Ack! My Sculpture Is Overdue And I Want To Borrow Some Pottery

Recently saw an article on the BBC website about a gallery in Cambridge, England that has been loaning out art to students for 60 years and has never had a piece damaged or lost.

I have written about this sort of arrangement before. Oberlin College has been doing it since the 1940s and has never had a problem, and they appear to be loaning out pieces with a lot more market value than the gallery in Cambridge.  On the other end of the longevity spectrum, the Akron Art Museum and Akron-Summit County Public Library started teaming up to lend out art works about a year or so ago.

But as I soon discovered, there are quite a number of universities, libraries and visual arts institutions that have been lending out art works for quite some time now. (University of Minnesota as far back as 1934)

Here is a brief list I found in a Hyperallergic post in 2018:

Sure enough, a piece appeared on Hyperallergic about 10 days ago listing or linking to visual art lending programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver,  Braddock Carnegie Library,  Minneapolis Art Lending Library , Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Williams College, Kenyon College, University of Minnesota, Harvard, University of Chicago, University of California, Berkley.

I post about this again because even though this is my fourth post on the subject, it wasn’t long before these programs slipped my mind. These all seem like great efforts to get art into the hands and homes of people who might not have opportunity and access and perhaps reduce the perceptual barriers people have about art not being for them.

Next week, my city is participating in its second community wide On The Table discussion and I want to bring these type of programs up as an idea of something that might be done here. If I hadn’t seen the BBC article, I wouldn’t have remembered. I want to reference my previous posts again to remind my readers and hopefully inspire you into action.

Some Guidance On Researching Open Meeting & Records Laws In Your State

In response to my post last week about the surge of people seeking my advice regarding the open meeting and open records laws of their states based on a 2016 ArtsHacker post I had written, ArtsHacker editor-in-chief suggested I write another post listing some of the resources I had found.

I responded that given every state had its own laws, there really wasn’t any centralized source(s) of information I could point to that a person could reference.

Much to my chagrin, there is still apparently a lot one can say on the matter as I managed to hammer out more than 1000 words of advice regarding how to research open meeting and records laws in your state.

One of the interesting things I have come to realize is that in some states, it appears that technically the members of the board of directors may not have the right to review the records of the organization they govern. There may be more to write on this topic in the future…


More About Open Meeting Laws & Non-Profits

Why The Sudden Interest In Non-Profit Record Access?

Three years ago I wrote an article for about being aware of the open meeting requirements your state imposes on non-profits.

I basically pointed out that while pretty much every state requires a non-profit organization receiving state funds to comply with open meeting laws, every state is different when it comes to defining at what degree of state support an organization needs to begin complying.

In some states, the existence of your non-profit pretty much needs to be established by an act of the legislature, while in other states being provided with a meeting space in a state owned building is all that is required to make your organization subject to the state open meetings and records laws.

I am not sure what has happened in the last year or so, but pretty much once a month now someone leaves a comment asking if an organization in their state is subject to open meetings or open records laws.  I pretty much end up saying, “You should really consult a lawyer on this subject, but here is what I found online about the laws in your state.”

I have yet to find a state that doesn’t have the rules governing non-profits posted online somewhere, pretty clearly labeled. So if you are curious about your state, I encourage you to check online first because that is all I am going to do. (Check both the sections on open meetings and retention and access to records.)

Some states have some pretty good guides created to answer questions about open meetings and non-profits. It is good to have your secretary of state telling you clearly what the state laws do and don’t require.

I call attention to all this because I am wondering why there is a surge in questions on the post.  There are far more comments on that post than anything else I have written on the site. Have search engines started giving it better placement in results?  Are people seeking greater transparency from the organizations with which they are involved and don’t know where to find answers? (Or perhaps, the closure of so many local newspapers means a lack of people to help them find answers)

If anyone has theories, please share.

I should note, I am not sure any of the queries have come from people involved with arts and culture organizations.  Only about half provide any details that identify what sort of organization they are working with and none of them have been arts related.

Is Your Non-Profit Subject To Open Meeting Laws?

Revisiting Deliberate Practice

Last Tuesday I wrote a post on some recent research about the value of deliberate practice. Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to read a little more on the recent study. Come to find out, this recent bit of research (Macnamara & Maitra) was an attempt to replicate the a study about deliberate practice conducted in Germany in 1993 (Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Römer). I mention this because some of the posts I made about deliberate practice in the past was based on Ericsson, et. al research.

Macnamara & Maitra were unable to replicate all the results of Ericsson study, finding that deliberate practice only accounted for a 26% variance in the difference in ability between violinists versus the 48% difference reported in 1993. They say:

26% of performance variance is not an inconsequential amount. However, this amount does not support the claim that performance levels can ‘largely be accounted for by differential amounts of past and current levels of practice’

The most recent research attributes this to bias built into the design of the 1993 research as well as inconsistent definitions of deliberate practice. As a result, in their conclusion they say deliberate practice alone can’t account for the differences of expertise between elite performers .

However, they do suggest that the training regimen of violinists today might also be a factor in the smaller variance. In the 1993 group, many had never entered a competition. The best violinists had entered about 3 competitions; good ones about 1; and less accomplished around 0.

Compare to those in the most recent study where the best entered about 13; good around 8-9; and least accomplished about 3.  The worst in the most current study might be evaluated higher than some of those in the 1993 study.

As I was looking through my blog feed over the weekend, it just so happened that Marginal Revolution linked to a post on Cal Newport’s blog where he reprints a letter from a pianist responding to an earlier post Newport made about deliberate practice.

One of the things the pianist discusses is the value of variety in pursuit of mastery:

Strategy #2: To Master a Skill, Master Something Harder.
“Strong pianists find clever ways to ‘complicate’ the difficult parts of their music. If we have problem playing something with clarity, we complicate by playing the passage with alternating accent patterns. If we have problems with speed, we confound the rhythms.”

In the post the pianist was responding to, Newport wrote:

To summarize these results:

  • The average players are working just as many hours as the elite players (around 50 hours a week spent on music),
  • but they’re not dedicating these hours to the right type of work (spending almost 3 times less hours than the elites on crucial deliberate practice),
  • and furthermore, they spread this work haphazardly throughout the day. So even though they’re not doing more work than the elite players, they end up sleeping less and feeling more stressed. Not to mention that they remain worse at the violin.

Both these posts were made in 2011 and Newport was citing the 1993 Ericsson, et. al study. However, the most recent study by Macnamara & Maitra found something very similar.

…we found no statistically significant differences in accumulated practice alone to age 18 between the best and good violinists. In fact, the majority of the best violinists had accumulated less practice alone than the average amount of the good violinists.

I should note that the research tracks practice from age 4 to 20 so the subjects are all students whose level of proficiency is determined around 18-20 years old. My read of Macnamara & Maitra is that they see this as evidence of inherent talent making up for less practice rather than the quality of that lesser amount of practice was much higher.

If you are thinking that perhaps those evaluated as having more skill had better teachers, the most recent research found:

Simply put, there is no evidence to suggest that teacher-designed practice activities are more relevant to improving performance than practice activities designed by the performer.

Granted, this doesn’t diminish the value of a better teacher. Presumably any self-designed routine of an 18 year old is going to be heavily informed by their teacher even if they are aren’t strictly following a dictated practice regimen. You may chalk it up to talent, either on the part of the performer or teacher, being able to identify and implement what is needed to obtain greater proficiency makes the difference between quantity and quality.

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