What Does Your Typeface Sound Like?

An appreciative nod to Thomas Cott for calling attention to San Francisco Symphony’s adoption of dynamic typeface as part of an effort to shift perceptions about the organization.  You are definitely going to have check out the article to get a sense of how dynamic typefaces differ from static ones. Until you see it, the following description may confuse you.

…an elongated serif typeface that, like music, shifts based on mood, context, and medium. The modernized brand is more friendly and accessible, widening the tent by targeting not just younger audiences, but an array of music aficionados, whether classical fans or not.

The team gave it a contemporary behavior, so “it can react, stretch, and skew and bend in reaction to sound.” Letters in the same word might be incrementally shortened or attenuated, so the logo, which reads “SF SYMPHONY,” arcs from left to right like a crescendo. Some words lean forcefully to the right for emphasis, like a pianist playing forte.

The full project information is on the website of their design agency, Collins. They have created a tool that will allow you to play with the typeface using your own audio input to see how it works.  Essentially, you can play music and then freeze the type at the point that seems the best visual reflection.

Obviously it leads me to wonder if this type of typeface manipulation might become more widespread in the near future. To some extent it makes design a little more difficult and requiring good judgment.  The best representation of a feeling via typeface may not work visually with images, nor may it be the most legible option for the full range of uses – what works on a billboard may not read well in smaller print format.

Open Arms With Grasping Fists Not A Welcoming Appearance

So by now you have probably heard about the ill-advised job posting made by the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields which said they were “…seeking a director who would work not only to attract a more diverse audience but to maintain its “traditional, core, white art audience.’”

My first thought was, this the type of faux pas that is bound to occur more often because organizations know they need to be more diverse but don’t have someone to advise them on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Or if the company does, the staff member’s advice is either not heeded or the person doesn’t feel empowered to point out how problematic this type of language is.

Even though they were making a mess of it, I viewed it as a sign of progress that people were starting to say the quiet part aloud as it were, and admitting they needed to actively pursue creating a welcoming environment instead of claiming everyone is welcome and they don’t discriminate.

While the museum has revised the job description to omit the word “white,” I don’t think it helped matters that the CEO of the museum was quoted in the NY Times article saying that the use of “white” was “..intended to indicate that the museum would not abandon its existing audience as part of its efforts toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion.”

That makes DEI efforts sound like a zero sum game where one group must lose out if another group is to gain something. For years the message has been that arts and culture enriches everyone’s lives so theoretically diversifying programming should offer a broader range of opportunities for enrichment, correct? So why is there an automatic assumption and implication that someone is going to lose?

I think back to the talks Nina Simon has given where she talks about creating new doorways through which people can experience a cultural institution. She does mention that not everything is for everyone. Certainly given the limits of time, space and resources there is a good chance there will be less of some content. But if it was assumed everyone had the capacity to enjoy the content that was previously offered, they are likely equally capable of enjoying new content.

So of course, I should have known Nina would be able to summarize all of this in just a couple tweets.


Applying For Save Our Stages Money, Keep Close Watch On The Site

I am hoping that all of you who work at a performing arts venue in the United States are like me and have been getting seven or eight emails a week making you aware of a webinar on the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program aka Save Our Stages funding.

While it is difficult to know exactly all the information you will need to assemble, you definitely want to make sure your organization is registered with SAM.gov. Any grant from the federal government, regardless of which department’s website/system you apply through will require this registration and it can take up to two weeks to get verified. Since the application windows are only two weeks long, based on the amount of your losses, you don’t want to be waiting for your registration to clear.

You will need to know your DUNS number as part of the registration on SAM.gov so applying for/researching it could be another step in the process.

While the date when the application window opens hasn’t been set (as of this writing), information on the Small Business Administration site is constantly being updated so you almost have to make checking the program page a daily ritual.

For instance, the FAQ update for the SVOG program which came out February 5 had some significant updates from the FAQ that went out nine days earlier on January 27.

In January, the information for Museums was:

Museum Operator
1. Is a museum partially funded with state dollars eligible to apply?
Yes. While there are specific eligibility rules for entities owned by state or local governments, the receipt of funding from a state government does not affect its eligibility.
2. Is a museum that received CARES Act funding eligible to apply?
Yes. Per the Economic Aid Act, receipt of CARES Act funding does not disqualify an entity for SVOGs.

In the February 5 version it reads:

Museum or Movie Theatre Operator
1. Is a museum or movie theatre with a multipurpose room with movable seating eligible to apply?
No. The Economic Aid Act specifically requires fixed seating for qualifying amphitheaters of museums and motion picture theatre operators and makes no allowance for temporary, removable, modular, convertible, or other non-fixed seating arrangements. As such, museums and motion picture theatre operators cannot satisfy this requirement with other forms of seating. NOTE: There is no fixed seating requirement for other types of eligible entities.
2. Is a museum or movie theatre with outdoor fixed seating eligible to apply?
Yes. The Economic Aid Act does not require qualifying venues to be indoors. If the venue meets the applicable eligibility requirements, it should be eligible to apply for an SVOG.
3. Is a museum partially funded with state dollars eligible to apply?
Yes. While there are specific eligibility rules for entities owned by state or local governments, the receipt of funding from a state government does not affect its eligibility.
4. Is a museum that received CARES Act funding eligible to apply?
Yes. Per the Economic Aid Act, receipt of CARES Act funding does not disqualify an entity for SVOGs.
5. Is a drive-in movie theatre without fixed seating eligible to apply?
No. Per the Economic Aid Act, a motion picture theatre operator must have at least one auditorium with a motion picture screen and fixed audience seating, so a drive-in movie theatre is not eligible to apply for an SVOG.”

Number 5 was an individual answer in the January version and got wrapped in with museums, but the other additions are new content. If you are thinking about applying for this program, keep an eye on the website so you can be as prepared as possible in advance of the application period.

What Do You Perceive As Biggest Impediment to Equity Efforts?

Advisory Board for the Arts had sent out a survey on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEI&A) efforts that non-profit organizations were undertaking. They released the results in infographic form this week.

Keeping in mind that the respondents were self-selected so there wasn’t a lot of rigor behind the process, the results are still an interesting preliminary view of what organizations perceive is going on with their efforts.

I was particularly interested in the pressures and challenges section where respondents indicated there was a lot of pressure to do more in relation to DEI&A across a number of internal and external constituencies. The biggest perceived source of pressure to do less is among board members and individual donors. Still there wasn’t perceived pressure either way from unions, donors, corporate sponsors, and audience members.

This all makes me yearn for a more complete study of the question. My suspicion is that groups who were already very interested in implementing DEI&A chose to answer the survey and so they were either inclined to view their efforts favorably or their constituencies were aligned toward DEI&A efforts to begin with.

However, it would be great if these results were close to reality because that would mean the impediment to change couldn’t necessarily be blamed on external groups. They are shown as largely indifferent in this area. Even board members who were seen as most in opposition to DEI&A efforts were more likely to be for or indifferent to them rather than against.

In terms of challenges and hurdles, the survey found that developing an authentic, rather than performative, stance and creating meaningful metrics to hold the organizational accountable were among the top concerns people had.

Stuff to ponder so take a look.

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