The Big Picture-Cultural Policy

tinou bao

Say we wanted to start from scratch.

How would we build a neighborhood, city, metropolitan area, state, country, world where the arts permeated the place?

Can we think bigger than a non-profit organization, or even an arts council?

How do we work on the cultural policy and urban planning level?

Can we sit the artists side by side with the policy makers and the planners from the first meeting?

What might things look like then?

Some links to peruse:

The Motherlode – Compendium, a country by country look at cultural policy in Europe.  You could write a dissertatation on the stuff in this site.

Look just a little bit under the surface there and you can check out:

National Cultural Canons as a Cultural Policy Response to Globalisation? (Does Portland have a cultural canon?  That would sure be  one way to establish a “Portland Sound”)

Interested in decentralization as a theme in Governmental policy?  See Norway ” During the 1970s major efforts were made to decentralise the cultural policy and administration system in Norway. Cultural affairs committees were established in most municipalities, and the municipal authorities gradually appointed directors and secretaries of cultural affairs. A similar system was developed at the county level and new grant schemes were introduced. In this way, substantial responsibilities were decentralized in order to bring decision-making closer to the general population.”

Could that work in the states?

Or how about the way France went about it.

I like the term “devolution” to describe making smaller, more purpose-driven agencies out of big conglomerated ones.

There’s more here I’m sure, but this seems like a good place to start digging.

Julie’s Bicycle-Serious about greening the arts

Nishanth Jois

My friend Binnie Brennan, a classical musician and children’s book author from Halifax sent me this link.

Julie’s Bicycle is a broad coalition of music, theatre and scientific experts committed to making our industry green. Our ambition is global, our main operations UK. Almost everything we do is relevant to other creative industries and other global territories.

Great place to see what is already happening at the confluence of sustainability, policy and (not just) music. The site has resource tools, essays,  and data.

Here’s a link to their Green Music blog.  Just one example of the wealth of info here.

Why business leaders should act more like artists

Photo by Terry Ballard

So you’ve got Seth Godin in his bestselling business book “Linchpin” preaching that to succeed in the world today, everyone must be an artist.

“Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.

What makes someone an artist? I don’t think it has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artist who works with oil paint or marble, sure. But there are artists who worked with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.”

And here’s is a post from the Harvard Business Review

http://blogs.hbr.org/maeda/2009/12/why-business-leaders-should-ac.html

So the gauntlet has been thrown.

What do you think, you business majors out there?

No one goes away empty-handed

I love discovering people who live in an inspired way.  Derek Sivers is such a person.  It’s not enough that he is the king of DIY for musicians everywhere, creating CD Baby and other businesses.  He is a messenger of ideas, his own and others’.

I find his blog inspiring not just because I’m a a musician, or because he is so knowledgeable about the music industry.  I like it because it is loaded with hope.  With new thinking that turns the conventional on it’s head and says why not try something else?  This post is a great example.

Emphasize meaning over price = More paid sales

The idea comes from Terry McBride of Nettwerk.  This excerpt gives the very simple gist of it.

If you are a performing musician that sells CDs at your shows, please consider this:

1. Say to the audience, “It’s really important to us that you have our CD.  We worked so hard on it and are so proud of it, that we want you to have it, no matter what.  Pay what you want, but even if you have no money, please take one tonight.”

2. Mention this again before the end of the show, adding, “Please, nobody leave here tonight without getting a copy of our CD.  We’ve shared this great show together so it would mean a lot to us if you’d take one.”

It changes the request from a commerical pitch to an emotional connection.  (Replace market mindset with social mindset!)  Allowing them to get a CD for no money just reinforces that

Besides the audacity of this kind of gesture/business model/community-building approach, I think I like it because it reflects a mission-driven path as opposed to a profit-driven one.  And I think that the mission driven approach brings more long-term (ie; your whole life) security.

It is also exciting because it requires re-examining  the way I think about CD’s-making them and selling them.  As well as re-thinking their role in my career/musical work.  I can’t wait to try it.

What do you think?

And check out Derek’s blog for many more great ideas.


What we leave for our children

In all my furious questioning of how we define sustainability in terms of the arts.  maybe the simplest definition is embodied in the simple question  a  “What do we leave behind for our children?”  My friend who is a therapist and writer shared these thoughts with me the other day:

“I was thinking today about my friend who just put his son on the plane, and another friend whose son is leaving for University of Washington tomorrow, and I started thinking about sustainability through the lens of what we leave behind for our children.  Often people leave money or special possessions.  Traditionally people have left the family farm or some plot of land if they could.  I think it must be comforting to feel like you are leaving your children the means to survive.  We cannot know what will speak to our children’s hearts and souls, but we know they will need to find shelter and eat.  The parent who leaves an inheritance for a child has given a gift with no ties–the child can use money however he wants–but he has also left nothing of himself or the culture.  The parent who leaves the family farm, for example, may be leaving a great deal of himself–decades of sweat and careful decision-making are in that land–but his child may not be able or willing to farm or live on that property.  To be able to shape one’s life work so as to include maximizing one’s own gifts and goals, but to also keep an eye on what one’s child will need and want in the future, seems like a real challenge.  Maybe our mainstream culture is way, way off the mark in leading us to believe that our career choices and lifestyle decisions are all about ourselves.  Maybe loving our children should include making choices about money, land, and other resources that we can pass on to them in ways that they can really use and that carry forward a rich cultural context.  And any rich cultural context includes art.  If we only leave our children cold, hard, cash, where is the love in that?  Where are the values?  Where is the beauty?