Commentary: The GOP's job-killing plan for arts and culture

by Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times' Culture Monster blog, January 24, 2011

With savings accounts, money markets and even stocks yielding just a few percentage points on investments these days, a return in excess of 1800% is pretty staggering.  Yet that's what happens with federal support for arts and culture. My colleague Mike Boehm reports that federal arts and culture spending currently totals about $1.6 billion a year, not counting construction budgets.  Meanwhile, revenues to federal, state and local coffers related to that spending totals $30 billion annually -- more than 18 times the outlay. The income derives from taxes paid by the 5.7 million workers in the nation's culture industry, many of whose jobs are sustained by federal support.  Nonetheless, congressional Republicans are once again proposing job-killing cuts to the federal arts budget. They aim to slash it, even zeroing out tiny agencies such as the NEA and NEH, as a report last week from the Republican Study Committee proposed.  [They] claim "we can't afford it." But the numbers show the argument is just fear-mongering bunk.  Not only can we afford it, we need it -- for the jobs and the return on the investment that federal arts and culture funding provide.  If the Committee's economic rationale is without merit, it must have another agenda for federal arts and culture cuts. So far, no one in the House GOP has articulated what that reason is.  Recovery in the battered American economy is slow and precarious. Why look an arts gift-horse in the mouth?


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Commentary: Don't lose your older audience as you seek a younger audience

Michael Kaiser, writing on The Huffington Post, January 24, 2011

At virtually every discussion I have with board members of arts organizations (and arts managers as well), the desire to attract younger audience members is a primary topic. The issue is typically introduced by someone commenting: "Our audience is too old. Everyone has gray hair. Our audience members are likely to die away. We need a younger audience. How do we get young people to come to our performances?"  While I appreciate the spirit of this question, I don't really agree with the mindset of the speakers who speak as if the missions of our organizations are not aimed at servicing senior citizens. I agree wholeheartedly that we must build the next generation of audience members, donors and trustees. We want younger people to enjoy our performances. Culture is for everyone, not just senior citizens. But there is an implicit bias in the way the topic is raised. Somehow, younger audience members are deemed to be more highly-valued than their parents or grandparents. I could not disagree more. I value tremendously my senior audience members who, in most cases, have been the most loyal and generous supporters of the arts in their communities. Without their financial support, my institution, and many others in the community, would not be viable.  Looking to diversify our audiences does not mean we should turn our backs on, or reduce service to, seniors or other mainstays of our audience.


Commentary: Audiences over 55 spend more money than other age groups

Maureen Callahan, writing in The New York Post, January 23, 2011

About a year ago, executives at CNBC were alarmed to discover that they'd suddenly lost one-third of their audience. They couldn't figure it out; news programming, as a rule, attracts the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. So the network delved into the data and made a startling finding: That missing one-third was, in fact, still there. They were no longer being counted as viewers, because they'd turned 55.  "They had just turned invisible," says Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC Universal. While the 18-34 demographic remains the most coveted among advertisers -- get a consumer young, goes the thinking, and you get them for life -- it is actually the 55-to 64-year old demo that are the most dominant.  They make up half the population and spend more money on goods and services -- nearly $2 trillion -- than any other age group.  They are almost completely ignored by advertisers.  "The image most people have of grandparents is of doddering old fools who come by a few times a year to pat the grandkids on the head," says Peter Francese, demographic trends analyst for Ogilvy & Mather. "That is not this group."  "Aside from the rise of the Hispanic population and the digital revolution," says NBCU's Wurtzel, "the transformative effect of the Boomers is the hugest in recent memory."


Commentary: 6 tips for how nonprofit fundraisers can reach Baby Boomers

Posted by Joanne Fritz on her Nonprofits Blog, January 25, 2011

This year, the oldest members of the Baby Boom generation turn 65.  According to the Pew Charitable Trust, over the next 19 years 79 million baby boomers will turn 65 at the rate of approximately 10,000 per day.  It isn't the end of their importance to philanthropy, but really just the beginning. Here are six things your organization should consider in order to capture [their] wealth [and] volunteer potential:

  1. Are aging Boomers optimistic about the future or gloomy? AARP found they are optimistic. Pew concludes Boomers are pessimistic. So much for surveys! Show the glum they can make the world a better place; help the happier express their optimism [by] supporting a cause.
  2. Don't think that Baby Boomers are all alike.  But one thing you can count on: They are not frightened by change and are, perhaps, more adaptable than most other generations. Give them the information they need, tell them your opinion, ask them to help.
  3. Baby Boomers, as they age, are more generous. They will not be fooled by flash and noise. Take your time, give them the facts, show how they can make a difference.
  4. Baby Boomers can't see as well as they used to. When did you last look at your website through an aging Boomer's eyes? Is the type large enough? Is there enough white space? Think seriously about readability both on the web and for your printed material.
  5. Baby Boomers do not want to be considered "old." Readjust your attitude about aging. Older people always think "old" is about 10-15 years older than their age. Learn to see gray as beautiful and wrinkles as distinguishing. Don't make fun of older people.
  6. Look for Baby Boomers on social media. People over 50 represent the fastest growing segment on social networks such as Facebook. They have mobile phones, iPads, and Kindles. Start moving from direct mail to integrated campaigns that make full use of social media.

Will SAG Awards' new online-only voting rules disenfranchise older actors?

From, January 24, 2011

"SAG's Online-Only Voting Could Disenfranchise Thousands," pundit Steve Pond says -- and he thinks The King's Speech could lose votes. Pond says fretful publicists fear "tens of thousands" of the Screen Actors Guild's 100,000 or so eligible voters may be confused by the new online voting system, publicized conspicuously, including in November's Screen Actor magazine, which every member gets. Most SAGsters told Pond they like voting online, but one oldster he spoke with didn't get it, and tech-twit twitterers have posted clueless comments wondering where their physical ballots are.  But SAG Awards Committee Vice Chair Daryl Anderson calls bull on this argument. "Do you know how much actors use the Internet every day? Every time we audition, we use sides, pages of scripts. Thirty years ago I'd drive twice to audition, first to pick up sides, then to do the audition. Today they're distributed as pdfs. For commercials you download them from a website. For feature films -- this happened to me this year -- you get an email that says, 'Attached is a pdf with the material, videotape yourself, turn it into a quicktime file and send it to this email address for the casting director. Or if you have a Mac .me account, you've got an idisk, post it there and tell us your user name and we'll download it by ftp.' And that's every day."  But aren't older members out of touch?  "We pay our dues online and our health premiums online. People go online to see what their pensions are going to be and they don't usually do that until they're getting close. And we've eased in this change slowly over six years."
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