Interested in creating a mobile app for your arts org?  There's a report for that., 4/8/11

In the fall of 2010, The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance commissioned Groupofminds to research mobile app development firms in an effort to identify vendors making significant strides in apps for arts and culture. Now that the research is complete, they have generously released the report to the arts and cultural community, so that all arts and cultural groups seeking information on mobile app vendor options can benefit. This research is part of the Cultural Alliance's Engage 2020 initiative, sponsored by a lead grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, with additional support from The Wallace Foundation and The Philadelphia Foundation.  [Here's an excerpt from the report:]

After considering 3,500+ arts and cultural apps, a few key trends were seen. In general, the majority of apps so far are small, relatively unsophisticated event listings. The actual usefulness of most of these basic apps for a patron is questionable. Many organizations may have created these apps for the novelty of having an iPhone app, without much real consideration of the usefulness to the end user. Some apps were for temporal events like a festival...[and] the content is abandoned.  We also saw a lack of creative expression in many apps -- most had no real personality, fun factor, or anything that made the app unique to a mobile phone (i.e. the same content searches could be accomplished on the website).


Commentary: Coming soon - privatizing the arts and other 'quality-of-life' biz

Louise Stevens, "Arts Market On..." blog, 4/11/11

Imagine this scenario: by 2020, your parks, your performing arts centers, your community art gallery, your zoo, maybe even your library will be operated on contract by businesses that find ways to make a profit. Those businesses will form the nucleus of a growing new economic sector of real profitability to America. Some of them will no-doubt even trade on the NY Stock Exchange. Too strange to believe? Not any more.  Cities across America have spent decades upping the ante on investment in livability as their mechanism to up the tax revenues they have received, and it has been a profitable strategy. Build the lovely performing arts hall, the gallery complex...and then reap the rewards with high property values and a desirable community that in turn attracts businesses and on-going economic investment.  In the past few months there have been all sorts of interesting RFPs for private management of civic assets, and the tempo seems to be increasing, not slowing.  It is a sea change, and it could be coming to a neighborhood near you before you blink twice. Cities are actively soliciting and searching for profit businesses to take on many of the quality of life assets that are not producing. Basically, they are dumping responsibility for under-performing or deficit-causing assets... they don't want to become once again potentially saddled with bailing out non-profit operators that would stand to become permanent arms-length extensions of government. No more "hand over the arts center to a nonprofit that you'll end up, in turn, having to fund to operate the arts center." Cities have had it with that shell game. Instead contract a management company to run it and let them figure out how to craft a financially viable model. And they will.


Commentary: Notes on generosity in the theater

Polly Carl, HowlRound blog, 4/10/11

Last week I spent a lot of time thinking about generosity. I don't think there's enough of it in this field and I was reminded of its transformative power as I grappled with the untimely loss of a mentor and friend. In that moment of stunned sadness I considered the many gifts this lovely man had given me and wondered about how I might best honor his example.  [Author Lewis] Hyde talks about a long and cross-cultural tradition of gifts we give at moments of transformation in our lives. In these moments we let go of a part of ourselves, and the gifts we receive acknowledge what we give up in order to move forward.  It's hard to tear ourselves away from what we've known, so difficult to embrace transformation and new life.  In the theater, I experience this fear in the scarcity mindset prevalent in much of the conversations that shape our field -- the ominous sense that there is only so much opportunity out there and that the circumference of the pie is finite and the pieces we divide among ourselves limited.  This competition for our piece of the action can make us all feel that there just isn't enough to go around.  As theater makers how can we better create the conditions for generosity?  Here are some thoughts:

1. Regardless of where you are in your career as a theater maker, seek to mentor. Recognize you have a responsibility to foster the passions, dreams and aspirations of others and there is almost always someone who has less experience in this business than you.

2. "Once the gift has stirred within us it is up to us to develop it." No agent, artistic director, or advocate of any kind will make your career for you. I believe the more control you have over your own career, the more generous you'll feel.

3. If you run an arts organization, drop what you're doing immediately and create an ethics statement. Every organization has a mission statement but the nonprofit arts organization requires an ethical approach. Honesty and openness are forms of generosity.

4. Take the long view. [It] will give you endurance and protect you from the poison cloud of bitterness that hovers in close proximity to the life of the artist. Bitterness is the enemy of generosity.

5. Don't read reviews. Compliments are a pleasant distraction but I bet you can find more meaningful kudos from trusted colleagues. Negative reviews will never be constructive because they are just too damn personal. The fewer things that eat away at your creative energy, the more productive you will be, the more likely you will have energy for others.

6. Get over the myth of entitlement. No one owes you anything in this business or in life. The surest way to feeling victimized is to feel owed and to feel owed is to be at a deficit. Deficits leave you with nothing to give.

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