Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Last Dance for the Music Commission?

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 

December 9, 2010

Is the music over for the New Mexico Music Commission?

The final note might be near. Among the many recommendations of a legislative task force studying restructuring the state government is to move the functions to the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Arts Division and Arts Commission.

The Music Commission is one of dozens that the Government Restructuring Task Force has recommended be consolidated or eliminated. The task force meets Dec. 20 to give final approval to its final report.

Music Commission Director Nancy Laflin said Wednesday that she hadn’t heard about the task force’s recommendation.

She said the commission basically is a one-person operation with an annual budget of about $120,000.

“The commissioners don’t even get per diem for meetings,” she said. Ironically, she said, she’s traveling to Denver this week to take part in a conference. “I was invited to talk about how we made the program work in New Mexico,” she said. (The city of Denver and an arts group are paying for her expenses, she pointed out.)

A little history of the commission: Gov. Bill Richardson requested the 2005 state Legislature create and fund a Music Commission. Billy Sparks, then a Richardson spokesman (and an early proponent of the idea), said this would provide a clearing house for information regarding New Mexico singers and bands, as well as businesses such as recording studios, concert producers and record companies.

The idea was sparked by similar music agencies in Texas and Louisiana.

The Legislature was not enthralled with the idea. The Music Commission bill died somewhere in committee. But Richardson in April 2005 issued an executive order to establish such an agency. He hired Laflin, who had been a longtime television reporter on KOAT-TV, to be the state Music Commission’s executive director.
In 2009, the Legislature voted to make the commission a permanent part of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Making a noise: Laflin said she produces a weekly radio show promoting New Mexico musicians at KBAC in Santa Fe, which is syndicated on stations around the state. She and some members of the commission also produce a monthly radio show on KUNM.

The commission, beginning in 2007, created a television show that has aired on various stations and features live performances by New Mexico bands. (Many of the performances can be found on YouTube.) Laflin said the commission helped produce a documentary about Norman Petty Studios in Clovis — where Buddy Holly recorded most of his hits. This aired on PBS.

And for several years, the commission has organized a Music in Film Summit to help musicians who want to get their work in the movies. The last one was in September at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

The decision on whether the Music Commission — and all those other boards and commissions — will be cut or consolidated will be up to next year’s Legislature.

The Bill Richardson Institute of Dictator Dialogue: For months, everyone even halfway interested in state politics has been asking the question, “What is Richardson going to do after he leaves office?” The governor has been coy, making vague allusions to driving around the country touring baseball stadiums and such.

But The Washington Post earlier this week had an interesting tidbit about the governor’s future plans.

The same blog post in which they revealed his upcoming trip to North Korea said, “We’re hearing Richardson has signed up with the Washington Speakers Bureau, which will probably enable him to put some fine bread on the table. In addition, he’s going to set up a center in Santa Fe to focus on ways to rescue people being held hostage by bad guys and on initiating dialogue with rogue regimes.”