The components of risk


I've been in a lot of arts discussions lately that wander around the question of risk. Most have been about risk-taking in audiences or communities. Some have been about risk tolerance and philanthropy. In these conversations, our language suggests that risk is a single variable, and that the individual is the best unit of analysis (a person is generically either risk-averse, risk-tolerant, or risk-seeking). But that increasingly feels like an inelegant and unproductive path. … [Read more...]

New art vs. old growth

New art and old growth

Science fiction author Bruce Sterling is a far better writer than public speaker. But in both media he can capture a compelling tension, conflict, or possibility. In his recent keynote to the transmediale conference, he shares quite a few. Some are particularly resonant to the recent past and possible future of the arts. … [Read more...]

Fostering critical response to complex experience

Critical Response

During the CAPACOA conference in Toronto, I attended a fantastic workshop on the 'Critical Response Protocol' -- a process developed to encourage reflection, connection, and inclusion in group discussions about artworks, texts, lessons, performances, or any other complex shared experience. Facilitators Judy Harquail and Tim Yerxa had been trained in the protocol, and talked us through it after we had all experienced a performance work by Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg. … [Read more...]

That’s going to dampen fundraising

In the Doghouse

There are a lot of learning moments in this recent story out of Pennsylvania about a grand jury, a nonprofit, and the museum in the middle. And there's a gut-punching sentence that might encourage you to learn from them: ''The grand jury requested the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office investigate and forcibly dissolve the nonprofit if it finds the museum has failed its mission.'' Ouch. … [Read more...]

Curiouser and curiouser


Last week I had the pleasure of keynoting the CAPACOA conference in Toronto - a charming bundle of Canadian performing arts presenters, managers, artists, and related professionals. The topic, as assigned, was curiosity. Which led me to wonder a few things: what is curiosity, how does it work, and what might a cultural manager do differently if he or she knew some answers to question one and two? … [Read more...]

The Culture of Curiosity

Culture of Curiosity

I'm off to Toronto to offer the opening keynote and conversation session for the 2014 CAPACOA conference. Their theme this year is "The Culture of Curiosity," which turned out to be an intriguing topic to explore and explain. I'll share some of my key points from the keynote in a future post. … [Read more...]

As it turns out, language matters

Talk Bubble

It's fun to think that the new world of the Internet demands entirely new methods to connect and cultivate supporters. But as it turns out, many ancient practices still apply. Case in point, this recent study of successful and unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign language. It found that phrases connected to value for the audience, and confidence for the initiative, tended to win support more than phrases that lacked connection or confidence of success. … [Read more...]

Cats, the Internet, and the Lively Arts

Cute Kitty, Yes?

This holiday season, our thoughts turn, of course, to Internet cat videos, and their implications for the live performing arts. Well, at least mine do, as I read up on the second annual Internet Cat Video Festival in Minnesota from this past August. … [Read more...]

Ambient intimacy and the rise of the selfie

Rise of the Selfie

This month, the Oxford Dictonaries announced 'selfie' as their word of the year, noting that usage had increased 17,000% since January. A 'selfie,' as you know, is a photographic self-portrait, usually shared over social media, usually shot on a mobile phone (here's a handy infographic). One poll in the UK found that 30 percent of ALL photos taken by 18- to 24-year-olds were selfies. And, of course, there's already an anti-selfie movement. … [Read more...]

Build, buy, or bolster

Build, Buy, Bolster

There are a slew of confusions for nonprofits, and their supporters, that blur the difference between operating money and capital. Even though we may know instinctively that long-term investments and daily operational expenses are different things, we flow them together in our accounting statements, in our planning, in our strategy, and in our brains. Unfortunately, the outcome isn't just about semantics. It's about solvency. … [Read more...]