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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:03 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2000 12:01 am
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Location: New York, NY
Hi Azlan:

I'm back in NYC, for the time being. But I'm about to be a dance critic again, albeit briefly. Details coming when the plan is finalized. I miss everyone, and the dance scene, in SF.

Jeffrey: I know exactly what you mean. But I'm playing devil's advocate a bit, after that 2001 REAP study at Harvard that showed the arts return very little in academic achievement (of course this is yet another "study" that finds data to support its hypothesis.) What I'm saying is, what is the arts DON'T return the economic or academic benefit promised? Then those who grudgingly funded the projects will be turned off for life. Producing arts events and maintaining arts groups and performing arts centers is extraordinarily expensive to a community, and some pundits are starting to say the "arts as a community's crown jewel -- holy trinity of symphony-ballet-opera" model is now outdated. Of course, that's also just one side of the argument.

And though there's no shortage of studies supporting the economic/academic hypotheses, it must be noted that they're of course usually funded and put together by those who stand to benefit (and this isn't necessarily a bad thing) by producing/teaching/earning from their own arts edu programs.

I'm trying to start down a different path, the one represented here by the "great civilizations can be measured by their great art" argument. How can that sentiment be tweaked into the "what's in it for me" tone of the economic/academic argument? And what if we took all the money spent marketing the excessive number of arts events that aren't drawing an audience, (and sorry...some arts edu programs) and instead put it toward a substantial number free or low-cost tickets, easily obtainable to those with no resources to attend? I think a lot of people with only a passing interest could get hooked by that kind of exposure.

When I was writing a story on the high salaries paid to orchestra execs and conductors, I spent an hour before the concert talking to people walking away from the box office with their tickets. Several said that their attendance was a rare event, as they couldn't afford tickets regularly. All said tickets were too expensive. And all were shocked -- and I mean jaw-dropping shocked -- to learn what the folks running the concert were earning. (NY Phil executive director, $750,000; conductor, $2.3 million for 14 weeks work, while the group was running a deficit)

But my point is this: if free, or low-cost tickets were made available, perhaps in places like schools and neighborhood centers in *all* kinds of neighborhoods, would people come, and develop an interest? You have to be *phenomenally* interested in something to pay $50-120 for a ticket to a two-hour event. But to spend $10-20 is another matter. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, the New York Philharmonic offered very low-cost tix to its Lewisohn Stadium concerts, which are still fondly remembered by a broad cross-section of older New Yorkers. Aside from the parks concerts (which draw huge crowds because they're free) they're not much left for people of ordinary means to attend.

So what do you guys think? Can we translate the wonder of the arts into something that clearly benefits the observer, without invoking the economic/academic argument? How?

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--Author, "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music" (Grove/Atlantic Press, July 2005)
www.mozartinthejungle.com


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 7:22 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:01 pm
Posts: 219
A couple of disjointed points:

The salaries of the music elite are as high as they are, because the corporate-bred directors on the boards approve the expenditures. They approve the expenditures, because in the corporate world, whoever spends the most on executive salaries gets the best executives. The corporate-bred directors manage the organization with a goal toward what the year-end 990 should look like, not what the art product does for the community. Don't like it? Then turn down Sanford Weil's money. Turn down Robert Wilson's money. Turn down Movado money and the like. So long as their money sustains the arts, the arts will be run as they wish.

The responsibility of arts education should be no more, no less than the responsibility of math, science, and English education. It's just one more general area that rounds out an individual's sense of values and ability to think. One can apply the criticisms of spending on arts education to every other educational area. And the point of learning how to factor algebraic trinomials is WHAT? And the point of diagramming sentences is WHAT? And the point of pithing a frog is WHAT? If a kid studies a musical instrument in high school, chances are good that he will graduate being able to count to eight. In some school systems, that's saying a lot.

A few weeks ago while riding the (dearly departed) C train, I heard two high school kids discussing whether it was better to take the C or the A. One said she always took the A because it was faster. The other disagreed by saying "Nuh uh. Sometimes the A don't wanna go being express." These kids were carrying school books. I don't think the problem is the misspending of money on arts education. Nuh uh.

<small>[ 30 January 2005, 09:26 PM: Message edited by: Poohtunia ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 8:27 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Quote:
Originally posted by Poohtunia:
"Nuh uh. Sometimes the A don't wanna go being express." These kids were carrying school books. I don't think the problem is the misspending of money on arts education. Nuh uh.
LOL, Poohtunia. Sometimes I can understand foreign-born individuals better than ones born and bred in the US!

At a recent awards ceremony recognizing businesses that support the arts, the CEO and Brewmaster of Peet's Coffee stated something to the effect that it is unfortunate many businesses have a narrow point of view when it comes to supporting the arts. He probably meant that many businesses don't give at all but I think he may also have referred to companies that give only when there is an immediate return.

One thing that is lost upon many businesses is that they are in business because of the community. There are very few businesses that list "community" in their mission statement or core values.


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 2:24 am 
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Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Poohtunia, did anyone explain to them that you must take the A-train?

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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 7:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Quote:
Arts are drawing crowds to Torrington

By DAVID PENCEK
Norwich Bulletin

TORRINGTON-- Sitting at the counter in Chiane's Gourmet Coffee House & Cafe, Ed DuBois could look past a busy lunch crowd and see the plowed snow lining Main Street outside. <a href=http://www.norwichbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050130/NEWS01/501300301/1002 target=_blank>more</a>


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 1:45 pm 
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Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Here's another article that suggests fundraisers should focus on the non-economic merits of the arts (thanks, DavidH):

Quote:
Arts funding study causes stir

Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
SF Chronicle

After wading through stacks of economic and educational studies used to drum up arts funding, Rand Corp. researchers say the numbers don't make a persuasive case and that arts advocates should emphasize intrinsic benefits that make people cherish the arts. <a href=http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/02/17/DDG66BCA811.DTL target=_blank>more</a>


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 8:00 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:01 pm
Posts: 219
Here's an article from Feb. 18, 2005 Newsday.com about an ancient city that was uncovered as the result of the tsunami's wrath. Look at the importance of the artwork in identifying the civilization. It's not inconceivable that our own civilization could be someday lost in this manner. Art in education not only plays an important role in the individual's development, but it insures continued practice of the arts which is important to each civilization--no matter how advanced or primitive.

Quote:
Tsunami Uncovers Ancient City in India

By Associated Press
February 18, 2005, 5:34 PM EST

MAHABALIPURAM, India -- Archaeologists have begun underwater excavations of what is believed to be an ancient city and parts of a temple uncovered by the tsunami off the coast of a centuries-old pilgrimage town.

. . .

The six-foot rocky structures that have emerged in Mahabalipuram, 30 miles south of Madras, include an elaborately carved head of an elephant and a horse in flight. Above the elephant's head is a small square-shaped niche with a carved statue of a deity. Another structure uncovered by the tsunami has a reclining lion sculpted on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 8:23 pm 
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Posts: 219
You know, the Rand people are all very smart. However, common sense says that the arts have as much economic benefit for a community as anything else on which people spend their discretionary income. People who go out for an evening at Lincoln Center may pay for parking, may drink a glass of champagne at the theater or at a local pub, may hire a babysitter, may buy a new outfit for the occasion or even fly in from San Francisco. The flow-through economic benefit is there--and it's a meaningful amount. The same arguments, for and against spending, currently swirl around the building of a new stadium on the West Side of Manhattan. "It will secure the Olympics for us." "It will create jobs." "It will increase tax revenues." If people are willing to spend their discretionary income on the arts or sports, it will all be good for the community. They WILL spend if the artistic or athletic product is good. If the product is not good, they might not spend. Isn't it really common sense? Do we really NEED a Rand study or is this just an example of the arts spurring economic activity?

<small>[ 21 February 2005, 09:25 PM: Message edited by: Poohtunia ]</small>


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