How Will The New Albright-Know Be Received By Buffalo’s Working Class

Bloomberg had an article about the renovated Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY, now rebranded Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Prior to the renovation, the director said people would frequently tell him the museum was meant for the elites.  The post-renovation goal is to have the working class residents of the city feel comfortable visiting the space.

It was interesting to read that the director was insistent that the town square plaza not become a lobby. There will be play areas with Legos rather than admission desks and coat checks. They also looked at 12 other cold climate cities and took inspiration from the Cleveland Museum of Art’s glass enclosed atrium to design a glass enclosed space that  will act “…as a kind of snow collector when it’s cold enough and a place to watch the rain pour down when it’s not.” They engaged the community in focus groups to get ideas about how the space should be used when the museum opens again.

I was a little concerned about how well-thought out their efforts at connecting with the working class might turn out when I read that recent programming included a gamelan and Wayang puppetry dance. But in fact, Buffalo is apparently a center of gamelan and other Indonesian arts.

The crystal sculptural elements of the Town Square space are also a favored space for selfies:

Visitors gravitated to the base of “Common Sky,” and few resisted the urge to open up the cameras on their smartphones after looking up at the mirrored panels along what is now Buffalo’s hottest selfie spot. Giving it a run for its money is Lucas Samaras’s “Mirrored Room” (1966), one of the museum’s most beloved, aptly named pieces, which has been fully restored and given pride of place in a new (free) gallery space all to itself in the Knox Building.

The Bloomberg article acknowledged some of the troubles that the museum world in general is facing by wondering aloud if this public gathering space may provide a convenient locale for protests:

Buffalo is deeply segregated by race and class, while its destination art museum is run by a nonprofit institution dependent on the support of the region’s elites. How will the museum react if a protest of a board member takes place inside Town Square? Or a rally in support of staff unionization?

More Funding, But For Status Quo Or Difficult Change?

There was a lot of chatter on the Twittersphere last week (which I guess is the X Corp-sphere now?) over a NY Times editorial that Isaac Butler wrote advocating for the federal government to do a big bail out of theater in the face of so many theater organizations failing.

While a lot of the comments on the NY Times article basically said theater is boring, too expensive and good riddance, folks who are more inside the arts either praised Butler’s proposal or suggested propping up a flawed business model would just perpetuate a bad situation. There were many such threads. Here is one:


Somewhat loudest among those opposing perpetuating the business model was Scott Walters whose thoughts you can see in that thread. He also wrote a piece on Substack expounding on his thoughts. While I don’t agree with everything Scott says, it will come as no surprise I do fall into the camp of feeling that arts organizations need to do a much better job of listening and cultivating better relationships with a broader segment of their communities. Scott suggests money be put into researching a variety of new business models, but there probably also needs to be a corresponding long term marketing campaign to normalize those approaches so that inertia doesn’t keep the non-profit model as the only acceptable one size fits all default in the minds of donors and possible funding sources.

Similarly, there should probably also be funding for consultants, partnerships, etc., which facilitate cultivating better community ties. Again that would need to be varied in application. In the last community in which I worked, funding would be useful in one way, but in the community in which I currently work, it would be better used strengthening an organization with good connections, but few resources. The stronger they got, the better position they would be in to facilitate the conversations and relationships I need to have with the community.

All that takes a lot of funding so obviously I am with Butler in calling for greater amounts of funding for the arts in general. I didn’t particularly like his comparison the funding levels in England because I have seen so many stories about that becoming increasingly restrictive over the years. I saw a tweet over the weekend from someone suggesting while England was funded the arts at a higher level than the US, it was a bad example because their per capita funding practices were pitiful compared to the rest of Europe. Butler replied that he felt he had to use England as an example because no one would believe him if he cited Germany’s numbers.

Covid Era Virtual Programming Continues To Be Successful For Some Arts Orgs

Amid all the stories of arts organizations closing and scaling back, I saw a piece about a dance company in Dallas that has seen their situation improve with virtual and live programming during and after the worst of the Covid shutdowns. Public radio station KERA posted a story about the steps Dallas Black Dance Theatre took that increased their exposure and reach.

While many arts organizations – particularly those that serve communities of color – shut down or lost revenue during the pandemic, Dallas Black Dance Theatre Executive Director Zenetta Drew said the organization made $100,000 in net ticket sales in 2020 from online programming.


Drew said the theatre’s programming has continued to net six figures each year and has also brought in new audiences from across the world. Since 2020, DBDT has reached 38 states and 35 countries outside the U.S. with paid virtual content.


While virtual and in-person arts programming have been viewed as alternatives, Drew said it doesn’t have to be either-or. Instead, she said virtual programming “gives you a chance to really whet the appetite of folks to want to have that in-person experience.”

The proof? Demand for the company’s touring engagements has quadrupled since 2019. Drew said the increased exposure to art markets across the country led to paid gigs in spaces they’d never been before, such as Yale University and Seattle.

I heard that many performing arts companies scaled back on virtual offerings once live performances were permitted again. Perhaps the dance company’s approach of using virtual and live to complement each other and the framework of their content has been beneficial to them. They may have also hit a sweet spot with audiences who wanted/were interested in seeing people like themselves in performance.

Will Airline Fraud Provide Impetus For Google To Stamp Out Clone Ticketing Sites?

About a month ago, I wrote about the Fix the Tix Coalition which is advocating for laws to change exploitative ticket practices. Among the practices they were trying to change is websites masquerading as the official ticketing site of different venues.

Speaking from personal experience, the venue I run has a ticketing service that took out a Google ad smack in the middle of our venue listing on the Google results page.  Even though there is a button labeled for our website, we have tons of people that follow the fake link, buy tickets for many times the list price and swear up and down they bought them from us.

Well it seems scammers are doing a similar thing with the Google results for major airlines. According to an NBC News story, scammers have managed to change to list different telephone numbers for the airlines.  When people call to make or change reservations, they end up giving their credit card number and personal information to a thief.

Instead of reaching a Delta employee, Evers said he spoke to a man with a thick accent who hung up and called him back from a different number. That man then asked for payment to book a rescheduled flight. Evers recognized it as a scam and scrapped his trip.

He then went on to document six other airlines, including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Air France, that had incorrect numbers served up by Google.


A Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company does “not tolerate this misleading activity.”

“Our teams have already begun reverting the inaccuracies, suspending the malicious accounts involved, and applying additional protections to prevent further abuse,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson refused to address questions about how long the problem persisted, how many airlines were successfully impersonated, or why there weren’t better protections in place for major companies like the airlines.

Google has struggled to counter scammers who have learned how to get fake contact information to show up when users look up a company on Google Search or Maps.

While I would hope Google would take steps to eliminate ticketing fraud when they find a way to effectively stamp out the efforts of the folks masquerading as airlines given that they can see what a big problem it is, I suspect performance venues are too small an industry and the ad venue too enticing to inspire them to implement similar measures.