Ten Work Items for 2011, Task #8

I spoke to this task in 2 recent blog entries, to concern about the effects of government support.  Let’s make it a priority to re-examine our positions vis a vis government involvement.  We’ve really got to, as we’re on a slippery slope now.  We shape our artistic output to please legislators and we prattle endlessly about the constructive benefits of the arts (economic development, tourism, brain development, etc.).  We’re hooked, guys, and we’ll do anything for our next fix.

The mostly-dysfunctional 501c3 comes from the government.  We’re hooked on tax deductibility; although it’s being shown that most mid-sized and smaller donors don’t care (they take the standard deduction, or find that the amount “saved” is too small to matter).  So we over-burden our entire field with an organizational model that is unwieldy and expensive.  I will challenge myself to calculate what could be saved in a more efficient model v. the donations brought in because of tax-deductibility.

Professional arts advocates appear helpless to stop the giant communications corporations from taking control of media, and devaluing artistic intellectual property ownership.  Yes, government is not benign. It is aggressive and we need to not only reconsider existing laws and appropriations, but actions that have a negative effect on artistic freedom and output.

We must rethink our equation with government.  I become more alarmed about it every time I think about it.

About the author

James Undercofler

Jim has been a Professor at Drexel University since May, 2009. His previous appointment - since August, 2007 - was as the President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jim was Dean of the Eastman School of Music from 1997 to 2007. He has played a prominent role in musical arts and music education throughout his career. Before joining Eastman in 1995 as associate director for academic affairs and professor of music education, he was an active, performing chamber musician as well as first horn in the New Haven Symphony. Jim serves as board president, American Music Center; advisory board member, Arts Education Policy Review; board member, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, New York State Association of College Music Programs and American Symphony Orchestra League, and is a founding member, NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools and Mercury Opera of Rochester.

Read James Undercofler's blog [l=http://web.esm.rochester.edu/poly/blog/author/junder/]here[/l].

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