Monday, September 12, 2005

September 12, 2005



"And the beat goes on................" 

Welcome to the inaugural launch of the Hessenius Group, a monthly exchange of ideas on issues of importance to the Arts & Culture sector. Each month, five to seven Group Members will, from Tuesday through Friday, post their responses to my questions and to the comments and responses made by other group members. Beginning on Wednesday, the public can enter comments and share their reactions.

Bookmark this site and return each day, click on the "COMMENTS" button at the end of the current blog and you can read entries posted since your last visit, or enter your own (after Wednesday, please)

As this is the first Group Dialogue, we might have a glitch or two, so please be patient. The exchange cannot be as instantaneous as it is on television, or live. We're trying out the format, and will likely learn from the experiment to improve next month's Group.


According to the American Arts Alliance:

"The US Senate plans to vote on whether to take up a bill (HR 8) to permanently repeal the estate tax. The House has already passed this bill which would make the estate tax repeal permanent beginning in 2010. Permanent repeal of the estate tax would severely hurt nonprofit performing arts organizations and the audiences we serve.

Gifts from estates are an essential source of revenue for performing arts organizations. Full repeal of the estate tax would undermine this critical form of charitable giving and wreak havoc on planned giving decisions, resulting in the loss of major source of donations for performing arts organizations. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study in 2004 reported that repeal of the estate tax could decrease charitable giving by $17 billion annually.

Eliminating the estate tax will also reduce federal revenue by nearly $1 trillion over the first ten years of full repeal. This revenue loss will have to be made up somehow - by raising taxes and/or by cutting services and programs, such as arts funding."

Underlying this dire prediction, is the theory that if Americans can keep their money for themselves, there is no incentive to give it to charity. There is also the fear that if the government loses one of its revenue sources, the arts - already way down on the totem pole of priority funding - will drop further and it will be virtually impossible to get lawmakers to vote for arts funding.

So I ask you GARY STEUER -

Witnessing the extraordinary response of giving from the American public to the victims of hurricane Katrina, is the prediction that donations will shrink for the arts if the Estate Tax is permanently repealed based on fact or fear? Is charitable giving entrenched in the American fabric or does it exist ONLY because there is a financial incentive to do so? Are the Arts, in the final analysis, simply NOT that important to people? And if government revenue shrinks as a result of a change in the Tax Code, what should we be doing now to protect ourselves politically from being cut out of the game as it were?

And, if the repeal of the Estate Tax will be a much larger catastrophic event to the arts, more so than the current PUBLIC financing crisis, particularly for performance based organizations heavily dependent on large and small donors, are the arts built on a foundation of sand - a disaster waiting to happen - if not now, later? And is there anything we can do about it in any event?

GARY: The business-centric person in me understands the conservative anti-estate tax position (even if I may not agree with it). Individuals make money during the course of their lifetime, and pay taxes on their wealth through individual federal, state and local income taxes. In addition, corporate income is taxed through the corporate tax structure, and income distributed from business to individuals as dividends or interest is taxed again as individual income (unless invested in a tax-free retirement vehicle like a 401k or IRA). The argument goes that the desire to tax estates is politically, not economically motivated, - to prevent the amassing of great family fortunes, and that if untaxed this wealth would be reinvested in the economy, thus eventually replacing any short term loss of tax revenue.

However, putting aside a political argument on whether income equalization is a valuable goal in a democratic society, we have a very practical consideration here. Will the elimination of the estate tax result in a reduction in federal revenue and in a reduction of philanthropic support? And, if so, will these outcomes negatively impact the arts sector?

I think the answer on both counts must be yes. The idealogical argument that the estate tax represents double taxation and some sort of social engineering withers in the face of the practical and real loss of tax revenue at a time when we are not running a budget surplus but some of our largest deficits in history. Katrina has certainly exacerbated pressures on an already stretched budget.

Would charitable giving continue with or without an estate tax? Absolutely. The American people have historically demonstrated a spirit of philanthropy that is the envy of the world. The vast majority of religious giving, for example is not tax deducible because the donors are non-itemizers, simply throwing a few bucks into a collection plate each week. They are not giving due to any tax incentive, but because they wish their money to do good work (OK, also because they want salvation or whatever their religious equivalent is). However, would giving suffer to some extent - I would be astonished if it did not. It is also very clear that tax incentives for philanthropy are motivators for a significant share of the population. In fact, some of our nation's wealthiest individuals have advocated for a continuation of the estate tax for precisely this reason - that it motivates many givers and that even though its repeal would benefit their heirs, its continuation would benefit society as a whole.

Now, the thornier question here is whether there is an "arts-specific" nature to this debate. That is, would the arts suffer worse somehow than other sectors were the estate tax to be done away with. On this front, I am not convinced the arts are in worse position than other sectors. Would a federal budget deficit added to by the loss of estate tax revenue increase pressure on the NEA budget? Perhaps, but no more so, it seems to me, that thousands of other programs and needs. Are arts organizations somehow more dependent on the incentive provided to primarily wealthy donors by the estate tax? Perhaps, but it would seem to me the arts groups most likely to be so affected would be the largest arts groups, with wealthy donors, board members and endowments to fall back on - not that it would not be challenge. I just don't see this issue as one of a dire crisis for the ARTS as somehow more apt be hurt that human service, or education or the environment. I think it is reasonable for nonprofit arts groups and advocates to stand with our colleagues from other segments of the "independent sector" and advocate for continuation of the estate tax.

And finally, as for the argument that our dependence on various tax incentives means "our house is built on a foundation of sand" I would again say, if so, then we have lots of company. Actually, smaller performing arts groups are probably LESS dependent on these incentives than other types of nonprofits because they at least have 50% of their budget coming in from earned income. Many other types of nonprofits are entirely dependent on philanthropy and government contracts, both of which make them much more dependent on the tax code and government funding/contracts.

I believe the nonprofit arts in this country have been built on a foundation made up in part of the expectation that private donors will support our organizations and our programs, and that this support is dependent at least in part on tax incentives that encourage such support. Yes, our "foundation" would crumble without this, but the alternative would be an entirely market-driven system which I think would leave our nation and its people poorer. If forced to face such a world, however, we are a resilient and creative group and I am sure we still find a way to make art and get it in front of people. However, would the poor still be served? Would adventurous, daring work still be created? Would arts groups still maintain outreach and education programs? I fear much would be at risk if we entirely lost our system of tax incentives for philanthropy, a system which, incidentally is the envy of the world.

PAUL MINICUCCI - what is your take on this?

PAUL: I have more questions than answers. I wonder if wealthy arts contributors view this policy issue as good for them in lowering possible estate taxes, as opposed to bad for them as trustees of arts organizations? One danger area may be the effect it will have on instability. If we are still heavily dependent on the supply side rather than the demand side (for arts) then the impact may be more painful.

I wonder too why haven't Congressional arts supporters commissioned a paper that quantifies and highlights the losses? I have never seen legislative bodies back-fill losses to the arts. They just assume cuts are cuts. Bye-bye funds. Is our stance on this issue once again a "reactive" posture - coming too late?

If the Board members of large arts organizations, many who are affected by these cuts the most (that is they stand to gain), were to come forward and say: "look I have a lot to gain by this measure personally, but then my organization will feel the pinch and I will have to go out and fundraise further. It doesn't make sense. Don't pass this legislation" then we might see some action. So far I have only seen staff people talking about this.

Shouldn't we position the argument this way: "What revenue source will you (Congress) increase to make up the losses in the charitable fields?" Any answer that raises taxes would be more regressive than the estate tax.

I think the prediction is more fact than fiction although I suspect many small arts organizations will "ho hum" this issue because they rarely get the benefit of big windfalls.

I studied tax policy. All the data shows that if a tax code includes a specific "credit", people will use it more than if you gave the money to them and then asked them to contribute. The reasons are complex but here are a few observations.
- First, the vast majority of these credits are part of the estate planning professional's arsenal of weapons. They want to look good to their clients so they will agitate for credits if there is any kind of dollar for dollar swap.
- Secondly, people use this credit because in their minds the money would otherwise go to the government so they might as well direct its use themselves. If they get the money back or they are relieved of estate tax the zeal to contribute has worn off.
- Third, if you give the money back to them and then they contribute, they create a deduction not a credit. Now logic says it is all the same since you will get back more money to spend from having no estate tax but it is also true they will shelter less.
- Fourth, big capital campaigns and endowments will be the victims here, it seems to me. If I can get public recognition, in memoriam, I will give a lot of money to high visibility things like arts buildings that I might not do while alive - may be a persurasive tactic.
- Fifth, there are people with no heirs. Their estate plans are already developed and many people pre-publicize their gifts. That won't happen if there is no estate tax and estate tax credit.

I don't see much of a connection between hurricane Katrina and the estate tax issue. Certainly, contributions to Katrina relief will squeeze arts contributions at some level, and we may see another round of arts giving contractions like those that occurred after 9-11. Regarding the estate tax--except for upper mid-size, large cultural organizations and a few lucky small organizations--any change in the estate tax will only have a marginal impact on contributions to cultural organizations. Most people do not pay estate tax. My personal view is that the estate tax should be expanded not contracted. Wouldn't some of the funds passed from one generation be another be better used to ensure arts education in the schools (a public good) rather than for the purchase of a new Mercedes (a private good)? I think so.

Again, I don't think the estate tax has very much to do with the health of most arts organizations. Is it important as another source of money for a field scrambling to secure funds from any and all sources? Of course. Will the field feel much if it goes away? Probably not. The big impact, if it were to disappear, is that the arts will have lost one more small battle in an ongoing battle to retain an array of federal tax and funding advantages. This in a time when the field seems to be losing many of these funding positions.

A hidden issue within your question is the need for more oversight of the funding patterns of private foundations. Foundation funding exists in part because all of us pay relatively more in taxes to allow individuals to form foundations and thus receive the benefits of lower taxation. In spite of this public investment in private foundations, there is very little accountability regarding their funding. Certainly, they do good deeds, but they also distort the manner in which funds are allocated away from a direct public accountability model. One result is that a number of foundations are propping up areas of the arts the public has long ago stopped supporting--and probably will no longer support no matter how much private foundation money is pumped into them.

OK - Let's talk about the issues the topic suggests. Estate bequests aside, are the arts too dependent on donor based income? Is there an alternative? To the extent we rely on public funding, whether at the local, state or federal level, do we have the political clout to defend and protect what we have? Does it matter even a whit what position the arts (or all nonprofits) take on the Estate Tax issue?

In thinking a little more about the issue and reading the comments, the predominate view I have is this: just with other policy areas that affect the arts along with a lot of other areas the arts field (define it however you like) has not done a real good job in defending the public good or predicting what might happen should estate taxes be abolished. Or why we should care if this funding source is abolished. That's an issue in itself. How is it that we know so little? I suspect Anthony is correct in saying that most organizations do not see the benefits of estate related gifts but shouldn't we know how the field is affected? I am betting that American Cancer Society and Lung and Heart Associations know with some precision what will happen. So, it is frustrating to me not to have available models to analyze this.

I also echo what Anthony has said about losing one more small battle about federal tax advantages we have. This particular tax rescission may not be crucial but there is a drift here that is not good.

I guess I have a bias toward field analysis and away from specific analysis. So it doesn't matter to me that most arts organizations won't be affected. It's the policy principal behind the decision that is troublesome. It seems to me the tax code is no longer being viewed as a means to build public capital, but rather as a means to concentrate wealth.

I seem to remember that Adam Smith in writing The Wealth of Nations makes this distinction. That is, he stated that the purpose of private enterprise is not to build personal wealth and capital but to build public wealth and capital. That seems to be a policy point worth debating. There has to be a balance here in building systems that guard the public wealth from being eroded. Whenever incentives begin to tilt so much in the direction of concentrating wealth in too few hands we run the risk of having that capital become "dead" capital. It is taken out of private and public enterprise. The economy suffers and public services are reduced. In this case the issue is: should the government be in the business of coercing the building of public capital.

The hardest thing for the arts to do is to inculcate an investment strategy. That is, develop the sense in people that putting funds into the arts is like any other investment. There is a return on investment (ROI) that is measured in the development of public capital. Public capital being the improvement in the capacity of our society to rebuild public trust in institutions, a sense of civility in our society and the feeling that together through the arts we are building our civilization. In short we build the social and civic capital.

That's why the current debate about the "public value" of the arts is so important. We have to know at what point is the public good suffering. If we can make that evident then it becomes clear that the arts are an essential. When an essential service is threatened then the government must intervene to build back up the public capital. To me it is like eminent domain. Public service is threatened when people can no longer move around in their cities. Business suffers, churches and social functions suffer and so the government (local government in this case) steps in and takes back a piece of private capital for the good of all through public transportation. They give back ?fair value? in buying up homes and property.

Now in these cases, the private landowner could say, "my right to property is a larger imperative than your right to public service. Besides, the money you are offering isn't enough." In these cases most people rightly observe that the greater good requires active government so that essential public services are not threatened. The capital here must be in the public sector.

So in the case of taking estate taxes so that wealth is held in the public trust, there has to be a similar argument about why the government needs the funds. The tax credit is an alternative way to funnel wealth into public capital in a direct way. It used to be the case that citizens welcomed a swap of fair value between the public sector and the private sector. In the estate tax case, we give up some public funds that used to be tax revenue to allow the citizen to contribute to public services that are valuable to the greater good called non-profit or "public benefit corporations" services.

It is for these reasons that I think the policy is worth fighting for. At what point does the government make the decision to withhold private dollars so that the public good is served. It may well be that the arts field is bloated and that a thinning out would be a good thing. It may be that the arts do not have the public value some of us think they do. If that is the case then the conservatives may be correct in their assertion that the arts should be in the private commercial arena. It is just a matter of people making a series of private choices. But it seems to me the arts MUST engage in public debate about what is so valuable that it requires the private capital to public capital exchange. To me the arts, all arts that serve the public good do that. When any part of our capacity is threatened through diminishing public funds we should engage in the debate.

I would like to respond to Barry's restatement of the question of whether the arts are too dependent on funding based income, and whether this is the underlying problem. Back when Baumol and Bowen wrote "Performing Arts - The Economic Dilemma" it was already clear that the arts were facing a long-term challenge of generating sufficient revenue to cover the cost of their operations. I think in the decades since the arts sector has made enormous strides in developing sophisticated marketing strategies to maximize earned revenue. We have also developed the science of fundraising and I think are much more strategic and effective now about how we raise money.

Yet, as B&B noted, it still takes the same number of actors and technical staff to put on a production of Hamlet, more or less, as it did in Shakespeare's time. However, virtually all other areas of industry have benefited from enormous gains in productivity, due largely to technological advances. This has left us disproportionally vulnerable to increased labor cost, and has made it impossible to ensure that ticket prices and earned income cover all our costs.

So, are we too dependent on donor-based income? Perhaps, but I don't see an alternative. For some art forms, and some organizations, innovative and different models can work. Cirque du Soleil has been enormously profitable and is structured as a for profit business. HBO has produced some of the best documentary films in recent years, and does not need money from foundations or the NEA to do it. I do believe, we need to be open to exploring more entrepreneurial models when the art we are doing has the potential to capture the imagination of a broad public audience. But a large and important segment of the arts field will never be able to seriously pursue such avenues because they are more community-based or R&D focused. I think we need philanthropic dollars, and therefore need a tax code that rewards giving.

I do agree with Barry's contention that the underlying challenge is clout, which is also implied in Paul's comments. How do we develop the clout to make our case for the public good of the arts, the public benefit, in a way that gets us past worrying that if the estate tax goes it will trigger a domino effect of a huge federal deficit leading to huge budget cuts and the arts being axed as extraneous? I do also think there is a related issue of how we get people in the arts to even care about issues like estate taxes of itemized deductions. We tend to focus on things that are arts-specific like the NEA budget, when issues like changes in the tax code may have a much larger impact on our field. But maybe that is for a future blog topic!


A subscriber writes:
" No one is discussing the collapse of alternative arts presenting in the US? Presenters are scared, seats are not being sold, conservatism is being embraced by arts organizations. No risks are taken any more. I no longer get bookings through the traditional arts venues. Fees have dropped. No one is talking about this."

ARE we seeing the precipitous decline in the presentation and support for alternative arts performances? Is this the result of economic or other factors? Is there a spillover to mainstream (whatever that term may mean) arts performances in the traditional music, theater and dance disciplines. i.e., a drop in attendance, a return to the traditional? What can (should) the arts field do to protect and nurture the growth of alternative, risk-taking, cutting edge, experimental art? And is there a similar decline in access, support, presentation for younger, less established visual artists - for the same or different reasons?


I would agree that there has been a decline in alternative arts presenting and that the decline could be termed "precipitous." Certainly the economy has something to do with it, but the increasingly conservative trends in society may be a more central reason for it.

While public arts funders and private foundation arts funders need to make certain they support this critical area of endeavor, they also need to ensure that the broader public continues to be served. One could argue that support for the arts swung too far in the direction of innovation and experimentation over the past 20 years and, as a result, we lost a lot of audience and also our credibility as entities interested in serving the broader public.

Regarding less established visual artists, I believe that because of the structure of their exhibiting work, they, more than most performing arts groups, can operate somewhat successfully on very limited resources. For example, some artists show work for brief periods in rented motel spaces, etc. Those of us who live in areas where the leading visual arts institution is pretty much asleep at the wheel, know of or can readily take advantage of these opportunities. Where visual and all other emerging and innovative artists in this country lose out, however, is in the area of international fellowships that allow them to network across the globe--his is a serious problem for all artists today.

A hopeful sign is that many arts innovators are finding ways to operate outside of the public/private support system. I like the vision of them not needing such a system. However, I find it disturbing that the present system does not seem to have the will to support a reasonable portion of the new on behalf of all of us.

As my wonderful sister says, every good question deserves another good question. This is a very good question and deserves several. Does our question contain a premise that the special value of the not-for-profit arts sector is its presentation and support for "alternative" artifacts? What are we actually talking about as "alternative?" Folk art, outsider art, art not in English, art critical of major party administrations or party politics, art that dramatizes gender issues or features glbt characters, art that uses "dirty" language, art that portrays or debunks race/ethnic stereotypes, art that employs challenging narrative techniques, art that mixes forms and appeals to multiple senses in innovative ways, etc., etc.? Each of these is a different question even if one believes there is an identifiable dominant culture. Some precision here would enable information gathering that I have no doubt would be useful for cultural policy makers and grant givers. I have to admit, however, that I'm distracted by the fact that I can easily access engaging art that fits every one of the above definitions of "alternative"--including artifacts I'd consider "risk-taking"--on HBO, Showtime, Sundance, public broadcasting and DVDs with director and actor interviews. Cable affords us a bevy of Washington-spun-news deconstructors including Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and, even more powerfully, the BBC, not to mention the blogosphere. I wonder whether the reason some perceive a diminishment of "alternative" art in live arts performances is because alternative art is so much more present in broadcast and digital media. Digital media can be expected to challenge increasingly each of the special powers and values of live art (sensory mmediacy, stagecraft, the communal experience, etc.) increasingly. The barriers have been falling (e.g., Rocky Horror interactions) and live and electronic art have been crossing (e.g., Angels one way, Wizard of Oz to Wiz the other way) regardless of subject matter for decades. Would love to hear from Sandra Gibson and Ben Cameron on this question.

Congratulations on kicking off the blog, Barry. A couple of questions for future discussion: What value and special claims for the not-for-profit arts industry will affect what happens to its tax-exempt status? Also, I think it would be interesting to explore Anthony Radich's thought-provoking comment re the first topic--that charitable giving is "propping up areas of the arts the public has long ago stopped supporting--and probably will no longer support no matter how much private foundation money is pumped into them." That raises lots of worthwhile philanthropic and public policy issues.

BARRY: the entertainment industry, so often the villian to the arts for their tepid support and virtual cold shoulder to appeals to help make the case for the arts and stand up in its defense, is, arguably, far more out front in terms of nurturing and supporting alternative art - or at least some of it? But would not the "alternative artists" not so fortunate to be on the cable producers' "A" list disagree? And in any event should the nonprofit arts sector not have some role in insuring that the creation of edgier, riskier art thrives?

Well, sounds like between Jonathan, Anthony and Barry one question has splintered into many! (And all important and worthwhile.) I would agree that it is hard to identify "alternative" with precision, but for now let's define it as I think the original commenter intended it - art that is daring, challenging, new, perhaps difficult to understand or even offensive to some. If that is the definition then I agree that venues for such art, especially in the performing arts, have become harder to sustain. As noted by Anthony, this may be due to changes in the public mood and taste as much as it is changes in funding. I think it is also due to the phenomenon that I described in an earlier post, that it just so much more expensive now that it was in the 60's and 70's to produce the performing arts. In economic terms, the cost of entering the market has risen to the point where in many communities only the well-capitalized can compete and survive. However, let us not start the funeral dirge just yet- the NY Fringe festival just ended and presented literally hudreds of such artists, and similar opportunities do still exist all across the country.

I also agree with Jonathan that we in the nonprofit arts often do not given enough credit to the daring and innovative artistic work that is happening in commercial entertainment media like cable television and alternative music clubs.

I think the best thing we can do in the arts to preserve alternative, risk-taking arts is to 1) make sure that we define our field in a way that recognies that this "R&D" is part of its long term health; 2)that we also recognize that alternative risk-taking art required an audience that wants it and demands it - if we don't nurture an audience for it then venues for the creation and presentation of such work will not succeed; 3) that we recognize that the nonprofit arts sector is not solely responsible for such art nor always the best place for it - we need to be more open to the blurred line between for and non-profit art; 4) that we address the issues Jonathan has indirectly raised - that "alterntive" art is perhaps not just "difficult" or "avant-garde" art, but also outsider art, art by indiginous peoples, etc. By this definition the solution to ensuring this art has a voice is more complex than simply stimulating more (at the risk of being oxymoronic) "traditional alternative" arts presenters/centers.

And I add my thanks to Barry for initiating this dialogue!

Picking up on Gary's mention of "R&D," that is one role the not-for-profit sector will always be needed to play: providing a place for and access to the voices and viewpoints that are not profitable. As unprofitable niches become profitable, of course, they are picked up by the for-profit sector or become a for-profit center feeding the not-for-profit parent. (Remember when only public television covered tennis?) The point is, there will always be art that is unprofitable because it has one or more of the characteristics that Gary and I named, and it will always take support from the non-commercial marketplaces (philanthropy and government) to enrich our lives by giving us access to it. One important role that the not-for-profit arts sector must play is helping artists get work TO the marketplace. We do not think often enough and strategically enough about focusing enough support on the role of distribution. Think of how underattended by funders the distribution role is in bringing dance, crafts, small press literature, chamber music and independent film to market.

Not today, but at some point, we should discuss how to change the situation so that when those "unprofitable niches" that WE develop become profitable, at least some of that profit inures to our benefit.

What is apparent to me from these discussions is the fragility of funding of the non-profit art sector. Continued limited public support for the arts means the underfeeding of an important sector and perhaps more importantly, the reinforcement of inequitable distribution of art access and opportunity. While I agree that the commercial sector is providing a significant menu of alternative art, I think we all have, and should have, a strong stake in the vitality of the emerging art sector of the nonprofit world. Is this country ready to support the arts through the public sector in a more serious way than letting it live off the crumbs of a tax policy? Probably not. Nevertheless, I do think that arguments and strategies (such as the public value approach) are spooling up and these will ultimately help us prevail.

The stagnation of public funding for the arts is another topic for future discussion. While every argument we can muster helps, I'm afraid that without political clout, public funding for the arts will continue to languish far, far behind those of most other nations, certainly on a per capita basis. There may be pockets of enlightened public officials who, if they don't fully understand the value of the arts on the myriad levels the arts provide value, nonetheless understand the some public support is essential. For most, the arts are still nothing more than "fluff" and a luxury to support only when economic times are sky high and the coffers so flush that they literally don't know what else to do with the money. To me the inescapable conclusion is that unless and until we in the arts muster political power - which means money and involvement in the campaigns of elected officials - nothing will really change for us.

Anybody with any Bulletin that they want to pass on?

There are a lot of questions here and so I would say we are off to a great start. I have spent a lot of time recently in digital and electronic arts, partly for the reasons that Jonathan sites. The fact is by expanding cable to hundreds of channels and opening up streaming and other direct art transmission from artist to viewer has allowed niches to become viable markets. A "national" audience made up of 100 people in 1,000 places for a difficult art piece might be large enough to sustain it, even though we could not physically gather enough people in any one city (except New York perhaps). So electronic transmission allows us to build a large audience from a small slice from many geographic locations. That's why electronic presentation of the arts works because it gets over the efficiency of labor that Gary mentioned. The big question I have with electronic art is equal access. The makers of the images can no longer create them with a ten-dollar canvas and some paint. But those are questions for another day. Thanks to Barry and the cast of co-bloggers for a stimulating start.

In the bill coming before Congress to supplement $60 B already allocated for Hurricane Katrina relief, the NEA plans to seek signifcant economic development funds to rebuild arts and cultural facilities, restore artistic community livelihoods and assist artist evacuees far from home. Meanwhile, donations directly to those most affected can be made to the Southern Arts Federation Emergency Relief Fund at

Thank you all. While there were some glitches in this first Hessenius Group experiment, and schedules prevented some from participating, I think we can build this into a useful forum for the arts. The next Hessenius Group will begin Tuesday, October 11th. I hope to make improvements by then so the dialogue flows better. And I hope those who tuned into this exchange will join the conversation with their own comments.

Americans for the Arts has established the Americans for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund, a permanent fund developed to provide timely financial assistance to areas impacted by a major disaster for the purpose of helping them rebuild the arts in their communities. Created with an initial contribution of $100,000 from Americans for the Arts' own reserves, the relief fund will distribute support directly to local arts agencies to assist with their own recovery or to provide needed services and funding to local nonprofit arts groups and individual artists in affected areas and to other relief efforts dedicated to helping the arts. One-hundred percent of the contributions to the Emergency Relief Fund will go directly to these efforts. For information on how to make a tax-deductible contribution or to apply for funds, visit the Americans for the Arts website or contact Americans for the Arts toll-free at 866.471.2787 and ask for the Americans for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund.

Don't Quit.

Have a great weekend.