AuthorRobert Bettmann

Seven Ideas to Improve DC’s Creative Economy

This was originally published on Urban Scrawl here.

by Robert Bettmann

A recent strategic plan for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities notes that support for artists reinforces other economic sectors. The plan states, “A 2010 study commissioned by the DC Departments of Planning and Economic Partnership quantified that more than 90,000 individuals are employed in the creative sector. Creative employment provides over $5 billion in earnings and accounts for 10% of the District’s jobs base. Beyond direct jobs, creative industries and talent provide competitive advantage to other key DC industries.” Here are a few small investments that could enhance DC’s creative economy.

  1. Increase half price theater ticket sales

Washington DC has the second largest theater community in the nation, behind only New York City. Whereas New York City has a visually prominent and efficient half-price ticket program it wouldn’t be surprising if you didn’t know that Washington has a similar program. The city should engage the tech community in a competition to increase half price ticket sales, and program results should be monitored closely, quarter by quarter. There is no reason that a tech team, perhaps paired with Theater Washington, Destination DC, or even the Capital Fringe Festival, couldn’t increase half price ticket sales through modest one time support and effective ongoing partnership.

  1. Put DC art in DC public schools

Through the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities the District of Columbia has a wonderful program supporting resident visual artists: DC’sArt Bank. Every year hundreds of DC visual artists apply to have their work purchased at market rate for display in government buildings. A decade into this art acquisition program the government now owns more art than can be displayed in government office buildings. Deaccession of works more than five years in the collection might make sense, and display of the existing collection should be extended into DC Public Schools. A modest capital expenditure to reframe artwork for the public school environment is all that would be necessary to include artwork created by local artists in neighborhood schools. Continue reading

Robert Bettmann appearance on WETN Nightly News for Arts Advocacy Day

Diversity in Arts Leadership and Arts Management with the DeVos Institute

I freelanced this piece on assignment from DanceUSA thanks to their editor (and mine) Lisa Traiger.

The arts is a field represented by stars and a March 2015 DeVos Institute event at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland College Park brought together six major luminaries. Arthur Mitchell (founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem), Tina Ramirez (founder of Ballet Hispanico), Carmen de Lavallade (dancer, choreographer and actress), Lou Bellamy (founder of Penumbra Theater), Miriam Colon (founder of Puerto Rican Travelling Company), and Rita Moreno (stage and screen actress) shared the stage and a conversation under the umbrella “Diversity in the Arts: Legends of the Field.” The purpose of the event was to celebrate the panelists and provide a platform to discuss how their cultures informed their careers. Ford Foundation president Darren Walker moderated the discussion and noted: “How fitting that our first symposia brings together pioneers who brought down the barriers in the arts.”

The “Legends of the Field” discussion was the first in a series of diversity symposia the DeVos Institute of Arts Management will be convening. These DeVos Institute symposia on diversity resonated with the observances of the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The march became a watershed in the Civil Rights movement that in some ways enabled the careers enjoyed by the panelists. Walker noted that while diversity in the arts have come a long way since Selma and 1965, our continued focus on diversity in the field remains necessary to expand the boundaries of inclusiveness. Continue reading

© 2015 Robert Bettmann

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