Thursday, October 23, 2008

Great art, well marketed!

9am this morning I was lucky enough to be in a hotel conference room with 100 other arts organizations listening to the brilliant and inspiring Michael Kaiser of the Kennedy Center talking about "Why it's so hard to run an arts organization." Mr. Kaiser and the Kennedy Center, via the generosity of the Carnegie Corporation, is doing a two-year capacity building program with Carnegie Corp grantees (e.g. The Field is one!). Often these kind of programs are more a waste of time than helpful but this one left me energized and ready to make some changes. (Thank you Carnegie and thank you Kennedy!) Check out their site at

The trickle down?
What The Field learns = what you learn! I will share as much as I can from this experience with you all on this blog. Take what you can, share the rest.

BIGGEST THING I LEARNED THIS MORNING: (Caveat: these are my simple and crude interpretations of this morning's seminar. Not a transcript or a podcast. I give all kudos to Mr. Kaiser! I hope you approve of my mass dissemination of your brilliance!)
Survival of the fittest! Some arts organizations will raise more money and sell more tickets in these scary and rough times. They will creatively figure out how to achieve their mission (e.g. make art!) dynamically and strategically. They will do scaled down versions (staged readings with simple lights?) and they will market their programs assertively and targetedly.

Many other arts organizations will lose grants, tickets and contributions. They will cut plays and outreach efforts and dances in order to make ends meet. DON'T CUT YOUR ART OR YOUR MARKETING (until the very end.) These are the very things that will generate revenue and that make you who you are! Do it smaller now, do more collaborations and partnerships - but do it!

Stay tuned tomorrow for "3 THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW" to make sure your organization stays healthy.

No comments: