Sunday, November 30, 2008

November happened.

The Low End String Quartet had an unexpected set-back. Our major funder for our 2009 season, which was going to be a joint effort with Washington Musica Viva, sent us a letter informing us that, "due to the current financial crisis, our funding is no longer available." We got our first un-grant. Wacky. I thought about reorganizing Improv Arts as a bank holding company and popping downtown to try and get some of that bailout money, but I don't think that would work...

I'm late getting my year-end solicitation letter together. I think it's a strange time to be sending out a mass mailing asking for money. Seems like most nonprofits are feeling the same way. Nearly every letter I've received at home so far starts with some kind of acknowledgment of the economy (then follows a predictable formula, laying out why their services are so wonderful and why they are worthy of my support and why I am wonderful for supporting them). Strange that I still get so many letters. I've been kinda broke for the last few years and didn't do much giving myself. That doesn't stop them from asking.

It feels stranger and stranger to me lately that the arts (or some portion of the arts sector) operates in the nonprofit world. This results in a conflation of the ideas of "the arts" and "charity." I'm not sure yet how to tease apart the tangled strains of this knot that are weirding me out lately, but I think this conflation thing is a problem. Arts groups really are a square peg in a round hole when it comes to charitable giving.

With things looking bad on the fundraising front for the foreseeable future, I'm thinking of re-orienting my business plan. So far my big idea is quite blurry: make awesome music. Figure out the money later. How to implement this poses some challenges... I need to work with other people and probably won't be able to raise the money to hire them. We'll see how things unfold. I'm thinking about taking guitar lessons again. Not sure who I should study with. Any ideas?

We had a nice thanksgiving. Cameron baked an awesome carrot cake. We spent "black Friday" lounging at home. No shopping. I spent a few hours learning to play a song by Jolie Holland, "You Painted Yourself In." It's really very simple, but it's taking me a long time to get it right. She does some fancy right hand picking that is giving me some trouble.

A few weeks ago, I performed with Daniel's dance company at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. That's always a nice gig. There's a built-in audience, good stage crew, and nice sound system. I also had a chance to catch up with a college classmate, Garth, who works at the Kennedy Center. I hadn't spoken with him in a few years, so that was cool. He's a remarkable guy and he's working on some exciting stuff. Interestingly, he's moving full-on into administration and management, away from writing and performing - and he seems really passionate about what he's doing. (What we didn't talk about was my plan to write a million dollar Christmas song and I need him to sing the demo... but I've gotta write the song first)

I started writing a song during November. I have some bits recorded, but it's still in a messy stage. I think I got lazy, and instead of composing out more of it, I just dropped in a free-improv noisy guitar "interlude." I justified that to myself but I'll spare you the excuses... we'll see what of this winds up in the trash and what might continue being tweaked and/or developed. Have a listen and let me know what you think:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

One of my accounting-related projects that took lots of time during November should be wrapping up soon, so I'm hoping to get some more practice time - although I just took on another freelance job, this one is a data collection project having to do with jazz radio. It doesn't pay as well as the project that's ending, but it should be waaay more interesting.

I'm on twitter now. And so is Wickett.


jen said...

that paragraph about conflating the arts and charity sounded kinda capitalistic. if it's not "non-profit" then it's "for-profit" and either the market pays you enough or else you need to make a better product. i don't think that's where you were trying to go with this, though.

maybe artists should be treated like small farmers and receive subsidies and incentives to encourage private investment in a product that is beneficial to the public good.

as far as your christmas song idea, did you see the stephen colbert christmas special? omg it was so totally awesome fer sure. he had the same idea (and it will probably work for him).

jen said...

oh, and for someone always so concerned about making money, you sure are reluctant to capitalize on the inauguration housing shortage to make some dinero. you could fund an entire LESQ project on what you'd make!