The good guys at The Inexplicable Dumbshow have posted the podcast interview they did with me last week. Check it out, and while you’re there, check out all the other great stuff they do. We spent some extra time on the “(NetFlix + YouTube) / (time = money) post below.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 21, 2009
ROCCO LANDESMAN ANNOUNCES
“ART WORKS” TOUR
AT THE 2009 GRANTMAKERS IN THE ARTS NATIONAL CONFERENCE
NEA Chairman to visit Peoria, Illinois, as first stop
Brooklyn, NY –National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman delivered a keynote address today to close the 2009 national Grantmakers in the Arts conference: Navigating the Art of Change.
In his remarks, Chairman Landesman laid out the guiding principle that will inform his work at the agency, which can be summed up in two words: “Art works.” Chairman Landesman explained that he means this in three ways:
1. “Art works” is a noun. They are the books, crafts, dances, designs, drawings, films, installations, music, musicals, paintings, plays, performances, poetry, textiles, and sculptures that are the creation of artists.
2. “Art works” is a verb. Art works on and within people to change and inspire them; it addresses the need people have to create, to imagine, to aspire to something more.
3. “Art works” is a declarative sentence: arts jobs are real jobs that are part of the real economy. Art workers pay taxes, and art contributes to economic growth, neighborhood revitalization, and the livability of American towns and cities.
Chairman Landesman announced that he will spend the next six months learning and highlighting the ways that art works in neighborhoods and towns across America.
For the full release, please go to: http://www.arts.gov/news/news09/arts-works-release-and-speech.html
MEDIA CONTACT: Victoria Hutter: firstname.lastname@example.org / (202) 682-5570 / (202) 309-0100 mobile
In the September 14, 2009 Nation (and the August 26, 2009 on-line version — WTF?), the former front-man for the Brit-pop band Pulp, Jarvis Crocker, was interviewed in the Back Talk segment. In May 2009, “he spent a week with his band working in an art gallery in Paris…” Here is what he says about it:
I was investigating what music can be. Now that it’s no longer a supposedly viable commercial venture, would the gallery system be a valid way of disseminating it? That sounds very dry and academic, but it isn’t. We set up in this small gallery space and rehearsed, and every now and again we’d have hours where people would bring an instrument and play along, and then we provided the music to different classes, like a yoga class and a belly-dancing class. What I liked was that there were spontaneous moments–the music happened for ten minutes or however long it took, and then it was gone. So many things in our culture are based around repetition and being relived, and it’s nice to have something that comes out of nowhere and returns to nowhere.
How was it related to your work as a curator, like when you organized the Meltdown festival in London in 2007?
Meltdown was about the fact that culture isn’t something you consume. You can create it yourself; you can participate in it. The gallery residency was a natural progression of that: people were invited to participate through playing with us onstage, or people who couldn’t play an instrument could join one of the classes with our music. People have become spectators in their own life. The consumer ethos has infiltrated not just the way people live their lives but also the way they consume culture. I’m an old person, so I was brought up when punk rock happened, and the message was that you can do it yourself.
I think there is an image that participatory arts are somehow mainstream and uncool, but this is an example of how a cutting-edge musician might facilitate the creativity of others. There is a generosity to what he and his band were doing in Paris.
I found his dismissal of the music industry business model in a dependent clause — “Now that [music's] no longer a supposedly viable commercail venture…” — stunning, an indication that in at least one of the arts, the business model of selling products to consumers is recognized as being unworkable. Can the other arts be far behind?
Cocker has come up with a vibrant, locally-based approach that, while best considered an end in itself, is also an effective way to build audiences. How many people who jammed with Crocker, or who did yoga to his music, are likely to buy his album or attend his concert?
Over at ChrisAshworth.org, Chris has written a passionate and logical analysis of the lousy business model non-profit theatre currently has, and proposes some changes, which he is trying to implement in his own theatre. His post is called “Toward A New Funding Model for Theater.” I agree with Chris about 80% or so, and will propose my own model, which I’ll call “(NetFlix + YouTube) / (Time = Money)” — I roll it out, and let you all shoot at it, and at Chris as well. But first, check out Chris — great work!
For the past couple of weeks, there has been a conversation (well, a series of statements laid out to look like a conversation) on “Barry’s Blog” for the Western States Arts Federation concerning the NEA. Participants have included Steve Tepper (Engaging Arts), Ben Cameron (Doris Duke, former TCG), Ian Moss (Creatiquity), Patrick Overton (Front Porch Institute), Doug MacLennan (ArtsJournal.com) and many, many others including yours truly. To give a taste, I am pasting one of my contributions below, and there are many others that are well worth commenting on, both at Barry’s Blog and on your own (should you be a blogger).
In response to Barry’s question “What would you like to see the Endowment accomplish? What policies should govern its actions? What should be its priorities? If you were to advise Rocco Landesman on what the agenda for the NEA should be –what would you tell him?”
SCOTT: First, I think the NEA should completely stop giving money to mega-institutions like Steppenwolf and Lincoln Center – those institutions that previous responders have noted currently have captured the NEA. Why? Because those organizations don’t need it. That little splash of NEA money disappears in the ocean of their multi-million dollar annual budgets without a trace. Instead, use the money where it will have a serious impact: small and midsize institutions in out-of-the-way places. New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles are rolling in dough; but hand out a decent grant in Paducah KY or Amery WI and watch things happen. It’s a big country, and most of it isn’t comprised of places with a million people. They deserve the arts, too.
Second, the NEA should make it clear that its focus isn’t on the artists, isn’t on the institutions, but is on its constituency, which is the American public. The focus should be on inspiring creativity in the public (see my comment on arts education), and that might, of course, involve “providing” works of art, but it also might involve facilitating creativity in the Average Joe. If they want public money, artists should be servants to the greater good, not special, privileged people whose only commitment is to their inner muse. If you take public money, you are a public servant. It is time that artists recognize that.
Finally, the NEA needs to swallow hard and recognize that its main contribution should be in promoting the arts of today, not the constant reinterpretation of works from the past. Antonin Artaud said it: no more masterpieces. We need to tell our own stories in a language that speaks to today’s audience about today’s life. There are plenty of foundations out there who will fund Shakespeare and Mozart, but the NEA needs to be funding institutions that are committed to finding and developing our own artistic worldview. Prior to the 20th century, the focus was on new work, not old – and as a result, we got Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Mozart, Beethoven, Michelangelo and Leonardo. In the 21t century, what does America have? Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Mozart, Beethoven, Michelangelo and Leonardo. We are an echo culture, not an originating one. That has to change.
“There’s a gap somewhere in the soul of the people that troops into the theater but never produces a folk drama, that crowds into the concert hall but never throws off the spark from a folk song like a spark from a glowing iron. The arts are vital, if in the years ahead we are to master instead of being mastered by the vast complex and swiftly moving technical civilization born of science and the machine. The education for the future must, in addition to the more obvious disciplines and diets of the mind, include those stimulations and disciplines that sensitize and enrich men’s capacity for worthy emotional aesthetic response to some of the overlooked needs of modern life. The art of theatre, like the art of literature, has been damned by professionalism. We have wandered far from the days of folk drama where even the great souls of simple folk found expression in the dramatic form. The next great dramatic renaissance in America will come when the theatre is recaptured from the producers by the people, when we become active in mind and rich enough in spirit to begin the creation of a folk drama and a folk theatre in America.”
This is from a speech by Dr. Glenn Frank, the president of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, in 1925. Eighty-four years later, we have succumbed to exactly the “complex and swiftly moving technical civilization born of science and the machine” he warned about, and we as artists, instead of resisting being mastered, have come to serve it. We have allowed arts participation to be defined as buying a ticket, and artists have become hucksters, salesman trying to sell a product to these passive consumers who no longer think they have the right or the skill to tell a story, sing a song, dance a dance, do anything more than turn on an electronic dcevice.
And yet all you have to do is read books like Crowdsourcing and Here Comes Everyone to realize that the desire to create has survived and is reasserting itself. YouTube is filled with videos created and posted by amateurs, iStock has thousands of photos taken by amateur photographers, people are using GarageBand to create their own music and remix the songs of others. The music industry and the film biz are fighting a losing battle against this desire to share, to remix, to modify, that is the center of this resurgence — they want to keep everyone passively consuming.
Arts education is fighting this same battle, “training” young people to be arts specialists who create products to sell to consumers. They are taught that singing, telling stories, dancing, and painting pictures is something that requires extensive training, and that once they have that training they have become special people that are different than “the masses.”
Well, it is a new day, and it is time that education change, that artists change, that institutions change. The downward slide of sales of tickets and works of art reflects the rejection of this passive model of consumption.
Sir Ken Robinson says essentially the same thing in his TED talk, and his book The Element:
This project is now the Center for Rural Arts Development and Leadership Education. I have purchased the URL CradleArts.org and will begin building the website, which will include a blog, a podcast, a discussion forum, and (I hope) a wiki of some kind, as well as a lot of resources. Once this site is launched, I hope that I can get some people to help contribute content and participate in the development of this project. For the time being, I will continue to post here, and I’ll let you know when it is time to migrate. Thanks to all those who helped me decide on a name — I know it took a long time, and my dithering probably drove a few of you (Tom) a little crazy.
Over at Barry’s Blog, there is the beginnings of a very interesting six-week long discussion about the direction of the NEA. The discussion is being promoted by WESTAF: “WESTAF, the Western States Arts Federation, is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to the creative advancement and preservation of the arts. Based in Denver, Colorado, WESTAF fulfills its mission to strengthen the financial, organizational and policy infrastructure of the arts by providing innovative programs and services to artists and arts organizations in the West and nationwide.” Barry H, who runs the blog, has brought together an amazing group of people to discuss the future of the NEA. Here are the progra details:
WEEK #1 – September 15 – 18 Former NEA perspectives:
The first week launch of the discussion will feature participants who have previously worked at the Endowment, along with a couple of national leaders who have long standing relationships with the agency. The focus of this first week’s discussion will be on the agency’s organization, culture, priorities and initiatives so as to set the context for subsequent week’s discussions.
Olive Mosier – Director, Arts & Culture Program, William Penn Foundation; former Deputy Director NEA.
Diane Mataraza – Independent Consultant; former Director Local Partnership, NEA
Tony Chauveaux – Deputy Director the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; former Deputy Director, NEA
Peter Hero – Vice-President, California Institute of Technology, former member National Council on the Arts, former Executive Director Silicon Valley Foundation
Steven Tepper – Associate Director Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy, Vanderbilt University
WEEK #2 – September 22 – 26 National arts leaders perspectives
The second week will feature national arts organization leadership, including the various sub-sector discipline and interest areas (e.g., the presenting community, state arts agencies, theater, dance, music, and visual arts etc) and will focus on the needs of the field, whether or not the Endowment is meeting those needs and how the agency might better address those needs.
Bob Lynch – President & CEO Americans for the Arts
Jonathan Katz – Executive Director, National Association of State Arts Agencies
Patrick Overton – Director, Front Porch Institute
Sandra Gibson – Executive Director, Association for Performing Arts Presenters
Anne Katz – Executive Director Arts Wisconsin, Immediate Past Chair, State Arts Action Network
Don Adams – Cultural Policy Analyst
*new – Brad Erickson – Executive Director, Theater Bay Area
*new – Celeste DeWald – Executive Director, California Association of Museums
WEEK # 3 – September 29 – October 2 Funders – public & private – perspectives
The third week will feature the funding community — major foundations together with state, regional and local arts agencies (and the relationship of those agencies with the Endowment) and will focus on the economic climate, the limits and opportunities for funding strategies and how an ecosystem for collaboration and cooperation with the Endowment might be structured in the future
Ben Cameron – Program Director for the Arts, Doris Duke Foundation
Daniel Windham – Director of Arts, The Wallace Foundation
Janet Brown – Executive Director, Grantmakers in the Arts
Moy Eng – Program Officer, Performing Arts, Hewlett Foundation
John McGuirk – Program Officer – Arts, Irvine Foundation
Frances Phillips – Program Director, Arts & The Creative Work Fund, Haas Foundation
John Killacky – Program Officer, Arts, The San Francisco Foundation
Victoria Hamilton – Executive Director, San Diego Office of Arts & Culture
Laura Zucker – Executive Director, Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Director of the Masters in Arts Administration program at Claremont Graduate University
Loie Fecteau – Executive Director, New Mexico Arts
WEEK # 4 – October 6 – 9 Arts Education leaders, Academia, Emerging Leaders, and Consultant perspectives
The fourth week will include select national nonprofit arts consultants, emerging young arts leaders from the field, academic representatives from universities offering degree in arts administration programs, and arts education leaders and explore those perspectives.
Andrew Taylor – Director BOLZ CENTER for Arts Administration / UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN – MADISON SCHOOL OF
BUSINESS; author of The ARTFUL MANAGER blog. Invitation pending
Jodi Beznoska – Communications Director Walton Arts Center
Ian Moss – Blogger Createquity.com
Shannon Daut – Deputy Director, WESTAF
Neil Archer Roan – Independent Consultant
Doug McLennan – Founder / Publisher ARTS JOURNAL
Cora Mirikitani – Director Center for Cultural Innovation
Hollis Headrick – Founding Executive Director, The Center for Arts Education, New York, New York; Program Director Arts in Education New York State Council on the Arts
Steven Lavine – President, California Institute of the Arts
WEEK # 5 – October 13 – 16 Private Sector / Stakeholder perspectives
The fifth week will include business, trade and corporate representatives from the private sector entertainment and high tech industries, and focus on the possible intersections between these potential stakeholders and our sector, how the Endowment might facilitate those relationships, and the policy implications of those intersections.
Kristen Madsen – Senior Vice-President – The Grammy Foundation
Terri Clark – Executive Director, The Television Academy of Arts & Sciences Foundation
Cary Sherman – President RIAA (Record Industry Association of America)
Mary Luehrsen – Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations, NAMM (National Association of Music Manufacturers)
We have invited representatives from companies such as Google, You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and others from the high tech industries. Full list of confirmed participants soon.
WEEK # 6 – October 20 – 23 Artists perspective
The sixth week will include artists – new and established – from various disciplines and geographic areas around the country and focus on the relationship between working artists and the Endowment.
We have invited a dozen artists to participate. Full list of confirmed participants soon.
Of particular note is the presence of Steven Tepper of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt in Week #1 (his essays in Engaging Art are powerful, and promote a populist arts orientation with which I am in great sympathy), and Patrick Overton of the Front Porch Institute in Week #2. Patrick has been a leader in the area of rural arts for many years, and is the author of the outstanding book Rebuilding the Front Porch of America: Essays on thr Arts of Community Making.
I am flattered to say I have been invited to be part of the panel in Week #4. So you might want to keep up with the discussion, and comment as you do. Let’s get a conversation going. If you read my open letter to Rocco Landesman, and agreed with it even somewhat, this conversation is the obvious next step for advancing these ideas.
I know this is getting tedious, but I can’t go forward with other stuff until I can decide on a name, buy a domain, and get a website under construction.
Last night, I decided I like the following:
Center for Rural Arts Development and Leadership Education
1) After thought, I think the emphasis needs to be on the rural/small town part, not the informal arts part — informal arts is a means to an end;
2) I’d like to get both the educational and the organizational pieces in the name;
3) It will be housed on a university campus, so the name gives it some cred;
4) Nice to have an acronym — cradle means, among other things, “the place where anything is nurtured during its early existence.”