Wikipedia

Understanding the Potential of L3Cs in the Arts and Culture

On November 16, Andrew Taylor, the Artful Manager, moderated a panel discussion at Columbia University in New York City on the Low-Profit Limited Liability Company (L3C), and its potential for the arts. The panelists included two of the leading national experts on the business entity (Marc J. Lane and Rick Zwetch), alongside two masters from the theater world (Gregory Moser, Victoria Bailey), and one change agent from the arts business infrastructure (Adam Huttler).

Andrew Taylor is a faculty member of American University’s Arts Management Program in Washington, DC. An author, lecturer, researcher, and consultant on a broad range of arts management issues, Andrew specializes in business model development for cultural initiatives and the impact of communications technology on the arts.

Some basic information on the L3C can be found on wikipedia by clicking here:

low-profit limited liability company (L3C) is a legal form of business entity in the United States that was created to bridge the gap between non-profit and for-profit investing by providing a structure that facilitates investments in socially beneficial, for-profit ventures while simplifying compliance with Internal Revenue Service rules for program-related investments, a type of investment that private foundations are allowed to make.

The video might require a little of your time, but is worth it if you have an interest in emerging models for production in the United States.

Agreement entitles Whanganui River to legal identity

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Companies have ‘personhood,’ ie. a legal identity equivalent to people in the sense that they can enter into contracts and agreements (see Wikipedia article). This is a subject of considerable argument, and there are several campaigns to remove this status.

On the other hand in New Zealand there is a move (reported in the New Zealand Herald here) to give a river the status of a person, for the river to have a legal identity.  If we accept that all things have agency, not just human beings, this legal recognition of the personhood of a river, developed from the indigenous knowledge tradition and by the Whanganui River Iwi, is incredibly important.

To give a river (or presumably a mountain, valley or island) this status of personhood is important because it repositions us, human beings, within the environment, rather than over it.

Where the problem with corporate personhood is that it requires the law to respect corporate interests as equivalent to the interests of people, the positive benefits of giving at least some natural features some legal agency or status as persons is potentially transformative.

The recognition of indigenous knowledge traditions is of course also enormously positive and challenging to Western epistemologies.  If the river is a person, what does the river know, and how do we value that form of knowledge.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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All is Revealed: Shrimp Boat Anatomy, Part 1

This post comes to you from Shrimp Boat Projects

“… where leakage is, there also, of necessity, is bilgewater; and where bilgewater is, only the dead can enjoy life; This is on account of the smell.”  – in About All Kinds of Ships by Mark Twain

“The compartment at the bottom of the hull of a ship or boat where water collects and must be pumped out of the vessel.”  – definition of the bilge, as explained by Wikipedia.com

The ‘bilge’ is certainly not specific to shrimp boats, but it has become the most consuming aspect of our own boat restoration process (and therefore blog-worthy). In the context of our experience, traditional definitions do not shed proper light on this piece of the boat anatomy. More than a mere element of marine architecture, it is the forboding space that you enter when you descend below the deck; it is the tangle of engine parts and wires waiting to be reconnected to the rebuilt engine;  it is the configuration of metal plates, bars and braces that forms the structure of the hull and makes human movement through or around the space awkward and painful; it is the body cavity of the boat’s organs, it’s where the mechanical systems that drive the boat reside. And we have now been crawling around the bilge of our boat for nearly 2 months in an effort clean it, fix it, paint it and generally prepare it for the return of our engine (which, when in place, will make it far more difficult to crawl around the bilge). We’re still not finished sorting out our bilge, and our engine is still not in the boat, but we’ve come a long way with this space, and the time is right to invite you into the depths of our boat.

What have we learned? For one thing, cleaning a bilge that has over twenty-five years of spent oil caked onto its structure is an extraordinarily messy, seemingly never-ending job (historically, some boat owners would dump the spent oil into their bilge to prevent their metal boat from rusting). But it’s also a very gratifying job when a glimmer of grease-free surface area emerges. The goal of cleaning our bilge is simple enough: remove the grease from all surfaces of the bilge so that a new coat of paint can stick. Initially, it seemed that an appropriate analogy for the job was just the washing of household dishes. However, the sheer magnitude of the oil and grease quickly exhausted this comparison. Do we powerwash, then scrub, then suck out the water with a  shop vac? or do we scrape and brush with a little water and wipe the surfaces with absorbant oil cloth, and then add more water?? And what is the best product to cut through this grease??? These are a few of the exciting and important questions we had to ask.

Ultimately, our arsenal became clear, if not the exact order of operations: wipe all visible clusters of grease with oil cloth, apply “Purple Stuff”  aggressively from a garden pump sprayer (“Purple Stuff” is the popular term for industrial de-greaser, which is always purple in color… exact reason is still unknown); scrub with brushes of various bristles– natural, synthetic, wire– depending on level of grime; apply water strategically with garden hose spray-gun, suck out the watery muck with a shop-vac; empty muck from shop-vac into 5-gallon buckets; when the grease is especially thick, use a paint-scraper to scoop up large quantities (see photo of Zach above).

As typically happens in dynamic situations, other findings began to shift the course of what began as a routine cleaning exercise. The drama began to unfold when after weeks of cleaning, more grease continued to appear, and we discovered large deposits of grease trapped under a large fixed oil pan that sits under the engine seat. It seemed to be a faulty design of the bilge, so we decided to cut out this pan and liberate the greasy mess underneath. Our decision not only revealed a thickness of grease of absurd proportions, but below this a virtual lunar landscape of corroded metal forming the bottom of our boat. The grease alone should have prevented the corrosion, were it not filled with 25 years worth of metallic debris– bolts, washers, nuts, even a screw driver– all contributing to galvanic corrosion. Corroded metal would be a problem anywhere on the boat, but to find thin, pock-marked metal in the deepest part of the hull where water would inevitibly collect, was a serious problem. And predictably, the more we scraped at the floor of the hull, the more nickle-size holes started to show (see the previous post for how we dealt with the little geisers that sprung from these holes).

Flash-forward a few days and our boat is now fully hauled-out of the water and our bilge is ready to be surgically fixed. The big dilemma at this point: do we patch a dozen or so small holes individually or is the corrosion expansive enough to warrant replacing large sections of the hull? We opted for the latter, what seemed to us to be the more sustainable option. More work for sure, but also more peace of mind. This decision set in motion the events leading up to now: the surgical removal of two sections of the hull along the keel, each about 18″ x 6′ (no easy feat given the awkwardly tight dimensions of the bilge); the smoothing of the edges around the two large openings now in the hull, to ease the fitting of new steel plate over these openings; the enlisting of former shrimp boat captain Gary Jones to help weld the new steel plate onto the hull, both from inside the bilge and under the boat; and the replacing of the many steel ribs over the new plate that will complete the internal structure of the bilge. And amazingly, this trajectory began with the simple desire to clean the bilge so we could paint it.

We’re still not there yet. But we now have an almost water-tight bilge. And we’ve gotten to know another former shrimper in Gary Jones (he offered to lend us a gps chip that shows much of the sunken debris we’ll probably be snagging our net on when we finally go shrimping). And that job of painting the bilge is now coming up fast on the horizon. The theory goes that with a clean, well-painted bilge, any new leaks from anywhere and of anything (oil, water, diesel, etc…), will be as visible as possible and ease the troubleshooting. We’ll let you know how that goes.

 

Shrimp Boat Projects is a creative research project that explores the regional culture of the Houston area. The primary site of the investigation is a working shrimp boat on Galveston Bay which serves as a catalyst for labor, discussion and artistic production. Shrimp Boat Projects is co-created by Eric Leshinsky and Zach Moser, artists-in-residence at the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.

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High Tide COP15 Project: Numbers

Between James Brady and Aviva Rahmani, they calculated close to 1 million people are engaged directly or indirectly in ecological art or audience members for it’s ideas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Ecoart

This is how we estimated it:

1. How many schools/ museums/ books-journals internationally the ecoart list serve alone (about 100 invited members) represents (ie., including residencies, publications, group & individual exhibitions)?

2. Estimate 2,000 audience venue impact total (av. 20 times 100 per person, a conservative figure I think)

3. Each venue represents about 200 min audience access per… = 400, 000 if my math is correct…+ secondary effect has to double that figure = close to 1 million (chatter with family members & friends assuming at lease one conversation per person and then there are workers for each venue: guards, bookkeepers, etc)

That’s a mighty constituency.

via High Tide COP15 Project: Numbers.

How the web changes what art will be

I have been spending time in the presence of cyber-dystopians.

Last Tuesday I went to great talk by Evgeny Mozorov at the RSA, to hear Mozorov pour scorn on the idea that the internet is the harbinger of a new democratic personal freedom. He suggests that totalitarians and corporate astroturfers alike love it when we unthinkingly accept the internet as a force for good; it makes their work so much easier for them. Institutions are weakened by social media? Bah! It strengthens their hegemony.

I went to Art of Digital, hosted by FACT in Liverpool, where a great line up includedAndrew Keen rehearsing the thesis he put forward in Cult of the Amateur, namely that the internet is destroying the underpinnings of our culture by making conventional cultural transmission valueless, destroying newspapers and publishers and replacing erudition with Wikipedia. (Actually he’s moved on a little since then – but I’ll come to that in a minute.)

It’s true we have lived in the age of technological positivism for a little too long. When I freelanced for Wired it seemed almost heretical to suggest that some of the things we were writing about might not actually ever happen. A little corrective to that relentless utopianism is no bad thing. However the new public speaking circuit – something which has blossomed unexpectedly in the virtual age – naturally magnifies the extremes of the argument. You’re more likely to be listened to if you say something is either brilliant or crap.

While it’s true that the internet is altering culture fundamentally, maybe it’s time we started being a little more systematic about finding out exactly what it is that’s really going on.Matthew Taylor said this in his blog yesterday; any change produces results that are likely to be both positive and negative; we need to start understanding what they are. So what does this mean for the arts?

The Art of Digital strand has, naturally, been looking into that. I’ve argued elsewhere that arts institutions don’t fully understand the unfolding changes that are taking place – and the various consultants speaking earlier in the day, who didn’t go much further than describe social media as much more than a particularly whizzy new marketing tool, weren’t doing a great deal to change that outlook.

It was, paradoxically, Andrew Keen who pointed out one silver lining for the arts – and one that is going to be undoubtedly very powerful in years to come. We live in a world in which almost anything can now be copied for free. As the financial value of anything that can be copied disappears, so too the cultural value becomes undermined. For instance, recorded music, one of the greatest forms of the 20th century, is in a major slump from which it will never recover. Sure, there is great music still being made, but it’s a lot harder to get paid for it, and as a consequence, its cultural heft is drifting away. We are unlikely to see a cultural force as strong as, say, The Beatles – whose greatest music was never performed live – ever again.

But – sticking with music – we’re living in a golden age for performing artists. Never have as many people flocked to live concerts. The recession hasn’t even begun to put a kink in box office receipts.

As the value of the reproducible declines, the value of the irreproducible rises. A DVD of a performance is relatively worthless. Actually being there is invaluable. We are becoming a culture that wants the experience, as much as the content itself. Keen’s idea is an extension of Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. What we want is the “aura” of the work of art, to use Benjamin’s word – and in the digital age, that aura becomes the uniqueness of a single performance. We want the now. We want the one-off. We want to be able to say we were present.

Not only does this mean that all arts that have that specialness of performance, from music, to live arts, to drama, can expect to thrive, but exisiting art forms seem to be changing too – and in the oddest way. For the last decade anybody who’s written a book knows you’re likely to make more money giving readings of the work than you ever receive in royalties. The literary festival – quite the most ungainly of arts events – has become a monster. Even the most tepid reader of their own work gets a look in. Crowds, who more likely than not haven’t even read the book, pay the price of a new book to hear the author read a small fraction of it. The “aura” becomes all important.

Of course that doesn’t mean that the world won’t still be full of struggling actors…

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Climate camp 2009: Blackheath

climatecamptwitter
This year’s climate camp turns out to be on Blackheath. They’ve been pouring onto the site for the last two hours after the secret location was finally disclosed.  Reading Twitter gives you a great sense of the infectious drama of the moment, and why it has such momentum.

Why Blackheath? Proximity to the city? Joan Ruddock’s constituency – Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Climate Change? Or, as the rapidly updated Wikipedia entry for Blackheath suggests, because this was the site of the Peasant’s Revolt. Let’s hope it’s not the latter as that particular popular movement was spectacularly sold down the river.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Nature as violence: Gustav Metzger

I like this flickr photo Fustav Metzger’s Flailing Trees at the Manchester International Festival by Pete Birkinshaw aka BinaryApe, especially for the title BinaryApe gave it:   Iä!  Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!

That reference, along with his link to Wikipedia, confirms him to be …

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

One of Pavlov’s Dogs

{This is actually one of Pavlov’s dogs,
with a surgically attached container for catching saliva.}

Continuing today’s theme of taxidermy:

I’d never thought about what Pavlov’s dog(s) actually looked like…but this is possibly the dog Baikal, and is from the Pavlov Museum in Russia.

Once again, just have to say ‘Thanks Wikipedia!’ for this kind of knowledge.

–> More here: wikipedia.org/wiki/File:One_of_Pavlov%27s_dogs.jpg

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