Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Yes, We Can! Victory for the Arts in the Economic Recovery Bill

In Current Events on February 14, 2009 at 4:40 am

Dear Reader, THANK YOU SO MUCH for being part of making history!

dreamstime_2017036Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved their final version of the Economic Recovery bill by a vote of 246-183. We can now confirm that the package DOES include $50 million in direct support for arts jobs through National Endowment for the Arts grants. We are also happy to report that the exclusionary Coburn Amendment language banning certain arts groups from receiving any other economic recovery funds has also been successfully removed. Tonight the Senate is scheduled to have their final vote, and President Obama plans to sign the bill on Monday – President’s Day.

A United Voice
This is an important victory for all of you as arts advocates. More than 85,000 letters were sent to Congress, thousands of calls were made, and hundreds of op-eds, letters to the editor, news stories, and blog entries were generated in print and online media about the role of the arts in the economy. Artists, business leaders, mayors, governors, and a full range of national, state, and local arts groups all united together on this advocacy issue. This outcome marks a stunning turnaround of events and exemplifies the power of grassroots arts advocacy.

We would like to also thank some key leaders on Capitol Hill who really carried our voices into the conference negotiation room and throughout the halls of Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA), and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY). We also want to publicly thank President Obama for taking the early lead in recognizing the role of the arts in economic development. These leaders were able to convincingly make the case that protecting jobs in the creative sector is integral to the U.S. economy.

What’s Next
As we wrap up our work on the Economic Recovery legislation, we wanted to share with you other upcoming legislative action that we are tracking:

Finalization by early March of the FY 2009 appropriations, which has been operating under a continuing resolution for the last five months.

Release of President Obama’s first federal budget for FY 2010 is expected in late March/early April.

Hearings in the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on the FY 2010 budget.

Hearings in the House Education & Labor Committee on arts in the workforce and arts education.

The 22nd Annual National Arts Advocacy Day conference on Capitol Hill on March 30-31, 2009.


Do arts jobs count as jobs?

In Current Events, Interesting Articles on February 12, 2009 at 12:23 am

Written by Andrew Taylor from the Artful Manager

Oh My God does this article hit home. How can this question even be asked? And yet, the concern over our identity– both to ourselves and to the public– with regards to our economic ability as earners, providers for our families, is at this moment a valid question.

We simply must start standing up for ourselves and requiring, with or without our institutions of higher education assisting us in producing the skills we need to create the employment opportunities only we can imagine within our field, that WE take responsibility for guiding and educating our own futures. We are in charge of our destiny and each choice we make can lead us closer ( or farther away) to our own vision of artistic and economic success. We need to each find the leader within us, and move towards building a future where the question of “if we count,” or not, can never be asked!

Do you recognize your ability to lead? If you don’t already know it, you are already, as an artist, a natural leader. Precisely because it is going to take all of us collectively to think about how to set the “record straight” about the capacity of the arts to earn and contribute to the world economy, each one of us must get to know the leader within us so we can change the way we are perceived in our individual communities! Of course, it would help if we all got on the same page about what that looks like- which is yet another reason why I started ETA.

Let this article below serve as a reminder of why we need to band together and think together about how we can change how we are perceived by others and by society as a whole. The consequences of us not working together to change these perceptions hinders our development and has been hindering our development for centuries. What exactly must we do about it? What do you perceive in your world, your community about the attitudes towards artists and their capacity to lead, earn a great living and reshape the world into a better place? I wrote a post with some musical examples of what I see, but what do you see? I sure would like to know.

By the way, this article made me feel sick to my stomach when I read it and it might leave you feeling the same way- so consider yourself warned. This stuff has got to change…one artist at a time.
Scott Lilly at the Center for American Progress floats a timely reminder to the good folks in Congress currently bristling about the stimulus package: arts jobs are jobs, regardless of your opinion of what they produce. He quotes Rep. Jack Kingston’s (R-GA) remarks when complaining about the NEA funding (now removed) from the bill:

“We have real people out of work right now and putting $50 million in the NEA and pretending that’s going to save jobs as opposed to putting $50 million in a road project is disingenuous.”

Which suggests, of course, that artists, cultural managers, stagehands, gallery staff, technicians, costume designers, and anybody else involved in artistic pursuits aren’t actually working, or earning a paycheck, or supporting their families, or any of the other productive things road workers might do. Or, to put it more bluntly, arts workers are not ”real people.”

It’s perfectly fair to challenge the ”stimulus potential” of any line item in the massive bill. And there are legitimate arguments to be made that one form of spending or incentive works more quickly, more effectively, more efficiently than another. But this particular line of attack, suggesting that the arts don’t involve people doing jobs, is staggering in its ignorance.

Before we go railing off on conservative politicians, however, we might look for the same bias and blindness among ourselves. I was at a conference panel recently, for example, in which an architect from a well-respected firm with extensive cultural facility projects to their credit made an astounding admission: up until their most recent project, that involved direct discussion with a wide range of practitioners, they hadn’t thought of a cultural facility as a workplace. A performance/display space, an audience chamber, and a public venue, to be sure. Even an administrative office tucked away in the back. But the entire building as a daily workplace for professionals and tradespeople? A novel idea.

Perhaps that explains why so many cultural facilities have spaces that can’t be cleaned, lightbulbs that can’t be changed without massive machinery, and offices and common spaces that cramp and confound the folks who come to work there every day.

Somewhere between our lofty rhetoric about the power of the arts, and our mechanical arguments about social and civic benefits, there seems to be a disconnect in our message. The arts are people. They don’t just serve people or help people, they are people. It’s astounding that anyone would understand otherwise.

Why is Congress Attacking the Arts?

In Current Events on February 10, 2009 at 12:36 am

“Faced with an economic downturn of staggering proportions, some attack any help for the arts as waste, ignoring the millions of Americans who earn their livings and support their families through their artistic endeavors and arts-related enterprises. The economic stimulus bill currently under consideration on Capitol Hill shouldn’t neglect these Americans.” Huffington Post 2/6/09

This article was written by Robin Bronk and appeared in The Huffington Post on 2/6/09

In these times of economic crisis, it seems only rational that we should look back at our history to review what works if we want to create jobs and secure a strong economic legacy for future generations.

When faced with a collapsing economy, President Franklin Roosevelt tried to put Americans in all lines of work back on the job. Instead of singling out artists as somehow frivolous and unimportant to our nation’s economy, he instituted a host of programs designed to put federal funds into the arts, employing America’s creative talent and leaving a cultural legacy that endures still today.

The highpoint of this commitment was the Works Progress Administration’s Federal One program, which put thousands of Americans to work in the arts. The government program was a lifeline for Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Orson Welles, Burt Lancaster, Sidney Lumet, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Studs Terkel, John Cheever, Saul Bellow, and thousands of other artists across the country.

These programs created much-needed jobs in the immediate term, but they did much more. They fostered great talents that otherwise may have been lost. The work of the many great artists supported by the government in the 1930s still benefits us today. Their contributions to our culture endure, and their successful careers resulted in employment for many others in the years that followed.

Today, however, many of our leaders apparently have forgotten this lesson of our not-so-distant history. Faced with an economic downturn of staggering proportions, some attack any help for the arts as waste, ignoring the millions of Americans who earn their livings and support their families through their artistic endeavors and arts-related enterprises.

The economic stimulus bill currently under consideration on Capitol Hill shouldn’t neglect these Americans. The version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives contains $50 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which provides critical support for America’s not-for-profit arts institutions. This provision has been attacked as “pork” by some, while the Senate bill currently provides nothing for the NEA. To make matters worse, this week Senators stripped out a provision intended to provide the same job creating benefits for the film industry as the bill provides for other industries.

Why is it so hard for some to realize that jobs in the arts support millions of Americans and are no less worthy than any other job that puts food on the table? Economic studies indicate that 2.98 million Americans are employed in the arts or in arts-centric businesses. Each dollar allocated to the arts not only supports those individuals; the benefits flow outward to their communities and to other businesses. Movie production doesn’t require only actors and directors. Stay for the credits after a film ends and you can’t help but notice the incredible army of workers required to bring a story to the screen. In turn, each of those individuals and businesses spends money and pays taxes in their communities. The economic returns and stimulative effects are clear.

Beyond the finances, though, investing in the arts during these tough times can ensure that America doesn’t lose a generation of creative talent to our temporary economic woes. Somewhere in America today, there are individuals with the potential of Orson Welles and the artistic gifts of Mark Rothko. It is foolhardy to attempt to save our economy by ignoring our talent.

Will Act for Food

In Current Events, Interesting Articles on February 7, 2009 at 8:53 pm

This article appeared in Newsweek Jan 10th, 2009 and was written by Jeremy McCarter. Thanks James Wilney for passing it along. If you care about the arts, this article is a must read. It speaks to so many of the issues shared here on ETA. After you have read it, please go to the post US Senate Cut Arts Stimulus Support and send off your letter to your senator. It will take you two minutes.
Since election day, pundits have exhausted themselves trying to locate every last reason for Barack Obama’s win. But the fine-tooth combing has missed something—or, rather, someone: Walt Whitman. Nobody has pointed out that Obama shares his victory with the generations of writers and musicians and painters in the fervently democratic tradition that descends from our national poet.

To understand how the arts prepared the way for Obama, we first need to clarify what it means when people (including the president-elect) say that “only in America” could his story be possible. That can’t be a statement about law or politics, since the election of someone with Obama’s unconventional background is technically possible in plenty of democracies. It’s really a statement about our national imagination: only in America could a majority of voters see a person who is so unlike them—a black man who has an African father, a mother from Kansas, an international childhood, a name packed with vowels—as a fellow citizen who’s capable of leading them. And where did we Americans learn to be so uniquely broad-minded? In large part, from our artists.

Since Ralph Waldo Emerson issued his call for homegrown American creativity 130 years ago, and Whitman answered him with the all-embracing poems that helped shape the psyche of our polyglot young democracy, the arts have offered the various tribes of this country some of our best chances to know ourselves and one another, and to see the pleasures and pain of our interactions more clearly: think of what we’ve learned from Huck and Jim, “Invisible Man,” Alvin Ailey’s dances, “Angels in America,” the blues. Better yet, try to imagine how we’d relate to one another without them.

This isn’t to say the pressure from our artists has been steady or even all in one direction: important strains in our cultural legacy haven’t exactly blazed a new trail of multicultural understanding; others have propagated a gruesome number of demeaning racial and ethnic stereotypes. But at their best, our great artists have achieved in their work the kind of harmony that so often eludes us in life, firing our imaginations with advance glimpses of the more perfect union that the Founders envisioned but made only limited progress in achieving. We know, for instance, that in America, blacks and whites, Jews and Gentiles, highbrows and regular folk should all coexist in peace. Even if we’re still not sure how that union will look, the catchall beauty of “Rhapsody in Blue” tells us how it sounds.

Serenaded by the cross-pollinating strains of hip-hop and salsa, polka and jazz, the most vibrant stream of our culture has been slowly, fitfully molding us into what Randolph Bourne called “trans-national America.” In his landmark 1916 essay, the great cultural critic grasped that we were not, and should not try to be, a homogeneous nation with a single shared heritage, as in the Old World. We are instead becoming a people among whom even someone as category-defying as Barack Obama can feel at home: “a nation of nations” in which a “spiritual welding” among men and women of diverse traditions will make us “not weaker, but infinitely strong.” An America this generous and accepting—this absorbent—is the one for which Martin Luther King and the other heroes of the civil-rights struggle fought and bled and died. And only an America that has made real progress toward those ideals could dream of making the presidential choice we’ve just made.

Cultural issues, which aren’t a top priority for new administrations even in the best of times, will have trouble climbing very high on the Obama agenda. But in light of what this election has helped us to understand about the potency of the arts in our national life, the new president would be wasting a glorious opportunity if he failed to give them his attention. Partly it’s because the overlapping crises we face at the moment give him a rare chance to dream big. Partly, too, his singular story gives him a unique ability to make connections among people that might change the way we think about culture. But it’s also a question of his larger vision for society, which the arts could help him to realize. If he treats them wisely, he might foster a climate for creativity as unprecedented as his election.

Though Obama hasn’t made any arts or humanities appointments yet, he has signaled that he regards culture seriously. During the campaign, he took the unprecedented step of forming an Arts Policy Committee, which produced a thorough list of policy objectives. (Rare are the campaigns that can boast a statement of principles drafted by a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist—in this case, Michael Chabon.)

To read the rest of the article click here

U.S. Senate Cut Arts Stimulus Support!

In Current Events on February 7, 2009 at 8:25 pm

header_logoBreaking News
Yesterday afternoon the U.S. Senate, during their consideration of the economic recovery bill, approved an egregious amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that stated “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.” Unfortunately, the amendment passed by a wide vote margin of 73-24, and surprisingly included support from many high profile Senators including Chuck Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and several other Democratic and Republican Senators.

If the Coburn amendment language is included in the final conference version of this legislation, many arts groups will be prevented from receiving economic recovery funds from any portion of this specific stimulus bill. It is clear that there is still much work to be done in the Senate and in the media about the role that nonprofit arts organizations and artists play in the nation’s economy and workforce.

Plan of Action
Arts advocates need to quickly contact Senators who voted for the Coburn Amendment and express your extreme disappointment with their vote. We need these Senators to know that their vote would detrimentally impact nonprofit arts organizations and the jobs they support in their state. We have crafted a customized message for you to send to your Senators based on their vote on the Coburn Amendment. The correct letter, customized to each of your Senators will appear when you enter your zip code. If your Senator voted for this funding prohibition, you can send them a message expressing your disappointment and ask them to work to delete this language in the final conference bill with the House. If your Senator voted against the Coburn Amendment, you can thank them for their support of the arts.

What Impact Does This Cut Have to The Arts
There are approximately 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations, which spend $63.1 billion annually. Without an economic stimulus for the nonprofit arts industry, experts expect about 10% of these organizations (ranging from large arts institutions like museums and orchestras to small community-based organizations in suburban, urban and rural areas) to shut their doors in 2009 – a loss of 260,000 jobs.

According to the Americans for the Arts, a $50 million investment to the National Endowment for the Arts will provide critical funding to save 14,422 jobs from being lost in the U.S. economy. This is based on the ability of the NEA to leverage $7 in additional support through local, state and private donations, for every $1 in NEA support.

In a report released in mid-January, the National Governor’s Association stated, “Arts and culture are important to state economies. Arts and culture-related industries, also known as “creative industries,” provide direct economic benefits to states and communities: They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases.”

NEA Announces New Acting Chairman

In Current Events on February 6, 2009 at 2:25 am

This article was written by by Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger and appeared Jan 29, 09

Patrice Walker Powell, deputy chairwoman for states, regions and local arts agencies at the National Endowment for the Arts, has been named acting chairwoman of the federal arts agency.

Powell, who was named deputy chairwoman last Februrary, has worked at the NEA since 1991. She will lead the agency until President Obama announces a permanent replacement for Dana Gioia, who resigned earlier this month after six years on the job. (Go here to learn more about her.)

“She’s smart, very professional and has her ear to the ground,” said Ann Marie Miller, executive director of ArtPride/New Jersey, who has worked with Powell. “She knows what’s happening in the arts all over the United States. She’s a great pick.”

In addition, Anita Decker has been appointed by the White House as director of government affairs.

In other NEA news, the $819 billion economic stimulus package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives includes an additional $50 million for the federal agency.

“These additional funds will allow arts organizations–large and small–to play a vital role in reviving their local economy,” said Robert Lynch, president and CEO of the Americans for the Arts, a national advocacy organization. “The arts are a prime vehicle for job creation and a valued economic distribution mechanism.”

The NEA issued a statement about the bill, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, that emphasizes the economic muscle of the arts industry. “The arts and culture industry is a sector of the economy just like any other with workers who pay taxes, mortgages, rent and contribute in other ways to the economy,” said the NEA statement. “The National Endowment for the Arts is uniquely positioned to assist in job stimulation for that industry.”

The Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative

In Current Events, Interesting Articles on February 5, 2009 at 12:14 am

This article appeared in Arts Journal Feb 4, 2009 written by Andrew Taylor
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced their Arts in Crisis initiative this week (covered here in the Washington Post), designed to provide emergency planning assistance to cultural organizations in trouble during tough economic times. Through the system, any nonprofit arts organization can request advice and counsel — both from the leadership and staff of the Kennedy Center, and from a growing list of mentors who can sign up through the web site.

It’s a wonderful example of an established and well-resourced cultural institution embracing its position and its privilege as a platform to help their smaller peers. And it’s great to see such quick and proactive response from an organization who could easily have claimed it was not their job.

But while I applaud and honor the effort, I hope it also comes with a willingness to embrace a larger truth: The Kennedy Center is part of a network of networks, part of an ecology of resources focused on the task. Their impact will be exponentially more profound if they do not assume they are going it alone.

The crisis in the arts, or any other industry, is an ecological one. Any crisis can certainly benefit from unilateral and independent action. But a more resilient and encompassing response would also include recognition and interconnection of the entire ecosystem that provides coaching, counseling, mentorship, and responsive strategy support to organizations and leaders at the edge of collapse.

National service organizations in the arts, state and local arts councils, national nonprofit support organizations like CompassPoint or the Nonprofit Finance Fund, regional endeavors like Springboard for the Arts, and academic centers of research and service in nonprofit cultural management have been doing this work for decades, and may have some best practices and systemic knowledge that could promote both the capacity and the success of the Arts in Crisis mission. Simple initial efforts such as staff awareness of the many players in the game, and effective referral efforts for incoming requests would help. Lists and links to regional and local resources for advice and counsel would help as well (even the Small Business Development Centers across the country have extraordinary and productive insights to share).

Clearly, quick action is needed. And blissfully, the Kennedy Center and Michael Kaiser have stepped up as they have so often in the past. But neither the Kennedy Center nor Mr. Kaiser has the capacity (or full range of insight) required to engage the tidal wave of cultural leaders who need help.

Only by recognizing the full network of resources in the system, and engaging in a way that both aligns individual energy and builds the capacity of the network, will we effectively navigate this current cycle and emerge more strongly on the other side.

SEA Conference Lilse, IL February 27-28th, 2009

In Current Events on February 3, 2009 at 12:05 am

banner4_newThe focus of SEA is on the business of art. SEA was created with the idea that more artists will succeed if they have business skills, knowledge, resources, and contacts. Through artist-led conferences, a website full of resources and articles, and educational tools like the award winning Entrepreneurial Artist DVD; SEA helps artists turn their passions into a living. SEA is for college students, serious high school students, artists, and educators.

This year’s 9th SEA conference, for the midwest region, will be held Hilton Hotel Lilse, Illinois.
Besides topic specific sessions led by artists, panel discussions and workshops, the conference offers:

The gallery is a place for visual artists to display their work. The Gallery is open to all types of visual art. You are welcome to leave a manuscript, pottery, painting, photographs, furniture, etc. Entries may also be submitted electronically. A digital slide show will be put together. There will be a Gallery Reception on Friday evening. Make sure to send in your gallery registration form (part of your conference registration form) early to ensure space for your work. Space is limited!

One-on-One Sessions
Several time slots have been set aside for speakers and attendees to have a chance to meet one and one and talk about their art and life goals. Many describe this experience as “magical” and certainly should not be missed. No matter what the art – music, literary, theater, etc. – speakers are asked to spend time meeting with attendees for approximately 15 minutes each to go over their art, answer questions, offer advice, and just chat about life goals as a self employed artist. There will also be tables set aside for attendees in the same area to meet with each other in a small group. This is a great networking opportunity and can be one of the most beneficial experiences of the conference. BE SURE TO BRING SAMPLES OF YOUR WORK. If you have a laptop, we encourage you to put together a digital portoflio that you can use to share your work with others while at the conference.

Thoughout the conference the audience will be entertained by attendees’ artistic talents.

Performances may include dance, music, theatrical sketches, and readings.

If you are interested in performing at the conference, please contact Amy Rogers at 630-637-5468 or Space is Limited.

Breakfast with the Artists
Start your morning out right on Saturday by joining one of the speakers and other attendees for informal conversation. There is no advanced sign-up so make sure to get up early and join in.

Late Night Activity Rooms
Friday night is full of fun and networking. Join in one or more of these activities: Create Room, TV/Film Viewing Room, Open Mic, Dance-N-Jam Session, and a Journal Swap. There is also a Gallery Reception, Audition Critiques, and One-on-One Sessions on Friday evening.

Inside the Industry Panels
Get an inside look into your industry from experts in the field.

Artist Led Sessions
These sessions are led by successful self-employed artists. Topics range greatly and change each year. Topics in the past have included Pricing Your Art, Getting Your Work Published, Fundraising for Films, Making Time For Success, Finding Representation in Major Market Galleries, The Indie Music Scene, and more. There are also sessions led by Support Professionals such as lawyers and accountants.

To register click here

Creativity and Imagination Training is on the Rise!

In Current Events, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Marketing on February 1, 2009 at 5:47 am

dreamstime_6193508Congrats Linda Naiman for finding this great Harvard report on the value of developing more creativity and imagination across college campuses. My heart jumps for joy with every article like this I read because the world is awakening to the possibilities of what artistic training can provide, finally, before our very eyes. I truly thought this day would never come. Keep up the great work Linda!

John Cimino and I just returned from a day we spent with faculty fellows at Millikin University. It was not only a special day because we were off campus at the zoo, but in the middle of the afternoon the wolves howled. It was like they were singing Millikin’s praises for promoting the development of entrepreneurial imagination.

Take notice dear reader. The state of the world is offering up a new world of possibilities. Perhaps for the first time ever the arts will draw the kind of attention they deserve. There really is profound economic value from learning how to become more creative- and what’s even better it comes from the world inside of you that simply needs to come encouraged and reminded how to come out into the sunshine and play.
Harvard University recently published a task force report on a New Vision for the Arts. The report says while the arts may be everywhere on campus, they are also conspicuously marginal.

The vitality of artistic activity on campus is rendered nearly invisible to the Harvard and local community by the lack of a centralized listing of readings, performances, screenings, and exhibitions. It is a typical and frequent experience for anyone vitally interested in the arts here to learn a day or a week after the event that something remarkable has occurred and is now over. And, more deeply we have, in relation to the arts, failed to foster a sense of urgency. What is missing—what the university has yet sufficiently to recognize and to broadcast—is a sense that the arts matter, and not just for one’s private pleasure, but for one’s public person and career.

The university wants to take the arts out of the sidelines and make it more central to education.

To allow innovation and imagination to thrive on our campus, to educate and empower creative minds across all disciplines, to help shape the twenty-first century, Harvard must make the arts an integral part of the cognitive life of the university: for along with the sciences and the humanities, the arts—as they are both experienced and practiced—are irreplaceable instruments of knowledge.

Yes, the arts matter in business, society and culture and I’m glad Harvard sees the light.

Read the full report here:

Chicago Classical Artist- Center Stage at Obama’s Inauguration

In Current Events, Music on January 20, 2009 at 6:04 am

I know Anthony McGill. I knew him way before he won a single audition. Anthony I am so proud of you!

This article was written By DANIEL J. WAKIN
Published: January 18, 2009 in the New York Times
Yes, the inauguration — but first, the music. In the moments before Barack Obama is sworn in as president and delivers his Inaugural Address on Tuesday, another South Side Chicagoan will produce eloquence, of a musical kind.

He is Anthony McGill, a clarinetist who will join the violinist Itzhak Perlman, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the pianist Gabriela Montero. They will play a piece composed for the occasion by John Williams, perhaps best known for his film scores and pops conducting.

Mr. McGill, 29, was plucked from the ranks of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he is one of two principal clarinetists, by Mr. Ma, who was asked to help organize the performance.

“It’s the most wonderful opportunity, obviously, I’ve ever gotten in my life,” Mr. McGill said at a breakfast interview in an Upper West Side cafe near his home a week before the inauguration. “It’s just great to be part of something like this, as a person, as an American, as a musician.”

He continued, “If my life as a musician is about reaching out to people, being able to communicate music to the world and to people on my small scale — my clarinet playing — this is obviously such a gift.”

A month after receiving the invitation, Mr. McGill still seemed a little stunned. “I thought they were going to say, ‘Sorry,’ ” he said. Even when he saw his name on the news release, “I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ ”

Mr. McGill is not a world-famous soloist like Mr. Perlman or Mr. Ma; the Met is only his second job, which he took four years ago after a stint as the associate principal and E flat clarinetist in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. But he has quietly come to be recognized among colleagues for his sensitive playing and refined musicianship.

Those qualities stood out for Mr. Ma eight years ago, when he and Mr. McGill played Messiaen’s “Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps” (“Quartet for the End of Time”) in Japan. “I was so struck just by his artistry,” Mr. Ma said in a telephone interview. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I really want to play with him again.’ ”

Mr. Ma said he recalled that sentiment when the organizers of the inauguration asked him and Mr. Perlman to put together an ensemble.

He noted that the group consisted of the same instrumentation as the Messiaen piece. The Williams work, however, “will be more like ‘Quartet for the Next Four Minutes,’ ” he said.

The piece evokes the music of Copland, who is said to be a favorite of Mr. Obama’s. “We wanted something that could reference America, the president-elect’s fondness for Copland, something that’s both uplifting and solemn, that traverses time but is also quintessentially American,” Mr. Ma said.

The musicians began rehearsing on Tuesday. They were not just thinking about the notes, but also about how to keep warm during the inauguration. Long underwear and hand warmers were on the agenda.

Mr. McGill is a product of the Merit Music School, a 30-year-old community program established to fill the gap in music education in Chicago schools. He attributes much of his success to that program.

His father is a retired deputy fire commissioner; his mother recently found a new career as an actress after retiring as an art teacher. His older brother, Demarre, now the principal flutist of the San Diego Symphony, was an important influence and role model, he said.

Anthony McGill attended the Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Michelle Obama’s alma mater, and finished high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Mich. He moved on to the elite Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia for his bachelor’s degree, immediately winning the job in Cincinnati after graduation.

The McGills are among the few principal wind players in a major orchestra who are African-American, a distinction noteworthy in a field with far fewer people of color than other areas of American life.

Mr. McGill said that he recognized and valued the contribution of older African-Americans who integrated American orchestras. After encountering Norman Johns, a member of the Cincinnati cello section who is also African-American, Mr. McGill said, “I looked in Norman’s eyes when I walked in, and I could see how proud he was of me.” But like other African-American musicians of his generation, he does not wake up every day and think about his role. “If you’re a musician, you play music,” he said.

After the breakfast interview, Mr. McGill headed to Lincoln Center for a rehearsal with the center’s Chamber Music Society. The group plunged into the sextet for piano and winds by Poulenc, to be performed in concert at the Rose Studio in Manhattan later that week.

Mr. McGill played sitting back in his seat. He moved his upper body in sympathy with the angular, jerky rhythms, adding unexpected dynamic inflections and blending or deftly emerging when his part called for it. He watched his colleagues when they had solos, at one point rubbing the floor with his foot to signify praise for a passage by Peter Kolkay, the bassoonist.

Though Mr. McGill did not guide the rehearsal, he did speak out occasionally. He also took some good-natured ribbing about his next gig. Stephen Taylor, the group’s oboist, chanted, “You’re getting ready for the inauguration!” to a march tempo and told him that once on the inaugural stage, “You have to take requests.”

Singing a New Tune in Support of Music Entrepreneurship

In Current Events, Interesting Articles on January 14, 2009 at 12:47 am

This article was written by David Moltz and appeared on Jan 12, 09 in Inside Higher Education.

As someone who has been in the “trench” with artists trying to help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset since 1986, when there were only 16,000 college students across the country talking about entrepreneurship inside the best business schools, I have waited a long time to see these kinds of articles be written! This article makes my heart sing.

Professional musicians are not typically thought of as entrepreneurs. Given the difficulty of a career in the fine arts, however, most of them need to pick up the skills of one to survive and flourish. In addition to performing, most musicians dabble in teaching, administration and business. Instead of leaving their graduates to cobble these skills together into a functional career, some music schools are now embedding entrepreneurship in their traditional curriculums in an effort to make their students more
business savvy.

Later this month, the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester will host a three-day workshop, in which a number of music schools will participate, entitled “Preparing the Generation-E Musician.” The
workshop will explore the place of entrepreneurship in higher education music school curriculums. This discussion comes at a time when many music schools are hoping to ease their graduates’ transition into a world where itis increasingly hard for fine arts majors to make a living.

In recent years, a number of music schools have developed additional academic programs to give students more practical skills to market their talents. The University of Colorado at Boulder, for example, started its
Entrepreneurship Center for Music in 1998, while the University of South Carolina opened the Carolina Institute for Leadership & Engagement in Music in 2007 and has just recently started a search for its founding director. Elsewhere, schools that have emphasized entrepreneurship in the past are redoubling their efforts. Eastman is planning to open a Center for Music Innovation, complete with a business school-like project incubator.

Heidi Neck, professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, in suburban Boston, said programs encouraging entrepreneurship have recently expanded from business and other professional schools to more liberal arts institutions. In recent years, the Kauffman Foundation has been spurring the growth of these programs by providing music schools such as Eastman and other non-business institutions with funds to integrate the skills of marketing individual talent into their curriculum.

“People equate entrepreneurship and business with profit,” said Neck, who will lead the Eastman workshop and advises music schools on how to create such programs. “Sometimes I have professors tell me, ‘Every time you say profit it makes me want to take a shower.’ We have to figure out what we mean by profit. But, with anything you do in life, you have to generate revenue. At the end of the day, it’s all about value creation. Just because you’re a fantastic cellist doesn’t mean you have the ability to make the most of your talent and make a career.”

It is essential, Neck said, to convince music faculty that such skills are worthy additions to their school’s curriculum. She added that if some faculty view entrepreneurship and business-related coursework as tainting the craft of performance, students might perceive it in a similar way. Liberal arts institutions that take on this new curriculum, however, she says, have to be careful.

“I worry that sometimes these schools are saying they’re adopting entrepreneurship but are really adopting business basics, such as just how to write grants and how to file taxes,” Neck said. “Business fundamentals are essential but not all you need. If you’re really going to teach entrepreneurship, then you’re going to have to teach opportunity creation and not just the day-to-day activities.”

An ideal music course focusing on entrepreneurship, Neck said, would be case-based and analyze either successful businesses or individuals within the music industry, showing students how other musicians have marketed their talents. Alternatively, instead of providing independent courses for music students to take, she said it would also be possible and more seamless to integrate the lessons of entrepreneurship within traditional music curriculum. How exactly this could be accomplished in the music classroom, she said, is a matter for debate among the music school attendees at the workshop, as she herself is a business school professor. In many ways, she said, embedding these skills might require something akin to a culture change for many conservative and performance-centric institutions.

The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia requires all upperclassmen on track to earn a performance diploma or enrolled in a degree program to take two courses on entrepreneurship, said Mary Kinder Loiselle, director of community engagement and career development services.One of the courses, “The 21st Century Musician,” covers everything from creating a press kit and personal biography to working with taxes and becoming a freelance musician, she said. “Foundations of Engagement” focuses on outreach training and instructs students on topics as varied as how to properly speak from the stage to how to court donors.

“We’re still very clearly focusing on the performing musician,” Loiselle said of Curtis. “But this will help enhance their skill set and shape the career they want. Number one is being the finest musician that you can be, and the rest is how to make that work for you professionally. For me, when I teach, I instruct my students how to develop what they have into their own package. They don’t need it to get a job, but they need it to have a fulfilling job.”

In addition to the implementation of these new requirements, Curtis recently opened its office of Career Development Services. Loiselle said the office is different from those found at traditional undergraduate institutions. Instead of simply housing a job bank, its office counsels students about what they might be able to accomplish with their particular skills. For example, a student skilled in marketing as well as playing an instrument could run a themed music festival, or a student known to engage audiences particularly well could help work with his or her orchestra on a development project. This is helpful, she said, in directing students to alternative careers and opportunities outside of performing, such as managing a smaller ensemble or running a summer performance festival.

At Eastman, the idea of entrepreneurship in music is not altogether new. It began offering courses with titles like “Business for Musicians” in the 1970s and founded its Institute for Music Leadership in 2001. Currently, the institute offers its students about 25 courses in what it calls its Arts Leadership Curriculum. The courses range from digital portfolio creation and intellectual property law to grant writing and one called “How to win an orchestral audition.”

Ramon Ricker, who directs the institute and is working on a book entitled “Lessons from a Street-Wise Professor: What You Won’t Learn at Most Music Schools,” said Eastman has decided not to require these entrepreneurial courses of students, in order to leave them more freedom in course selection. He noted, however, that these programs are very popular among students and gaining acceptance among faculty, some of whom had worried the school’s performance degree programs might suffer from the inclusion of these courses.

“Although there wasn’t a lot of overt resistance, we did get some,” Ricker said of the introduction of the new curriculum. “We’re not trying to make music entrepreneurs. We’re trying to make musicians who have some entrepreneurial skills. When the faculty found out that we’re not going to dilute performance, there was nothing to argue about.”

The Institute for Music Leadership at Eastman has been received so well among students and faculty that the school recently approved a proposal for the creation of a Center for Music Innovation. The school plans to develop a new certificate in music innovation, centering curriculum on existing Arts Leadership courses within Eastman. Additionally, the new center would host a “music company/project incubator.” Like similar models at business schools, the incubator would use business contacts as well as Eastman faculty and resources to help shape student ideas into “viable companies.”

For example, Ricker cited the latest winner of the school’s “New Venture Challenge,” a contest not unlike the incubator they are about to create in which a student’s music business idea is picked for its viability. The winning student developed an idea to sell tuxedo tails to performance students, who often enter school without proper concert attire. The incubator, Ricker said, would take this student’s idea and give him the resources to get it off the ground.

In additional to calming the concerns of the parents of music school students, who often worry about the value of their son or daughter’s education, Ricker said the new entrepreneurial coursework and projects have intrigued alumni. He added that he often gets letters of support from graduates, expressing their regret at not having had similar opportunities while they were in music school.

“As we say, you can’t make a living playing the piano,” Ricker said. “You can make a living teaching piano. Still, we’re teaching students how to tap into different income streams. This set of courses can bridge the ivory town and the real world and help our graduates have better traction out there. It’s an idea whose time has come.”

Grant Institute’s Grant Workshops 2009: BUYER BEWARE!

In Current Events on January 13, 2009 at 2:03 am

Please check out the following links and read the comments below this post before going even one step further!!

The Grant Institute’s Grants 101: Professional Grant Proposal Writing Workshop will be holding a number of workshops in various cities over the next three months. A list of cities and dates is listed below.

Interested development professionals, researchers, faculty, and graduate students should register as soon as possible, as demand means that seats will fill up quickly. Please forward, post, and distribute this e-mail to your colleagues and listservs.

All participants will receive certification in professional grant writing from the Institute. For more information call: 888-824-4424 or visit The Grant Institute at

Please find the program description below:

The Grant Institute’s Grants 101 course is an intensive and detailed introduction to the process, structure, and skill of professional proposal writing. This course is characterized by its ability to act as a thorough overview, introduction, and refresher at the same time. In this course, participants will learn the entire proposal writing process and complete the course with a solid understanding of not only the ideal proposal structure, but a holistic understanding of the essential factors, which determine whether or not a program gets funded. Through the completion of interactive exercises and activities, participants will complement expert lectures by putting proven techniques into practice. This course is designed for both the beginner looking for a thorough introduction and the intermediate looking for a refresher course that will strengthen their grant acquisition skills. This class, simply put, is designed to get results by creating professional grant proposal writers.

Participants will become competent program planning and proposal writing professionals after successful completion of the Grants 101 course. In three active and informative days, students will be exposed to the art of successful grant writing practices, and led on a journey that ends with a masterful grant proposal.

Grants 101 consists of three (3) courses that will be completed during the three-day workshop.

(1) Fundamentals of Program Planning

This course is centered on the belief that “it’s all about the program.” This intensive course will teach professional program development essentials and program evaluation. While most grant writing “workshops” treat program development and evaluation as separate from the writing of a proposal, this class will teach students the relationship between overall program planning and grant writing.

(2) Professional Grant Writing

Designed for both the novice and experienced grant writer, this course will make each student an overall proposal writing specialist. In addition to teaching the basic components of a grant proposal, successful approaches, and the do’s and don’ts of grant writing, this course is infused with expert principles that will lead to a mastery of the process. Strategy resides at the forefront of this course’s intent to illustrate grant writing as an integrated, multidimensional, and dynamic endeavor. Each student will learn to stop writing the grant and to start writing the story. Ultimately, this class will illustrate how each component of the grant proposal represents an opportunity to use proven techniques for generating support.

(3) Grant Research

At its foundation, this course will address the basics of foundation, corporation, and government grant research. However, this course will teach a strategic funding research approach that encourages students to see research not as something they do before they write a proposal, but as an integrated part of the grant seeking process. Students will be exposed to online and database research tools, as well as publications and directories that contain information about foundation, corporation, and government grant opportunities. Focusing on funding sources and basic social science research, this course teaches students how to use research as part of a strategic grant acquisition effort.

$597.00 tuition includes all materials and certificates.

Each student will receive:
*The Grant Institute Certificate in Professional Grant Writing
*The Grant Institute’s Guide to Successful Grant Writing
*The Grant Institute Grant Writer’s Workbook with sample proposals, forms, and outlines

Registration Methods

1) On-Line – Complete the online registration form at under Register Now. We’ll send your confirmation by e-mail.

2) By Phone – Call 888-824-4424 to register by phone. Our friendly Program Coordinators will be happy to assist you and answer your questions.

3) By E-mail – Send an e-mail with your name, organization, and basic contact information to and we will reserve your slot and send your Confirmation Packet.


Williamsburg, VA (January 12 – 14, 2009)

Pittsburgh, PA (January 21 – 23, 2009)

San Diego, CA (January 21 – 23, 2009)

New York, NY (January 26 – 28, 2009)

Des Moines, IA (January 26 – 28, 2009)

Portland, OR (January 28 –30, 2009)


Columbus, OH (February 2 – 4, 2009)

New Orleans, LA (February 11 – 13, 2009)

Honolulu, HI (February 11 – 13, 2009)

Boston, MA (February 18 – 20, 2009)

Chicago, IL (February 18 – 20, 2009)

Dover, NH (February 25 – 27, 2009)

Louisville, KY (February 25 – 27, 2009)


Charleston, SC (March 4 – 6, 2009)

Detroit, MI (March 11 – 13, 2009)

Burlington, VT (March 11 – 13, 2009)

Jacksonville, FL (March 16 – 18, 2009)

Las Vegas, NV (March 18 – 20, 2009)

Providence, RI (March 23 – 25, 2009)

Los Angeles, CA (March 23 – 25, 2009)

Omaha, NE (March 30 – April 1, 2009)

A Creative Leap at Catalyst Ranch

In Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Leadership, Marketing, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on January 9, 2009 at 10:34 am

John Cimino, from Creative Leaps International, and I are pleased to announce that Catalyst Ranch, an incredible creativity-driven meeting space provider and progressive business-thought-leader, has offered us the opportunity to use their facility as our home until we are able to have our own space for a Chicago based Renaissance Center. (OMG. Chicago Arts Incubator? Any of you remember me sharing my dream about creating one? Well, my “lucky” day may just be around the corner, with my friend, John. But don’t get too excited for me just yet.-

Those dang last-stretch-to-home corners are not that lucky to actually get-off-easy, catch a break, and make a quick turn around. Most of the time.

Oh, and the other problem? You know the euphoria you feel followed by the inside-your-head part, that voice that says nice stuff to you, sometimes part, like “yah, this is really gonna happen?”

Well I got big news, there ain’t no stinkin’ guarantees! But really, once you get use to muscling-a-stomach for taking some calculated risks in life in the name of passionate-pursuits– it’s really not all that bad and maybe even a fun– most of the time- except for maybe all of last year but who’s counting)

SO, If you live in Chicago, please come. Or if you are passing through town, too, please, won’t you come? Or maybe you have a few friends who your sure would really be interested in knowing more about this and who might even consider coming to Chicago? It’s Wednesday January 28th from 6-8pm

Won’t you join us to learn more about the work of Creative Leaps and The Renaissance Center in Chicago? If you would like to reserve a seat please email me, The event is free but seating is limited to the first 75 who reply. ( And if you have never been to Catalyst Ranch- trust me- you’ll want to come.)


John Cimino, president of Creative Leaps International, is returning to Chicago for a third round presentation and discussion of his theme: “Bridging the Ingenuity Gap in the 21st Century”. For the benefit those who missed his sessions in September and October, John will provide a quick paced summary of his earlier presentation before moving on to a wider discussion of his vision for a Renaissance Center for Innovation, Learning and Leadership in the Chicago area.

In his initial sessions, John Cimino discussed the “habits of mind” linked to creativity, ingenuity and imaginative insights. He also reviewed recent findings in neuroscience revealing the brain’s unique experience of the arts and arts-based thinking. Alongside creativity, Cimino emphasized the need for connectivity, that is, thinking across boundaries, disciplines and cultures to address the complex issues of a globally inter-connected world. According to Cimino, designing “high tech, high touch” environments for creativity and connectivity is the central challenge of our institutions of higher education, research and professional development.

(from his introduction) Scholar Thomas Homer Dixon describes the “ingenuity gap” – the space between problems that arise and our ability to solve them – as growing today at an alarming rate (in business, scientific research, education, the environment and world affairs). Author Ken Robinson proclaims we are “Out of Our Minds” to have sidelined creativity and the arts when every layer of American society from elementary education to supply-side economics is starved for more imagination, more original thinking, and more creative intelligence.

In this latest session, John Cimino opens the doors to a deeper examination and wider discussion of his vision for a network of Renaissance Centers for Innovation, Learning and Leadership and their significance in bridging knowledge across disciplines. In particular, he will ask how can such a Renaissance Center best serve the needs of Chicago’s own institutions of higher education, business, commerce, leadership, creativity, the arts and arts-based education reforms in the schools? What kinds of partnerships among institutions, public and private, would be essential? Finally, in addition to addressing the needs of individual sectors, what global and overarching issues important to Chicago should the Renaissance Center address in its cross-disciplinary, transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary forums?

Come join John Cimino for an evening of spirited dialogue, creative collaboration and exploration of a new vision for interdisciplinary learning, creativity and leadership.

SmARTist Tele-Conference Jan 15, 16 & 19-23

In Art, Current Events on January 4, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Build your art career from the comforts of home and learn from the “experts” while doing it via tele-conference.

2009 speakers include: Paul Dorrell- Successful Gallery Owner & Corporate Art Consultant, Alyson B. Stanfield- Art Career Expert, Joan Stewart- Self Promotion Expert, Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D.- Fulfilling Dreams Expert, Leonard DuBoff- Art Law Expert, Molly Gordon, MCC- Entrepreneur Expert, Peter Jason Riley- CPA Tax Expert, Shirley Williams- Successful Artist & Presentation Expert, Mari Smith- Relationship Expert, Nancy Marmolejo- Visibility Expert, Guillermo Cuellar, Ed.D.- Creativity Expert & Psychotherapist, and the creator or the SmARTist Tele-Conference Ariane Goodwin, Ed.D.

For a Calendar of Events click here

Here is a list of some of the things you can expect to learn:

*How you can take advantage of the hottest, new online marketing strategy, even if you’ve never heard of Web 2.0

*What you must know about selling your work in a corporate setting—so you don’t blow it

*How you can develop an art career vision, and business strategies, founded on your deepest values

*75% of US adults can be now found in social media—isn’t it time you tapped into this gold mine?

*What common mistakes you need to avoid when you put together your portfolio—or look like an amateur

*How to identify your most likely art buyers—so you can reach more of them and build a following

*How to find corporations who want your art

*Why Facebook doesn’t have much to do with class reunions, and everything to do with selling your art

*How to effectively negotiate contracts with corporations—or risk losing part of your sweet deal

*Why serious life and death crises can paralyze creativity, and how to keep the juices flowing

*Which tax deductions you can legally take as an artist—and which ones you’ve been missing out on

*How to make your art career sizzle with online tricks you need to know

*How to find a market for your art that fits who you are as a person and an artist

*Which inner blocks (fears, self criticism, guilt, pain) stop you from fulfilling your dreams—and how to win them over with simple techniques

*How a clear vision for your art gives you guidelines for making difficult decisions with peace and strength

*How to prioritize and develop the right promotional materials—for the right audience

*Why “tweeting” should be at the top of your list— or you miss out on a ready-made audience of potential art buyers

*How to follow up with potential buyers without fumbling the ball or falling over fear

Interested in signing up? Click here.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

In Accounting, Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Customer Service, Emotional Intelligence, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Clarinet Shop, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on December 23, 2008 at 3:04 am

f91ddde14399af3663324567dfa4My wish for you, ON CHRISTMAS DAY,
will be for you TOO, to keep the GRINCH at bay!

But if by chance, you simply cannot,
Band mighty together, as a great big Who-Ville lot!

WWHHYY????? Smarty-Arty, I hear you say?

BECAUSE, with all your JOY stirring together,
the grinch who came to visit, just might feel a WEE bit better.

Merry Christmas, my dears, what’s your ETA,
to ENTREPRENEUR The Arts, in a new innovative way.
PLEASE COME WITH ME, lets ride far, far and away!

signed your friend, an artistic missionIST, a student of Dr. Suess-a-visionIST, gliding, and sent with love.

A Grand Tradition Comes to an End

In Current Events, The Clarinet Shop on December 22, 2008 at 2:59 am



Last week on Thursday and Friday I set up shop at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Conference, at the Chicago Hilton and Towers in downtown Chicago.

Having exhibited at the conference for over 20 years, in the basement, I decided to opt for a quite room upstairs in the hotel for clients to come and chat, have a cup of coffee, a cookie and get away from the noise and, of course, try some clarinets if they desired.

Never did I imagine that for the price of catering- I spent a total of roughly $800.00- that I would be treated to the end of a grand tradition in the Grand Traditions Room at the Hilton. The room was free if I catered and as you can see from the pictures, this opulent room was filled with hotel grand memorablia including many photographs of presidents and political dignitaries.

Not only was this a special two days because of my surroundings, but in 2009 The Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic will be moving to McCormick West, after 35 years at the Chicago Hilton.


This years Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic, an important conference every year to attend in the music world, marks the end of a grand tradition of meeting friends and clients at the Chicago Hilton Hotel and enjoying meals and drinks together year after year.

I really enjoyed this year’s conference and especially after having spent a lot more money to be downstairs on the noisy trade show floor, truly appreciated having this wonderful space as my showroom. While I understand the conference has completely outgrown this facility, the warmth and personal touches of the Hilton will be long lost on the big convention center at McCormick. Artistry needs the human touch, and while I am certain this conference will continue to thrive, we all need to remember that without it, we can easily look like just another commodity for sale.

A Playground for the 21st Century Artist Entrepreneur

In Art, Cooking & Food, Current Events, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Leadership, Music, The Idea, Theater/Film, WEBSITES & BLOGS, Writing on November 28, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Eight years and $200 million in the making, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, or Empac, resembles an enormous 1950s-era television set on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

But inside are not old-fashioned vacuum tubes but the stuff of 21st-century high-tech dreams dedicated to the marriage of art and science as it has never been done before, its creators say — 220,000 square feet of theaters, studios and work spaces hooked to supercomputers.

Within its walls, scientists can immerse themselves in data and fly through a breaking wave or inspect the kinks in a DNA molecule, artists can participate in virtual concerts with colleagues in different parts of the world or send spectators on trips through imaginary landscapes, and architects can ponder their creations from the inside before a single brick or two-by-four has been put in place.

As a facility, the new 220,000 square-foot center is like no other, boasting unrivaled presentation and production capabilities: a 1200-seat concert hall designed to the highest acoustical standards; an intimate 400-seat theater; and two highly flexible studio spaces, configurable as traditional black-box theaters or as fully immersive environments. Linked to a massive supercomputer, EMPAC’s potential for art and science spans the physical and virtual worlds and the spaces in between.

The EMPAC building’s conception and construction include many firsts relating to acoustics, theatrical and media presentation, structural integrity, lighting, heating and ventilation. The building is an extraordinary architectural statement. An international architectural competition led to the selection of the acclaimed British firm, Grimshaw, and to the building’s bold architectural conception.

Dedicated to advancing research and artistic production at the intersection of technology, media and the performing arts, EMPAC is poised to be a major contributing force in many artistic and technological domains. A main focus and major emphasis at EMPAC is the development and production of new works in the performing and media arts. Projects, residencies and productions at EMPAC will come from all domains of time-based arts, including but not limited to video, dance, music, theater, internet art, DVD productions, interactive installations, and multimedia art. Some pieces that are created or presented at EMPAC may grow out of the media-rich environment of EMPAC and could travel to other venues, nationally and internationally, others works may be site-specific to EMPAC.

As a facility and an environment, EMPAC will serve as a magnet to artists in a wide variety of time-based disciplines – performance, theatre, dance, music and film/video. The facility opened on October 3rd, 2008 and now offers artists residencies and commissions which include a rare and powerful combination: time to experiment in performance and production spaces of the highest quality combined with a technologically advanced infrastructure. As part of its mission to support artistic production with resources and facilities which are project-specific, EMPAC will provide access to equipment, expertise, rehearsal space, research, or other support as part of a commission, according to the needs of that project.

Here is an example of one of EMPAC’s commissioned projects, “There Still is Time… Brother”:

Commissioned by EMPAC, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [USA], produced by EMPAC together with the UNSW iCinema Centre for Interactive Cinema Research [AUS], and the ZKM | Institute for Visual Media [D] and in collaboration with The Wooster Group,THERE IS STILL TIME.. BROTHER« is a commission for an installation that consists of an interactive projection for a 360° screen.


The commission is rooted in the recording of a Wooster Group performance developed specifically to be viewed as a projection on a 360° screen. The video is revealed by way of a window that scans around the screen, never showing the whole of the projection at once. The window is controlled by an audience member or performer who selects which part of the 360° video to reveal at any given time. However, it is clear that the sections of the video that are revealed are all unfolding in one, continuous 360° space and that there is some kind of linear timeline to the sections of the performance that we are watching unfold.

This piece challenges the notions of linear narrative in theater or film by creating a time-based theatrical experience that can be experienced in a new way each time it is “performed” by the individual controlling the interface which dictates that which we see and hear in the immersive space of spacialized sound and projection. The viewer is involved in an immersive process of discovery where their chosen point of view creates the dramaturgy of the piece and literally activates the story.

President Dr. Jackson said Rensselaer prides itself on interdisciplinary research and hands-on engineering learning, has a tradition of electronic arts, which includes a major in games and simulations. A performance center had been part of a long-range plan she and the trustees approved in 2000. The concept of Empac was born, she said, when she and her advisers decided to combine art with the problem of making sense of data, a problem that she said lay at the nexus of art, science, technology, cognitive perception and learning.

In 2001, an anonymous donor gave the university $360 million, one of the largest private grants ever made to an American university, enabling Dr. Jackson to jump-start not just Empac but other elements of her plan as well. That gift was later augmented by $40 million from Curtis R. Priem, one of the founders of Nvidia, a maker of graphics processors, and for whom the center will be officially named.

This center is a 21st Century Artists dream come true. Is there a project or an idea you would like to undertake with Empact?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the nation’s oldest technological university, offering degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, the humanities and social sciences. It is pre-eminent in research into biotechnology, nanotechnology, IT, and the media arts and technology. In addition to its MFA program, RPI offers bachelor degrees in Electronic Arts, and in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication – one of the first undergraduate programs of its kind in the United States.

The Global Unleashing of Ideas

In Current Events, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 19, 2008 at 11:27 am

The theme for Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is occurring as I write this post, is Unleashing Ideas. This is the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Week- what a great idea around a topic we need globally to be unified around. Certainly, an ideas whose time has come.

So what are you doing this week to become more entrepreneurial that will unleash your freshest and newest thoughts and ideas? What do you think might happen if you could find a few new people to join forces with who are interested in entrepreneurship just like you are? How much faster could you take your ideas and turn them into something real with a few more entrepreneurial minds working together?

Be spontaneous this week. Quickly organize an ‘Entrepreneurs Coffee’ get together for Saturday morning at a local hang out. Or get out and network in a place you never have been before. Talk about entrepreneurship and what you want to do or are doing. See who you connect with. It might surprise you what happens with the new connections you make.

NEA Chairman Position Opens in 2009

In Current Events, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Interesting Articles on November 14, 2008 at 8:00 pm

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia is leaving in January 2009.

10-13-2008: National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia announced that he will leave his position as the head of the Arts Endowment in January 2009. After his departure from the NEA, Gioia will return to his writing career, his primary occupation prior to leading the Endowment. In January, he will join the Aspen Institute on a half-time basis as the first Director of the Harman/Eisner (H/E) Program in the Arts.

So who will take his place? I have heard through the grapevine that Robert Freeman, former Dean of The Eastman School of Music and University of Texas-Austin, is on the short list of possible replacements. While I am uncertain, based on conversations with Bob, if he would take the position he certainly would be an excellent choice and the kind of advocate that would endorse entrepreneurship in the arts!

To read the rest of the press release regarding Dana Giola’s departure click here:

Nov 17-23 Global Entrepreneurship Week

In Current Events on November 13, 2008 at 3:47 am

Entrepreneurship Contests are springing up all over. Check this one out during Global Entrepreneurship Week!

Teams from high schools, community college and Fresno State will be participating in the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Week Challenge called “The Edge.”

For one week, millions of young people around the world will join a growing movement to generate new ideas and seek better ways of doing things. More than 70 countries are coming together to host Global Entrepreneurship Week, a global initiative to inspire young people to embrace innovation, imagination, and creativity.

The focus of this week is:

To think big.
To turn ideas into reality.
To make a mark.

WHEN: Thursday, November 20, 2008, starting at 3:00 pm
WHERE: Lyles Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Fresno State

The challenge will be won by taking a group of everyday objects and creating a make believe or real product from the items. Remember, entrepreneurship requires creativity, innovation and the ability to leverage resources to create value . . . you must challenge assumptions, seize opportunities, and be creative!

Each team will present their idea and product to the judges.

Whoever successfully creates a product for their target group with the most value wins. Sound simple? Maybe…or maybe not.

How will you demonstrate your creativity and innovation? Do you accept the challenge?

Each team of four students will receive a box of objects and a target audience. The objects will not be made known until this time.

Teams will have 30 minutes to create their product and their presentation. Each 3 minute presentation must include:

The name of the product
The features of the product
The benefits your product offers to customers

Criteria for judging:
o Creativity
o Degree of risk taken
o Degree of entertainment