Kevin Spacey on how business shapes narrative

Kevin Spacey

Some great thoughts from actor Kevin Spacey on how business practice and process either foster or flummox the stories artists can tell. In these excerpts from a speech at last week's Edinburgh International Television Festival (article here), he shares the challenge of the traditional American 'pilot episode' model for program development, and the potential of the Netflix model he experienced in making 'House of Cards.' … [Read more...]

Who put the ‘Gee’ in the GDP?

Gross Domestic Product

Nerdy-exciting news from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, as they just added a range of intellectual property items -- books, movies, TV shows, music, photographs and greeting cards (yes) -- to the nation's most famous metric of economic health: the Gross Domestic Product. … [Read more...]

What the wealth wants

What the wealth wants

Adam Huttler over at Fractured Atlas shares some interesting thoughts on the connection between private, publicly traded, and nonprofit finance and behavior. He quotes research that shows privately owned for-profit corporations invest twice as much in their companies, compared to similar publicly traded corporations -- holding size and industry constant. The assumption is that private owners can focus on long-term health of their company, and can avoid the budget-chopping and immediate bottom-line demands of stockholders. … [Read more...]

All revenue comes at a cost

Cost of Revenue

It is a natural state of being in a nonprofit arts organization to be searching for more and different sources of revenue. Nonprofits are nonprofits, after all, because they produce or present or preserve work that costs more than it can generate in direct revenue. So there's always a gap between direct revenue and expenses. And that gap yawps constantly, like a hungry pup. Yawp. … [Read more...]

The world and the wheelhouse

In Your Wheelhouse

When people say that an action, effort, or initiative is ''in their wheelhouse,'' they tend to mean that it lies in the area of their greatest ability. The phrase seems to have become popular in baseball to mean "That part of the strike zone in which the batter swings with the most power or strength; the path of the batter's best swing" (Paul Dickson, New Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999). Something to do with railroad roundhouses, or the place where a paddle-boat pilot works, or the like. … [Read more...]

‘The Artful Manager’ 10 years later

Number 10

It was 10 years ago today that I posted the very first entry in 'The Artful Manager' blog. Doug McLennan, founder and editor of, had been interested in adding new content and perspectives to his news aggregation site. I had been looking for a way to publish more current conversation on the business of art -- not delayed by publishing process or filtered by editor oversight. … [Read more...]

Under contract with the public trust


Anyone who does business with anyone will likely know the essential elements of a valid contract (I'll give you a moment to review your notes). But we don't often consider how many interconnecting contracts we're a party to at any given time. There are all of our personal service contracts -- mobile phone, Internet, utilities, mortgage, auto lease, and on and on. And there are bundles of contracts involved in whatever business we do -- suppliers, banks, employees, and such. A ticket to a performance is a contract, as well. Current economic … [Read more...]

Managing a mess

Managing a Mess

I've been absent without leave from this blog for a while now (sorry about that), in the thick of an ending academic year, a few major project proposals, and the rather intensive self-analysis required of my tenure dossier (now done and out for external review, woot). But as I participate in the Americans for the Arts conference, I wanted to post a new favorite quote I uncovered while trying to clarify my 'teaching philosophy' for the tenure narrative. Says Russell Ackoff in 1979: Managers are not confronted with problems that are independent … [Read more...]

Buying something before it’s something


Trendwatching identifies an emerging consumer trend in PRETAIL -- ''a mode of consumption that sees consumers treat crowdfunding platforms as the new shopping malls.'' It's no secret that many crowdfunding sites seem to be pre-purchase opportunities on the next cool thing (case in point, the Pebble watch). And it's also no secret that some crowdfunding sites (notably Kickstarter) don't like that emerging trend. … [Read more...]

Fighting slacktivism

UNICEF vs slactivists

The rise of 'slacktivism' -- or the lazy person's form of activism on social media -- was already apparent in the early days of the social network world (I noticed articles about it way back in 2005). But now at least one organization sees it as an epidemic worth attacking. UNICEF has launched a campaign to nudge people who might 'like' them to actually support them with cash. … [Read more...]