Thursday, October 26, 2006

October 26, 2006

Barry's Blog - October 31, 2006

1. Americans for the Arts Congressional Report Card
2. Economic Impact Studies - Why they're only HALF the battle
3. Musings on the Future
4. BITS & PIECES: Political Junkie site; new blog for symphonies; great travel planning site

Hello everyone. It's now dark at 5:30 pm. I hate when Daylight Savings Time ends. At least next year it begins mid March and ends early November - giving us almost one month more of daylight.

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

I. AFTA Congressional Report Card
"I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote......"

Americans for the Arts has published its latest Congressional Report Card. Every county and state ought to publish their own Report Card for county elected officials (Boards of Suprvisors / City Councils) and for State Legislators, and then widely publicize the existence of the Report Card (via news releases, email, etc. etc.) so that the media and legislators and other elected officials become aware that the arts are watching their votes. Doing that city by city and state by state will help to begin building the arts sector as having some political clout.

Similarly, every city and state should by the 2008 election develop candidate questionaires and distribute them to ALL candidates for elected office - from US Senators down to those running for school board.

These two simple and very do-able objectives should be a priority of every state arts advocacy arm. Please, let's not let another election come and go without having the arts at least positioning itself as a political player.

To view the AFTA Congressional Report Card for your state Click here:

II. The Impact of Economic Impact Studies
"I said over, and over, and over again.............."

I am one of those who believe that economic impact studies showing the value of the arts and culture sector to local, state and the national economy - in terms of jobs, tax generation and general economic activity - are one of the best tools the arts sector has used in the on-going effort to make the case for our value. The problem is that once a given study is complete and we make a little hoopla on its release, we aren't following up enough.

I think getting the public, the media and specific elected officials to understand both the general and specific contributions of the arts to the economy is like selling detergent or some other product -- the secret is repetitive advertising. We need to bring economic impact study results to the attention of the public, over and over and over again. Strategies to capture interest in such studies, should be long term and include multiple attempts to release and call attention to the data. Each such study should be continuously touted again and again until a new study is done the replaces the old one. Thus stratgies for hyping economic impact reports should include efforts over a multi year period. We must spend as much time, energy, money and other resources on the disemination of the data as we do on gathering it. There is no reason to gather it unless we can get it out there where it will do us some good. Hollywood studios spend as much money advertising a film as they do making it - and the same logic needs to apply to more of what we do.

Here's a link to a new kind of arts economic study. Done in Orange County, CA. it analyzes the cultural assets of Orange County on a per capita basis and then compares the overall figures to neighboring counties. I like this kind of study because it appeals to people's sense of pride and natural competitive spirit, and a I think that is an effective strategy. People respond almost viscerally when they are compared unfavorably with their neighbors. Here's the link to the LA Times article,0,4121031.story?coll=cl-calendar

III. Musings on the Future
"In the year 2525........................."

It's getting relatively easy to imagine that television in 20 years, let alone 50 years, will probably look little like it does today. Broadcasting has seen its audience and share shrink due to cable for over a decade and increasingly it borrows what it can from cable to try to compete. Plasma tvs, Tivo, You Tube and podcasts may now further change what we watch (or what is offered to us) and how we watch. The music business is similarly changing as technology and the internet makes it easier to both make and distribute music.,1,4215312.story?coll=la-headlines-entnews

I ponder again how two decades will change the arts - say theater and dance, and performances and audiences, or painting and museum exhibitions. I still think we should be continuously talking about how the arts will morph and how that morphing should affect and impact policy and its formation. Maybe this is one topic those people Americans for the Arts will gather at Sundance for a Policy Roundtable might consider. Hopefully, that discussion will cover a broad range of topics and issues that will serve to spur widespread discussion of policy.

IV. Bits & Pieces:
The Election is now ONE WEEK Away. For the political junkies like me out there, here's a good site to see how the contest(s) in your state are going, including the latest polls on who is ahead.

Here's a new arts blog those of you in the music sector of our field might want to take a look at -- its authored by Henry Fogel - President of the American Symphony Orchestra League.
Click here:

itasoftware (created by scientists at MIT) is the best site when you want to know which airline carrier offers the best combination of low fare and convenient routing. Unlike commercial sites like expedia and travelocity etc. it doesn't favor certain airlines. You can't book a flight on it, but you can find out which carrier best suits your need and then go to that airline's website and book your flights. It also gives you warnings about long layovers or limited time between one flight and another. Bookmark it:

Have a great week. Happy Halloween.

Don't Quit!