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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 2010/11 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 →

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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