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AU Arts Management Fall Colloquium – Leaf Peeping with Albie Sachs

This time of year it is common to see lots of brightly colored leaves around Washington, D.C., but it is not every day that they enter the classroom. The connection these leaves have to social justice and our shared human experience is even more extraordinary. 

The AU Arts Management Fall Colloquium will take place from 5:30 – 7:00 pm, November 18th, at the Washington College of Law. Attendance is free but registration is required. Please register to attend at:
Handcrafted foliage – See more of our work at the AU Arts Management Fall Colloquium. Please register to attend at:

Luckily for the AU Arts Management graduate students, handcrafted foliage was just one of the many exciting preparations made for our upcoming Fall Colloquium with special guest Albie Sachs, which will take place from 5:30 – 7:00 on November 18th at the Washington College of Law.

Known as one of the world’s leading human rights activists as well as for his work as a Justice on South Africa’s Constitutional Court, Sachs grew up during the era of apartheid in South Africa.  He was born into a politically active family and followed in his father’s footsteps by fighting political battles in South Africa throughout his career and personal life.

In addition to being imprisoned twice, Sachs also risked his life for the causes he worked passionately to support. On April 7, 1988, a bomb planted in Sachs’s car exploded as he was unlocking the vehicle.  He was rushed to the hospital and fortunately survived, although he had broken ribs, punctured eardrums and numerous other serious injuries.  The accident resulted in the loss of a portion of his left arm and the loss of sight in one eye.

Although the attack nearly cost Sachs his life, he explains in his TedTalk video “Soft Vengeance,” that he felt “fantastic” that he had survived.  Instead of feeling despair and torn down by the loss of his arm, he recounts his conviction that as he got better, his country would get better.  He explains his survival as “soft vengeance.”  He views soft vengeance not as getting revenge, but as getting freedom in South Africa.  He reveals that he got to experience that “soft vengeance” coming to fruition with the rewriting of the South African Constitution.

In 1994, South Africa’s first national multiracial elections were held and Nelson Mandela was elected President. He appointed Sachs to one of the 11 seats on the country’s new Constitutional Court.

In addition to his 15 years of service with the Court, Sachs has travelled to many countries sharing South African experience in healing divided societies. He has also been engaged in the sphere of art and architecture, and played an active role in the development of the Constitutional Court building and its art collection on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg. Sachs describes the courthouse as being “planted right in the heart of pain, to show that terrible energy, the negativity of the past.  You don’t do away with it.  You don’t abolish it.  You don’t say it didn’t happen.  You convert that energy into positivity.”

“Perfect Paradise” by Johannes Maswanganyi (a work in the Court’s permanent art collection) from
“Perfect Paradise” by Johannes Maswanganyi (a work in the Court’s permanent art collection)

Our class was greatly inspired by Sachs’s passionate descriptions of the many ways African art has been integrated into the design and construction of South Africa’s Constitutional Court building. Two themes that resonated strongly among our group were Ubuntu and Sachs description of “justice under a tree.”

Ubuntu, is a Nuguni Buntu word which means, “I am what I am because of who we all are.”  It is a reminder of our shared humanity, and carries a spirit of goodwill and respect towards others. The concept of ubuntu serves as a cornerstone for South Africa’s constitution’s heavy detail on equal protection under the law.

AU Arts Management graduate student Monica Medina preparing to create leaves from paper handmade by our class.
AU Arts Management graduate student Monica Medina preparing to create leaves from paper handmade by students in our Cultural Leadership class.

Equally inspiring was Sachs’s description of “justice under a tree” as an image of inspiration for the vision of the Court. In traditional African societies, people would meet under a tree to publicly solve disputes. As Sachs explains in the book Art and Justice: The Art of the Constitutional Court of South Africa,  “the unifying theme of this building is the traditional form of participatory and transparent justice under a tree,” a symbol which encapsulates much of South Africa’s history and traditions. This concept reinforces a community-oriented approach, as Sachs elaborates that, “The tree protects the people, and they look after the tree.”

“Justice under a tree” was the inspiration behind the South African Constitutional Court’s logo. Tell us your own story about justice, or ask a question to be discussed at the colloquium using #Askablie on Twitter.
“justice under a tree” was the inspiration behind the South African Constitutional Court’s logo. Tell us your own story about justice, or ask a question to be discussed at the colloquium using #AskAlbie on Twitter.

Through our class discussions, we chose to manifest these themes as physical objects of art that will be used to unite attendees through shared ideas and dialogue at the Colloquium. The themes added a new dimension of meaning to our coursework and informed our process for planning the event. To see more of the work we created, visit our facebook page and then attend the event!

My AU Arts Management colleagues and I are very excited for this rare opportunity to meet such an inspiring figure in the fields of social justice and arts advocacy. I hope that you will join us for this special event – please see below for more information or visit our event page here. And, if you are unable to attend the event, you can keep up with the conversation through Twitter using #AskAlbie!

The AU Arts Management Fall Colloquium will take place from 5:30 – 7:00 pm, November 18th, at the Washington College of Law. Attendance is free but registration is required. Please register to attend at:

A sneak peek of some of the foliage prepared for our Colloquium with Albie Sachs!
A sneak peek of some of the foliage prepared for our Colloquium with Albie Sachs!

Heather Koslov is a second year student in the AU Arts Management program and serves as this year’s Events Coordinator on the EALS committee.

Special thanks to Laura London for the information and text regarding Albie Sachs’s biography.

Photograph of “Perfect Paradise” by Johannes Maswanganyi (a work in the Court’s permanent art collection) from

Photograph of the South African Constitutional Court logo is from Art and Justice: The Art of the Constitutional Court of South Africa accessed at

Albie Sachs quotes are from The South Africa Constitutional Court’s webpage ( and the Project for Public Spaces’ Placemaking blog (

Don’t Just Sit There, Get Involved!

We all love to go to our favorite theatre and watch a production, sit and listen to our favorite orchestra, or visit our favorite museum. Traditionally, a person interacted with arts organizations by sitting in the audience of a theater and viewing a performance; but is that enough? I say no way! Like me, many audience members want to get involved and interact with arts organizations in a new way.

Today we live in a world with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. These platforms give us a space to share our views and interact with people from around the world. As a young person in my early twenties, interaction and participation is crucial. Arts organizations are beginning to realize the importance of audience engagement and are finding new and innovative ways to engage their audiences.

Audience engagement includes a range of activities from open rehearsals, online forums, to interactive shows. Here in Washington, DC, Dog & Pony DC produced a production of The Killing Game that whole-heartedly embraced the idea of audience engagement. Audience members were able to decide important events of the play such as who survives the plague and who dies. When asked about their experience at The Killing Game, one audience member stated “We begin like stone-faced spectators; we end like the world’s most talkative flash mob”

Although the traditional way an audience views a performance is still very important, I think arts organizations should try to find new ways to engage their audience. As someone who enjoys participation, audience engagement is very important.

With audience engagement becoming more of a necessity, what are some cost effective methods of audience engagement? How are we using technology/social media to effectively engage audiences without losing the true value of the arts experience? And who do you think are some of the most successful arts organizations in terms of audience engagement right now?

To continue this discussion on the importance of audience engagement, please join us on April 7th for the 6th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University.

Panelists for this topic will include:

JR Russ – Class Acts Arts, #thearts, Dance Place: JR Russ is a Washington, DC native who received his B.A. in Dance from UMD, and an M.A. in Arts Management from RussAmerican University. Since then he’s gone on to teach and choreograph in the area, as well as continue to perform, and even work on the administrative & production side of things. This has led to him managing digital and social media for Class Acts Arts & Dance Place, as well as joining the communications and marketing committees for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington & SpeakeasyDC. He also assist Duke Ellington School for the Arts with their social media efforts, in policy and implementation organizationally and through workshops to students on using new media professionally.

Alli Houseworth – Method 121: Alli Houseworth is the founder and chief consultant Houseworth picand strategist at Method 121. Throughout her entire career, she has brought an innovative way of thinking to her work. Often hired to manage projects and implement changes that require deep analytical and strategic thinking, coupled with highly creative ideas, Alli has drawn on her ten years of experience in the communications field to bring an extraordinarily high level of innovation to her work in both the nonprofit and commercial arts sectors. The core of the work always focuses on branding, new media, service-centric audience experiences, and leveraging the power of community. Constantly passionate about developing audiences for the theatre, Alli has established herself as an industry expert in audience engagement and social media.

Margy Waller – Topos Partnership: Margy Waller is a Senior Fellow at Toposwaller pic Partnership and former Vice-President of Research and Strategic Communications at ArtsWave. Previously she was Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, with a joint appointment in the Economic Studies and Metropolitan Policy programs. Prior to Brookings, she was Senior Advisor on domestic policy in the Clinton-Gore White House. Before joining the Administration, Margy was Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. She also served as Director of Public Policy at United Way of America, and Director of Policy Development at Public/Private Ventures in Philadelphia, and a congressional fellow in the office of U.S. Representative Eric Fingerhut (D-OH).

Doug Borwick – ArtsEngaged: Doug Borwick holds the Borwick-ColorPh.D. in Music Composition from the Eastman School of Music and is an award-winning member of ASCAP. He gained experience as an arts administrator and producer working with the Arts Council of Rochester (NY) and through founding and leading the NC Composers Alliance in the mid-1980’s. Dr. Borwick also served for nearly thirty years as Director of the Arts Management and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. Dr. Borwick is also a leading advocate for community engagement in the arts. He is author of Engaging Matters, a blog for ArtsJournal and author/editor of Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S.


Ximena Varela – American University: Ximena Varela is a researcher, educator, and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in international cultural policy, D13_292_138management practice, marketing strategy, arts management research, and sustainable development. She has worked with and advised international organizations, national and regional governments, city agencies, as well as private and nonprofit organizations in arts funding and arts policy. Currently, she chairs the Research Council of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, and has been a board member of the Latin American Institute of Museums since 2000.

Click HERE to register for EALS 2013.

Art…and the Stagnant Business of Art.

What happens when an arts organization’s business model no longer works?

Well, as with the metaphor of the shark, it must continue to move forward or it will die.

For decades, the arts organization model has remained largely unchallenged, because there was no reason to challenge it. It almost served as a microcosm of “The American Dream.” Everyone wanted to start their own organization, and the great entrepreneurial spirit in the United States created a thriving environment for this mindset. Margo Jones, one of the regional theatre pioneers in the 1950’s, supported the idea, saying “What our country needs today, theatrically speaking, is a resident professional theatre in every city with a population over one hundred thousand.”

However, as Rocco Landesman so famously said, audiences have begun to dwindle while the number of organizations continues to rise, and there should be fewer arts organizations. I am in no way saying that some organizations should just close up shop so that another can benefit. But this is definitely something to think about. There are only so many contributed dollars out there for the arts. This trend of continued marketplace crowding will eventually lead to organizations relying quite heavily on earned income to meet budget. And as I mentioned a few weeks ago, many organizations must keep prices low (affordable) in order to fulfill their missions. Put those two factors together, and it doesn’t add up to success.

But some organizations are creating their own remedy for the situation. Program partnerships between organizations with similar missions are sprouting up all over, and outright mergers are becoming less and less surprising.

Noted thought leader in organization business models, Andrew Taylor, also preaches that not every great idea warrants its own non-profit organization. (Check out his fantastic presentation on the topic HERE)

On top of that, Marilyn Struthers notes that foundations and other funders are no longer interested in funding “stability” and are now interested in funding “flexibility” in arts organizations. My own experience writing grant proposals in the past year supports this. Every proposal instruction packet specifically asked how the organization could handle changes.

We must be open to changing our thinking about the arts business model in order to continue the success of arts organizations in the US.

The New/Innovative Organization Models panel at the 6th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University on April 7 is a fantastic opportunity to discuss what’s next for the arts business model. You can join some of the greatest leaders in the topic for an intimate conversation. Those panelists include:

Thaddeus Squire – Culture Works Greater Philadelphia: Squire has been hailed as a “visionary” voice in the contemporary arts by David Patrick Stearns of The squire picPhiladelphia Inquirer, and in 2011 was named one of Philadelphia’s top 76 “Creative Connectors” by Leadership Philadelphia. He has also received Philadelphia City Paper’s “Big Vision Issue Choice Awards ‘09” for his work as originator and producer of Hidden City Philadelphia. He is a curator, consultant, writer, and producer. In 2005, he founded Peregrine Arts, which served the fine and performing arts, and history/heritage fields with integrated creative, management, and audience engagement services. In early 2010, Mr. Squire retired the Peregrine brand to create two new organizations: Hidden City Philadelphia and CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia, the latter of which will continue Peregrine’s consulting and management work.

Rachel Grossman – dog&pony DC: Grossman is a performing artist, administrator, and producer working in non-profit arts, education, and community program management grossman picin the Washington, DC area. Rachel spent two years at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company launching their “connectivity” innovation and serving as the company’s first Connectivity Director. She spent four seasons as the Director of Education & Outreach at Round House Theatre and prior to that she managed programming in the education and community programs departments at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, and CENTERSTAGE (Baltimore, MD). She was an Associate Producer for the 2010 Source Festival, focusing on Literary Management and Casting, and also spent a few years producing with eXtreme eXchange. Rachel is a former member of Referendum: Political Arts Collective, performed with DC Playback Theatre, and adjudicated with the Helen Hayes Awards. Rachel served on the Interactivity Foundation’s Arts & Society panel, exploring the arts and public policy.

Margaret Boozer – Red Dirt Studio: Boozer lives and works in the Washington, DC metro area. Her work is included in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Boozer picMuseum, The Museum of the City of New York, The US Department of State, The Wilson Building Public Art collection and in many private collections. Boozer taught for ten years at the Corcoran College of Art and Design before founding Red Dirt Studio in Mt. Rainier, MD where she directs a ceramics and sculpture seminar. Her Red Dirt Seminar is a graduate school with no grades. It’s a sculpture studio with a taste for ceramics. It’s a collective work environment with shared resources. It’s a critique group.  It’s a business-of-art incubator.  It’s an exhibition space, a workspace for visiting artists, and on random Friday afternoons, the site of spirited art discussions with interesting visitors.  At its core, Red Dirt is about what can happen with the coming-together of talented, smart and curious people, working toward greater accomplishment in their professional practice.  It’s about drawing on the resources of artistic community, and at the same time giving back.

Moderator: Andrew Taylor:  E. Andrew Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Arts Management Program at American University, exploring the intersection of arts, culture, Andrew taylorand business. An author, lecturer, and researcher on a broad range of arts management issues, Andrew has also served as a consultant to arts organizations and cultural initiatives throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Overture Center for the Arts, American Ballet Theatre, Create Austin, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, among others. Prior to joining the AU faculty, Andrew served as Director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration in the Wisconsin School of Business for over a decade. Andrew is past president of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, and is a consulting editor both for The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society and for Artivate, a journal for arts entrepreneurship. Since July 2003, he has written a popular weblog on the business of arts and culture, “The Artful Manager,” hosted by

To participate in this and other fantastic panels, resgister for EALS 2013 at

Tickets now on sale for EALS Benefit

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Tickets have official gone on sale for the 2013 EALS Benefit. Buy them HERE.

The EALS Benefit is a soiree designed to support the 6th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium.  The benefit will pay homage to the era of AMC’s hit series, MadMen.

Guests are encouraged to dress accordingly and enjoy an evening of socializing, refreshments, and dancing worth of a 1960’s era Madison Avenue. So come dressed in your slickest suit or hippest dress and drink fine white wine. The benefit will be held at the hip Hamiltonian Gallery (1353 U Street NW, Washington, DC).

A superb jazz trio will provide live music. Also, take part in the silent auction to benefit the 6th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium that will take place on April 7. Items include tickets to shows, restaurants, and art.

So come join us for an evening of art, jazz, food, wine, and fun at the EALS Benefit on February 23, 2013.

Admission to the benefit is only $20 (for unlimited wine, food, art, and jazz?!? WOW!), and you can register HERE.

Benefit Banner image

Broadcasting: What the Arts Can Learn from Professional Sports

a research study by Steven Dawson

“Why do sports and the arts have to be in completely different categories?”  That was the question that a fellow classmate asked a few months ago.  It seems true that arts and sports reside in opposite sides of our minds, but do they actually share similarities?  The arts have notoriously struggled as a whole to bring in revenue, a skill that sports leagues have seemed to perfect.  What can the arts learn from sports and its strategies?  I will address this question by looking at sports broadcasting and relating how it would work with the arts.

First, let’s take a look at the differences between the arts and sports.  On the surface, it is obvious that the arts are performed or created while sports are played.  The first organized sport, Ullamaliztli, was thought to have been created by the ancient Olmec civilization[1], which was formed around 1200 B.C.[2]  The arts, however, can be traced back even further.  While it was previously held that the oldest paintings were around 35,000 years old, archeologists have found pigments and paint-making equipment that dates back to between 350,000 and 400,000 years old.[3]  The first record of performing arts, however—which I believe is a little more relevant to the comparison here—, was not until 2000 B.C. with the Ancient Egyptian passion plays for the king-divinity Osiris.[4]  Either way, the organized arts were around for centuries before organized sports.

Another difference is in the attendance.  Because of scarcity of events, sports stadiums are built to hold as many patrons as safely (and sometimes unsafely) as possible.  The largest stadium in the world is the 150,000 seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, and the largest stadium in the United States is the 107,501 seat Michigan Stadium—more commonly known as “The Big House”—in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The largest non-stadium sports facility in the world is the 257,325 seat Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.[5]  The arts, however, have relatively much smaller crowds.  The largest performing arts specific venue in the United States is the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, NY, which seats 3,975.[6]  The scheduling is also much different between the two.  A play or musical may have up to eight performances per week, while sports events are much less frequent.  Racing and football, for example, typically occur once per week, and in the case of football, only from August through February.  Hockey and Basketball are a little more frequent, but even then, one may only see two or three games a week.  Baseball is the only truly comparable sport to the arts, having 162 games spread out over seven months.  The arts do have off days, or even off weeks, but they are also usually scheduled to spread evenly throughout the entire year.

One other main difference between the arts and sports is fan passion.  Take a walk in downtown Washington, D.C. and you will only need about 60 seconds before you see a shirt, hat, or jacket with a Nationals, Wizards, Capitals, or Redskins logo on it.  Memorabilia is worn by millions of fans everywhere.  Sports fans also develop a love and a hatred for different teams, depending on location and rivalry, even to the point of fighting, as was the case in Los Angeles in April of 2011.[7]  One of the most heated rivalries in American sports is the New York Yankees – Boston Red Sox rivalry.  You rarely, however, hear about subscribers of the Metropolitan Opera scuffling in an ally with subscribers of Opera Boston.  There exists is a mutual respect in partaking in the arts, even if you believe your city’s organization is better than another’s.  However, respect for actions is a different story.  Sitting in your jeans and T-shirt while munching on a Snickers bar and popcorn at the opera will no doubt earn sharp glares from fellow patrons, but doing the same at a baseball game seems commonplace.  Comfort is far more associated with sports than the arts.

“Plot Highlights” is also a subject in which the two differ.  Any given night, a person can turn on their television or open their newspaper, and find out what happened during the game, but that cannot work with the arts for two reasons.  One is that it is impossible to share what happened in some art forms, like music, the technique of dance, and visual art, unless a writer gets as specific as to say “then the trombone played a B flat.”  The second is that sharing the plot is essentially ruining the story for the next patrons.  No one likes it when a friend spoils the plot to a movie or book, and the same applies in this situation.  The closest equivalent to sports highlights in arts journalism is the review.  But even these are too narrow, speaking mostly to an already established arts community in the know.  Additionally, reviewers tend to make their living, with a few exceptions, on providing bad reviews.  A person with no knowledge of an art form would not be any closer to buying a ticket after reading these reviews.

One last difference is public access.  Sports teams often share pictures, videos, and articles about training camps, practices, and pre-game preparations.  For example, on April 26-28, the National Football League (NFL) held its annual draft, in which the top college players are drafted by the individual teams.  In preparation, the NFL has a combine, attended by every team, at which players show their physical and mental skills. At the draft, on camera analysts discuss player evaluations and performances and debate which team will pick which player.[8]  The public is invited to watch this “behind the scenes” process with open access.  Other leagues have similar processes.  This is also very similar to auditions, in which performers show their talents as best they can and are chosen by the individual companies for their services.  Auditions, however—as well as the rest of the entire production process in general—, are kept closed from the public.  The only part made available to the public is the actual performance, with a rare exception of a paid preview.  But even then, the “access” is not free.  Companies are beginning to post casting announcements online immediately after decisions are made, but that is where the access stops.  Many of these differences are intrinsic to the field and cannot be changed, but some can indeed be changed to provide a sense of access and connection for audiences.

Even though there are many differences between the two, there are also many similarities.  First, there is the recognition and presence of talent.  In both arts and sports, there are different levels of talent, and audiences can pick up on it.  Both can also be engaged in from a young age, and many times are.  My childhood memories are littered with thoughts of little league baseball and soccer as well as church plays and children’s choir. Competitions are also a common theme in both the arts and sports.  Obviously, sports by nature are competition, but there also exist vocal competitions, literary competitions, one-act play competitions, and show choir competitions.  Even the Tony Awards and the Grammys are a form of competition.  The largest similarity that strikes me, though, is that both fields are a cultural recreational activity from which people find enjoyment and are many times willing to pay for.  It is these similarities that cause me to think the arts can learn from sports.

But why should we use strategies used by sports teams and leagues in the arts?  The answer is simple. Money.  Any organization, whether sports team, theater, dance company, bank, or manufacturer, needs money to operate, and arts organizations have been trying to figure out how to fill their coffers for centuries. It seems that for the most part, sports teams and their leagues have figured out an effective income system.  For the sake of proof, let’s take a look at a few examples:

In 2008 (the latest year I could find), the 32 teams in Major League Baseball (MLB) combined for a league-wide revenue of $5.8 billion, with the highest earning team, the New York Yankees, earning $375 million and the lowest earning team, the Florida Marlins, earning $139 million.  Granted, that is a large difference in income.  But, when your “least successful” team still makes $139 million, you are in good shape.  The MLB does have a revenue sharing strategy, though, in which the most financially successful teams share extra funds with those teams that are in disadvantaged markets.  Also, when expenses are calculated, the league-wide average profit is $16.7 million per team, with only two teams reporting losses.[9]

In the same year, the 32 teams in the NFL—which has been set up to reduce the differences in the “haves” and the “have-nots”—combined for a league-wide revenue of $7.6 billion, with the highest earning team, the Washington Redskins, bringing in $345 million and the lowest earning team, the Detroit Lions, earning $208 million. After expenses, the league-wide average profit is $32.3 million per team, with again only two teams reporting losses.[10]  It should be noted, though, that the two profit losing teams from the MLB are in different cities than the two profit losing teams in the NFL, so location is not necessarily the driving factor.  The trend has continued to rise, as well.  This last year, the league-wide revenue was up 10% from 2008 to $8.3 billion, and the average team profit was steady at $30 million net profit.[11]

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL), widely considered as the third and fourth biggest sports, respectively, in the United States, also earn a large amount of revenue as a league.  However, these leagues have poor business models and many teams in each league lose money every year.  The largest contributing factors are unbalanced player salaries and an ever widening gap between the large market teams and the small market teams.[12] [13]  For this reason, I do not believe it is wise to take revenue strategies from the NBA and the NHL.

So, what revenue strategies can the arts learn from the MLB and the NFL?  There are a few “not-so-savory” charges that some teams slap on their patrons, such as the Personal Seat License, in which the team makes a person pay a very large fee (upwards of $15,000 in some cases) for the right—and only the right, not the actual ticket—to buy a season ticket.  We will stay away from these strategies and focus on those that will not cause our patrons to throw our brochures back in our faces.  The biggest money making strategy that these teams and leagues use is television.  Granted, these for-profit sports teams use television for profit purposes only, and not to necessarily gain audience members, still the effect of growing patronage is achieved.  Once again, let’s take a look at the MLB and NFL for proof that proper use of broadcasts can grow an audience base.

Until 1982, MLB teams were mostly covered by local radio and occasionally local television contracts.  There was also a “game of the week” that would air nationally.  In 1982, national broadcast contracts totaled $53 million, which, relative to today’s contracts, is petty cash.  In stadium attendance that year was 44,588,873 (see figure 1).  In 1984, MLB got television studios to raise their investment in the games three-fold to a tune of $163 million, and again each year until national television contracts for games amounted to $246.5 million.  The increased exposure had an almost immediate impact on in game attendance.  Attendance jumped from 44,588,873 in 1982 to 54,946,096 in 1989.  That is a 23% increase in ticket sales over only 7 years.  In 1990, MLB built on this success and quintupled its national television contracts to $1.46 billion per year, and by 1993, the audience attendance had risen to 70,256,459.  That is another 28% increase in only 4 years.[14] [15]

1994 and 1995 prove the correlation between television and attendance.  The MLB Players’ Association called a strike in 1994, which cut the season off half-way through, and continued the strike until April 25, 1995.[16]  Television contracts for 1995 suffered, dropping back to 1989 levels ($255 million), and along with them—I’m sure from a combination of fan anger over the strike along with less TV coverage—dropped attendance, down 28% to 50,464,375.  The very next year, however, MLB national television contracts got back on track with deals reaching $1.57 billion per year, and by 2000, attendance had bounced back and even grown to 72,748,970.  It should be noted that in that time, 2 expansion teams were added to the league, which could skew the numbers.  So, to ensure statistical accuracy, we will look at per team averages during this time.  In 1995, the 28 team average yearly attendance was 1.8 million fans.  But by 2000, the 30 team average yearly attendance had grown to 2.4 million fans, a 33% increase.[17] [18]

Another interesting note is that it seems the MLB has reached the end of the bell-curve in terms of effectiveness of television contracts on growing fan attendance.  Since 2000, the national television contracts have over doubled ($3.35 billion per year), but audience attendance has only grown 8% (5,765,888 more total tickets) to a 30 team average of 2.6 million fans in 2008 (78,514,848 total). [19] [20]  This suggests that there is a threshold of effectiveness at which the amount of money spent on broadcasting no longer efficiently boosts attendance.  As I stated before, though, sports leagues do not necessarily have television contracts to boost audience attendance as much as to boost income, which could still be achieved with effective advertisement sales.

Figure 1:                    Note: Gaps in data are due to work stoppages, strikes, or lack of data.

The NFL also saw a direct correlation between investment in television contracts and in game attendance.  Since the number of teams changed from 16 to 26 with the NFL-AFL merger in 1970,[21] and the number of regular season games increased from 14 to 16 in 1977, adjusting numbers to take these changes into account will prove to be quite complicated for the purposes of this paper.  In addition, the real changes in television contracts came after the merger, so I will begin by looking at the 1978 contract changes (see figure 2).  In 1977, the NFL had a $54.1 million national television contract, and—sticking with per team averages to ensure accuracy—the 28 team average attendance was 368,059.  The next year, television contracts were increased almost three-fold to $161.7 million, and immediately attendance rose to a 28 team average of 430,968. [22] [23]

Similar results continue throughout the decades[24] [25], but in an attempt to keep this from becoming too dense, I will skip forward to the 1998 national television contract changes.  In 1997, the NFL reached all time highs in contracts and attendance, with an annual television contract total of $1.1 billion and a 30 team average attendance of 488,472.  In 1998, contracts were increased to $2.2 billion per year until 2005.  The results of this change are astounding.  By 2005, the yearly attendance for the entire league had grown by 2.54 million fans, and the 2005 32 team average yearly attendance was 537,510.[26]  The important point to remember is that in game income is not only earned at the gate.  Fans also purchase food, drinks, memorabilia, programs, and other in stadium items.  In 2005, the NFL fan cost index, which includes all items a fan might purchase at a game, the ticket (average of all ticket levels), fees, and parking, come out to a league average of $329.82 per fan, and had reached $396.36 per fan by 2008.[27]

Figure 2:                   Note: Gaps in data are due to work stoppages, strikes, or lack of data

Again, I will reiterate the point that the television contracts for each league were designed with commercial advertisement revenue in mind, and not necessarily with fan attendance in mind, but the effect of growing audience bases was achieved through increased television exposure.  I have two theories, which are interconnected, for why this happened.  (Unfortunately, they will remain theories, because the only way to prove them would be to individually survey each fan to find out why they attended games).  One theory is that national exposure allows the fans to see the superstars from the other teams.  For example in 1998, only three years after the strike that alienated a multitude of fans, the season that included the infamous Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race was dubbed “the season that saved baseball.”[28]  The national exposure allowed baseball fans from across the nation to forget their anger and tune in every day to see if either player, or both, could break Roger Maris’s home run record.  I remember turning on the news or ESPN every evening to see what the next chapter in the Sosa-McGwire race held.  My high school friends would brag that they got tickets to the games when either of the two stars’ teams (McGwire – St. Louis Cardinals, Sosa – Chicago Cubs) made their way to Atlanta.  It created a frenzy, even among fans from other teams.  By the end of 1998, McGwire had belted 70 home runs—easily braking Maris’s mark of 61—,Sosa had smacked 66, and fans were again excited to attend baseball games.  Another example is Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the NFL.  These superstars, and especially the rivalry between them, transcended the game and created a buzz throughout the sport.  Much like McGwire and Sosa, these individuals attracted many fans who simply wanted to see legends play live.

The second interconnected theory is that the exposure leads to a tighter connection with fans.  When a fan watches their team play every week, or every day in MLB’s case, they begin to form a sort of virtual relationship with the players and coaches.  I refer to my own experience with this theory.  In 1995, the Atlanta Braves baseball team brought up a young, talented rookie by the name of Larry “Chipper” Jones to play third base.  That year, he won the hearts of many Braves’ fans by hitting 23 home runs and contributing to a World Series title.  19 years later, Jones has broken many Braves records, established himself as one of the greatest switch hitters to ever play, and solidified himself as a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I, however, have not lived in Georgia since 2005, but in my travels, I have been able to continue to watch Jones play because of national coverage.  And since this is his final year, I will be sure to purchase a ticket to a Washington Nationals game whenever the Braves come to town.

If sports teams and leagues can boost attendance by increasing national broadcasting and using stars to increase the brand image, it seems obvious that the arts can do the same.  Arts organizations already use names to sell tickets, such as Brian Stokes Mitchell at Strathmore[29] and Constantine Maroulis at the Kennedy Center[30], but very rarely are these names paired with a national broadcast.  There are a few organizations across the world, such as the Metropolitan Opera, The National Theatre in London, the Bolshoi Ballet, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, that have begun to broadcast their performances live in certain venues.[31]  The Metropolitan Opera pioneered the use of live broadcasts into movie theaters, and we will focus on their numbers since this program was initiated to see if the strategy is effective.

In 2000, the Metropolitan Opera was booming, with performances selling at 93% capacity.  But as the decade progressed, box office sales began to slow, and by 2006, sales had dropped to 79% capacity.  It should be noted that box office income had actually risen by 2006, but that was because the Met raised ticket prices, leading to a false sense of growth.[32]  That year, the company began an innovative new program called Live in HD, in which selected performances were simulcast into a number of movie theaters for a paying audience to enjoy live, but at much cheaper prices than attending the Met.  Met Opera stars served as hosts, and audiences got a unique view of the performances.  That year, the Met offered 6 transmissions to 248 movie theaters in 8 countries, and the total attendance reached 325,000 (see figure 3).  The next season, 8 transmissions were broadcast to 632 theaters in 19 countries, and attendance rose to 935,000.  Over the next few years, the program grew in number of transmission as well as the number of theaters broadcast to, and by the end of the 2010-2011 season, the Live in HD series had 12 transmissions to 1,500 theaters in 47 countries, attracting over 2.6 million viewers.  Just to put that into perspective, approximately 800,000 people attended performances in the Metropolitan Opera House that season.[33]  This year is looking even more successful.  This season’s October transmission of Don Giovanni reached 216,000 people worldwide in one broadcast, and 50,000 more in delayed showings in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and in “encore” broadcasts in North America and Europe.  Once again for perspective, the entire run of the opera at the Metropolitan Opera House, if completely sold out, would only reach a total audience of 68,000.[34]  This year, the Met will reach 1,700 theaters in 54 countries with 11 transmissions, and current attendance estimates show that attendance will reach approximately 2.95 million people.[35]  Just recently, the Live in HD program sold its 10 millionth ticket, making a strong statement that broadcasting the arts can be a successful venture.[36]

Figure 3:   

The interesting thing about the Live in HD series is that it provides a unique experience for the audience.  You can attend a performance in the opera house, and experience the amazing booming voices and orchestra, marvel at the sets, and get caught up in the emotion of the opera.  Or, you can attend a transmission in a movie theatre and experience amazing cinematography and high definition close-ups of the action, all the while slouching in your jeans and t-shirt while munching on popcorn, and still experiencing the “flow” of the opera.[37]  Neither one detracts from the other because neither one can provide what the other gives.  It is exactly like attending a sporting event.  You can sit at home in front of your big screen television and watch high definition coverage of the action with close-ups, graphics, and commentators, or you can attend the live event and experience the thrill and emotion of live sports.  The experiences are so different.

The prevailing thought in the market is that when you offer a less expensive alternative to your current product, people will leave the more expensive one for that less expensive one.  That has not been the case with the Live in HD performances, however.  In fact the reverse is true.  Since the start of the Live in HD program in 2006, in house attendance at the Metropolitan Opera has grown each year, and as of 2009, had risen to 88% capacity.[38] (see figure 4).

Figure 4:

The same effect can also be seen throughout the entire opera community in the United States.  A 2008 Schugoll Research analysis showed that almost one-quarter (23%) of Live in HD attendees had never seen opera before, even in their own local area.  Also, 30% of participants who had not attended opera in the last 2 years, including those who had never been and those who had, but not recently, and 75% of all participants, regardless of amount of attendance, stated that they were “very likely” to attend opera in the future.[39]  This suggests that even though the Live in HD prices are much cheaper than live opera, the transmissions do not deter live attendance, and in fact they seem to reinvigorate people’s love for the art form.  More recent data also confirms this.  The National Endowment for the Arts reports that from 1982 – 2008, attendance for opera, as well as many other art forms, had been in a steady decline.[40]  Opera America confirms this by stating that opera attendance in 2002 was 6.6 million[41], but attendance had fallen to 4.8 million by the end of 2008.[42]  However, right along the same timeline as the growth of Live in HD, Opera America reported that opera attendance in the 2009-2010 season had grown again to 6.7 million people.[43]  These statistics suggest that the relatively inexpensive access that the Live in HD series provides the public serves as a catalyst for a “trickle-down effect” to other local opera organizations.  People attend a Live in HD transmission, become excited about opera again or for the first time, and in turn patronize their local opera organization.  A win-win for all.

It seems that, while sports and arts occupy very different spaces in the minds of many of the American public, the arts would be smart to follow the lead of the MLB and NFL.  By making proper use of broadcast technology, entities can grow their audience base as well as the audience base for their art form in general.  Other larger organizations are beginning to follow suit in slightly altered versions, like the Dallas Opera’s April 28th simulcast of The Magic Flute in Cowboys Stadium.[44]  I believe that the same effect can be achieved in dance and theatre as well. The interesting question is whether small to midsize organizations can achieve the same results with this strategy, or if it is reserved for those organizations that have a name reputation.  Since I could find no record of smaller organizations attempting a simulcast, that question will have to be answered by the first one brave enough to dive in.  But as in all research and strategy, the only way to map uncharted territory is to take a breath and enter it.


[1] “Aztec Ball Game,”, accessed April 24, 2012,

[2] “Olmec,” Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation, accessed April 24, 2012,

[3] “Earliest Evidence of Art Found,” BBC News, May 2, 2000,

[4] “Egyptian ‘Passion’ Plays,” Theatre, accessed April 24, 2012,

[5] “The World’s Largest Sporting Venues,” Stadium Atlas, accessed April 25, 2012,

[6] “FAQ’s: The Opera House,” The Metropolitan Opera, accessed April 25, 2012,

[7] Jaxon Van Derbeken, “Giants Fan Critically Beaten by Dodgers Fans,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 2, 2011,

[8] “2012 Draft,”, accessed April 25, 2012,

[9] “Major League Baseball Income and Expenses, 2008,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 19, 2012,

[10] “National Football League Income and Expenses, 2008,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 19, 2012,

[11] “NFL Team Values, The Business of Football,” Forbes, accessed April 21, 2012,

[12] Ailene Voisin, “Voisen: NBA Must Fix Broken Business Model,” ScrippsNews, July 1, 2011,

[13] Kevin Maney, “Amid Cancelled Season, NHL Faces Financial Meltdown,” USA Today, March 20, 2005,

[14] “Major League Baseball Attendance, 1890-2009,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 19, 2012,

[15] “Major League Baseball TV Revenues, MLB’s National TV Contracts,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 20, 2012,

[16] Associated Press, “1994 Strike was a Low Point for Baseball,”, updated August 10, 2004,

[17] “Major League Baseball Attendance, 1890-2009.”

[18] “Major League Baseball TV Revenues, MLB’s National TV Contracts.”

[19]  Ibid.

[20] “Major League Baseball Attendance, 1890-2009.”

[21] Ken Rappaport, “The AFL – NFL Merger was Almost Booted…by a Kicker,”, accessed April, 26, 2012, .

[22] “National Football League Attendance, All Teams All Years,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 20, 2012,

[23] “National Football League TV Revenues, 1960-2013,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 20, 2012,

[24]  Ibid.

[25] “National Football League Attendance, All Teams All Years.”

[26]  Ibid.

[27] “National Football League Fan Cost Index, 1991-2008,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 22, 2012,

[28] Joel Roza, “McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, and MLB Steroid Generation – Saviors, Villains, or Both?”,, April 11, 2011,

[29] “Events & Tickets – Calendar,” Strathmore, accessed April 26, 2012,

[30] “Jekyll & Hyde,” The Kennedy Center, accessed May 3,2012,

[31] Zachary Woolfe, “I’m Ready for my Close-up, Mr. Puccini,” New York Times, April 27, 2012,

[32] The Metropolitan Opera, “Annual Reports 2007-08 and 2008-09,” accessed April 28, 2012, 26.

[33] Lee Abrahamian, The Met: Live in HD Press/Fact Sheet, updated April 25, 2012, 3.

[34] Woolfe, “I’m Ready for my Close-up, Mr. Puccini.”

[35] Abrahamian, The Met: Live in HD Press/Fact Sheet, 3.

[36] Associated Press, “Met ‘Live in HD’ Landmark: 10 Million Tickets Sold,” The Washington Times, April 15, 2012,

[37] Tom Teicholz, “Culture with a Side of Popcorn,” Huffington Post, April 20, 2012,

[38] The Metropolitan Opera, “Annual Reports 2007-08 and 2008-09,” 26.

[39] Schugoll Research, “The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD: Who Attends and Why?”, Opera America, Fall 2008, 43,

[40] Sally Gifford, “National Endowment for the Arts Announces Highlights from 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts,” National Endowment for the Arts, June 15, 2009,

[41] “Quick Opera Facts 2007,” Opera America, accessed May 1, 2012,

[42] “Quick Opera Facts 2008-2009,” Opera America, accessed May 1, 2012,

[43] “Quick Opera Facts 2010-2011,” Opera America, accessed May 1, 2012,

[44] “Dallas Opera Breaks World Record For Simulcast by the Dallas Foundation,” Broadway, Dallas, April 18, 2012,




“2012 Draft.” accessed April 25, 2012.

Abrahamian, Lee. The Met: Live in HD Press/Fact Sheet. updated April 25, 2012. 3.

Associated Press. “1994 Strike was a Low Point for Baseball.” updated August 10, 2004.

Associated Press. “Met ‘Live in HD’ Landmark: 10 Million Tickets Sold.” The Washington   Times. April 15, 2012.

“Aztec Ball Game.” accessed April 24, 2012. http://www.aztec-

“Dallas Opera Breaks World Record For Simulcast by the Dallas Foundation.” Broadway, Dallas. April 18, 2012.

“Earliest Evidence of Art Found.” BBC News. May 2, 2000.

“Egyptian ‘Passion’ Plays.” Theatre accessed April 24, 2012.   

“Events & Tickets – Calendar.” Strathmore. accessed April 26, 2012.   

“FAQ’s: The Opera House.” The Metropolitan Opera. accessed April 25, 2012.   

Gifford, Sally. “National Endowment for the Arts Announces Highlights from 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts.” National Endowment for the Arts. June 15, 2009. 

Jekyll & Hyde.” The Kennedy Center. accessed May 3,2012. http://www.kennedy-

“Major League Baseball Attendance, 1890-2009.” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages. accessed April 19, 2012.

“Major League Baseball Income and Expenses, 2008.” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages. accessed April 19, 2012.

“Major League Baseball TV Revenues, MLB’s National TV Contracts.” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages. accessed April 20, 2012. 

Maney, Kevin. “Amid Cancelled Season, NHL Faces Financial Meltdown.” USA Today. March 20, 2005.

The Metropolitan Opera. “Annual Reports 2007-08 and 2008-09.” accessed April 28, 2012. 26.

“National Football League Attendance, All Teams All Years.” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages. accessed April 20, 2012.

“National Football League Fan Cost Index, 1991-2008.” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages. accessed April 22, 2012.

“National Football League Income and Expenses, 2008.” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages. accessed April 19, 2012.

“National Football League TV Revenues, 1960-2013.” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages. accessed April 20, 2012.

“NFL Team Values, The Business of Football.” Forbes. accessed April 21, 2012.   

“Olmec.” Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation. accessed April 24, 2012.   

“Quick Opera Facts 2007.” Opera America. accessed May 1, 2012.   

“Quick Opera Facts 2008-2009.” Opera America. accessed May 1, 2012.   

“Quick Opera Facts 2010-2011.” Opera America. accessed May 1, 2012.   

Rappaport, Ken. “The AFL – NFL Merger was Almost Booted…by a Kicker.”      accessed April 26, 2012.

Roza, Joel. “McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, and MLB Steroid Generation – Saviors, Villains, or Both?”. April 11, 2011.

Schugoll Research. “The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD: Who Attends and Why?”. Opera   America. Fall 2008. 43.   

Teicholz, Tom. “Culture with a Side of Popcorn.” Huffington Post. April 20, 2012.     popcorn_b_1439246.html?ref=email_share.

Van Derbeken, Jaxon. “Giants Fan Critically Beaten by Dodgers Fans.” San Francisco         Chronicle. April 2, 2011.

Voisin, Ailene. “Voisen: NBA Must Fix Broken Business Model.” ScrippsNews. July 1, 2011.   

Woolfe, Zachary. “I’m Ready for my Close-up, Mr. Puccini.” New York Times. April 27, 2012.

“The World’s Largest Sporting Venues.” Stadium Atlas. accessed April 25, 2012.


Thinking Caps Ignited

Set those thinking caps ablaze impress your friends with newfound knowledge and wit after processing these brain ticklers:

How to have a conversation:

What makes a good conversationalist has changed little over the years. The basics remain the same as when Cicero became the first scholar to write down some rules, which were summarised in 2006 by The Economist: “Speak clearly; speak easily but not too much, especially when others want their turn; do not interrupt; be courteous; deal seriously with serious matters and gracefully with lighter ones; never criticise people behind their backs; stick to subjects of general interest; do not talk about yourself; and, above all, never lose your temper.” But Cicero was lucky: he never went on a first date with someone more interested in their iPhone than his company.

 Future tense, VII: What’s a museum:

Yet if today’s museums are successful cultural caterers with wide-ranging menus, no matter where we find them, their fare manages to taste more and more the same. A handful of the same celebrity architects now designs new wings and even whole museum cities such as Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Facilities in Spain, Boston, the Middle East, and Los Angeles all look different in the same way. An international class of museum professionals job-hops among Beijing, Paris, New York, and Qatar spreading a common corporate culture, where top directors are expected to command million-dollar salaries, oversee thousands of employees, fund-raise, invest and spend endowments on massive expansions, horse-trade the assets on the walls to create blockbuster shows that can attract headline-making crowds, and spin these activities to the press.

How To Be Creative:

But creativity is not magic, and there’s no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

 Building a Better Apocalypse:

On Chris Hackett’s personal periodic table, the world’s most interesting, and abundant, substance is an element he calls obtainium. Things classified as obtainium might include the discarded teapot that he once turned into a propane burner, or the broken beer bottle he used to make a razor, or the 9-millimeter shell casings he acquired some time ago, melted in a backyard foundry (also made of obtainium) and cast into brass knuckles for a girlfriend.

Friday Fluff

So my bff and I are enormous Stumble fans. We discovered this amazing tool back in college and now, not a day goes by that we don’t text/email/gchat/etc about the strange and wonderful things we’ve found on the internet. It is still, by far, the best time waster I’ve ever utilized and can often lead to some pretty amazing articles. I suggest you join immediately but you have been forewarned: if you find your self easily addicted to that which feels good… you may lose all stumbling control.

I’ve been resisting the urge to “stumble” these days due to a desire to rejoin society as a productive individual who shows up for work, school and friendships instead of feasting upon an endless array of internet memes and musings. But upon waking up this Friday morning with a case of the blues, I found my mouse heading back to that little red “Stumble!” button and clicking on through looking for a perk up.

So, great rationalizer that I am, I’ve limited myself to an hour of aimless stumbling in order to bring you the best little bits of internet I’ve found. So, enjoy:

Time for Three Mixes Classic With New

Classical music rocks! Especially when played by young, cute, and extremely talented violinists. Check out NPR’s Art Beat Interview with Time for Three as they get ready to make their Carnegie Hall debut this coming Tuesday! And don’t miss their “Stronger” music video below. Remember friends, art triumphs over a**holes.

Slutty Brownies

I have no idea who this blogger is nor her raison d’être for blogging (something to do with London?) but I agree, these brownies look like the best in the world:

Image from The Londoner

Now when it comes to baking, I’m a bit of a culinary snob. I like my baked goods to be from scratch, thank you very much, and consider using a mix “cheating” (much like I consider using photoshop to make “art” cheating. It’s just an opinion, not necessarily the truth). HOWEVER I’m all for cheating when it means easy steps and quick results of the gooey perfection pictured above. All you need is a box of cookie mix, a box of brownie mix, and 2 packages of Oreos and you’re ready to get baking. If you try the recipe leave your your taste-tested reviews in the comments.

Prettiest Words: All of Them

Blogger Sesquipedaedalus, (10 poins for name ipseity!) has come up with a list of 1,028 of the prettiest words. While their blog may not be the prettiest (deepest apologies, Sesquipedaedalus, tis the truth), the list reads  a bit like an epic Eliot poem. For any language lover, trying to read all of this is like gorging oneself on 25 pans of double chocolate brownies with chocolate fudge ice cream. It’s simply too much of a good thing. But taking a sampling here and there lends to some beautiful discoveries.

My favorites so far:

Cynophilist: dog-lover, one who loves or appreciates dogs

Limerence: extended infatuation or crush, contrast love

Cascarilla: West Indian shrub with aromatic bark, typically used in incense or tonics

The Rap Board

Birdman’s pigeon noise, without fail, makes me crack up. Kind of like poor Booba in his yellow sneakers. Without fail he makes me laugh. I pity and love him.

Click many at once and get a cacophonous range of music video worthy catch phrasings. Or perhaps next time your mother calls chose one at random and see how she responds.

Or maybe not.



Apparently this stuff is magic at covering up tattoos (on Caucasians. Human beings, like jelly beans, come in my flavors, Dermablend). Most of this post is boring but the video at the end, fascinating! My favorite part is when he wipes the make-up off.  Check out the video here:

The GOOD 30-Day Challenge: Art Every Day

Consider this, arts managers, when was the last time you participated in the arts? In the CREATING part? I know that between all my commitments, finding the time to paint feels like a luxury I just don’t have.  It’s almost as if when I gave up on being an artist, I gave up on every having the time to make art again. Forsooth! This is not true! So with that I’m going to take the 30-day art challenge. Some of their “task” ideas are quite cute, so take a moment to consider.

Feeling too commitment-phobic to commit to a whole month? Just for today try one of the art challenges: 10 minutes of doodling while on a boring conference call, capturing a couple images on your phone while walking to the metro… Think of it as a mind stretching exercise to keep the brain and imagination limber and post any further artistic suggestions below.

Happy Friday!

Arts Assembly

Tis the season! I’ve posted previous about an arts round-up via Arts Journal and now that the Holidays are upon us you finally have to time to complete all that arts reading you’ve been putting off. So sit back and relax with your favorite holiday treat and read up on stocking stuffers, masterpiece literature, community symphony orchestras, the origins of Tintin, the language of “occupy” and the new cute internet sensation (hint… it’s wee face will toast your heart’s gooey interior and watching it learn to walk with make you die via “squee”)

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Stocking Stuffers: Do you suffer from the The Presenter’s Paradox?:

It’s Christmas morning, and you open a box to find a cashmere sweater. The sweater feels plush and expensive, and you feel grateful. But then, underneath the sweater, you find a packet of Hershey’s kisses. Technically, you have been given more, but now the sweater may seem a little less exciting. Why?

What’s the definition of a great book?: How can you tell a masterpiece? Read lots of good books:

What is a masterpiece? Crime and Punishment. Hamlet. To His Coy Mistress. Ulysses. Madame Bovary. How does one know this? By having read a hell of a lot. Something only stands out from a crowd when there is a crowd to stand out from. This is one of many reasons to read as widely as you can: not only is it more fun and more edifying, it helps you to make distinctions between the quality, and the qualities, of one thing when you set it against another. One element of our experience of reading is inescapably comparative.

Colorado Symphony to revamp concerts, emphasize community focus: What does a 21st Century Orchestra look like? Do you agree with CSO:

In short, the CSO plans to undergo nothing less than a complete culture change that rejects music-making offered with “little thought as to whether it truly was of interest and relevancy to a large part of the community” and plays up relaxed, consumer-friendly performances that meet audiences on their own terms and in their own towns.

Tintin’s Father, Nobody’s Son: My little brother and I grew up reading Tintin. It was one of the few comics we could find in English when we were on trips to India. We loved every politically incorrect moment. Especially Snowy.. “Whooahhh!”

In Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, adapted from the comic books that have enthralled generations, the intrepid boy reporter joins forces with the perpetually soused skipper Captain Haddock to unravel the mystery of Haddock’s birthright. But Tintin himself has no origin. He simply exists, with no ties to past or future generations, a fate that his creator might have wished for himself. The Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known as Hergé, became an international celebrity thanks to the success of Tintin’s collected adventures, which have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide. But he showed little taste for the spotlight, and still less for those who wished to poke into his past.

What if We Occupied Language?: One of the most incredible things about language is its every changing and evolving meaning as we grow and change culturally. Meaning is defined by all of us as participating members of society. This article explores how the word “occupy” has changed and grown within the Occupy Wall Street movement. Worth the long read especially the exploration of language-based racism:

In this sense, Occupy Wall Street has occupied language, has made “occupy” its own. And, importantly, people from diverse ethnicities, cultures and languages have participated in this linguistic occupation — it is distinct from the history of forcible occupation in that it is built to accommodate all, not just the most powerful or violent.

Sloths are the new kittens: This article needs no explanation. Look at its face:

So what’s the reason for the sloth’s sudden popularity? Is it because our LOLcats have run out of things to say? Or is it because their mellow, blissed-out faces and perpetual laziness appeal to a nation of go-getters? Said Cooke in a Q&A with the Village Voice: “I think there is a bit of the sloth in all of us. Any animal that is as mellow as the sloth has to be admired. And the babies are so vulnerable and awkward, they are basically cute crack.”

Arts Journal Picks

If you’re not checking into Arts Journal you need to get with the program. It’s incredible that a platform for arts news is so unappealing to look at, but the content is incredibly rich. Arts Journal is a one stop shop for all your arts news that is written intelligently, intelligibly, and with a real awareness of current times and trends.

With hours more of finals work before the semester is over, I can’t think of a better mode of procrastination than to serve you up some my Saturday pick of Arts Journal articles and why you should read them:

NPR: Online Video Sites Go Pro And Get Original

Why should you read it: As we move more and more into our science fiction future of an entirely digital lifestyle, it’s important to realize arts organizations must constantly test where they can fit in and how they can use new media or we’ll fall too far behind.

Tasty Tidbit:

“Networks started on the radio and then they moved to television, and then cable came about, and then hundreds more networks arrived,” Taylor says. “And now I think we’re going to see a slew of new networks that are being born on YouTube and other digital platforms.”

The Globe and Mail: I should never have encouraged my teenage son to read

Why should you read it: Recall your first experience with Dostoevsky (I was 16. I spent an entire summer in bikinis and Crime & Punishment) with this father’s tongue in cheek rendition

Tasty Tidbit:

The house has become dangerous to one’s sense of self. Living life with a cast of Dostoyevsky characters puts you on edge. If you’ve never read any of these novels, try to imagine faultless but unrelenting discourse from somebody who won’t shut up and follows you around talking while you try to, say, wash the dishes, do some laundry or pay the bills. These characters grab you by the back of the head and rub your face in your inadequacy and their superiority. They make you feel like the intellectual equivalent of the 98-pound weakling.

The New York Times: Caught Out of Time

Why should you read it: Federal government sponsored memories of ex-slaves. As  Zora Neale Hurston penned, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

Tasty Tidbit:

These narratives are as poetic as they are complex, tendentious and subtle; they spotlight the voices of those who had the most at stake in the war and lived to see it from the longest view. Voices like Fountain’s (who died July 4, 1957) add considerable dimension to Robert Penn Warren’s Homeric frieze.

Wired Science: City Lights Seen From Space Reveal How Countries Change

Why should you read it: It’s cool. And there are videos.

Tasty Tidbit:

“We can now ask how does observed lighting behave in response to things such as population and economic growth, external investments, war, and economic collapse,” said Christopher Elvidge, who leads the National Geophysical Data Center’s Earth Observatory Group, during a presentation here at the American Geophysical Union meeting on Dec. 7.

Vanity Fair: You Say You Want a Devolution?

Why should you read it: It seems while our technological lives f(x) = 2^x, our cultural lives are flat lining. This is definitely worth the long read. Are we, the emerging arts leaders, the cure to this cultural stalemate, or are we feeding into the stodgy same?

Tasty Tidbit:

Ironically, new technology has reinforced the nostalgic cultural gaze: now that we have instant universal access to every old image and recorded sound, the future has arrived and it’s all about dreaming of the past. Our culture’s primary M.O. now consists of promiscuously and sometimes compulsively reviving and rejiggering old forms. It’s the rare “new” cultural artifact that doesn’t seem a lot like a cover version of something we’ve seen or heard before. Which means the very idea of datedness has lost the power it possessed during most of our lifetimes.


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