WBEZ | arts funding http://www.wbez.org/tags/arts-funding Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Department of 'duh!' The (arts) rich get richer http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-17/department-duh-arts-rich-get-richer-93159 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-14/fusing arts.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Now <a href="http://www.ncrp.org/paib/arts-culture-philanthropy">here's a shocker</a>: apparently most of the arts philanthropy in this country goes to big organizations. Who'da thunk it, huh? Who would imagine that arts funding in underserved communities, particularly communities of color, would lag behind donations to institutions serving wealthy white people?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-14/fusing arts.jpg" style="width: 441px; height: 500px;" title=""></p><p>Obviously, study authors from the Committee for Responsive Philanthropy need to keep making this point if the situation is ever to be rectified; but sometimes I think the money spent on documenting the situation in the arts would be better spent on, oh, what's that called? The arts? For, <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/12263124">as it is written</a>, "You don't fatten a hog by weighing it."</p><p>But the issue does need to be raised, because attacks on the arts as "elitist" are only valid if the only arts groups getting support are the ones preferred by the elites.&nbsp; And validating that argument should be the furthest thing from the minds of people who support the arts, whether with their creativity, their attendance or their money.</p><p>What to do about it? A word of advice from a <a href="http://nonprofiteer.net/2007/05/10/dear-nonprofiteer-with-friends-like-these/">fundraising consultant</a>-cum-theater critic (or maybe it's the other way around): Don't count the money in other people's pockets. Don't presume that your audience is too poor to donate.&nbsp;<em><u><strong>Ask them!</strong></u></em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/05/19/68456/americas-poor-are-its-most-generous.html">Poor people donate more generously than rich people</a>, and generous gifts to small organizations can make a huge difference.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 14:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-17/department-duh-arts-rich-get-richer-93159 A case for government funding of the arts, part 2 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-23/case-government-funding-arts-part-2-90906 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-23/flickr theater umtad.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-23/flickr theater umtad.jpg" style="margin: 7px; float: right; width: 280px; height: 187px;" title="(Flickr/University of Minnesota Theatre Arts &amp; Dance)">In response to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-16/case-government-funding-arts-part-1-90649">my blog last week</a>, "A Case for Government Funding of the Arts, Part 1," several readers posted comments which decried any connection between the arts and government, even calling for the disestablishment of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).</p><p>These comments — which I expected — were posted by individuals who claimed to be ardent arts supporters, if not artists themselves. They were passionate yet intelligent statements that completely missed the point.</p><p>Here is the point: Whether artists like it or not, there ALWAYS has been interaction and interface between government and the arts, and there always will be. As a class of the governed, artists can choose to be part of the dialogue with those who govern, or artists can turn their backs and suffer the consequences of not representing their own interests in places of power. At present in the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts is the best seat at the table that artists have.</p><p>Since the arts emerged in prehistoric primitive cultures, they've always had a social obligation to interpret the spiritual and secular worlds in which they exist. The plays of ancient Greece, especially the comedies, were expected to comment on political policies and governance. The history plays of Shakespeare legitimized the Tudor monarchy. The triumphs of Renaissance religious art glorified the business (Christianity) of the boss (the Pope). The music of Mozart or Hadyn added sophistication and status to the courts of the monarchs who paid for it. In the modern era, Communist governments have poured tons of money into the arts in order to earn international prestige and provide a facade of humanism for often-repressive regimes.</p><p>The arts represent national prestige and national culture and usually prove to be more powerful as a legacy to the world than vast armed forces and territorial conquest. Virtually alone among developed nations, the United States mostly ignored the arts in any national or Federal sense until the NEA was established in 1965.</p><p>Now, artists always have been suspicious or fearful of government and rightly so. Where politics and the arts meet, there often has been censorship or attempted censorship. But the NEA was designed to minimize that possibility and largely has succeeded for two reasons: our Federal government cannot censor the arts, nor does it throw enough money at the arts to control them.</p><p>Thanks to the First Amendment, no elected or appointed official can tell an artist what he can or cannot express (short of shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater). If Congress or an administration is unhappy with the arts, all it can do is withdraw or reduce what little funding it provides, and this step has been taken several times.</p><p>The real magic, of course, is that it's not enough money to make a difference. A well-managed non-profit theater company, dance troupe, museum or arts academy will never depend on government funding for more than 5% of its total budget. But that 5% loosens the purse strings of far more generous foundation, corporate and individual donors who want to see that little statement: "Supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts." An NEA grant has become an imprimatur. It signals other potential funders that arts organization A or B or C meets certain standards of quality, innovation and business-like operation.</p><p>Some artists hate that part, too, believing that NEA bureaucrats decide which art is worthy and which is not, but that's not how it works. The NEA is organized around a system of peer review panels. For example, grants for non-profit theater companies aren't determined by full-time NEA employees but by a panel of artistic directors and managing directors assembled to review all grant applications in that category. They will come from theaters which are not themselves competing for money in that particular grant cycle. Museum grants will be reviewed by museum executives and curators, and so on.</p><p>These professionals work with sincere dedication to do the most with taxpayer resources. I know, because I've been an NEA panelist. In my case, we had 34 applications seeking $17.5 million in grants, but we only had $3.5 million to give out. We met for 12 hours a day over three hot, humid June days in Washington, D.C. in the NEA quarters in the Old Post Office Building. The air conditioning was shut off at 5 p.m., but we worked until 8:30 or 9 p.m. each night.</p><p>Our process determined that 31 of the 34 applications were worthy of support, so we prioritized them to receive a share of the $3.5 million. At the top of the list, a little-known institution requesting $20,000 received $17,500, the largest grant by percentage. At the bottom, a number of institutions received so-called entry level grants (which have varied yearly between $3,000 and $5,000). In between, several famous behemoth arts organizations requesting $350,000 received $150,000.</p><p>The work was hard and mentally demanding. For our labors, we panelists were flown to Washington economy class, put up in a modest hotel for three nights and given an honorarium of $150. We paid for our own meals. The vast bulk of NEA money goes to arts organizations and state arts agencies and not to bureaucracy, which is why I said last week that the NEA is a model of how a government agency should be run.</p><p>As modest as the NEA budget is, it provides an opportunity for artists to appear before Congress each year in a public forum to advocate on behalf of the arts, and to put elected officials on notice that culture matters. Even more, regional and national arts advocacy groups have sprung up to create an arts lobby at the Federal level and in statehouses, too.</p><p>Is the NEA ideal? No. Might there be better ways to fund the arts and protect them from censorship? Yes, but we don't have them and we probably won't get them. This is why the NEA is the best seat the arts have at the political table.</p><p>In its 46 year history, the NEA never has received more than $176 million, a mere 1/10,000th of the Federal budget at that time (the late 1980's). The same dollars today would be an even more infinitesimal fraction of the budget and purchase less. But the NEA hasn't received that much in over 20 years. The Obama request for Fiscal 2012 is $146 million, of which the House of Representatives has approved $135 million. The final number remains to be worked out between the Senate and the House.</p><p>The good news is that the Republican-controlled House has soundly rejected several Republican-sponsored proposals this summer to kill the NEA outright. Even GOPers seem to "get it" about the NEA and the arts, at least for the time being.<br> Now, if only all my blog readers — and my colleague Kelly Kleiman —&nbsp;got it, too!</p></p> Tue, 23 Aug 2011 13:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-23/case-government-funding-arts-part-2-90906 Here, There: In the Netherlands, artistic community reeling from funding cuts http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-05/here-there-netherlands-artistic-community-reeling-funding-cuts-90194 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-05/netherlands2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Today, we return to our occasional <em><a href="herethere" target="_blank">Here, There</a></em> series with a look at arts funding around the world.</p><p>In the Netherlands, the government recently slashed 200 million Euros in arts funding. The cuts were met with a storm of protest.</p><p>Many of the Dutch insist that funding for the arts is a right, not a privilege, and that it's the government's job to support experimental art. We speak to <a href="http://vanderaa.net/" target="_blank">Michel van der Aa</a>, a house composer for the <a href="http://www.concertgebouworkest.nl/en/downloads" target="_blank">Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra</a> in Amsterdam, about what the cuts mean.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 19:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-05/here-there-netherlands-artistic-community-reeling-funding-cuts-90194 Here, There: In U.S., NEA struggles to make the case for public funding http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-05/here-there-us-nea-struggles-make-case-public-funding-90180 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-05/arts3.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In the U.S., the value of the <a href="http://www.nea.gov/" target="_blank">National Endowment for the Arts</a> can vary wildly, depending on who you ask. Some believe government funding for the arts is wasteful and that the value of art should be determined by the market; others think it's at the core of healthy civil society.</p><p>To help us understand the American model, we talk to artist, author and filmmaker Brian O’Doherty. &nbsp;Brian was a program director at the NEA soon after its formation in the 1960s.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-05/here-there-us-nea-struggles-make-case-public-funding-90180 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 4/28 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-28/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-428-85792 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-28/rahm getty john gress.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>1. We've talked <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-18/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-418-85334">about Mario Cart</a>&nbsp;as theater, but now for a more obvious twist on video-to-stage: <a href="http://www.gorillatango.com/cgi-bin/public/gttv2.cgi?location_number=2&amp;shows=yes"><em>Gleeks and Freaks: A Glee Burlesque Musical</em></a> is performing one final time tonight. Well, except that <em>Glee </em>airs practically every week in super-long, chock full 'o Lady Gaga episodes, but I digress. <em>Gleeks and Freaks</em> is at 9:30 pm at the Gorilla Tango Theatre, and is again produced by&nbsp;GTT/Geek Girl Burlesque.</p><p>2. Tony Adams, the Artistic Director of the Halcyon Theatre, <a href="http://www.2amtheatre.com/2011/04/26/spotlight-meet-tony-adams-director/">has some strong ideas</a> about some traditional directing techniques. For example, he hates table work: "I don’t like table work. Actually, I f***ing hate it. I think sitting around a table for a week is one of the worst ways you can use your time." &nbsp;&nbsp; And believes traditional texts that tell you how to direct are stupid: "I think William Ball’s <em>A Sense of Direction</em> and Terry McCabe’s <em>Mis-Directing the Play</em> both seemed fairly worthless to me."</p><p>3. In a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/mayor-elect-rahm-emanuel-says-he-wont-spare-arts-85764">panel yesterday at The Goodman</a>, Rahm Emanuel discussed the arts, but what he said wasn't entirely comforting to those concerned about arts funding. He described cultural organizations as no more exempt from budget-cuts than other areas, stating that they did not operate in a "sacrifice-free zone."&nbsp; The Mayor-elect went on to say that he intends to charging non-profits for water usage, but was less clear when it came to a question about whether non-profits would have to begin paying property taxes. After indicating that he wouldn't rule out such a move, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-04-27/news/ct-met-rahm-property-taxes-0428-20110427_1_emanuel-transition-aide-property-taxes-nonprofits">his communications staff scrambled to clarify thereafter</a>, stating that Emanuel has no intention of imposing property taxes on non-profit organizations.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://scottbarsotti.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/rabbit-soldier.jpg" style="color: rgb(95, 95, 95);"><img alt="" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1415" height="328" src="http://scottbarsotti.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/rabbit-soldier.jpg?w=490&amp;h=328" style="border-width: 0px; max-width: 100%; width: auto; height: auto;" title="rabbit soldier" width="490"></a></p><p>4. The book that made you cry as a child can now make you cry on stage. <a href="http://www.lifelinetheatre.com/performances/10-11/watership/index.shtml" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;"><em>Watership Down</em></a>&nbsp;opens in previews tomorrow night at the Lifeline Theatre.&nbsp;Scott T. Barsotti plays Fiver, and explains that if you don't like rabbits, this isn't the play for you. He <a href="http://scottbarsotti.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/watership-down-approaches/" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">says there are rabbits galore:</a> "Killer rabbits. Clairvoyant rabbits. Strange rabbits. Desperate, hungry, soulful rabbits…Rabbits fighting! Rabbits adventuring! Rabbits telling tales! Rabbits using logic!"</p><p>5. And looking ahead: the Neo-Futurists are searching for new ensemble members for their show <a href="http://www.neofuturists.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=20&amp;Itemid=45"><em>Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind</em></a>, which is the longest running show in Chicago and is described as "an unreproducable living newspaper collage." <a href="http://neofuturists.org/">Auditions </a>will be held on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15.&nbsp;If YOU think you have what it takes to speak&nbsp;from a "perspective of absolute honesty", then this is the show for you.&nbsp; The Neo-Futurist cast members appear as themselves on stage, "speaking directly from [their] personal experiences."&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Thu, 28 Apr 2011 14:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-28/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-428-85792