Archive for February, 2009

Stars Come Out

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Money Grab

Photo by Steve Wampler — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

How do you sell enlightenment?

As posted in KadmusArts’ daily culture news, this week, if you want light you need stars. Looking for the meaning of life? Go with pop culture.

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times is using George Clooney to enlighten the world about the darkness of Darfur: “He’s using me to learn more about Darfur, and I’m using him to ease you into a column about genocide.”

Greg Sandow of the Wall Street Journal notes the impact of Robert Redford on the US Congress’ decision to increase national arts funding as part of the stimulus bill. (Get ready to celebrate: $50 million increase as part of the $800 billion deal/dole.)

Sandow, whose critical writing has improved the creation of art, points to a more significant point about selling culture. He asks, why must we force ourselves to see the arts as an economic issue?

In his most recent opinion piece for the Journal, Sandow notes that the arguments for increasing funding to the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the stimulus package were made on economic grounds. Arts create jobs. Arts support the economy. Arts help neighborhood vendors.

Fair enough. However, as Sandow notes, the same can be said for wall street financial companies and car manufacturers. In fact, both of those industries, which are very much part of the stimulus package, create more jobs and affect local economies to a much greater degree than the not-for-profit arts organizations supported by the NEA.

In other words, why compete on their own turf? Why try to compare who makes more money?

What about the need for the arts? Well, Sandow writes that he surely doesn’t want to be the one who demands arts funding at the expense of health funding and other direct life or death services.

Sandow inspires us to make better arguments for the arts. Stop selling short, and start investing long. The argument has to be about what the arts can mean to our lives, to our individual identity and to our place in the world.

If the argument is about money, you might as well as follow the stars. Pop culture is doing just fine, thank you very much.

- Bill Reichblum

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Arts Presenters: Alicia Adams

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Alicia AdamsAlicia Adams is the Vice President of International Programming and Dance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to curating international festivals (such as the Arabesque Festival) and the Center’s Contemporary Dance Series, she has worked with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Belafonte Enterprises, Inc. and City Center Theater.

In this podcast Adams reflects on the mission of the Kennedy Center, new possibilities for supporting the arts with an incoming Administration, and art and culture from the Arab world.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

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Arts Presenters: Joe Clifford

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Joe CliffordJoe Clifford is the outreach and arts education manager for the Hopkins Center for the Arts. The department provides the Dartmouth campus and the surrounding region access to visiting artists through a series of programs that provide context and create connections.

In this interview Joe talks about how he discovered arts management as a career, why relationship building is vital to the creative campus, and provides some concrete examples of what works.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

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No Business Like Festival Business

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Ethel Merman

Photo by spike55151 — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Sure, it is hard to celebrate in the middle of a worldwide recession that’s moving toward a darker depression. So, how about a little festive news to feel a stimulus?

Cue Ethel Merman — with one change: apparently, now one can sing there’s no business like festival business.

Two stories posted this week in KadmusArts’ Culture News (“Our Festivals: Good Business” and “Fest Biz Bounce”) address the strong economic health of festivals.

In the Christian Science Monitor, Matthew Shaer reports on why festivals are a good business model in this climate.

Shaer’s story tracks the continued growth of festivals both in terms of audiences and in terms of profits. Even in tough times, travelers seek out destination experiences. Casual travel may be cut back, but audiences will travel if the payoff is one destination with multiple experiences. As he notes in his follow-up podcast, there is “a bargain idea at play here.”

A festival fits the model. Festivals offer a one ticket purchase for multiple acts. Good festivals offer a good range of performances. Moreover, there is more to the festival event than just the performances; there is a community of celebrants.

Shaer quotes Chuck Morris of the Mile High Music and Arts Festival: “I do feel pretty confident that the future of festivals is nothing but up.” (Last year, his festival sold close to 100,00 tickets and grossed more than $7 million.)

Billboard’s Mitchell Peters also forecasts a strong festival season. Every year has a few festivals that close, or move locations. However, the industry keeps growing — all over the world. Where there are audiences, there are advertisers. As important to the festival business, big name brands continue to their support of festival events.

Even as the music business rocks and rolls through the adjustment from selling LPs to iTunes, festivals thrive. Ashley Capps of co-founder of Bonnaroo, sums it up, “…in the end, there’s no substitute for that live experience.”

We know from KadmusArts.com’s users that festival goers are people of all ages who are compelled to travel, want to spend money on live entertainment, hold true as fans to our standbys, and participate in the latest cultural trends.

Ethel, we always knew you were right. Now, though, it’s not just a show, it’s a festival.

- Bill Reichblum

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Arts Presenters: John Hartley

Monday, February 16th, 2009

John HartleyJohn Hartley is the Arts And Ecology Strategy Officer at Arts Council England. In this capacity he supports the development of sustainable practices and infrastructure in the arts community. He has led the development of a self-assessment toolkit to help arts organizations reduce energy usage and save money, and serves on the steering committee for Greening London’s Theatres.

In this interview he talks about why environmental sustainability has become a high priority for Arts Council England, what artists bring to conversations on stewardship of the earth, and how artists both in the UK and US can be leaders in this movement.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

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