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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Advocacy News Compiled by Americans for the Arts

Oregon: New $75,000 Grant Program Launches in Portland
Portland Monthly Culturephile blog, 1/22/13
"The Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts announced a major new granting program for unincorporated visual art collectives, alternative spaces, and collaborative projects called the Precipice Fund. Supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which funds four similar initiatives around the country, the Precipice Fund will award $75,000 annually in grants ranging from $500–$5,000, and signals a major investment in local artists...Unlike the Regional Arts and Culture Council and many other local granting bodies, which fund either formal nonprofits or individual artists, the Precipice Fund will support informal collectives and alternative projects, which can range in form from websites to events to publications to gallery spaces, although they 'must have a public presence, intersect with diverse audiences, and contribute to the vitality of contemporary art practice.'"

Pennsylvania: Music Program Helps Pittsburgh Teens
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/22/13
"Arts Greenhouse is a music education program affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University that gives local teenagers an opportunity to learn about race, music, and social justice through hip-hop, and to compose and produce their own music...But it is clear that the goal isn't just to promote lyric writing and production skills. The students are meant to become more engaged and curious about the world around them. Each week, before any recording or writing happens, the students meet to discuss everything from what makes a song a 'party song' to teenage pregnancy. 'We try to cultivate a community of trust to talk about difficult issues...We're trying to create voices that can take flight beyond our program,' [Arts Greenhouse Coordinator Amos] Levy said. A student who credits the program with giving him a window into an engaging intellectual world is Kai Roberts, a seven-year Arts Greenhouse veteran...Roberts first heard about the program when he was a student at Pittsburgh Schenley High School and decided to sign up. He hasn't looked back since."

Study: Music Training Boosts Brainpower
Pacific Standard, 1/23/13
"Want your child to get better and better with words? Put a musical instrument in his or her hands. That’s the implication of a new paper from Germany, which confirms and augments research conducted in Canada and Hong Kong. Across cultures, it appears, training on a musical instrument improves kids’ verbal memory. The results of an 18-month study suggest 'a positive transfer effect from musical expertise onto speech and language processing,' writes a research team...[they] note that no similar effect was found for kids taking an enriched academic curriculum. The study featured seven- or eight-year-old children (37 boys, 36 girls), recruited from seven primary schools scattered around Germany. Twenty-five received special music training above and beyond the basic school curriculum. Specifically, they participated in weekly 45-minute lessons, where they played the instrument of their choice."

Texas: Arts Credit Preserved in Graduation Requirements Proposal
Associated Press, 1/22/13
"A key education leader in the Texas Senate introduced a bill to drastically overhaul high school graduation requirements and reduce by two thirds the number of standardized tests students must pass. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican...wants to scrap requirements that students take four years each of math, science, English, and social studies. Instead, students would take four credits in English, three in math and social studies, and two in science and foreign language under a new system Seliger called the Foundation High School Program...Students would also have to take a fine arts credit and one in physical education—as well as 10 elective credits. Instead of 15 exams in core subjects, students would need to pass five tests in reading and writing, algebra I, U.S. history, and biology. The measure would let school boards around Texas decide whether those tests would count toward anything besides graduation."

Tennessee: Private Donations, Volunteers Deliver Art Education
Chattanooga Times Free Press, 1/21/13
"It's no Campbell's soup, but the Andy Warhol-inspired art at Calvin Donaldson Elementary is more sophisticated work than you might expect from third-graders...Warhol is just one of many classic and modern artists that Donaldson students know well, thanks to their art classes, which incorporate everything from history to math. 'It does not take away from instruction,' said Principal Becky Coleman. 'It adds to instruction.' But this classroom and its teachers operate with virtually no taxpayer money. The supplies are paid for through private donations, and the two teachers volunteer their time several days each week. Rather than lamenting the lack of arts in county elementary schools, Susanne Bowling and Gayle Ligon decided to jump in and get their hands dirty. And with only 13 of 44 elementary schools staffed with an art teacher, Calvin Donaldson students are lucky to get any art instruction at all. On the other hand, music has a presence in every elementary school."

Oklahoma: Legislation Proposes Gradual Elimination of Arts Council
The Norman Transcript, 1/23/13
"A bill filed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives proposes all funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council (OAC) be eliminated. The legislation, written by Rep. Josh Cockroft (R-Tecumseh) would reduce state government funding to the OAC each fiscal year by 25 percent, eventually ending the appropriation in 2017...If passed, the bill will become effective July 1. Cockroft said the bill may be assigned to a committee next week. Cockroft said his intent in writing HB 1895 is to simplify state spending and focus on funneling state tax dollars to core government functions like education. 'My goal with this bill isn’t to destroy the arts in Oklahoma. It’s actually quite contrary. I personally have been involved in the arts over the last couple of years,' Cockroft said. 'I think there is a need and an incredible desire for that here in Oklahoma. The question is: Is that the state government’s responsibility?' The state appropriates $4 million to the OAC every year, Cockroft said. According to the OAC website, $4 million is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the state budget, with 80 percent of funding going directly to communities across the state."

South Carolina: Gov. Haley Targets State Arts Commission, Again
The State, 1/23/13
"Gov. Nikki Haley wants to fold the S.C. Arts Commission into the State Museum, a move that would eliminate the arts group’s board and director but leave intact its grants program. Asked about Haley’s proposal by House budget writers, Ken May, the commission’s executive director, said, 'It eliminates the Arts Commission, so you can imagine I’m not the biggest fan of that.'...In 2012, the governor recommended eliminating the agency, saying its administrative costs were too high. When lawmakers ignored her, Haley vetoed the agency’s funding. Lawmakers overrode her veto. According to Haley’s executive budget proposal, merging the Arts Commission and the State Museum would reduce the commission’s personnel costs by 30 percent...May worries that, under Haley’s proposal, the state may not be eligible for some federal arts grants...The State Museum, with its different mission, may not qualify if arts grants are merely a program within the museum, he said."

Ohio: Focused Marketing Creates Orchestra Attendance Surge
The Plain Dealer, 1/19/13
"There was a time when Gary Hanson’s vow to build the youngest audience in the nation for the Cleveland Orchestra seemed chimerical. Impossible, even. Now, the promise by the executive director isn’t just coming true. It’s doing so years ahead of schedule. Long before Hanson’s pledge for 2018, the orchestra is seeing attendance and ticket revenue skyrocket, mostly as a result of new programs aimed at children and students...Detecting the presence of something special in the air isn't difficult. All one needs to do is look around on a typical Thursday, Friday, or Saturday evening at Severance Hall and see whole rows or sections occupied by fresh-faced listeners. There are numbers to back up the impression...Take the last two months. In November and December, over 47,500 people bought tickets to Cleveland Orchestra concerts. That’s 28 percent more than the number of ticket buyers during the same period in 2011...Overall ticket revenue so far this season is up 24 percent and is on track to exceed last year’s take by $1.3 million."

Report Finds Fundamental Flaws in Nonprofit Fundraising
Los Angeles Times Culture Monster blog, 1/22/13
"A new national survey of nonprofit executives suggests it isn’t just the uncertain economy that’s making it hard for charities—including arts and culture groups—to meet their fundraising goals. The research says there’s something fundamentally amiss with the way many of them go about courting donors. 'This study reveals that many nonprofit organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed,' begins the 36-page report commissioned by the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and conducted by CompassPoint, a San Francisco-based organization that provides management advice to nonprofits. Dubbed Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising, the study says it’s the first systematic attempt to explore how chief fundraisers for nonprofits view their jobs—and how that dovetails or clashes with the expectations of the chief executives they work for. Arts, culture, and humanities accounted for 11% of the 1,852 head fundraisers and 870 chief executives who responded to the 2012 survey, making it the second-largest sector."

Americans for the Arts Joins Vans as Custom Culture Contest Partner
As its national charity partner, Americans for the Arts is proud to announce the fourth annual Vans Custom Culture art competition inspiring high school students across the United States to embrace their creativity while drawing attention to the importance of art as an integral part of a well-rounded education. The first 1,500 U.S.-based public or private high schools that register will receive four pairs of blank canvas Vans shoes to make their own creations around four themes: Action Sports, Music, Art, and Local Flavor. Students submit photos of their shoes via the Vans Custom Culture website, then an internal selection and external public vote whittle the entries down to a group of five finalists who will travel to New York City for the Vans Custom Culture final event in June 2013. The top school will receive $50,000 for their visual arts program. Be sure to get your school registered soon as more than half the spots are already filled!

The BCA 10: Nominate An Arts Supporting Business Today!
The BCA 10
recognizes businesses of all sizes for their exceptional involvement with the arts that enrich the workplace, education, and the community. These companies demonstrate the power of arts and business partnerships and set examples for other companies to follow so why not recognize them as part of the 2013 BCA 10 Awards? The deadline for nominations (February 15) is rapidly approaching so be sure to nominate soon!

Upcoming Americans for the Arts Webinar
The Evolution of Local Arts Grantmaking: Addressing Shifting Demographics
January 30, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. EST
Are you thinking about changing your grantmaking strategies to reflect shifting demographics in your community? Join representatives from the Portland, OR’s Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) as they discuss its new plan which is intended to guide RACC in all its outreach and equity activities. This webinar will highlight the planning process and how RACC changed is funding structures to reshape and refocus its grantmaking. 

The Future of Dynamic Pricing
February 4, 2013 at 3:00 PM EST (Rescheduled from January 21!)
Recent studies argue that there are too many venues and arts organizations are struggling with capitalization. All of this, plus other bottom-line issues, puts more pressure on earned income. Many arts organizations have started to use dynamic pricing to help boost earned income, but it is often a blunt instrument. We will discuss best practices in dynamic pricing that go into deeper analysis, show how small changes can bring large gains, and how outside influences such as consumer psychology, management of the customer experience, internal and external communications, and price elasticity all play a part in sophisticated, successful dynamic pricing strategies.
Remember that all webinars are free to members or they can be purchased by non-members for $35 per session. Visit our website to register and find out about upcoming sessions. 

Arts Watch Info
In addition to our newsletter, you can also receive news in between issues by following our Twitter account (@artswatch). We post news items via Twitter as they happen every day and then collect the most relevant news for our newsletter in hopes of serving all of our 9,800 subscribers and the field at-large.

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