Steve's blog

New from the Reader: Gwendolyn Zepeda, Poem for the Grantmakers

Featured in the current Reader, Gwendolyn Zepeda’s Poem for the Grantmakers, written for and read at the 2014 GIA Conference in Houston.

Createquity Studies Arts Participation in Report
Percentage of U.S. adults who attended a performing arts event, by art form and family income level, 2012

A new report from Createquity takes a deep look at the data on Arts Participation, and also trends in television usage, across segments of the US population at different income and education levels. “Why Don't They Come?” does in fact conclude that television is taking an increasingly dominant role in shaping our cultural lives, especially with the low-income and low-education population.

There is a rich irony lurking just beneath the surface here: television, a largely for-profit commercial industry, routinely does a much better job engaging the most economically vulnerable members of our population than our supposedly charitable nonprofit arts institutions that receive tens of billions of dollars annually in government-sanctioned subsidy.
NEA Awards $74 Million in Grants

From the development of a state-wide arts education plan in Alabama to a glassblowing program for wounded soldiers in Tacoma, Washington, funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) gives people across America the opportunity to experience creativity and participate in the arts. In the second major grant announcement of fiscal year 2015, the NEA will make 1,023 awards totaling $74,326,900 to nonprofit arts organizations in all 50 states plus five U.S. jurisdictions. Funding in this round is awarded through the NEA’s Art Works and State and Regional Partnerships grant categories.

NYC Council Set to Create a Cultural Plan for New York City

From Robin Pogrebin at The New York Times:

New York City is looking to join Chicago, Houston, Denver and other major cities by passing legislation to create its first comprehensive cultural plan. The legislation, which the City Council passed by a vote of 49 to 0 on Tuesday, requires the city to analyze its current cultural priorities, assess how service to different neighborhoods can be improved, study the condition of arts organizations and artists, and plan how the city can remain artist-friendly in a time of high rents and other economic pressures.
Portland Arts Tax Overhead Costs Soar As City Mailed 170,000 Collection Letters

From Andrew Theen at The Oregonian:

Portland’s arts tax is proving more expensive for city officials to administer partly because of the cost of tracking down scofflaws. In 2014, city finance officials mailed 170,000 collection letters to residents who hadn't paid the voter-approved Arts Education and Access Fund. The city spent $775,000 last year to administer the program. Thomas Lannom, Revenue Bureau Director, said the city spent $85,000 on postage and printing and $50,000 on temporary staffers, plus the remaining budget to run the arts tax program each year.
New from the Reader: Imaginary Needs and a Raucous Caucus

Featured in the current Reader, Anne Focke documents two important meetings in the 1980s that brought hundreds of people together to discuss Creative Support for Creative Artists.

NASAA Names Pam Breaux as CEO

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies board of directors has announced the appointment of Pam Breaux as NASAA’s chief executive officer, effective July 6, 2015. The national search effort was conducted with the assistance of Arts Consulting Group. A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Breaux has held leadership positions at the local, state and national levels. She currently is completing her appointment as assistant secretary of the Office of Cultural Development at the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (CRT). She is a former secretary of CRT and was executive director of the Louisiana Division of the Arts. During her time at CRT, Breaux led the state’s cultural economy policy efforts, developed the annual World Cultural Economic Forum program and spearheaded the state's attainment of UNESCO recognition of Poverty Point as a World Heritage site.

Art X Culture X Social Justice Network Website Launched

The Art X Culture X Social Justice Network is based on the power of art and culture to advance social justice by inspiring collective action across identities, issues, sectors, geographies, and power imbalances. It works to bring together artists, activists, cultural bearers, and philanthropists. Check out their new web presence at

NFF State of the Sector Survey Data Analyisis for 2015

Nonprofit Finance Fund has done its annual analysis of data from the State of the Sector Survey. Of the 5,451 nonprofits that took the survey in 2015, more than 900 identified as arts and culture organizations. These groups represented a wide range of artistic disciplines, with top responses among Museums (15%) and Theatres (13%). An in-depth Special Supplement on the Arts & Culture Sector is also available.

Engaging in an Unlikely Manner: Artists as Environmental Stewards

From Eileen Cunniffe, writing for Nonprofit Quarterly:

“If you actually engage a place in an unlikely manner, you probably won’t forget it. It becomes yours.” So says Catherine Gudis, a professor of public history at the University of California, Riverside, and one of the founders of Play the LA River, described as a “game of urban exploration and imagination.” The game consists of a 51-card deck developed by members of Project 51, a collective of “LA River–loving artists, designers, planners, writers and educators,” that invites Angelenos to explore — and reclaim — a river that for decades was “a polluted, concrete-encased ditch,” as reported in Next City.