Arts Economy Rises on the Southwest Prairie

From the Community Development Listserv via Jennifer Armstrong in Illinois….

Jennifer A. Armstrong
Director, Community Arts Development Programs Illinois Arts Council James R. Thompson Center
Arts Economy Rises on the Southwest Prairie

Borders has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Will bookstores go the way of record stores?

With 200 stores closing and a loss of tens of thousands of jobs, is there a seed of hope for positive changes in the book-selling and buying markets that can keep doors open? Will the fate of bookstores be similar to what happened to record stores? Do you remember vinyl record albums in 33-1/3rd, 45 and the older 78 r.p.m.s [which stands for: revolutions per minute, for those of you born after 1980], Cassettes, 8-Tracks, Reel-to-Reel and even their predecessors?

Nathan Bransford, in his literary blog, reported this week that if we were to compare books to records, we might learn a few things about the future of bookstores. The central themes of his notions, on the few business successes the music store industry has seen, as I read them, concern: knowing your customers, their buying habits, and what they want to learn about their favorite genres, and what they might learn from you and your knowledgeable staff. These tenets sound a great deal like good customer service, and the broaden, deepen and diversify strategies that the Montana Arts Council continually emphasizes. Getting to know your audience, their preferences, and needs, is comparable to knowing who your customers are, and what books and music they are willing to pay for when money is tight, and for competing with the new online markets, and for when there are alternatives to cloth-bound and paperback books.

Bransford suggests there are three basic models of record stores that have survived, and these might be comparable to what may happen with bookstores. Type One is the kind of place that specializes in the talented musicians and composers of every decade, and makes it easy to “. . . find some gems you didn’t know you were looking for.” Type Two is the type of record store that buys used music, trades and resells large volumes of what’s still hot by targeting their customers needs and wants. Type Three offers a great deal of popular music, and in fact “sells 33% of the music sold in this country.” These are the big box stores such as Costco, Target and Wal-Mart, who bring their customers in with discounts on everything from diapers to live goldfish.

Bransford also offers the good news that “Vinyl record sales are at their highest since 1991,” and he offers his readers some interesting insights about why this is. In the years, between then and now, hundreds and even thousands of record stores have closed. It is worrisome that books seem be under siege in these tough economic times and with technology moving so fast that this middle-age woman, who has been working with books since the fifth grade, can’t keep up with the changes. With the big retailer Borders filing for bankruptcy and their attempts to re-organize under Chapter 11, is it possible that more bookstores will follow suit? What does the future of book-selling and buying and reading look like? I, for one, am not ready to give up my musty-room and narrow-aisle musings in some favorite independent bookseller haunt in Everytown, USA. Although, I have been known to peruse the mountain-high piles at the large retailer, or the cyber-shelves online, I don’t own a Kindle or any of their relatives, and though I may like to give one a try, I’m not ready for a steady diet of electronic page turning.

for more from Bransford, please see:

for more on Borders, please the February 16th, 2011 New York Times article:

for more a bit more on electronic devices, please see the EHow article:

Nathan Bransford is the author of JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, a middle grade novel about three kids who blast off into space, break the universe, and have to find their way back home, which will be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in May 2011. He was a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. from 2002 to 2010, but is now a publishing civilian working in the tech industry. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Alison Presley.

Borders has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Will bookstores go the way of record stores?

Where Art and Commerce Meet in the Landscape

I spent my birthday going over old stomping grounds in Missoula: walking the river, visiting my daughter [who’s attending UM],reminiscing with a good friend, and taking an exhilarating ride on her new electric bicycle
[why haven’t these caught on?], locating the perfect dinner restaurant for my celebration [yummy pappardelle, heirloom tomatoes and pecorino romano], and of course, an arts experience.

Autumn colors are arriving. Traveling the tree-lined streets of Missoula, I realized the maples are starting to glow red. Farther out on 3rd Street West, my daughter took us to the nursery where she works part-time. She said there would be more color there, along with a surprise. Even from the parking lot of Caras Nursery and Landscape Co., one can begin to understand what she meant. Rising above the potted pink roses and soaring above Amur maples, visitors can enjoy their annual “installation” sculpture garden.

Nurseryman, events organizer, and accomplished sculptor, George Ybarra gave me a tour. “This yearly event will be up through the end of October,” he offered. Artworks large and small, abstract and representational, functional pieces such as arbors and simply playful pieces are tucked artfully in among the “for sale” potted plants and permanent landscape displays. Identical sign posts tell the curious the artist’s name, and how to purchase the artwork.

Art in unusual spaces. My favorite kind of serendipity! Check it out.

Caras Nursey
2727 S 3rd ST W, Missoula, MT 59804
406-549-3242 Design and Landscaping Services
Caras Nursery and Landscape has been in business on 3rd St. since 1896

Where Art and Commerce Meet in the Landscape

Space for Change Planning and Pre-Development Grants

Ford Foundation Space for Change Planning and Pre-Development Grants, LINC, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, announces an open call for proposals to the Ford Foundation Space for Change Planning and Pre-Development Grant program. The grants will provide a complementary suite of material support, with access to a national learning community, as well as technical assistance.

Non-profit arts organizations with strong track records of artistic excellence, who are intending to buy, build, renovate, partner in the development of, or become anchor tenants in a vibrant artist space can apply for up to $100,000 in support of a facility project. Exemplary projects will not only result in dynamic artist space facilities, but will also function as engines of cultural equity and social change, applying innovations and best practices in artist space development that produce sustainable, affordable facilities for the continuation of artistic excellence.

LINC’s core commitment to diversity —cultural, geographic, and genre—which extends to our grantee network spanning from Massachusetts to Hawai’i, has informed the design of the Ford Foundation Space for Change Planning and Pre-Development Grants. We encourage a wide range of organizations with cultural facility projects in their pipelines to consider how the program can deepen their planning processes and help them to leverage a stronger position as collaborative partners with municipalities, developers, and local stakeholders, while also expanding their national network of peers.

This program has ongoing deadlines.

Research & Articles
Arts and the Economy: Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate Economic Development
Artists’ Centers: Evolution and Impact on Careers, Neighborhoods and Economies
Artist Space Development: Making the Case
Artist Space Development: Financing
The Artistic Dividend: Urban Artistic Specialization and Economic Development Implications
Creating Artist Space: Resources for Artists, City Officials and Developers
Developing Affordable Space for Artists: A Summary of Development Projects
How Artist Space Matters: Impacts and Insights
Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists
Other Resources
ArtistLink, “Space Toolbox,” 2007Chicago Artist Resource, “Square Feet Chicago: Introduction,” 2006Toronto Artscape, “Square Feet: The Artist’s Guide to Renting and Buying Work Space,” 2001.

Sign Up
Receive LINC’s newsletter, participate in our blogs, and access new tools and resources by signing up! Join us in the efforts to improve conditions for artists nation-wide.

© 2008 Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC)237 West 35th Street, Suite 1202
New York, NY 10001T 646 731 3275
Contact Us

Space for Change Planning and Pre-Development Grants


The NYC Department of Buildings is launching a design competition called urbancanvas. The urbancanvas Design Competition is a unique opportunity to challenge professional artists and designers to create printed artwork for temporary protective structures at construction sites that will beautify New York City’s streetscape and promote maintenance of these structures. For more information on the competition, please visit
The deadline for registration is July 19th. Winners will each receive $7,500.

New York City Department of Buildings
Office of the Chief of Staff
280 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (212) 566-4371
Fax: (212) 566-3784

Liesel Fenner, ASLA
Public Art Program Manager
Local Arts Agency Services
Americans for the Arts
1000 Vermont Ave. NW 6th Fl.
Washington DC, 20005



Around the world, the arts are finding their way into healthcare settings in ever more diverse ways.

Patients, their families, staff, direct care providers, administrators and those protecting the financial bottom-line, are discovering that there are a variety of real benefits to this. The Montana Arts Council has embarked on an online survey project to inventory the state of the arts and healthcare in Montana to determine where our technical and financial assistance might best be directed. We will survey artists, arts organizations, medical direct-care providers and administrators of healthcare settings separately.

As an Artist, Direct Care Provider, Administrator of a Montana healthcare facility, or Arts Organization, we will be inviting you to participate in this research. Your inside help is key to establishing an accurate picture of our state and we would appreciate your assistance and expertise. The first two online surveys, for Artists and Arts Organizations, are now open for responses. The remaining Direct Care Provider and Healthcare Administrator surveys will follow soon. The online survey will take approximately 10-12 minutes and all responses will be anonymous.

TO PARTICIPATE, please go to:

Questions or Comments, Please contact:
Kim Baraby Hurtle
Executive Assistant & Percent-for-Art Manager



Our very own ITSD contract guy, Jerry, won an award today!!

Very deserved. 

Surprisingly, my idea (stealing pens from hotels and conferences to supplement the supplies budget) did not win.

Jerry has been gracefully cobbling together our computer system for years now.  He knows our budget and is very careful to get us the maximum usage for all of our machines.  A computer around here is never truly dead….. he steals parts and pieces from the ancient to patch up the old and he knows his stuff so he gets us good buys on the new.  And he knows where all the really good deals are for software so we always get the best price.*

Thanks Jer!

*(Ok, confession time, I did use my special “Executive Member” Costco power to bully request additional coupons to purchase Adobe Elements because it was the best price around.  Doesn’t every agency shop at Costco??)