How to increase demand for art

Discrete-supply-and-demand

I don't know what this chart says, I was just feeling left out of the hard-core elements of the conversation

The theatre arts world opened a giant can of worms last week at the #newplay convening hosted by Arena Stage.  Rocco Landesman, and Diane Ragsdale led a conversation directly addressing one of the nonprofit arts sector’s unmentionables:  the mismatch that currently exists between supply and demand for not-for-profit arts organizations in our country.  Rocco went on to assert this mismatch cannot be balanced by increasing demand–supply must also be addressed.

Thanks to the power of Twitter, the conversation moved outside the walls of Arena Stage and is being held in every corner of the theatre (and increasingly arts) world  with an Internet connection. Continue reading

Living without Microsoft Office

a different kind of open office photo credit: Shannon Clark

I know, it sounds crazy.  I know you use Word and Excel, maybe even PowerPoint every single day.  I know you send and receive documents from other people who use Word and Excel and your job depends on being able to open and those documents.  I also know you you aren’t a pirate (even on Talk Like a Pirate Day) so using stolen software is absolutely out of the question.

And yet, if you install Open Office today, you will never need to buy another version of Microsoft Office .

How is that possible?  Open Office is a suite of products that cover all the basis of the Office you are used to.  The menu bar arrangement isn’t the same and some of the features work a bit differently, but unless you are a super duper power user of office software, it will do what you need it to do.

Switching is Scary

Making any kind of change can be intimidating, especially if your current way of working only hurts “sometimes.”   That’s why it’s important to download and start using Open Office now, before your current version of Microsoft Office is completely worthless.  That way you can use Open Office for the projects without tight deadlines, and you can fall back on Microsoft for the times when the work has to be done right now.  Eventually, (and sooner than you think) you’ll be comfortable using Open Office even in crunch time.

I’m ready to jump!

Before you go to the download page, remember you are not in the “target demographic” for this site, so some of what’s discussed there won’t make sense to you. That’s ok. Most of the discussion is about the development of the software, and you aren’t interested in that– you just want to use the software. So go here to start the download, click the big green square and save the rest of the site for when you are feeling more adventurous. (or never go back again–what ever works for you.)

The step-by-step instructions below are for Windows users–the instructions may still work on a Mac, but I don’t have enough experience on that platform to be of any real help.  (If you use Open Office on a Mac please post the install instructions in the comments!)

  • Go to the download page.
  • Click “Download OpenOffice.org” in the big green box.
  • Click “Save File” in the pop-up box and wait for the program to download.
  • Once the program has downloaded you will be asked if you want to open the new file. Click Yes or Open
  • If a box pops up warning you the file you are about to open is an “executable file” click ok.
  • Follow the instructions given by the installer and you should be good to go

It would really be better if you could show me. . .

Congratulations you are now an Open Office user!

Important New Rule

You have started using Open Office, but the rest of the world has not, so it’s important to save all of your documents in the Microsoft file format.  Instead of clicking “Save” when you first save a document, click “Save As” Name the file as you normally would, and then in the “save as type” field (right below where you named the file) Chose the Microsoft equivalent of the file you just created.  (.doc for wordprocessing documents, .xls for spreadsheets, etc.)

That’s it.  You will be able to send your files to others still paying for Microsoft Office and they’ll never know the difference.

Extra Credit:  What’s so open about it?”

Open refers to the Open-Source movement in the software industry where the source-code (the building blocks of the software) is made available to the public.

If you aren’t a programmer, this might not seem like a big deal, since the the source-code looks like goobly-gook and even if you do figure out how to change it you will likely just break the program. But for people who know how to program it means they can read and edit the “instructions” the software gives the computer so they can improve it or change it to meet their specific needs. It also means that the software gets better faster because there are many eyes and many people with different perspectives working on it to make it better. In a sense it’s a bit like having someone proof read your work– with another set of eyes and another perspective, problems you didn’t notice or weren’t able to fix can often be found and solved easily.

If you start using more open source software (and you will) You may hear it referred to as “Free as in Speech” and “Free as in Beer”– All open source software is free as in speech– that is, the code is available for anyone to see and use. Open Source software is often, but not always, “Free as in Beer” meaning that you don’t have to pay for it.

Low Hanging Fruit at the Grocery Store

photo credit: Deb Roby

Based on a very unscientific study of the people I’ve had meetings with this week–most people who are still bothering to show up at work at all, are spending as much time shopping and looking for recipes as they are doing their actual jobs.  So since you are thinking about food anyway, I’ll share tips of a more domestic nature.

You can save a lot of money on groceries using coupons.  With practice you could pay less than 1/2 of retail for your groceries.  But that’s another blog*.  That level of couponing takes a lot of work and dedication to clipping, organizing, and paying attention to what’s on sale when.  It does not qualify as low hanging fruit.  However, by just becoming familiar with your grocery store’s website and a couple of internet coupon sites, you can start to take advantage of sales and coupons, without making it a part-time job.

The first thing to do is visit your grocery store on the web.  (The address is probably http://www.nameofstore.com) but if that doesn’t work, Google it.)  Each site is a little different but somewhere near the top of the page  there is a link to the the weekly ad.  The benefit of shopping  with this ad is when you click on items you can add them to a grocery list (If you click on items in the regular ad, you just tear the ad.) When you are done, print the list (you can add must-haves that aren’t on sale manually.)  The benefit of this list is you get all the information about exactly which items are on sale–greatly increasing the chances that you actually buy what you meant to buy.  Additionally, by choosing what you are going to buy based on what’s on sale rather than what looks good when you get to the store, you are already on the path to saving money.

You can still buy a newspaper and clip coupons old-school–and if you want to become a coupon genius* you will need to do that.  For the rest of us mere mortals, on-line coupons are the way to go.  The big three sites are Coupons.com, smartsource.com and redplum.com.  Before you go shopping, visit these sites and print out the coupons for the items you want.  If you find a coupon for something that is also on sale, do the happy dance.  By printing only the coupons you need right before you use them, you avoid having to organize your coupons, discarding expired coupons, and most of the clipping.  You also won’t save as much money, but for me it’s a good trade.

*There are more famous coupon sites on the internet, but Bargain Briana is my favorite because her writing is good, she lays out the latest deals in to the point ways, and she avoids most of the flashy, crazy ads of other sites.  If you decide to get more deeply involved in couponing, use her as your starting resource.