In the fall 2001, the Center for Arts and Culture, an independent Washington, D.C.-based think tank on cultural policy, began distributing two series of publications. One consists of commissioned papers, part of the Center's Art, Culture and the National Agenda project. The other documents discussion forums convened by the Center. Publications in both series are small-format booklets. Several landed on our desks in quick succession last fall, but production now seems to be moving at a slower pace, allowing us to keep track of each one a little more easily.
Center for Arts and Culture, 819 Seventh Street, Suite 505, Washington D.C. 20001, 202-783-5277.
Art, Culture and the National Agenda Project
The Center for Arts and Culture solicited background papers on a wide range of arts and cultural issues that affect the nation's well-being from dozens of scholars and practitioners. Three papers were published in 2001 (summaries follow). Two others were received prior to press time and are briefly noted below. Others will be issued during the year. The papers do a thoughtful job of explaining that cultural policy involves far more than just federal funding for the arts and humanities, and they demonstrate ways that concerns in the arts and culture are intertwined with activities and policies in many agencies and at many levels of government. The papers provide usable information in a straightforward manner.
Copyright as Cultural Policy,
Dr. Michael S. Shapiro, October, 2001.
Author Shapiro is a consultant on culture and intellectual property and former general counsel at the National Endowment for Humanities. In this paper he traces the history of U.S. copyright law, beginning with its inclusion in Article 1 of the Constitution up through current legislation and litigation, and explores the myriad issues involved in defining the boundaries between private property and public welfare.
The legal history is readable (don't let the footnotes deter you) and easily understandable to the lay reader. The paper does a good job of illustrating the conflicts inherent in the tension between free speech and protection of individual creative freedom as well as identifying emerging issues related to digital and other technological advances. For those interested in a more intensive examination of the topic, the report offers an extensive bibliography of legal cases, journal articles, and legislative materials.
Preserving Our Heritage,
Keith Donahue, November 2001.
The second paper provides an overview and analysis of preservation efforts undertaken by the federal government. Donahue, the Center's creative director, discusses five major sets of activities that fall into the preservation category: historic preservation of the built environment, landscapes, sites and monuments; preservation of artifacts; preservation of documents and archives; preservation of living cultural heritage; and protection of cultural property. He also makes policy recommendations in each of these areas, both for the federal government and for other entities.
The author leads the reader through a discussion of current preservation activities in diverse arenas and of how current federal programs and legislation have facilitated these. He also points out gaps in these efforts as well as places where either funding or foresight falls short of what is needed and builds the case for how much more needs to be done in this very broad field. Although the book does not go into great depth on many of the programs mentioned, it does provide insight into how extensive, numerous, and far-reaching this nation's preservation efforts are.
Strengthening Communities through Culture,
Dr. Elizabeth Strom, November 2001.
In Strengthening Communities through Culture, Strom, of Rutgers University, offers an overview and analysis of the ways culture intersects with civic life in communities and the impact that federal policies and practices have on those efforts. The report suggests that arts and culture can serve communities in four ways