget Proposed for Kansas Arts
"Gov. Sam Brownback plans to resume state funding of arts programs and merge the arts and film commissions to focus on job creation under the new state budget outlined January 12.
The proposal would establish a Creative Industries Commission within the state Department of Commerce and provide $200,000 for both arts and film programs. That's the same subsidy Brownback offered for the Arts Commission last year, when he proposed eliminating the body and turning the administration of arts grants over to a private, nonprofit foundation.
Legislators rejected last year's plan; Brownback responded by vetoing the commission's entire $689,000 budget, making Kansas the first state to eliminate funding for arts. That decision prompted the National Endowment for the Arts and a regional arts alliance to cut funds, costing the state an additional $1.3 million.
Budget Director Steve Anderson presented the governor's latest proposal to the House Appropriations Committee and said the administration had listened to the complaints about the governor's veto. Brownback's actions brought Kansas national attention.
'We funded the arts,' Anderson said. 'That was a bit of a hot point last year.'
Under the proposed budget, the Creative Industries Commission would 'focus economic and workforce development efforts to expand creative industries across the state.'"
Associated Press 01/12/2012
Advocacy, Civic Engagement Create Big ROI
"Every dollar that foundations and other donors invested in advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement over a five-year period provided a return of $115 in community benefit, a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy finds.
The report, Leveraging Limited Dollars: How Grantmakers Achieve Tangible Benefits by Funding Policy and Community Engagement, examined a hundred and ten organizations in thirteen states and found that the groups leveraged $231 million in funding from grantmakers into $26.6 billion in benefits to low-wage workers, communities of color, rural residents, and other marginalized groups. To assist other funders interested in supporting advocacy to achieve maximum impact, the report provides suggestions on how to get started and explains why the strategies used by organizations in the survey were successful.
The findings are based on seven reports conducted as part of NCRP's Grantmaking for Community Impact Project, which aims to demonstrate the positive consequences of foundation-funded advocacy. As part of the project, NCRP compiled a directory of monetized and non-monetized impact achieved by the surveyed organizations over the five-year reporting period."
Philanthropy News Digest 01/20/2012
OK Senator Blocks 9/11 Memorial Funding
"Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is blocking legislation that would provide $20 million a year in federal funding for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero, demanding that co-sponsors of the bill come up with cuts to pay for the spending, his office confirmed to POLITICO...
The move has angered co-sponsors, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, both New York Democrats.
'This is sacred ground not just to New Yorkers, but to all Americans, and it deserves the same treatment as other memorials,' said Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat whose office was notified by POLITICO about Coburn’s hold. 'Senator Coburn heard our arguments on the Zadroga bill and eventually supported it. We hope he will do the same this time.'
Coburn, a physician often referred to as the Senate’s Dr. No, initially blocked that earlier bill, which provided health care and other aid to first responders sickened by dust from the World Trade Center attacks, over objections it was being rushed through the Senate. But he eventually relented and the bill passed unanimously during the 2010 lame duck session...
The bill authorizes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to provide technical assistance to help operate the memorial and museum and sets aside $20 million a year starting in 2013 for those activities. The legislation also requires private matching funds.
The memorial was unveiled last year on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which toppled the Twin Towers, but the museum isn’t slated to open until Sept. 11 of this year.
The memorial and museum came under fire this week after news outlets reported executives there paid themselves $6.5 million in salaries, including a $300,000 golden parachute when one of them left."
Tuba Thefts Plague California Schools
"When thieves broke into the high school music room [in Bell, CA], they cut through the bolts on all the storage lockers and ripped two doors off their frames. But they didn’t touch the computer or the projector or even the trumpets.
'It was strictly a tuba raid,' said Rolph Janssen, an assistant principal.
Bell High School is only the most recent victim in a string of tuba thefts from music departments. In the last few months, dozens of brass sousaphones — tubas often used in marching bands — were taken from schools in Southern California.
Though the police have not made any arrests, music teachers say the thefts are motivated by the growing popularity of banda, a traditional Mexican music form in which tubas play a dominant role.
Teachers point to the targeted pattern of the burglaries: the expensive brass tubas and sousaphones, which cost $2,000 to $7,000, are pilfered, while electronics, cheaper fiberglass tubas and other brass instruments are usually left behind.
'Frankly, I don’t think somebody would go through all that trouble just to take some brass to go to the salvage lot,' said Ligia Chaves-Rasas, the music teacher at Bell High School. 'Banda is very popular in this area of Southern California, and people will pay top dollar for a banda with a sousaphone player. Now, I have kids coming up to me saying they want to learn the tuba so they can be in a banda.'
Tubas are not exactly sexy instruments — they are big and awkward and often obscure the player’s face. But over the last decade, as banda music has become increasingly popular in Southern California, so has the tuba.
Raul Campos, a D.J. at the local public radio station KCRW, said that when he was growing up in Southern California, young Latinos did not want live 12-person bandas at their parties.
'But banda has really grown,' Mr. Campos said. 'It’s like a new, cool trend with young people. It’s now cool to have a live band with a tuba, or to be a tuba player.'
As a result, sousaphones have made work in bandas more lucrative. A banda can make at least $3,000 for a night’s work at a wedding or quinceañera, said J. D. Salas, who teaches tuba at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.
And the tuba player, who is often the leader of the group, usually gets the largest share.
At first, the thefts were confined to an area of southern Los Angeles County where there is a large Latino population. In recent months, however, farther flung schools have also been hit: four brass sousaphones were stolen in January from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, an affluent Los Angeles suburb; and Sycamore Junior High in Anaheim lost 20 instruments, including all its tubas, in a theft at the end of December that will cost the school in excess of $20,000.
The Los Angeles school police did not respond to requests for comment, but none of the instruments have been recovered."
The New York Times 02/09/2012
Boston Schools Get $4M for Arts Education
"The Boston public schools have received a $4 million grant to maintain and expand arts education for students across the city.
Superintendent Carol R. Johnson said the grant, from the Wallace Foundation in New York, will greatly enhance an initiative launched three years ago by the school district, the city, and outside partners to provide more instruction in the visual and performing arts...
The grant is being awarded as the school district says it has made progress in bolstering instruction, curriculum, professional development, and family engagement in the arts.
A study in 2009 said that the availability of arts instruction varied greatly from school to school, with opportunities dwindling as students moved to higher grades. Since the district launched the initiative, the number of students receiving arts education has risen by 14,000.
About 90 percent of elementary and middle school students now receive weekly arts education, up from 67 percent three years ago. And the number of high school students exposed to arts education has doubled in the same period, the officials said."
The Boston Globe 02/08/2012
Artists Find Benefactors in Web Crowd
"In the last year alone, money troubles have pushed the New Mexico Symphony to close, New York City Opera to slash its budget by two-thirds and the State of Kansas to eliminate all public financing for the arts.
As formerly reliable employers and patrons struggle to pay their own bills, artists have been forced to intensify their hunt for new fund-raising strategies. Even fictional artists have been affected. On the new NBC series Smash, the Broadway producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) tries to sell her beloved Degas just to finance a workshop.
Which is why the prospect of financial crowd-sourcing on the internet has been enthusiastically embraced by some as an important new model for the future of arts financing.
The question is, how important?
Kickstarter, a Brooklyn company that serves as a conduit for artists, industrial designers and others to solicit donations, recently boasted that it expected to raise $150 million in contributions in 2012. By comparison, the National Endowment for the Arts, noted Yancey Strickler, one of Kickstarter’s founders, has a budget of $146 million.
Online financial crowd-sourcing of artists still represents only a smidgen of the more than $8 billion that private individuals donate to the arts each year. Nonetheless, the speedy proliferation of such Web sites has attracted notice.
'Everybody right now is looking for ways to exploit technology to maximize and customize the ways people engage with the arts,' said Sunil Iyengar, research director at the National Endowment for the Arts. Recently United States Artists in Los Angeles, a nonprofit that supports American artists, began USA Projects, and New York Foundation for the Arts started Artspire, two nonprofit variations of online crowd-funding devoted solely to artists or fledgling cultural groups."
The New York Times 03/16/2012
Carson Foundation Donates $1M to Endowment
"The John W. Carson Foundation has given $1 million to the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, which supports statewide arts and humanities funding.
The announcement was made [March 16] in the Capitol Rotunda in Lincoln and at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha.
Johnny Carson, a six-time Emmy winner who was born in Corning, IA, and grew up in Norfolk, NE, was the longtime television host of The Tonight Show. He died in January 2005.
The Nebraska Cultural Endowment is a private partner with the public Nebraska Arts Council and Nebraska Humanities Council, created to stabilize funding for the arts in the state.
Dollars contributed to the Cultural Endowment are matched by public funds and by local matches of goods and services.
In 2008, Omaha philanthropist Richard Holland aided in the passage of a bill that increased the fund to $10 million over a period of years, provided the increase was matched by private contributions."
Omaha World-Herald 03/17/2012
Nonprofits Expect More Employee Turnover
"Even as more nonprofits are adding staff, many organizations are anticipating an increase in the turnover rate of their employees, a new survey from Nonprofit HR Solutions finds.
Conducted in partnership with the Improve Group, the National Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey found that 43 percent of nonprofits reported that staff headcount increased in 2011, compared with 34 percent of nonprofits in 2010. The survey also found that 43 percent of nonprofit organizations plan to add new positions in 2012. And while most organizations do not expect their overall turnover rate to increase this year, they are anticipating an increase in retirements and voluntary resignations.
According to Nonprofit HR Solutions, the findings suggest that nonprofits need stronger retention programs. Yet, three-quarters of nonprofits do not have formal staff retention strategies in place. And while the majority of nonprofits rate workplace diversity as important, many face challenges in securing and retaining a diverse workforce.
'We have alerted the sector of these trends for the last few years,' said Lisa Brown Morton, president and CEO of Nonprofit HR Solutions. 'The economy and job market have turned a corner, but unfortunately, according to our survey results, nonprofits are not investing in retaining their key talent as they probably need to. We really need to get prepared for greater turnover when the sector's top talent starts to jump ship this year as opportunities in the private and nonprofit sectors begin to open up.'"
Philanthropy News Digest 03/25/2012
Playing an Instrument Helps Tune the Brain
"A new study from Northwestern University in Evanston says lifelong playing of musical instruments has a positive impact on the brain.
'Our neural timing slows as we age; we knew that,' said Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern and principal investigator of its Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory. 'Hearing what your spouse says when you're in a noisy restaurant, for example, is harder when you're older. But this study shows that musicians are faster at processing noise than non-musicians are. This shows us there is a biological impact of musical training.'
It makes sense, said Kraus.
'A musician has to be constantly picking out sounds from others,' she said. 'Just as we lift weights to build our biceps, playing music makes our nervous systems more efficient.'
The study included 87 participants—younger (18 to 32) and older (45 to 65), musicians and nonmusicians. The musicians were not all professional, but they played their instruments at least three times a week into adulthood...
In the study's chart that compares sound to neural responses among musicians, the two wavy lines are in sync. But the nonmusicians' chart looks like confetti (the neural responses) thrown at a wavy line (the sounds the participants heard).
The study is affecting education policymaking, said Kraus.
'We've been pleased to hear from educators who have used our website to argue for funding for continuation of musical education,' she said. 'We're giving them biological evidence that, yes, continued musical education matters.'"
South Florida Sun-Sentinel 03/28/2012
Universities Build Argument for More Arts
"Confronting the challenge of how to encourage and cultivate innovative thinking in higher education, administrators from some of the most prestigious U.S. research universities have published a report aiming to provoke a national discussion about the ways 'arts practice' can be a catalyst for creative thinking in all academic disciplines.
Art-Making and the Arts at Research Universities, a three-year plan, is the result of nearly a year of discussions and research with the goal of further integrating the arts into higher education curriculum and campus life.
'While creative processes across fields have a great deal in common, creative process in the arts tends to be more radically open-ended, more immediately immersive, and more hands-on and experiential,' said Theresa Reid, executive director of ArtsEngine, an University of Michigan consortium to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts...
According to the report's executive summary: 'Integrating art-making and the arts enables the university to fulfill its responsibility to society by producing new generations of leaders who are adept in the use of all of their creative cognitive faculties, and by producing an incubator for original creative work in the arts that is not constrained by market economies. Only the university can fulfill this vital social role.'"
Conference Promotes Creative Placemaking
"Urban planners, commercial real estate developers, elected and appointed officials, and academics sat down with artists and arts administrators in Newark, NJ, to learn how to use the arts to energize their communities.
Rutgers University officials gathered members from these diverse circles—leaders who rarely interact with each other—at Create a Place: Arts Build Communities.
The goal of the day-long conference at Rutgers-Newark wasn’t just to celebrate the power of art, but to learn how to get use art to build and energize communities.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker set the agenda with a moving speech to 150 people at the Paul Robeson Campus Center.
'I am a mayor, and I am a pragmatist. I know the arts are one of the biggest economic development drivers in a community. I see the arts drive development. I see the arts drive jobs,' Booker said. 'But that’s not why I am excited to be here today. Art isn’t about pragmatism. It is about the divine...'
The conference featured panel discussions on starting, funding and sustaining a 'creative placemaking' project and peer coaching sessions to help members of different communities communicate and collaborate more effectively.
The Star-Ledger 04/05/2012
Dallas Mayor Promotes Arts & Business
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has launched what he's calling the Business/Arts Initiative. The project's goal is to encourage people in the business community to support the arts.
'I have tapped several top business executives to join this initiative and substantially boost business support for the arts—in financial terms as well as participation,' says Mayor Rawlings.
Mayor Rawlings is working with Councilmember and Chair of the City's Arts, Culture and Libraries Committee Ann Margolin and Business Council for the Arts CEO Katherine Wagner. They have assembled an Arts Action Team, which is made up of around 15 business owners who are long time supporters of the arts. The plan is for the team members to reach out to their colleagues and encourage them to join them in supporting local arts organizations...
In order to make the process as streamlined as possible, arts organizations are being asked to submit 'business engagement' packages. These packages can include anything from group tickets to full sponsorships. Wagner says around 80 of the roughly 130 arts organizations in Dallas have already submitted package proposals at the $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 levels through the Business Council for the Arts' website...
Mayor Rawlings says that a stronger partnership between the business and the arts worlds will benefit the city as a whole.
'I strongly believe that the arts enhance a city's quality of life, economic growth and business development. Art inspires, brings a wide range of people together and bridges divides.'"
Ayanna Hudson to Lead NEA Arts Ed Dept
"In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded more than $13 million in funding through its arts education program. Beginning on July 2, that significant level of support will be guided by Ayanna Hudson, the agency's new director of arts education. Hudson joins the NEA from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission where she led the commission's lauded Arts for All regional collaborative designed to return arts to the core curriculum. Chairman Landesman made the announcement today at a national forum sponsored by the Arts Education Partnership.
'I am pleased to welcome Ayanna Hudson to the National Endowment for the Arts,' said Chairman Rocco Landesman. 'Ayanna has built and led an extraordinary program at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. That pioneering work will be a tremendous asset to the NEA as we seek to strengthen our investment in the creative lives of our nation's young people.'
The NEA's arts education program supports projects that provide children and youth with opportunities to gain knowledge and skills in the arts both in and outside the classroom. Funding also supports professional development for teachers, teaching artists, and other education providers. Hudson will be responsible for managing all stages of the grantmaking process including convening the panels that review applications, working with national service organizations on policy initiatives, and serving as the spokesperson for arts education at the federal level.
'I have a profound belief in the mission of the National Endowment for the Arts and I am deeply honored to serve the agency and the residents of the United States in this capacity,' said Hudson. 'It is with passion and enthusiasm that I join the team at the NEA and I look forward to spearheading strategic efforts to impact the lives of millions of youth through the arts.'
Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch adds:
“I’m very pleased by the selection of Ayanna Hudson to be the next Director of Arts Education at the National Endowment for the Arts. Ayanna is a proven arts education leader in the local arts agency field. She has measurably moved the needle when it comes to increasing access to quality arts education programs both in the schools and throughout the community.
She was very involved in our national YouthARTS research study with the U.S. Department of Justice in tracking the effects of arts education involvement among at-risk youth. She has also testified as an arts education expert on behalf of Americans for the Arts before the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Education. Her current work at LA County’s Arts for All initiative has helped make that program a national model, and I know she’ll bring the right expertise to the challenges facing arts education throughout the country.”
National Endowment for the Arts News Room 04/12/2012
Grants Brings Public Art to Small OK Town
"On April 16, 2012, a 1,500 pound, stainless steel sculpture by renown sculptor Archie Held was installed at the entrance of the community's historic depot. The official dedication of the sculpture will be September 28, 2012 during the community’s arts festival.
Chickasha, a rural Oklahoma town of 16,500, turned a $10,000 NEA Community Fast Track grant into a sculpture project worth $80,000 through various avenues of community and state support. Thanks to the vision and commitment of the Chickasha Area Arts Council, the Chickasha community and several partnerships, the two-year project is now complete.
'When I read of museums, galleries, colleges installing large-scale sculptures, it almost feels like having public art is out of reach for a small community,' Chickasha Public Art Project Director Julie Bohannon said, 'And, as an art advocate from a rural area, I struggled to see how public art can be brought into a community with reduced resources.'
Bohannon and other members of the Arts Council were involved in community planning activities and made the vital connections within the city government and city council. These connections led to partnerships that allowed the Arts Council to install two public art projects funded in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council and the City of Chickasha.
The art installations and community partnerships provided the confidence for the council to apply for NEA Community Fast Track grant. In 2010, the Chickasha Area Arts Council received the only NEA community grant given to Oklahoma in the form of a $10,000 award. It was immediately leveraged with state arts council funds, city funds, local, and regional foundation grants. The Chickasha community supplied in-kind donations for concrete, artist housing, and construction management services for the site preparation."
Art Center Gives Spark to Downtown
"A spotlight directed people to downtown Middletown (OH) a year ago when the Pendleton Art Center opened, and many say that energy has not left.
It’s too soon to measure the economic impact of the center, but it draws hundreds to downtown monthly, said Suzanne Sizer, the center’s spokeswoman.
'It shows that there was a need to jump start the arts downtown,' she said. 'The interest to be downtown is growing stronger and I think we helped generate that.'
The center, which rents space to artists to showcase their work, has drawn many outside the city to downtown, said Bill Triick, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe, and Trenton.
'This city didn’t have—until a couple of years ago—a recognizable future. Now there is a recognizable future,' Triick said. The Pendleton and downtown are 'not going to drive the whole city, but it’s going to drive this portion of the city. People now have confidence and they know it’s going to get better.'
The center—founded by Jim Verdin, president of Cincinnati-based Verdin Bells and Clocks—was the first significant development in years. The Pendleton chain, which includes Cincinnati, Kentucky, and Indiana, and media coverage created a newfound buzz for downtown.
While there’s some debate if the center, 1105 Central Ave., was the force that restarted the area’s economic development, most agree the center has been an asset.
'I think that the fact the Pendleton Art Centers have been successful,' Sizer said. 'So when we came in, there was plenty of excitement about it, and we filled up right away.'
The center will celebrate its first anniversary Friday during a First Friday event that was started by the Pendleton last year to drive people downtown."
Middletown Journal 04/28/2012
Governors Look to Arts for Economic Boost
"With concerns over job creation and business growth holding a prominent—and persistent—position on policy agendas today, governors are increasingly finding innovative ways to support economic growth, according to a new report from the National Governors Association (NGA).
New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture, and Design focuses on the role that arts, culture, and design can play in governors’ policies to create jobs and boost their economies in the short run and transition to an innovation-based economy in the long run.
In particular, arts, culture. and design can assist states with economic growth because they can serve the following roles:
Provide a fast-growth, dynamic industry cluster;
Help mature industries become more competitive;
Provide the critical ingredients for innovative places;
Catalyze community revitalization; and
Deliver a better-prepared workforce.
Globalization and the changing economy have affected individual states differently, but all are searching for ways to support high-growth industries, accelerate innovation, foster entrepreneurial activity, address unemployment, build human capital, and revive distressed areas.
Using the five roles as a framework, state leaders—governors, economic development officials, and state arts agencies—have a way to intentionally and strategically make arts, culture and design an important part of an economic growth agenda."
National Governors Association News Releases 04/30/2012
D.C. Arts Funding Increased to 2009 Levels
"In its fiscal 2013 budget introduced yesterday, the D.C. Council increased the amount allocated to the District's Commission on the Arts and Humanities by $6.8 million, pushing funding for that agency to its highest level since 2009.
The increase, which was first reported by Arts Desk, would increase DCCAH's total funding for the fiscal year beginning October 1 to $11.9 million. A White House-proposed transfer of $2.5 million federal funds currently designated for the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs grant program would increase that number to $14.4 million—a sum written into the D.C. budget—but recent history suggests it is unlikely that transfer would ever come to pass.
But the bump in local funding for the arts is as unexpected as it is large. Arts funding from District coffers has been whittled away at since 2009, sinking to less than $4 million for fiscal 2012. During recent budget deliberations, several arts organizations lobbied for more than the $5.1 in local funds proposed by Mayor Vince Gray."
Special Education Arts Program Succeeds
"A professional development program for New York City special education teachers is reminding them of one basic principle: students like to have fun. And when students are having fun, chances are they will be more engaged with the lesson at hand.
With that in mind, the city’s Education Department and the Manhattan New Music Project, a nonprofit arts organization, are using a $4.6 million federal grant to implement EASE (Everyday Arts for Special Education).
The United States Department of Education awarded the grant in 2010 as one of 49 Investing in Innovation Fund awards. EASE was one of three grants focused on the arts, and it was the only one geared toward special education students.
The program is training teachers in District 75, the city’s special education district, to incorporate movement, music, visual arts, and drama into regular academic work.
Jennifer Raine, director of special programs for the Manhattan New Music Project, said the multidisciplinary approach was important for all students, but especially for those who are not succeeding in traditional classrooms.
'Behaviors get in the way of education,' she said. 'I mean, it’s pretty hard to do a math lesson when someone’s throwing a chair.'
EASE runs on the premise, she said, that an arts-based approach to instruction will keep students engaged and will provide a hands-on, step-by-step process to guide students through a lesson."
Kresge Adopts Creative Placemaking
"The Kresge Foundation has announced a new strategy for its arts and culture program that unifies the elements of the three-part framework which has guided its arts and culture grantmaking since 2010.
Under the new strategy, Kresge will focus on the integration of arts and culture into comprehensive community revitalization efforts, an approach sometimes called 'creative placemaking.' According to the foundation, creative placemaking embodies the belief that the arts can enliven and rejuvenate public and private spaces, improve the climate for local businesses, bring people together, and contribute to making neighborhoods and communities more desirable places to live. The foundation will continue to be interested in the principles of art and community building and artist live/work spaces—areas funded under its current grantmaking strategy—as means to achieve those ends.
To be rolled out later this year, the new grantmaking strategy, like other Kresge programs, will seek to create opportunities that improve the lives of low-income and disadvantaged people nationwide. 'Projects designed to revitalize neighborhoods or improve the conditions of low-income people work best when arts and cultural activities are fully integrated and a part of a comprehensive community strategy,' said Alice Carle, director of the arts and culture program at Kresge. 'Through a collective approach, we will invest and share in our local partners' aspirations for resilient, thriving, and equitable places.'"
Philanthropy News Digest 05/25/2012
Proud District Faces Arts Education Cuts
"Upper Darby High School maintains a collection of impressively large trophies, showcasing decades of excellence. This spring, to no one’s surprise, several more were added, top prizes at a national competition.
All this is not a boasting of athletic achievement; Upper Darby High’s trophies are found in the chorus room and represent its outstanding success in music.
Down the hall is the 1,650-seat Performing Arts Center, home to Summer Stage, a theater partnership with the township whose founder, Harry Dietzler, won a prestigious Barrymore Award last fall. Among his proteges: Tina Fey, of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.
In many districts, music and art are regarded as largely the domain of middle- and upper-class children, often taught by private instructors. Not so in blue-collar Upper Darby, which prides itself on the scope of its offerings, its dedicated public school teachers, and an inclusive ethos. Even in recent years, with more low-income students, more ethnic diversity, and a shrinking local tax base, Upper Darby has offered arts and theater programs that surpass those in many more prosperous districts.
In a move akin to a district with championship athletic teams cutting sports, Upper Darby administrators this spring announced a plan to eliminate all elementary school music and art classes. That and other proposed cuts would save about $3 million, district officials say.
The district began its budget planning this year with a $13 million deficit, Superintendent Louis DeVlieger said in an interview, and 'I don’t know who is going to come riding over the hill to save us.'
Administrators maintain that the middle and high school arts programs remain untouched, so the tradition of excellence will continue.
But many view the elementary school teachers as an indispensable link in the arts’ chain of success. For example, music instructors teach third graders the recorder, helping them learn musical notation that becomes the foundation for later choral and instrumental participation."
The Philadelphia Inquirer 05/28/2012
Kansas Arts Funding Restored
On June 1, it became official—state arts funding has been restored as Gov. Sam Brownback signed the new state budget into law.
The new spending measure allocates $700,000 to the state’s new Creative Arts Industries Commission which includes the arts and film commissions under the Department of Commerce.
Just last year, Brownback vetoed state funding for the arts commission, causing Kansas to become the first state without an arts agency, and resulting in a loss of over $1 million in matching regional and federal arts grants.
We want to congratulate Kansas Citizens for the Arts, the legislature who increased the governor’s original proposed funding by $500,000, the supportive press like the Lawrence Journal-World, and all of the individual arts advocates who helped Gov. Brownback understand the repercussions of his actions last year.
Portland Arts = $253M for Local Economy
"What do a waiter, a violinist, a printer and a parking attendant have in common?
They all earn money from cultural events in Portland.
And those dollars add up. Arts groups in the three county area pumped $253 million into the local economy in 2010, a new study concludes. Those dollars supported 8,529 full-time jobs, making the arts the region's 14th largest employer, the study found.
Those numbers are down from 2007, when the last study found that Portland-area cultural groups generated $318 million and supported 10,321 jobs. But the previous study included money from the Oregon Zoo, which the current study does not.
Americans for the Arts, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. and New York, released their study Friday. Called Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, it measured the economic impact of cultural activities in 182 communities in all 50 states.
Cultural groups in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties spent $152 million on salaries, supplies, and services in 2010. Audiences generated an additional $101 million in related spending. They paid for parking, ate in restaurants, stayed in hotels, shopped in stores, or paid a babysitter. Attendees spent an average of $21.84 per person, per event, not including the cost of admission, the study found. The ripple effect produced $21 million in local and state government revenue.
In the Portland region, attendance at 193 organizations was 4.6 million in 2010."
The Oregonian 06/08/2012
L.A. Artists Bring Back Mural Culture
"Levi Ponce wants art to pop from the plain brick walls of businesses that line busy Van Nuys Boulevard.
On those walls, he envisions the faces of community heroes, bold images that define the present struggles of the neighborhood, and scenes of proud moments in the history of a people.
'I want to bring art to people who are underexposed to it,' said Ponce, 24, an animation artist and muralist. 'I want to make Pacoima a prominent voice in the arts.'
For the last several months, Ponce and a handful of other muralists and graffiti artists from the Northeast Valley have infused the community with public artwork.
On the side of a travel agency near 13403 Van Nuys Blvd., Ponce painted a hulking portrait of Danny Trejo, a Pacoima native who transformed himself from drug addict and thief to actor (star of Machete) and community activist. Just a few blocks north, Ponce used his brushes to paint Frida Kahlo's portrait alongside Huaraches y Quesadillas Chayito restaurant.
His recent works and those of others in Pacoima are part of a wider trend across Los Angeles. Just a few years ago, the legally sanctioned murals that were painted along freeway soundwalls, in housing developments, and on government buildings began to get tagged and were fading. Now, a new generation of street artists are no longer waiting for commissions or permission. And, some say, the work is more broadly respected and accepted.
'I think what's happening in the Northeast Valley is what's happening in the rest of L.A,' said Stefano Bloch, a lecturer within the urban planning studies at California State University, Northridge.
Bloch's doctoral dissertation examined the history of Los Angeles' muralists, from the Mexican movement on.
Once, graffiti gave the impression that a neighborhood was in decline, Bloch said. But over time, the impression of what constitutes a safe, desirable neighborhood has changed."
Los Angeles Daily News 06/10/2012
Durham is a Creative Economy Overachiever
"What makes Durham 'cool' and economically vibrant? Representatives from nonprofit arts organizations gathered at City Hall to hear the results of a study that gave an answer—spending by nonprofit arts organizations.
Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Durham and Orange counties contributed $210.9 million to the economies of both counties during fiscal year 2010, according to a newly released national study conducted by Americans for the Arts.
In Durham County, total expenditures by nonprofits and their audiences totaled $125.5 million that year, according to the study Arts and Economic Prosperity IV.
Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City, conducted the studies of 182 localities nationwide. The $125.5 million figure includes $74.1 million in nonprofit expenses, and $51.4 million in audience spending.
In Orange County, nonprofits spent $63.9 million, and audiences, $21.5 million, for a total of $85.4 million in economic impact.
The figures for audience expenditures do not include the cost of tickets to events, according to the report. The category does include meals and refreshments, souvenirs and gifts, ground transportation, overnight lodging, and other expenses.
The report confirms the importance of the arts as 'a growth industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism,' said Michael Schoenfeld, board chairman of the Durham Chamber of Commerce and vice president of public affairs and government relations for Duke University. Because the arts 'cannot be outsourced,' they will continue to be crucial to Durham’s economy, he said.
City Council member Mike Woodard urged members of the audience to support local nonprofit arts groups by purchasing art and tickets. 'I’m running out of room to hang your art,' Woodard said. 'My CD cases are overflowing with your music,' he said. The arts, Woodard continued, 'drive Durham’s economy and frankly [make] Durham just the coolest place to visit.'
Sherry DeVries, executive director of the Durham Arts Council, called Durham 'the overachiever'” Its $125.5 million in overall economic impact was above the national median of $49.08 million, and above $78.01 million for areas of similar population, she said."
The Herald-Sun 06/18/2012
Arts Mean Business in Sioux Falls
"More than $35 million in annual economic activity is generated by arts activities in the Sioux Falls area, according to a new study.
Events ranging from JazzFest and South Dakota Symphony Orchestra concerts to activities at the Washington Pavilion and arts activities at about 30 other nonprofit arts groups add to city and county coffers and supports dozens of businesses, according to the national Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study.
Representative of several of nonprofit arts groups gathered at the Pavilion during a press conference held to look at an overview of the study. A more detailed review will be done incoming weeks.
Arts groups previously used national formulas to come up with figures showing the economic impact for the community. The new study puts firm numbers on how events benefit the city and region.
Commissioned in 2010 by the Sioux Falls Arts Council, in conjunction with the South Dakota Arts Council and Americans for the Arts, the study in part shows that arts events support 1,324 full-time equivalent jobs, and also generates about $1.5 million in revenue to city and county governments.
'This lays to rest a common misconception that communities support the arts and culture at the expense of local economic development,' said Tim Hoheisel, incoming executive director of the Sioux Falls Arts Council.
'In fact, it’s an investment in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism,' Hoheisel said. 'This report shows that the arts mean business.'
The Argus Leader 06/19/2012
House Subcommitee Proposes NEA Budget Cut
"Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Interior Subcommittee passed its initial Fiscal Year 2013 funding legislation, proposing a $14 million cut for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
While the arts community recognizes the challenges our elected leaders face in prioritizing federal resources, this budget proposal is disappointing as funding for the NEA has already been cut by more than $20 million over the past two years. This additional reduction is counter intuitive to the national call to help increase jobs and fuel the country’s recovery.
Americans for the Arts recently released the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV study, which provides overwhelming proof that the nonprofit arts industry generates $135.2 billion in economic activity every year and supports 4.13 million full-time equivalent jobs annually.
Earlier this year, President Obama proposed an increase of $8 million over the current NEA appropriation to $154.3 million for FY 2013 in contrast with the House Subcommittee mark of $132 million.
As the House proposal advances, it is our hope that you will not only call on your U.S. Representative to reject the funding cuts, but also help us build support for the president’s higher level request by contacting your U.S. Senator."
For more information about this proposal, visit ARTSblog.
OR: City Council Puts Arts Tax Up for Vote
"Portland voters in November will be asked to support a new $12 million annual tax to pay for arts and music teachers and arts programs.
The Portland City Council took the unusual step of referring the education-related tax to voters. Promoted by Mayor Sam Adams, who has prioritized school funding and arts throughout his 3 1/2 year term, the tax would pay for an estimated 68 elementary school teachers spread among Portland Public Schools, David Douglas, Reynolds, Centennial, Parkrose, and the Riverdale school districts.
The tax proposal heads to the November 6 ballot, where a separate Portland Public Schools bond measure for building improvements also is expected.
If approved by voters, the tax would charge $35 to all city residents 18 years and older who earn income. Residents would be required to file tax returns with the city and families below the federal poverty line would be exempt.
In addition to funding teaching positions, money also would be distributed to the Regional Arts & Culture Council to pay for grants for arts organizations."
The Oregonian 06/27/2012
AEP IV Findings Make Impact in Wyoming
"There is a rational exuberance at local art galleries this summer thanks to an early spring and a recent study by Americans for the Arts that highlights the economic vitality of arts in Teton County (WY).
The national study, which surveyed 15 local nonprofit art and cultural institutions selected by the Center for the Arts in 2010, found that the local art scene is a $49.2 million dollar industry in Teton County, providing 1,011 full-time equivalent jobs and $4.7 million dollars in local and state government revenue. The return on the nonprofits’ $17.9 million investment was $31.3 million in additional spending for the local economy.
The survey will probably be used to increase Jackson’s already growing summer arts calendar. It found that visitors make up a third of participants at art and cultural events; they stay longer and spend more money...
Collaborations like these may attract a larger local audience, which can generate more publicity, especially when it comes to a younger generation of art enthusiasts who regularly tap into Facebook and Twitter.
Social media has played an important role in spreading the word about art openings and other gallery events like the Artwalk, a gallery hop every third Thursday in the summer.
The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, which recognizes the significance of art to the economy by sponsoring the Fall Arts Festival, has stepped up its digital presence with an online calendar and digital media."
JH Weekly 07/04/2012
SC Governor Vetoes State Arts Agency Funds
"About 40 state workers were told not to come to work on Monday after Gov. Nikki Haley eliminated all funding for the two state agencies that employ them.
Haley struck the combined $9.5 million budgets of the South Carolina Arts Commission and the South Carolina Sea Grants Consortium late Thursday night, two of her 81 vetoes of the state’s $23 billion state budget.
Her vetoes included $10 million to help give teachers a two percent pay raise, $10 million to help lure companies to South Carolina and dozens of local projects and earmarks Haley criticized as 'pork barrel spending.'
The Arts Commission hands out grants for arts projects statewide and oversees the state art collection. The Sea Grants Consortium helps the state’s research universities pursue federal funding to research issues relating to the South Carolina coastline. Both agencies have 20 employees.
Haley says both agencies are redundant. Research universities can apply for their own grants, she said, and the private sector can support arts projects.
'I would rather give this money to the taxpayers and let them decide which charities they are going to give money to than to allow the Legislature to decide,' she said. 'It’s the responsible thing to do.'
Haley has tried to eliminate these agencies before–but this year is different. Because the state Legislature took so long to pass a budget, it pushed Haley’s budget vetoes past July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year. That means Haley’s vetoes eliminated the agencies’ current operating budgets.
'This situation was just never envisioned in state law,' Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom said. 'The practice has not ever been to approve a new fiscal year budget during the new fiscal year.'
House Minority Leader Harry Ott, D-Calhoun, criticized the governor’s decisions.
'It is disappointing that she would put a target on the Arts Commission and the Sea Grants Consortium,' he said. 'It’s been proven over and over that having access to the arts helps attract industry to South Carolina...The sea grants is pure research. By saying she doesn’t want it, I guess she wants to not research and not be on the forefront of trying to improve things in South Carolina.'
Eckstrom, the comptroller general, said the 40 state employees affected by Haley’s budget vetoes cannot come to work even if they wanted to because of liability issues...
Ken May, the Arts Commission’s executive director, said he plans to start a campaign to save the commission, saying he plans to use his personal cellphone to make calls.
'The state can’t wrest it from my grip,' he said...
The state Senate will return at 1 p.m. July 18 to take up Haley’s budget vetoes."
The State 07/07/2012
Arts in Charlotte Region Generate $200M
"Mecklenburg County’s cultural groups and their audiences are the driving force behind more than $200 million a year of economic activity, a study by a national arts group says.
As the money spent by Mecklenburg’s arts organizations and their attendees moves through the community, it supports more than 6,200 jobs and contributes more than $18 million a year in tax revenue to local and state governments, Americans for the Arts says. Mecklenburg is one of 182 cities, counties and states the group examines in Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, a study it does every five years. It’s based on information from 2010 and 2011.
'A lot of us appreciate how arts organizations make the community a better place to live,' says Randy Cohen, a vice president [at Americans for the Arts]. 'But a lot of people don’t think of them as businesses.' In the face of that, he says, the new study is 'a mythbuster.'
'Arts organizations employ people in the community,' Cohen says. 'They purchase goods and services locally...They’re good business citizens.'
For a glimpse of what happens, look at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Last year, the company spent $360,000 with vendors in Mecklenburg, said Linda Reynolds, managing director for development, marketing and sales. The largest single category consisted of lumber, paint, fabric and materials for sets and costumes. The total: $97,000 into Mecklenburg cash registers.
'It’s important for people to understand,' Reynolds said. 'We’re shopping at the same places they are in some cases.'"
The Charlotte Observer 07/09/2012
OH: Dayton Arts Groups Merge
"It’s a new day for the arts in Dayton. The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Ballet and Dayton Opera are officially united.
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, a new nonprofit performing arts organization, started operation July 1. In addition to establishing a more solid professional administration for groups that have been forced to cut staff in recent years, the hope is the new alliance will usher in an exciting period of collaborative and innovative arts programming.
This season, for the first time in decades, audiences can look forward to The Nutcracker Ballet with live music provided by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Patrons who purchase a season subscription to the Ballet or Opera will be offered a free voucher to the Philharmonic and one to the other art form. If you purchase a Philharmonic Classic Nine series or a Family Four-Pack, you can now use your 'wild card' for opera or ballet.
According to Alliance board chair Jeremy Trahan, the new organization is one-of-a-kind.
'We’re positively the first in the nation to do this,' said Trahan, who formerly chaired the Ballet board. 'Word has been getting out and we’ve seen news articles from other cities facing financial crises that mention what’s happening in Dayton. They’re watching what Dayton is doing.'
Over the past two years, the three arts organizations with rich individual histories have struggled to find ways to create a solid future together when faced with dwindling financial and administrative resources. Ultimately that required the dissolution of three community arts boards, the creation of a new 39-member board of directors, and the juggling of jobs and assignments."
Dayton Daily News 07/08/2012
SC Legislature Overrides Arts Vetoes
"Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina has marched through the new state budget, cutting spending on teachers’ salaries, the arts, rape crisis centers, and even a program to control head lice.
Calling some items in the budget outright pork and questioning others based on financing mechanisms and philosophy, Governor Haley, a Republican, vetoed 81 items in June.
Her conservative approach to government spending pleased residents who ascribe to the Tea Party’s small-government philosophy. Others were less happy.
She cut $1.9 million used to pay for the state Arts Commission, saying that it had high administrative costs and that 'we would be better off returning these funds to the public to let them decide for themselves what artistic endeavors deserve financial support.' Her move forced the office to close on July 1 and led to protests at the State House this week...
On [July 18], the governor’s muscle flexing hit a wall in the Senate, which overrode many of her vetoes on some key issues, the arts and the rape crisis centers among them. A day earlier, representatives in the House did the same.
In total, the governor’s cuts would have amounted to only $68 million of the $6.7 billion in state money South Carolina plans to spend in this budget cycle.
But using a series of vetoes on projects—some of which were relatively small—as a way to move her agenda may have hurt the governor, said Mark E. Tompkins, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina...
There were plenty of small projects that the governor vetoed and the legislature agreed with, including parks, bus stops and museum expansions.
And there were some vetoes the House and the Senate, which are both led by Republicans, disagreed on.
But on issues that captured the ire of many constituents, like teacher pay, the Arts Commission and the rape crisis centers, the lawmakers pushed back.
The Arts Commission will reopen its doors. Twenty employees of the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, which conducts coastal research with state universities, will be back at work this week. Teachers will have $10 million more in raises next year. And money for the rape crisis centers was restored."
For more on this story, visit ARTSblog.
The New York Times 07/18/2012
San Diego City Council Boosts Arts Council
"Those arts impact reports are paying off.
In the wake of a recent study by the Americans for the Arts showing the nonprofit arts and culture industry in the City of San Diego generated $579 million in annual economic activity and supported 17,817 jobs, the San Diego City Council this week approved mayor Jerry Sanders’ recommendation to increase the city’s allocation to the arts by five percent.
That represents a roughly half-million dollar addition to the budget of the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, from $7,297,983 (last year) to $7,742,108.
'We know that nonprofit arts and culture organizations have a significant impact on our communities, businesses, families, visitors and our economic future,' said Sanders in a prepared statement. 'Our city is well served by our nonprofit art and cultural organizations. They enhance our quality of life, attract visitors, create jobs and attract skilled workers, enhance our communities and help educate our children.'
The Commission for Arts and Culture, through its Organizational Support Program, allocated $5.8 million dollars to the 68 local organizations last year. The commission also supported 35 additional groups and events through its Creative Communities San Diego program. The commission and its programs are funded by the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).
'This couldn’t come at a better time when more and more evidence points to the value of arts to a city and its economic and social well-being,' said Victoria L. Hamilton, the commission’s executive director, in a statement."
The San Diego Union-Tribune 07/20/2012
AL: Arts Pump $235M into Jefferson County
"J¯efferson County arts and culture organizations and their audiences pumped $235 million into the county’s economy in 2010, according to a report by Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, a project of the arts advocacy group Americans for the Arts.
The study evaluated 182 communities and regions around the nation to determine the economic impact of arts and culture, taking into account the number of full-time jobs, household income, attendance by residents and non-residents, and average spending at events. Organizations are defined as employers, producers, consumers, and key promoters...
In Jefferson County, 99 of the 124 eligible nonprofit arts and culture organizations identified by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham participated in the study. The 80 percent participation rate was far ahead of the national average of 43.2 percent.
'The preliminary data collected from the Arts and Economic Prosperity study for Jefferson County is very good and we’re quite pleased,' said Buddy Palmer, CAGB president and CEO. 'We’re currently examining the numbers more closely and in the context of the economic environment in which the information was collected, and we’ll come back to the community soon with a complete analysis.'
Audience members in the county spent an average of $29.66 per person (not including admission costs), also ahead of the national average, $24.60. The Jefferson County numbers reflect $19.62 spent by residents and $50.91 by non-residents. The $235 million figure includes $88.5 million in expenditures by organizations and $146.4 million by audiences. More than 40 expenditure categories, including labor, local and non-local artists, operations, and facilities, were covered.
The project also reported attendance of more than 4.9 million at arts and culture events for the 99 participating organizations, and full-time equivalent jobs of 6,805.
Americans for the Arts’ previous study, done for fiscal year 2005, reported that $125 million went into the Jefferson County economy. It included figures provided by 48 arts and culture nonprofits."
The Birmingham News 07/26/2012
NC: Arts Integration Added to Teacher Prep
"Efforts to promote integration of the arts across the curriculum got a boost in North Carolina last month, when Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue signed legislation stipulating that those studying to become elementary teachers get some grounding in the concept.
The measure, contained in a broader education bill, says elementary education programs 'shall ensure' that teacher candidates 're prepared to integrate arts education across the curriculum...'
Karen Wells, the executive director of Arts North Carolina, acknowledged that it's not exactly clear yet what changes the state's measure may prompt, but she sees it as an important step.
'What it means is a hard question to answer,' she told [the author] recently. 'Knowing how to integrate the arts has always been a part of teacher standards, but it's never been required, and to me that is the big difference here.'
Wells said she also sees this as a move towards advancing further measures to enhance the arts in North Carolina schools.
'To me, we got the window open,' she said.
The legislature's action comes on the heels of an April report from the Arts Education Commission, a statewide panel appointed last year by the General Assembly.
The commission came up with several proposals for state legislation, including a call to require that all high school students earn at least one arts education credit to graduate."
Education Week Curriculum Matters blog 07/27/2012
Voters Approve Millage for Art Museum
"A crucial millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) passed easily in Wayne and Oakland counties—but was approved by the slimmest of margins in Macomb County as the final votes were tallied.
It wasn’t surprising that it came down to the wire in Macomb, where DIA supporters spent much of Tuesday rallying for votes. With 100 percent of precincts counted, the millage passed by just 1,340 votes, with a total of 125,200 votes cast. The margin was 50.5 percent in favor of the tax, and 49.5 percent against.
The measure was enjoying a much wider margin in both Wayne and Oakland counties. In Oakland, 64 percent were in favor and 36 percent opposed, with 62 percent of the vote counted. In Wayne, 67 percent were in favor and 33 percent opposed, with 92 percent of the vote counted.
The property tax millage promises as much as $23 million for the DIA for 10 years. Wayne and Oakland will funnel $18 million in annual funding for the museum’s operations, while another $5 million in annual funding was at stake in Macomb...
The steady stream of tax dollars amounts to a life preserver for a museum that has been living hand-to-mouth for more than two decades after losing $16 million in state funding dating back to 1990. The impact of the recession raised the stakes to fever pitch, and in 2009 the DIA eliminated 60 employees and cut its annual budget by 20 percent to $25 million.
The 0.2-mill property tax will cost the equivalent of $20 annually on a house with a market value of $200,000 and a taxable value of $100,000...
DIA leaders argued the tax was needed to stabilize the museum’s finances and warned failure at the polls would lead to dramatic cuts in exhibitions, education programs, hours and might force the DIA to close. Critics of the museum complained the threat of closure was a scare tactic.
The museum promised free admission for residents of any county that approved the millage. That perk begins Wednesday."
Detroit Free Press 08/08/2012
Fort Worth Arts Facing Funding Cuts
"Fort Worth, which has long felt a connection to the arts, is now considering severe cuts that would affect some of its most sacred institutions—and arts groups are worried.
'We market ourselves as the city of cowboys and culture, but we forgot to fund the culture part,' said Jody Ulich, president of the Arts Council of Fort Worth.
Her nonprofit group disperses taxpayer money to 43 arts organizations around the city, from choirs to theaters to the city’s famous museums.
Now, the Arts Council is facing a 25 percent budget cut from the City of Fort Worth, the latest in a series of cuts over the past four years.
'We’re really approaching the bone,' Ulich said. 'It’s almost too much to recover from...I know that programs will be thinned down.'
Already, groups like the Texas Ballet Theater have suffered severe cutbacks. Ulich worries others might have to slash performances or close altogether.
She hopes to convince city leaders to fund arts groups with a share of tax money collected by hotels. The move, she says, would free up more money from the general fund for city services, but it would potentially shift dollars away from the Convention and Visitors Bureau...
Fort Worth spends $716,000 every year on arts programs. City leaders want to cut that figure by $266,000.
Critics complain the city already is among the thriftiest of Texas cities when it comes to the arts, devoting less than a dollar per citizen to the arts.
Other cities like San Antonio and Austin spend close to $6 per capita. Dallas devotes $3 on arts for every person in the city.
Even smaller suburbs like Plano, Richardson, and Irving spend twice as much per capita on arts than does Fort Worth...
The City Council is expected to vote on the budget on September 18."
AZ: Arts in Flagstaff Make $73M Impact
"The nonprofit arts, culture, and sciences industry generates $73 million in annual economic activity in the City of Flagstaff, supporting 2,497 full-time equivalent jobs, and generating $7.6 million in local and state government revenues, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV national economic impact study.
Flagstaff Cultural Partners (FCP) recently unveiled the Flagstaff portion of the study in local presentations to the Boards of Directors of FCP and the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce. The $73 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences had far-reaching effects.
The 37 participating organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within the community. Those dollars, in turn, generated $56 million in household income for local residents. The City of Flagstaff invests approximately $360,000 annually into nonprofit arts and science agencies; this report shows that its return on this investment equals $3.7 million annually in city and county tax revenue.
Audiences who attend arts and science events pump over $35 million into the local economy, with tourist audiences (attendees who live outside of Coconino County) accounting for nearly 65 percent of that total ($22.8 million). Data was tallied from 1,332 audience-intercept surveys collected at nonprofit arts, culture, and science events throughout 2011."
Flagstaff Business News 08/22/2012
Latino Group Changes Perceptions Via Art
"A small organization in Southern California's Inland Empire region is seeking through art to change the negative image of Latinos spread by the media.
The Inland Empire Latino Arts Association serves as a positive alternative for young Hispanics in a region with scarce cultural opportunities at the same time that it tries to show the other side of a community associated with negative stereotypes.
'We would like to bring a positive image to a community that only hears negative news and show that we're much more than that. The negative comes from barely two percent of the population while there exists a lot of talent in this zone and we'd like for the public to take note of that,' Rudy Ramirez, one of the managers of the program, said.
Founded in 1985 thanks to Tom and Lilly Rivera, the organization currently has a score of members who are seeking mutual support for their projects and exhibitions and who are actively participating in the region's cultural offerings.
Despite having been created by Latinos, the organization's founders say that they do not have any racial or ethnic agenda in mind and welcome all artists who want to participate.
'The art of Latinos has changed a lot. Some time back, Chicano art was (full of) images of bandits and revolutionaries, but now one cannot say that there is a Latino art, although he is a Latino artist and (his presence here) is the important thing,' said Ernesto Garcia, one of the main benefactors of the association, regarding the participation of Ramirez and other Hispanics in a recent group exhibition in San Bernadino.
Both Ramirez and Garcia agree that the important thing is for there to be spaces where it is possible to showcase the talent that normally does not have the opportunity to stand out in small communities like those of the Inland Empire.
Members of the association participate actively as curators of exhibitions that are held at the facilities of the National Orange Show, one of the few spaces dedicated to exhibiting works of art in San Bernardino, and in other public places like libraries...
Ramirez said that art is a far-reaching tool that helps young Hispanics have a better future and learn the value of education.
'I'd like to see more young Hispanics continuing with their studies. Many of them drop out of high school and I'd like it if they knew that there are options like this where you can do what you like and receive compensation for it,' the artist said.
Fox News Latino 08/28/2012
Atlanta Launches Power2Give Crowdfunding
"[Atlanta's] Office of Cultural Affairs and Mayor Kasim Reed launched the new arts granting program power2give [on August 29]. Like Kickstarter, power2give is an online crowd-sourced funding tool that allows donors to contribute in comfortable increments to projects that resonate with them. Where Kickstarter takes a five percent cut from the money raised, and Amazon a three to five percent processing fee, power2give's 6.75 percent operating costs are built in to the goal so that projects are fully funded through the money raised.
power2give is open only to OCA's contracts for arts services recipients who can post $5,000 projects online once they're reviewed by a panel and the City of Atlanta will match dollar for dollar up to $2,500. Participating organizations currently include MOCA GA, the Atlanta Ballet, Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, and C4 Atlanta, among others. The city was able to offer the matching grants thanks to a $250,000 budget bump for 2013, of which $100,000 is going toward the power2give campaign.
The Atlanta launch of power2give comes on the program's one-year anniversary and is a result of a partnership with the Arts and Sciences Council of Charlotte. power2give is currently in eight cities and has raised $1.2 million to date.
'The arts are a vital component to any great city; art defines greatness in my judgement,' said Mayor Kasim Reed to a small gathering of arts organizations at City Hall. 'We're completely committed to Atlanta being a great arts city,' he continued before referencing his 2012 budget proposal that included slashing arts funding in half from an already measly $470,000. 'With your support I was smart enough to change that decision.'
'[The arts] are a space we have to continue to grow in to be a special city. We need to invest at least $10 million annually to be a serious arts city. We're far away from it now but we have to figure it out. We have to do more to support our artists and this is a step in that direction.'"
Creative Loafing Atlanta Fresh Loaf blog 08/29/2012
Facing Cuts, Fort Worth Advocacy Continues
"Arts patrons are pressing the City Council and staff—scheduling meetings, sending letters and taking to social media—looking for traction in their campaign to avert a proposed 25 percent cut in funding to the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
Incoming: a letter from Tommy Tune, a Tony-winning choreographer from Texas.
'Mr. Broadway is writing a letter,' Gracey Tune, Tune's sister and founder of Arts Fifth Avenue, the near-south-side performing arts organization that gets 14 to 15 percent of its annual budget from the arts council.
Council members have two more budget hearings—the next is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall—on the proposed $1.4 billion budget, and arts supporters are organizing speakers.
'The council is listening,' said arts council President Jody Ulich, whose pitches to council members highlight arts organizations and patrons in their districts. 'They aren't making any decisions yet.'
The budget, which would keep the same property tax rate, would cut $266,564 from the arts council's general support, leaving $799,691. The arts council made grants to 43 organizations last year.
Council members Sal Espino and Joel Burns have spoken in favor of reviewing the cut. Mayor Betsy Price has told council members that they must recommend spending cuts for any new items they propose, but no specific proposals have emerged.
'I think everybody is very sympathetic and very supportive,' Price said. 'But it goes back to we have a very limited pot of money. We have to get back to basics: police, fire, transportations, code.'
Price also stressed that the city has made significant investments in the arts. The city has provided more than $40 million since 2003, including $5.5 million to the arts council in general support, $9.5 million to other organizations and $20 million to public art, according to a staff report...
The proposed cut is 'less than a half of a percent of the whole city budget, and yet the arts bring in $84 million' annually for the city, Tune said, citing a national study released in July by Americans for the Arts in Washington, D.C."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram 09/08/2012
Right Brain Initiative Grows 45 Percent
"One new school district and 14 new schools have signed up for The Right Brain Initiative’s unique arts education services in 2012–13, marking the program’s largest growth since it first entered classrooms in 2009. This year the initiative will serve a total of 45 elementary schools in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties.
Corbett School District becomes the sixth to enroll in The Right Brain Initiative, and existing partner districts continue to demonstrate their commitment to arts education by adding more schools. Districts invest $15 per child to partner with the program, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) leverages that investment with an additional $65 per student, raised from a variety of public and private sources...
These 14 new partner schools join 31 K–8 sites already served by The Right Brain Initiative. Last year, 10,376 students participated in the program, including 55% of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 18% are English Language Learners. 54.5% are Caucasian, 24.7% Latino, 7.5% African-American, 6.9% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 6.4% are Native American or multi-ethnic. Right Brain also served 616 certified school administrators and teachers. Read more about Right Brain’s population served and developments in the new 2012 Progress Report.
Regional Arts & Culture Council 09/11/2012
Turkey Campaigns to Reclaim Artifacts
"An aggressive campaign by Turkey to reclaim antiquities it says were looted has led in recent months to the return of an ancient sphinx and many golden treasures from the region’s rich past. But it has also drawn condemnation from some of the world’s largest museums, which call the campaign cultural blackmail.
In their latest salvo, Turkish officials this summer filed a criminal complaint in the Turkish court system seeking an investigation into what they say was the illegal excavation of 18 objects that are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Norbert Schimmel collection.
Last year, Turkish officials recalled, Turkey’s director-general of cultural heritage and museums, Murat Suslu, presented Met officials with a stunning ultimatum: prove the provenance of ancient figurines and golden bowls in the collection, or Turkey could halt lending treasures. Turkey says that threat has now gone into effect...
Turkey’s efforts have spurred an international debate about who owns antiquities after centuries of shifting borders. Museums like the Met, the Getty, the Louvre and the Pergamon in Berlin say their mission to display global art treasures is under siege from Turkey’s tactics.
Museum directors say the repatriation drive seeks to alter accepted practices, like a widely embraced Unesco convention that lets museums acquire objects that were outside their countries of origin before 1970. Although Turkey ratified the convention in 1981, it is now citing a 1906 Ottoman-era law—one that banned the export of artifacts—to claim any object removed after that date as its own.
Thievery and looting are wrong, Turkey says, no matter when they occurred. 'Artifacts, just like people, animals or plants, have souls and historical memories,' said Turkey’s culture minister, Ertugrul Gunay. 'When they are repatriated to their countries, the balance of nature will be restored.'
Turkey is not alone in demanding the return of artifacts removed from its borders; Egypt and Greece have made similar demands of museums, and Italy persuaded the Met to return an ancient bowl known as the Euphronios krater in 2006.
But Turkey’s aggressive tactics, which come as the country has been asserting itself politically in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring, have particularly alarmed museums. Officials here are refusing to lend treasures, delaying the licensing of archaeological excavations and publicly shaming museums."
The New York Times 10/01/2012
SC: City Considers Tax for New Arts Center
Would Myrtle Beach residents support paying $24 to $32 more per year in taxes help the city build a performing arts center?
That’s the question members of the Myrtle Beach City Council are thinking about posing to residents through a special election referendum this spring.
For years, the Myrtle Beach Performing Arts Center’s board of directors has struggled to raise money to partially fund a performing arts center adjacent to the convention center. At Tuesday’s City Council workshop, council members decided to table a resolution expressing support for the board’s fundraising efforts, deciding instead to consider a special election.
According to the resolution, the board planned to raise $2.5 million and was asking the city to commit to funding the rest of the project—once estimated to cost about $10 million.
'Our desire has always been to work with the city. This is the city’s project. It will benefit the city in every way,' said performing arts center board member Patrick Wayne Mumford during the workshop. 'We view ourselves as being in this together.'
But the most recent estimate is about two years old and many council members said they did not feel comfortable committing to something when they didn’t know how much the city would have to contribute according to today’s market...
Council members suggested the best way to guarantee the city could afford to pay for the center would be to ask residents in a referendum if they felt it should be built and if they’d agree to pay for it through an increase in taxes.
Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means suggested allowing residents to vote on the issue in March or April instead of waiting until November 2013.
'If it’s on the ballot with the council election and the mayor’s election, it’s going to get lost,' Means said.
City attorney Tom Ellenburg told the council it could take at least six months before a special election could be organized, and only after getting approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. It would cost about $5,000 to hold a special election in Myrtle Beach, according to city spokesman Mark Kruea.
The city tasked the board of directors with getting an updated estimate on the cost to build the center as a first step. The city would then to foot the bill or look to the board of directors for a private contribution before sending the request to the Department of Justice, Ellenburg said.
Depending on the total cost and if the city decides to pay for the building in full, residents owning a $200,000 home could pay between $24 and $32 a year over a 15 to 20 year period, Kruea said.
The Sun News 09/26/2012
DE: Economic Impact of Arts Celebrated
"In 2010 during the Great Recession, Delaware arts organizations generated $142.3 million in economic activity, virtually unchanged from six years prior.
That number is telling, considering the state lost 17 percent of its arts audience during that same period, compared to a 3 percent audience decline nationwide, a recent study shows.
The reason: Out-of-towners, with more spending power, made up for fewer locals going out on the town.
Those were among the findings released Tuesday as arts advocates met in Dover to discuss the latest national survey by Americans for the Arts. The Washington, DC-based arts lobbying group conducts a survey of organizations and patrons every six years to gauge the economic impact of nonprofit arts groups. Individual artists and for-profit groups are excluded from the study.
Roughly 300 arts, government, and community leaders attended Tuesday’s summit at the Schwartz Center. Gov. Jack Markell and First Lady Carla Markell explained that a thriving arts community makes sound business sense...
'Talent wants to work where they want to live and the arts are essential to that,' Markell said, noting that the arts are among the top 10 employers in the state. 'It makes our sales job that much easier.'
The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study covered spending by nonprofit arts groups in 2010 and spending of arts patrons in 2011. Nationwide, arts groups generated $136 billion in economic activity, supporting the equivalent of 4.1 million full-time jobs.
In Delaware, that impact translates into $142.3 million a year. That includes nearly 4,000 full-time arts and non-arts jobs, along with taxes and fees paid to local and state governments. By comparison, Pennsylvania arts organizations had $2.5 billion in economic punch.
'Not only are the arts feeding the souls of the people who live here, but also putting food on the table,' said Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Americans for the Arts’ chief policy strategist."
The News Journal 10/02/2012
CA: Increased Arts Funding for San Diego?
"If approved by the full City Council at a future meeting, the amount given to the city's Commission on Arts and Culture would increase by 129 percent to $17.9 million, according to the city's Independent Budget Analyst.
The commission supported 68 arts and culture organizations in 2011, according to a recent report.
The commission receives a portion of hotel room tax revenues in which the council has discretion. The agency gets about half of what it took in a decade ago because of the city's budget woes.
Arts advocates are pushing for a formula that would give the commission one percent of a special room tax fund. Their campaign is called Penny for the Arts...
The commission reported that the arts attracted two million visitors and $170 million of spending to San Diego in fiscal year 2011, employing around 6,000 people. Its statistics also showed that the out-of-town guests who come for arts events stay an average of two days longer and part with twice as much cash as the average tourist.
The office of Mayor Jerry Sanders is supportive of the proposal, but there would have to be some tradeoffs with other spending priorities, said mayor's representative David Graham."
Denver: The City of Art
"The arts have a huge role on the economic impact in Denver. Thousands of volunteers across all fronts extend their service to the industry.
Executive Director of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts Deborah Jordy explained the impact of the Arts in Denver. 'The results were incredible, with the arts generating $1.76 billion in economic activity in 2011,' Jordy said.
The growth of art in Denver has grown significantly in the last few years and Jordy attributes this to savvy business skills. 'We credit the growth to the organizations being nimble and innovative. They've generated jobs, they're creating culture tourism, and they're building fabulous new buildings,' Jordy said.
Attendance at art events is a big part of the economic growth. 'We've been so impressed with what's happened with attendance over the last few years, with over 14 million people attending our cultural institutions, which is on the rebound from 2009,' Jordy said.
In the last 10 years, over $200 million has been accrued with $100 million for corporate support."
To hear from Jordy directly, check out this video.
Ann Arbor Voters Reject Public Art Tax
"City officials said they were disappointed in the wake of the rejection by Ann Arbor voters of a tax for a more comprehensive public art program on Election Day.
Public art administrator Aaron Seagraves said he was surprised the millage was rejected, and though he could not speculate on voter sentiment, he supposed the new model of funding could have driven voters away.
'I’m not sure why it wasn’t passed by voters,' Seagraves said. 'The Percent for Art funding could have been preferred to the funding on the millage. Maybe that’s why the voters thought they didn’t need a new millage for it.'
The millage was an alternative to the current public arts funding program Percent for Art, which has encountered difficulty in providing public arts projects under heavy restrictions that limit displays to permanent art installations on specified government properties. Following rejection of the proposal, Ann Arbor will return to the previous model, which utilizes city funding rather than tax money from residents.
The tax would have cost the average homeowner about $11 a month and was expected to bring in about $450,000 annually. The new model for funding included a mill tax model for funding public arts in Ann Arbor. Instead of the current system, which takes the funds from different departments in the city, the funding for projects would come directly from the residents.
Seagraves noted that lack of awareness about the proposal could have added to the dismissal by voters.
'There wasn’t a whole lot of time to go campaign,' Seagraves said. 'Between the idea of it being on the ballot, it was probably two months between Election Day and when it was put on the ballot.'
City Councilmember Chris Taylor (D–Ward 3) sponsored the ballot proposal. He said e-mail questionnaires he sent to his constituents about the millage before Election Day garnered mixed reactions from the community.
'When I asked voters directly on my e-mail list what they thought of the proposal, some were very much in favor of it, and some were very much against it because it would be an additional tax and because they liked the current program as it was constituted,' Taylor said. 'There are a variety of reasons why one might vote against it, and I think it is hard to say specifically.'
Taylor said there have been proposed plans within City Council to alter the Percent for Art program. One proposal, he said, would stop the program completely, and the other would limit the program to a smaller set of projects."
The Michigan Daily 11/11/2012
Female Philanthropists Emerging as a Force
"Although the field of philanthropy has long been dominated by white men, research published in the last twenty years suggests that women of all races are donating more to charity and are more involved in charitable work than their male counterparts, the New York Times reports.
According to research from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, women tend to be more generous, regardless of their age, race, or education, 'because they are socialized to be that way.' With a greater number of women earning more than they used to—albeit still just 80 percent of men's earnings—the sector has seen an increase in the number of active female philanthropists in a broad range of fields, especially social services—education, health care, workforce development—and causes focused on addressing the needs and challenges of women and girls.
Not surprisingly, a number of charities are taking measures to boost their engagement with women philanthropists. The United Way, for example, created networks of female donors, dubbed Women's Leadership Councils, to mobilize female donors. The effort has paid off, as, over the past twelve years, the councils have raised some $985 million in support of the organization's mission to help people worldwide achieve their potential.
But as more women get in the habit of making major gifts to nonprofits, experts predict that the differences between male and female philanthropists will narrow. One of the biggest differences between them at the moment, notes the Times, is that men tend to request public recognition for their gifts. Don't be surprised, the Times adds, if in a few years time there are many more buildings with women's names on them.
'Women have to [start giving] out loud,' Melanie Sabelhaus, co-founder of the American Red Cross's Tiffany Circle, told the Times. 'Because it inspires other women.'"
Philanthropy News Digest 11/14/2012
CT: Governor Cuts Funding, Including Arts
"Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's $150 million in immediate cuts to deal with a looming deficit has an effect on many arts, cultural, heritage and tourism organizations.
The governor cut a total of $1,038,742 from the Department of Economic and Communuity Development—where the arts, cultural, historical and tourism budget items are located—including:
- Shubert Theater in New Haven, $15,148
- Hartford Urban Arts Grants, $15,148
- New Britain Arts Council, $3,030
- Ivoryton Playhouse, $6,000
- Economic Development Grants, $87,146
- Garde Center for the Performing Arts in New London, $12,000
- Discovery Museum, $15,148
- National Theatre of the Deaf, $6,059
- Culture, tourism and arts grants, $80,000;
- Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, $8,416;
- Connecticut Science Center, $25,224; Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, $10,000
- Local theater grants, $20,000 (the new line item for six producing and one presenting theater)
- Greater Hartford Arts Council, $3,787
- Stamford Center for the Arts, $15,148
- New Haven's International Festival of Arts & Ideas, $31,891
- New Haven Arts Council, $3,787
- Waterbury's Palace Theater, $15,148
- Beardsley Zoo, $14,174
- Mystic Aquarium, $24,804
- Twain/Stowe House, $3,827
- Stepping Stone Museum for Children, $1,772
- Maritime Center Authority, $21,261
- Tourism districts, $59,824"
Hartford Courant 11/28/2012
PA: County Officials Question Arts Funding
"When Lackawanna County enacted a dedicated education and culture tax in 2005, then-Commissioners Robert C. Cordaro and A.J. Munchak set aside allocations of $250,000 each for the Scranton Cultural Center, the Everhart Museum and the county library system.
Every county budget since, over the course of seven years and two changes in administration, has included a $250,000 line-item allocation from the tax proceeds for each institution to support its arts and cultural endeavors.
The 2013 county budget adopted last week zeroes out specific allocations for the cultural center, the Everhart and the library system, rolling the money instead into a $790,000 pot until majority Commissioners Jim Wansacz and Corey O'Brien decide how it will be divvied up.
Mr. Wansacz and Mr. O'Brien, who plan to meet with all three entities in the coming weeks, said each will be asked to demonstrate why it should receive a share of the nearly $1.3 million the education and culture tax will generate next year...
Mr. Wansacz said the administration wants to examine how the three institutions spend their allocations, what the benefit is to the community and whether it is 'the best use of taxpayer money.' 'We haven't made any decisions on anything one way or another,' he said.
At the Everhart, the education and culture funding amounted to 30 percent of the museum's $820,000 budget this year, which Executive Director Cara Sutherland acknowledged is 'significant.'
She said the Everhart uses the county money for programming, which 'for us is everything that happens here in the building but also the programs we take out into the community.'
She said she will be prepared to make the Everhart's case before the commissioners and expects the museum to receive an allocation from the county.
'I'm not in panic mode,' Ms. Sutherland said. 'I think it behooves all of us well to show what it is we do with the money, that we are accountable as well.'"
The Scranton Times-Tribune 12/05/2012
CT: Arts Inject $653M into State Economy
"There's a lot that goes into a trip to the theater—driving, perhaps a dinner, parking, buying tickets that support the actors, directors, costume designers. The economic impact of the arts in Connecticut, according to a recent report, is upwards of $653 million a year.
The report, which was unveiled by state economic development officials and Americans for the Arts, which conducted the study, drew out the impacts of arts organizations and their audiences on the state's economy. It tracked direct expenditures related to the arts, jobs and local and state tax revenues.
Connecticut measured up well against similarly sized states or regions studied by the report—about 83 percent higher in arts-related spending and 47 percent higher for employment.
The total spending on arts includes $455 milllion from arts organizations on artists and facilities and $197 million spent by audiences and visitors on meals sourvenirs, transportation, and lodging.
As arts organizations find their way through the tough economy, some closing along the way like the Hartford Children's Theater, this data is being held up as a strong argument for continued support for the arts.
'It's not a silver bullet,' said Randy Cohen, head of research and policy for the Americans For The Arts. 'But this data gives the arts a place at the table to be a part of sustainable economic revitalization.'
Cohen presented the state figures to the arts community at the Palace Theater on Main Street in Waterbury."
Hartford Courant 12/07/2012
IL: Lt. Gov. Visits School, Plays Banjo
"It turns out that strumming a banjo is a quick way to calm a crowd of kindergartners.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon found that out, when she warmed up her five strings while students filled the gymnasium at Lee School.
Simon visited Lee to perform for a student assembly at the request of music teacher Mary von Liski, who had seen state’s second-in-command play banjo on television and decided 'on a whim' to contact Simon. That request turned into an schoolwide assembly.
'(Simon) acts as the governor’s point person for education reform,' principal Nathan Kochanowski said to the students before Simon began her performance. 'Which is why she’s here—she loves school.'
Simon first answered a few questions about her job, describing her role to the elementary students as similar to that of a substitute teacher—filling in for Gov. Pat Quinn when he is unavailable.
Two students also asked Simon to confirm their belief that the banjo comes from 'back in the old days,' but she added that it originated specifically in Africa.
Then the music got the students on their feet. They twisted and danced to 'La Bamba' and sang along with Simon to their favorites 'Jingle Bells' and 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.'
'It was very cool,' said fifth-grader Marilyn Reid, who said she enjoys singing. 'I think it’s very cool to see someone that’s very important to our state.'"
The State Journal-Register 12/18/2012
Artist Chuck Close Inspires Students
"Stationed in front of one of his large self-portraits, the artist Chuck Close raised his customized wheelchair to balance on two wheels, seeming to defy the laws of gravity.
The chair’s unlikely gymnastics underlined the points that Mr. Close was making to his audience, 40 seventh and eighth graders from Bridgeport, CT.: Break the rules and use limitations to your advantage.
The message had particular resonance for these students, and a few educators and parents, who had come by bus from Roosevelt School to the Pace Gallery in Chelsea for a private tour of Mr. Close’s show. Roosevelt, located in a community with high unemployment and crushing poverty, recently had one of the worst records of any school in the state, with 80 percent of its seventh graders testing below grade level in reading and math.
Saved from closure by a committed band of parents, the school was one of eight around the country chosen last year to participate in Turnaround Arts, a new federally sponsored public-and-private experiment that puts the arts at the center of the curriculum. Arranging for extra funds for supplies and instruments, teacher training, partnerships with cultural organizations and high-profile mentors like Mr. Close, Turnaround is trying to use the arts to raise academic performance across the board. 'Art saved my life,' Mr. Close told the children. And he believes it can save the lives of others, too.
So now he was giving a pizza party and answering a question about why he started to paint.
'I wanted people to notice me, not that I couldn’t remember their faces or add or subtract,' he said, referring to the learning and neurological disabilities that set him apart from his classmates when he was growing up in Monroe, WA.
A terrible writer and test-taker, Mr. Close used art to make it through school. Instead of handing in a paper, he told the children, 'I made a 20-foot-long mural of the Lewis and Clark trail.'
Starting in Pace’s large central gallery, where his giant portraits of other artists like Philip Glass, Paul Simon and Laurie Anderson looked on, Mr. Close told the group that 'everything about my work is driven by my learning disabilities.'
Born with prosopagnosia, a condition that prevents him from recognizing faces, Mr. Close explained that the only way he can remember a face is by breaking it down into small 'bite-sized' pieces, like the tiny squares or circles of color that make up his paintings and prints.
'I figured out what I had left and I tried to make it work for me,' he said. 'Limitations are important.'"
The New York Times 12/18/2012