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Task Force on Practical Publications Presents Charge and Survey Results

posted by Patricia McDonnell — Sep 21, 2010

Eager to serve CAA members and curious about the possibility of a new source for earned revenue, CAA recently formed a Task Force on Practical Publications. A committed group of educators, administrators, and staff members has begun studying a potential program devoted to practical publications.

For several years, CAA has considered publishing slim books of an instructional nature devoted to the practical issues so many members face. Questions these publications might address include: What options do scholars have for online publishing? How does someone lead a dual studio-art and art-history department as chair? If I am faced with teaching Baroque or Abstract Expressionism for the first time and it is not my expertise, how do I best tackle this unfamiliar terrain? CAA members confront these and similar problems so often. And we regularly invent ways to resolve them. A program of pragmatic publications that share good solutions or best practices at a modest cost might be a great boon to the field, or so CAA leaders and staff have imagined for some time.

Such programs are already in place at many learned societies, and revenue from sales creates a vital source of organizational income. As CAA maneuvers through a still-unsteady economic climate, it must continue developing new sources of support—earned and contributed—to thrive as an organization. In this context, the Task Force on Practical Publications developed.

This summer, the task force offered an online survey that queried the membership about the perceived viability of this prospective program, as well as a host of related questions. About six percent of CAA members participated, a number within the range of reasonable expectation. A healthy 85 percent of respondents believed that CAA members would purchase this kind of publication, if available, and 65 percent said that they would buy such publications for their own use. Both statistics are impressive, given that people made a positive judgment sight unseen. The responses are also constructive in giving CAA a clearer picture of what needs to be done.

You will learn more about the discoveries and recommendations of the Task Force on Practical Publications on the CAA website in the months to come. Please stay tuned!

Patricia McDonnell is director of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University in Kansas and chair of the Task Force on Practical Publications.