Should Education Directors Drive Fords?

Perhaps it was in this 1951 Ford that Ford Foundation officials decided to donate a large chunk of money to the arts.

Perhaps it was in this 1951 Ford that Ford Foundation officials decided to donate a large chunk of money to the arts.

The Education Director is a rather new member of the theatrical arts team in most major nonprofit theatres. New as this position might be—they almost didn’t exist before the 1980s—few nonprofit theatres that actually have paid staff would ever think of not having one. Today, the Education Director has become an indispensable staff member in the ever-increasing effort to “give more bang for one’s buck” when it comes to funding the arts.

When the Ford Foundation gave major funding to the arts in 1951, little did they know that they would forever change the fiscal landscape of theatre. As the largest philanthropic organization in the world, they set a precedent that would continue—and grow—until today. The U.S. Government followed suit and created the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1965 during the Johnson administration. It was becoming increasingly clear: the arts were getting more expensive. Baumol and Bowen perhaps said it best with their book, Performing Arts—The Economic Dilemma.  As modern technology increases, whatever widget we may want generally gets less and less expensive. It still takes, however, 27 people to put on Hamlet. Relatively speaking, the cost of the performing arts, therefore, is always on the rise. Performing arts organizations, they determined, now need, and will always need, extra help from the government and/or from other entities such as corporations, philanthropies and other donors (Baumol & Bowen, p. 522).

President Lindon Banes Johnson signs the National Endowment for the Arts into Law.

President Lindon Banes Johnson signs the National Endowment for the Arts into Law.

When Richard Nixon became President in 1969, he dramatically increased the NEA’s allocations to appease the “left.” The NEA’s funds increased nearly each year during the 1970s, spawning a thriving of arts in all fields. The NEA was seen as “seed money” that could be trusted, and corporations and other donors followed suit. Theatres were built. Companies were formed. Galleries were opened. It was a time of plenty.

Then Ronald Reagan became President. Noting the financial straights the U.S. was in, he proposed eliminating the NEA altogether, but, that failing, he still managed to convince lawmakers to begin lowering the NEA’s annual pool each year (Knight). In 1980, when he was elected, the NEA gave out nearly $155 million in funding. By the mid 1990s, the endowment had dropped to only $98 million (National Endowment for the Arts).

Additionally, the public and it some of its lawmakers determined that publicly funded art should be publicly palatable. Works such as Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ,” a fine art photo showing a crucifix floating in a sea of warm and bubbly urine, caught national attention as being offensive to many (Congressional Record). Holly Hughes, a performance artist who had received funds from the NEA was running around naked on the stage doing things that many people considered to be obscene.

Holly Hughes

Holly Hughes

The government, and the corporations that followed its example, suddenly demanded several things that came with the funding they provided: (1) they wanted their funding to benefit the community (Congressional Record), (2) they wanted their funding to enhance their brand (Dobrzynski), (3) they wanted their funding to accomplish as much good as possible (Marteson). This third point was especially important because it could not be argued against. While “obscene” may mean different things to different people, doing as much good as possible in a competitive funding situation meant thinking creatively to reach as many people as possible.

Enter the Education Director. This member of the arts team—or someone similar—suddenly appeared in droves in nonprofit arts organizations. It was this person’s responsibility to create “outreach” opportunities for the organization. No longer could a major theatre simply “put on a play.” Now, they took that play—or scenes from the play—into schools, or they brought schools to see the production. They offered workshops and classes and other opportunities to maximize the good that funding did for a production. They did something to show that they were reaching as many people with as many programs as possible.

Vanessa Ballam, Education Director for Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre

Vanessa Ballam, Education Director for Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre

The Education Director exists in most larger nonprofit arts organizations today. Funding is very competitive, with new nonprofit arts organizations being created at unparalleled rates. With so much at stake, the Education Director sees that “bang” is given for the “bucks” received. It is a position that will not soon leave, and as organizations use these people creatively, they will become increasingly effective as time goes on. If they don’t, the organizations to which they belong will fade away.

_________________________________________________

Baumol, William & Bowen, William. Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma. Gregg Revivals: 1993.

Congressional Record: Senate, May 18, 1989

Dobrzynski, Judith H. “Ford Devotes $40 Million More to Art.” New York Times. 05/03/2000, Vol. 149 Issue 51377, pE3. 0p.

Katz, Stanley. “Beware Big Donors.” Chronicle of Higher Education. 3/30/2012, Vol. 58 Issue 30, pB6-B9. 4p.

Knight, Christopher. “Remembering Ronald Reagan and the NEA.” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 6, 2011.

Martenson, Edward A. “The effect of NEA restructuring on arts organizations.” Journal of Arts Management & Law. Fall91, Vol. 21 Issue 3, p227. 5p.

National Endowment for the Arts. “National Endowment for the Arts Appropriations History.” 2013. http://www.nea.gov/about/budget/AppropriationsHistory.html

Shockley, Gordon & McNeely, Connie. “Seismic Shift in U.S. Federal Arts Policy: A Tale of Organizational Challenge and Controversy in the 1990s.” Journal of Arts Management, Law & Society. Spring2009, Vol. 39 Issue 1, p7-23. 17p.

Strom, Stephanie. “Grants Nurture Arts Spaces and Their Communities.” New York Times. 4/5/2010, p1. 0p.

Urice, John K. “Three Contemporary Reports That Influenced the Creation of the National Endowment for the Arts: A Retrospective.” Journal of Arts Management, Law & Society. Spring2003, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p5-16. 12p.

Vera List Center. “How Obscene is This! The Decency Clause Turns 20: Panel II, Part I. September 22, 2010.” Video. http://vimeo.com/17084842.

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DECONSTRUCTED

First, here is my artifact. All other photos are simply illustrative. My artifact is a 1951 Ford automobile.

Perhaps it was in this 1951 Ford that Ford Foundation officials decided to donate a large chunk of money to the arts.
Perhaps it was in this 1951 Ford that Ford Foundation officials decided to donate a large chunk of money to the arts.

Here is my Thesis Paragraph with the Thesis Statement in the last sentence. Now I have to, in essence, prove that the Education Director has become an indispensable staff member in the ever-increasing effort to “give more bang for one’s buck.” I do this in the form of a narrative. You may do it that way, or you may simply use examples. For me, a narrative worked.

The Education Director is a rather new member of the theatrical arts team in most major nonprofit theatres. New as this position might be—they almost didn’t exist before the 1980s—few nonprofit theatres that actually have paid staff would ever think of not having one. Today, the Education Director has become an indispensable staff member in the ever-increasing effort to “give more bang for one’s buck” when it comes to funding the arts.

When the Ford Foundation gave major funding to the arts in 1951, little did they know that they would forever change the fiscal landscape of theatre. As the largest philanthropic organization in the world, they set a precedent that would continue—and grow—until today. The U.S. Government followed suit and created the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) in 1965 during the Johnson administration. It was becoming increasingly clear: the arts were getting more expensive. Baumol and Bowen perhaps said it best with their book, Performing Arts—The Economic Dilemma.  As modern technology increases, whatever widget we may want generally gets less and less expensive. It still takes, however, 27 people to put on Hamlet. Relatively speaking, the cost of the performing arts, therefore, is always on the rise. Performing arts organizations, they determined, now need, and will always need, extra help from the government and/or from other entities such as corporations, philanthropies and other donors (Baumol & Bowen, p. 522). (Note the MLA citations throughout).

President Lindon Banes Johnson signs the National Endowment for the Arts into Law.
President Lindon Banes Johnson signs the National Endowment for the Arts into Law.

When Richard Nixon became President in 1969, he dramatically increased the NEA’s allocations to appease the “left.” The NEA’s funds increased nearly each year during the 1970s, spawning a thriving of arts in all fields. The NEA was seen as “seed money” that could be trusted, and corporations and other donors followed suit. Theatres were built. Companies were formed. Galleries were opened. It was a time of plenty.

Then Ronald Reagan became President. Noting the financial straights the U.S. was in, he proposed eliminating the NEA altogether, but, that failing, he still managed to convince lawmakers to begin lowering the NEA’s annual pool each year (Knight). In 1980, when he was elected, the NEA gave out nearly $155 million in funding. By the mid 1990s, the endowment had dropped to only $98 million (National Endowment for the Arts).

Additionally, the public and it some of its lawmakers determined that publicly funded art should be publicly palatable. Works such as Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ,” a fine art photo showing a crucifix floating in a sea of warm and bubbly urine, caught national attention as being offensive to many (Congressional Record). Holly Hughes, a performance artist who had received funds from the NEA was running around naked on the stage doing things that many people considered to be obscene.

Holly Hughes
Holly Hughes

The government, and the corporations that followed its example, suddenly demanded several things that came with the funding they provided: (1) they wanted their funding to benefit the community (Congressional Record), (2) they wanted their funding to enhance their brand (Dobrzynski) , (3) they wanted their funding to accomplish as much good as possible (Marteson). This third point was especially important because it could not be argued against. While “obscene” may mean different things to different people, doing as much good as possible in a competitive funding situation meant thinking creatively to reach as many people as possible.

Enter the Education Director. This member of the arts team—or someone similar—suddenly appeared in droves in nonprofit arts organizations. It was this person’s responsibility to create “outreach” opportunities for the organization. No longer could a major theatre simply “put on a play.” Now, they took that play—or scenes from the play—into schools, or they brought schools to see the production. They offered workshops and classes and other opportunities to maximize the good that funding did for a production.

Vanessa Ballam, Education Director for Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre
Vanessa Ballam, Education Director for Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre

The Education Director exists in most larger nonprofit arts organizations today. Funding is very competitive, with new nonprofit arts organizations being created at unparalleled rates. With so much at stake, the Education Director sees that “bang” is given for the “bucks” received. It is a position that will not soon leave, and as organizations use these people creatively, they will become increasingly effective as time goes on. If they don’t, the organizations to which they belong will fade away.

_________________________________________________

Sources Cited in MLA Format

Baumol, William & Bowen, William. Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma. Gregg Revivals: 1993. This is a primary source.

Congressional Record: Senate, May 18, 1989. This is a primary source.

Dobrzynski, Judith H. “Ford Devotes $40 Million More to Art.” New York Times. 05/03/2000, Vol. 149 Issue 51377, pE3. 0p. This is a mediocre secondary source–better than average, though.

Katz, Stanley. “Beware Big Donors.” Chronicle of Higher Education. 3/30/2012, Vol. 58 Issue 30, pB6-B9. 4p. This is a mediocre secondary source–better than average, though.

Knight, Christopher. “Remembering Ronald Reagan and the NEA.” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 6, 2011. This is a mediocre secondary source.

Martenson, Edward A. “The effect of NEA restructuring on arts organizations.” Journal of Arts Management & Law. Fall91, Vol. 21 Issue 3, p227. 5p. This is a good secondary source.

National Endowment for the Arts. “National Endowment for the Arts Appropriations History.” 2013. http://www.nea.gov/about/budget/AppropriationsHistory.html. This is data, but it would be considered a primary source, I suppose.

Shockley, Gordon & McNeely, Connie. “Seismic Shift in U.S. Federal Arts Policy: A Tale of Organizational Challenge and Controversy in the 1990s.” Journal of Arts Management, Law & Society. Spring2009, Vol. 39 Issue 1, p7-23. 17p. This is a good secondary source.

Strom, Stephanie. “Grants Nurture Arts Spaces and Their Communities.” New York Times. 4/5/2010, p1. 0p. This is a mediocre secondary source.

Urice, John K. “Three Contemporary Reports That Influenced the Creation of the National Endowment for the Arts: A Retrospective.” Journal of Arts Management, Law & Society. Spring2003, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p5-16. 12p. This is a good secondary source.

Vera List Center. “How Obscene is This! The Decency Clause Turns 20: Panel II, Part I. September 22, 2010.” Video. http://vimeo.com/17084842. This is a fairly poor secondary source, but it would be a great primary source if the subject were 2010 views on censorship.

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