NOTE: You've Cott Mail will take Monday off, returning Tuesday June 14.
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The You've Cott Mail 'Twitter Feed Crossover Edition'
Although I know the vast majority of YCM readers prefer to receive my daily digest of arts stories via email, I wanted to let you know that I have begun to use Twitter to pass along some additional stories of interest that don't fit naturally into one of my themed YCM emails. Since many of you don't use Twitter (or aren't yet following my @youvecottmail Twitter feed), I decided to put together this 'Twitter feed crossover edition' to share some recent stories I've highlighted on Twitter so you wouldn't miss out. --Thomas Cott
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The IRS revokes tax exemption for 20,000+ arts groups
Americans for the Arts blog, 6/9/11
In 2006, Congress asked the IRS to keep better track of the nation's 1.5 million nonprofit organizations. Yesterday, the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of 275,000 of them for not filing legally required documents for three consecutive years (2007-2009). Our early estimates are that well over 20,000 are nonprofit ARTS organizations. Wondering who in your city got scraped from the rolls? This link enables you to select your state, and then sort by city. (Check back here soon for a full list of just the nonprofit arts organizations.) The IRS believes that the vast majority of these organizations are out of business and our random sampling of the list found the same.
Just how much is a Tony Award for Best Musical worth?
The New York Times ArtsBeat blog, 6/10/11
Every year, Broadway producers with musicals struggling to fill theaters to capacity every night place their financial hopes on the Tony awards. But just how valuable is winning a prestigious Tony? And how much does the publicity - and the broadcast showcase for the musical numbers on CBS - help the runners-up? To estimate the value of the Tony, I compared [winning] shows' weekly grosses with the other shows nominated. I excluded nominees [that were playing] at or near capacity from the analysis. I also excluded nominees that closed in the eight weeks after the Tony awards. (Because revenues rise in the final weeks of a production as theatergoers take advantage of their last opportunity to see the production on Broadway, including these shows would artificially increase the perceived bump from their nominations.) On average, winners of the Tony for best musical saw their average weekly gross jump 48%. By contrast, the other nominees saw only a 21% increase in their weekly gross in the comparable time frames.
Commentary: How to avoid another "preventable failure" at a Seattle theater
Brendan Kiley, The Stranger [Seattle weekly], 6/7/11(h/t Zachary Florence)
Why does this keep happening? Why do theater boards and theater staffs chop organization after organization into firewood by getting along so miserably? And why doesn't anybody do anything about it? And why, for that matter, doesn't anybody even want to talk about it? Nobody goes to work for a theater for the money. Staff are underpaid. Boards volunteer their time. You'd think the shared love and expertise would help the staff and the board work together -- but the staff/board dynamic in American theaters is legendarily thorny. So what's the way forward? How do we avoid another preventable failure like Intiman, Giant Magnet, ConWorks, or Empty Space? Some say the nonprofit model is broken, some say the model is fine but boards just need better education, and some say regional theater is in a long decline and this board/staff problem is merely a symptom of a structural problem. The regional theater movement is less than a century old and might prove to be a failure, especially since corporate and government funding -- the revenue the regional-theater movement is predicated on -- is gone for the foreseeable future. But we can't even begin to answer those questions or solve those problems until we admit that we have a problem -- and begin talking about it.
Commentary: Why is the free market subsidized, while the arts must stand alone?
Aaron Andersen, Createquity blog, 6/1/11
The total federal budget for this fiscal year (which runs through September) is $3.82 trillion. Federal arts funding is 0.066% of the budget. And [for] the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, we're talking about 0.012%. That is twelve one-thousandths of one percent. So, why? Why was this a central topic in budget debates this spring? Are we going to rehash the entire set of arguments again this summer and fall as we debate the fiscal 2012 budget? According to a CNN poll, most Americans do not think the CPB gets twelve one-thousandths of one percent of the budget. An astonishing 7% of those surveyed believe the CPB gets more than 50% of the budget (which would have to be close to $2 trillion). [And] if subsidized arts workers are labeled as something like freeloaders in public discourse, then farmers, homeowners, hybrid vehicle buyers, the airlines, and the oil & gas industry are freeloaders too. Ayn Rand is very popular again among conservatives, so where is the conservative outcry against oil & gas subsidies? Instead, we are offered a redefinition of the "free market capitalist system" as something that requires government subsidy. Oxymorons rule the day when the free market must be subsidized, and arts created explicitly in the public interest, without a profit to distribute, must stand alone.
60+ foundations to give at least 50% of their grants to "underserved communities"
Chronicle of Philanthropy,6/8/11
The Giving Pledge has inspired yet another pledge for big donors: More than 60 of the country's foundations have signed Philanthropy's Promise, a pledge to channel a majority of their grant money to needy people as well as to advocacy efforts and projects that encourage citizens to get involved in their communities. The pledge was circulated by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, which kicked off a controversy several years ago when it published a report that outlined several standards for foundations, including that they should give at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to help the poor and other disadvantaged people. But now a number of foundations are agreeing to follow those basic spending rules, including one of the nation's biggest -- the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. T he committee said that the foundations agreeing to the pledge give a total of $2.5-billion a year. The specific agreement is to give at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to help "underserved communities" -- people the committee defines as economically disadvantaged; minority groups; disabled people; women and girls; those who live in rural areas; or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.
How 4 friends made a cultural trend and some money, too
June 2011 issue of Inc. magazine
Anointed "the American rock festival to end all festivals" by Rolling Stone, Bonnaroo makes its 10th appearance this month. Every year, 75,000 to 85,000 fans swarm to a Tennessee farm, where they pitch tents and spend four days grooving to acts both emerging and emerged. Bonnaroo accounts for about 25% of revenue for the New York City-based company Superfly Presents. The $40 million company was co-founded by four young men desperate to avoid the finance and accounting careers for which their college studies had seemingly predestined them. Said co-founder Rick Farman: "Before the [first] festival, we sat down with the local police. We said, 'There's going to be a lot of people coming. The traffic will be backed up for 20 miles.' They were like, 'Yeah, right.' And we hadn't advertised at all. Not a single poster. We met with them again the Monday after the festival. A lieutenant from the state troopers' office pulled a very stern face on us and said, 'I told you you weren't going to be backing up my interstate for 20 miles. It was only 19.' Then he cracked up. We learned whenever you do something that's going to impact the community, you have to tell it like it is. We've had a great relationship with the community since. We contribute $20 million to the economy every year."
Just because: A Google homepage logo you can strum like a guitar