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Michael Kaiser: Every arts organization has a deficit

From Huff­in­gton Post: I am always amused (disturbed?) when someone attached to a not-for-profit arts orga­ni­za­tion (usually a board or staff member) ratio­nal­izes an annual deficit with: “Every opera company/symphony/ballet company has a deficit.”

Tell that to the Oregon Symphony, which has been in the black two years in a row. As reported in an illu­mi­nating article by Anne Adams in the Port­land Monthly, the Symphony earned a surplus of over $190,000 on an annual budget of $13.9 million during the 201011 season. · Go to Michael Kaiser: Every arts orga­ni­za­tion has a deficit →

Board members need training, too

From Michael Kaiser at Huff­in­gton Post: I have witnessed finan­cial melt­downs of so many arts orga­ni­za­tion and can only imagine the scene in the board room: Typi­cally different factions emerge. There are the ‘arts lovers’ who worry for the health and happi­ness of the musi­cians and the quality of the orchestra. This group is passionate about the mission of the orchestra; they argue that more money must be found for the symphony and that any diminu­tion in number of musi­cians or their salaries will result in an unac­cept­able reduc­tion in quality. Unfor­tu­nately, this group typi­cally has the fewest resources to contribute which reduces their power in board room discus­sions. · Go to Board members need training, too →

Engaging matters

From Doug Borwick, Director of Arts Manage­ment at Salem College: The arts began as collec­tive activity around the camp­fire, expres­sions of commu­nity. In a very real sense, the commu­nity owned that expres­sion. Over time, with increasing special­iza­tion of labor, the arts– espe­cially Western “high arts”– became distanced from the commu­nity. Today the survival of estab­lished arts orga­ni­za­tions hinges on their ability to shorten that distance. Engage­ment is impor­tant; engaging matters. · Go to Engaging matters →

What if… we cast off our non-profit status?

In honor of Theater Commu­ni­ca­tions Group’s 50th Anniver­sary, the performing arts service orga­ni­za­tion solicited “what if” mani­festos for their upcoming annual confer­ence. This “What if” is pointed in the direc­tion of the the non-profit busi­ness model by asking what would happen if resi­dent theaters aban­doned up their non-profit status. · Go to What if… we cast off our non-profit status? →

2011 Nonprofit Communications Trends

From Kivi Leroux Miller: This 22-page report reveals what 780 nonprofits think are the most impor­tant (and least impor­tant) commu­ni­ca­tions tools for 2011, and much more including
* How often nonprofits plan to email their typical supporters
* How often they plan to send direct mail
* How online marketing tools including social media compare in impor­tance to more tradi­tional and offline tools
* What excites nonprofit marketers about 2011
* What scares nonprofit marketers about 2011 · Go to 2011 Nonprofit Commu­ni­ca­tions Trends →

There are no crises, only tough decisions

There are no crises in the arts – there are crises in arts orga­ni­za­tions as they are currently constructed. Audi­ences are not shrinking, they are growing, but they are not neces­sarily inter­ested in consuming all the art our member orga­ni­za­tions produce. Between 1970 and 2010, the number of arts orga­ni­za­tions grew from 2,700 to 27,000 but the number of people funding them, and attending their events, did not grow at all. In this keynote address deliv­ered at the joint annual confer­ences of Chorus America and The League of Amer­ican Orches­tras, Russell Willis Taylor, Pres­i­dent and CEO of National Arts Strate­gies, explores the extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ties that arts orga­ni­za­tions have today. · Go to There are no crises, only tough deci­sions →

What’s an organization for?

From Andrew Taylor: Too many of our current discus­sions about new busi­ness models and funding struc­tures for arts and culture take it as a given that the orga­ni­za­tion is the appro­priate frame of refer­ence. How can we make arts orga­ni­za­tions more vital, more respon­sive, more sustain­able? As if the orga­ni­za­tion is some universal unit of measure, and always the best unit for under­standing and advancing posi­tive change.

In fact, the idea of an orga­ni­za­tion is a fiction — a useful fiction to be sure, but a fiction nonethe­less. It’s a group of resources and people, bound by contract or other agree­ment, and creden­tialed by a web of city, state, Federal, and common law. Orga­ni­za­tions evolved to solve a partic­ular set of prob­lems. And even though the problem set has changed, our orga­ni­za­tional bias remains. · Go to What’s an orga­ni­za­tion for? →

Is the not-for-profit structure destructive?

From James Under­cofler: is the NFP too cumber­some in its struc­ture to impede the flow of artistry it is created to facil­i­tate? As a one-size-fits-all model, the answer is absolutely “YES.” For small start-ups, and for perpetual start-ups, the require­ments to achieve NFP status, as well as the ongoing require­ments, from finan­cial reporting to main­te­nance of a fidu­ciary board, often over­shadow the creation and presen­ta­tion of artwork. · Go to Is the not-for-profit struc­ture destruc­tive? →

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