Commentary: Could we be at a tipping point for arts education?

Lorna Kneeland on the blog of 4Culture [cultural services agency for King County, WA], 7/30/12

In the past few years, there has been a fair amount of public attention (but not enough) on the dire state and inequity of arts learning for K-12 students. The expectation that arts are an essential aspect to student education has been lost. This year in Seattle, not a single arts organization was deemed qualified for the Families and Education Levy. This is surprising given the great deal of research demonstrating the strong link that arts education has to academic success and social development. Now, let me turn this depressing train of thought around...Despite the cuts, I strongly feel that we are approaching a tipping point that has the possibility of pushing this train in the other direction. Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book The Tipping Point

"... in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first...The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire."

Nationally and locally, big and small collaborative movements are happening that are generating momentum to put arts learning back on track. Perhaps the largest local movement on this front is the Seattle K-12 Arts Learning Collaborative. The goal of this citywide effort is that all students in all Seattle Public Schools (SPS) have opportunities to learn through the arts, to succeed in school and in life. The community has come together in a powerful way -- driven by the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and SPS with parents, the funding community and arts leaders such as Arts Corps, ArtsEd Washington, Arts Impact, PONCHO [Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations] and Seattle Art Museum leading and owning the charge.


Commentary: New report predicts tipping point in music that already happened

Glenn Peoples, Billboard magazing, 8/16/12

Being a day behind the news was acceptable before the rise of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle. But there's really no excuse for being a year behind major forecasts and trends. The press has been drawn to a new report by Strategy Analytics that forecasts U.S. digital recorded music revenue will exceed physical in 2012. Unfortunately, Strategy Analytics is predicting an outcome that has already arrived and has been well documented. According to the IFPI, U.S. digital recorded music revenue exceeded physical revenue in 2011. The IFPI's Music Industry in Numbers 2012 puts the trade value of the U.S. digital recorded music market at $2.21 billion and the physical market at $1.84 billion. If we just take into account traditional purchases and set aside subscription revenue, digital still beats physical $1.95 billion to $1.84 billion. Exhibit B is the RIAA's "2011 Year-End Shipments Statistics" report [which] details an even 50/50 physical-digital split in retail value across all formats in 2011. Naturally it's no stretch to say the U.S. recorded music market will reach a tipping point in 2012 when it was balanced the year before and nearly on a precipice a year earlier (54 to 46). The media covered this tipping point back in March when the RIAA made the announcement. Needless to say, forecasts should precede, not follow, historical data. There are always differences in methodologies, of course. The RIAA included performance royalties (from digital services such as Pandora). Take out those performance royalties and physical would have slightly exceeded digital revenue. But in an age when consumers have access to both streaming services and purchases, why leave one out when calculating trends?


Meet the man who helped Apple become tipping point for musicians to embrace ads

Alex Moore, Death and Taxes magazine, 8/16/12

Way back when Death and Taxes was in its infancy as a print magazine in 2008, we paid homage to whoever was choosing the music in Apple's ads. By '08, we'd noticed that many of the most celebrated new artists of the decade had popped up in Apple ads just before breaking. We didn't know who was picking the music at the time -- no one did, he was contractually obligated not to talk about it -- but it was Andrew Charles Kahn. Back then he was in-house music supervisor for Apple's ad agency. Now he's running his own shop. Andrew was nice enough to talk to us about what music supervision is all about and give us some pointers from that golden ear of his:

At Apple you guys broke some of the biggest indie rock bands of the past decade-Ting Tings, CSS...

Chairlift, Feist, Yael Naim, and then there were the celebrity ones -- Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Mary J. Blige. Paul McCartney came because Steve Jobs was the biggest Beatles fan in the world. Same thing with the Bob Dylan spot that came right before that, and U2. I don't think McCartney had done an ad before. Same with Bob Dylan and U2. And Coldplay. Apple was that tipping point for artists to embrace being used in advertising. You could especially see that with the big artists -- getting your song in a "silhouette" spot was basically a 30 second ad for whatever single you had coming out. And I think that's also what made them so successful in introducing music to wider audiences. There are brands now who are like, We want to do music the way Apple did it, or we want to be known as being a music brand. But then they'll have 20 seconds of crappy copy in their ad.

It's almost like the Apple ads got out of their own way.

I completely agree. They respected music and the use of music in their ads instead of putting it in as an afterthought. They also respected their audience. They didn't need to tell their audience, "iPods are now available for $149 and this is what it does," and go on and on about their products. They believed their audience could intuit what this device does.


NEA gives grant to study tipping point of arts' positive effect on cities around U.S.

Bridget Lewis, University of Texas at Arlington's website, 7/25/12

A University of Texas urban planner has become the only urbanist in the country to win a research grant this year from the National Endowment for the Arts. Carl Grodach, an associate professor in the School of Urban and Public Affairs, will examine 30 U.S. cities, ranging from large urban centers to middle and smaller-sized cities, and their correlation to the arts. "The social and economic impacts of artistic concentrations are well-known. This includes everything from the formation of new businesses to a cleaner and safer environment," Grodach said. "In many instances, though, the arts are also associated with gentrification so we also want to understand the tipping point at which artistic concentrations go from contributing positive neighborhood change to engendering displacement."  The project is in the beginning phase and Grodach must still identify the cities for his study. He noted, however, the well-known impact of the arts in several locations, including New York, an arts hub and financial center, and Austin, an emerging arts center with an established music scene and strong tech economy. "There is virtually no literature that comparatively analyzes artistic location patterns across a range of different places and time periods, yet this knowledge is essential to fostering a deeper understanding of where artists choose to live and work, and ultimately, to identify where and under what conditions they make the greatest social and economic impact," Grodach said. "This research will enable policymakers to provide more informed and targeted means of supporting the arts."


A case study of a city neighborhood where artists created a tipping point

Emily Badger, Fast Company, 8/9/12

The process whereby artists cycle through the rundown neighborhoods of American cities has become so entrenched it even has a dirty name: the SoHo effect. Artists venture into an area where no else will. They help make it desirable, chic even. Then, as rents go up, they're forced to move out. Neighborhoods appreciate over time. But artist income seldom does. This is the lopsided social contract cities often have with artists: We count on them [to] remake abandoned neighborhoods, but we offer no provisions for them to remain a part of what they helped create. Enter Artspace. The Twin Cities-based organization has pioneered what sounds like the ultimate niche idea: It's a nonprofit real estate developer for artists. Its flagship project, the Northern Warehouse in the Lowertown district of St. Paul, Minnesota, has been housing artists for more than 20 years in the heart of a neighborhood that's undergone vast transformation. Today, as widespread civic enthusiasm for "creative" projects has begun to spawn skepticism, the Northern Warehouse may be one of the clearest case studies of the role of artists in rejuvenating decayed neighborhoods -- and sticking around afterward. Since then, Artspace has completed 30 live/work developments in 21 U.S. cities, with two more opening this fall, two more under construction, and another dozen in the pipeline. "In a lot of ways, I think Lowertown is perhaps the most cut-and-dried example you'll ever get of artists who really created a tipping point," says Laura Zabel, the executive director of Springboard for the Arts, a long-running tenant of the Northern Warehouse. "Because there was such a vacuum here before." 

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