In Favor of Genetically Modified Organizations

gmo

I prefer my vegetables in their 100% organic state. I don't feel the same way about non-profit arts & cultural organizations. There is nothing sacred about the business model and (dare I say it?) the artistic mission of any arts and cultural organization. That doesn't mean that an organization shouldn't stand for anything. Nor would I argue that it's healthy for an organization's business model or artistic mission to fluctuate all … [Read more...]

“Erosion of Arts Participation” is the WRONG Headline

sppa chart

As a child, one of my favorite picture books* told the story of six field mice that visit a barn.  At the end of the day, they are completely unable to reconcile what they have observed (a cow) because each has seen it from a different perspective - left side, front, bottom, right side, back & top. The story comes to mind as I've downloaded the just-published National Endowment for the Arts' 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the … [Read more...]

“Lab Tests” Assess Health of Arts & Cultural Organizations

Analysis

In one of my favorite Star Trek (original series) moments, Dr. McCoy eschews his abundant technology and tells a reluctant patient to open his mouth, "The machine is capable of almost anything but I'll still put my trust in a healthy set of tonsils." Today's arts & cultural organizations would be wise to do the same. While the analytic capabilities of so many websites and ticketing systems are immense, it's not unusual for arts & … [Read more...]

Live from WAA: Thoughts from a New Perspective

Matt at WAA

LOS ANGELES, CA., August 29, 2013 – In a twist of fate, I’m attending this week’s Western Art Alliance (WAA) Conference in the role of artist representative for Scorpius Dance Theatre, a contemporary dance company from my home town of Phoenix, AZ.  After a decade of running a statewide service organization and NOT playing favorites among a membership of 240 Arizona arts & cultural organizations, it’s revitalizing for me to focus on the … [Read more...]

Audience Development is Retarded

Neon words

Dumb, Invalid, Retarded, Slow, Brain- Damaged, Psycho, Crazy, Insane, Wacko, Nuts, Handicapped, Physically Challenged, "Special," Deformed, Cripple, Gimp, Spastic, Spaz, Wheelchair-bound, Lame...   Please CLICK HERE for an excellent overview of respectful disability language. The words we use matter. Vocabulary doesn't just express our beliefs.  It shapes our understanding.  Just as our imaginations are propelled by the rich concepts … [Read more...]

Will Lester: “Let the Numbers Speak for Themselves”

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Will Lester is Vice President of Network Programs at TRG Arts, a data-driven consulting firm specializing in pricing and patron loyalty. TRG also has the distinction of managing 20 community data networks throughout the U.S. While the networks began as a way for arts organizations to share lists of patron contact information to cross-promote events, they’re now growing into a robust arts community resource, allowing for research on audience … [Read more...]

Gene Carr: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”

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With all the news of government monitoring of cell phone and Internet records, I thought it opportune to ask Gene Carr, the founder and CEO of Patron Technology to share his thoughts on the implications to the arts & cultural sector of innovations in technology, databases and more. The adage that “with great power comes great responsibility” seems appropriate for all sorts of companies that gather and manage patron databases. What advice … [Read more...]

Nonprofit Organizations Need a Black Box

Flight-Data-Recorder

Onerous headlines in Phoenix and Tucson this week as Arizona Theatre Company, the only resident company in the US that serves as a two-city operation, is reportedly ending its current fiscal year with a $1 million deficit. I have nothing but respect and compassion for the management & Board of my state's preeminent professional theatre company.  I remain hopeful and confident that they will work hard to restore the organization's financial … [Read more...]

Please Sir, I want some more… Budget

Oliver

Moooooore?  You want more? Let's face it, there are moments when the typical nonprofit budget process can descend to Dickensian depths of oppressiveness, misery and hopelessness. So let's take a moment to dream up a DIFFERENT story ... something joyous ... one in which all of the other parameters of your organization's budget remain the stable, AND... The reply to your request is, "Why, yes!  Gladly.  Here you go!  Here's an increase to … [Read more...]

Be More Entrepreneurial

money stack

In a recent post, I wrote, "Stakeholders are demanding that non-profit arts & cultural organizations “be more entrepreneurial” – which is, too often, code for, “figure out a way to operate in which you don’t have to keep asking us for money." Literally, of course, that would be the uncharitable meaning of the phrase. Today, let's try for a more charitable interpretation. Suppose that such stakeholders are simply pointing out the … [Read more...]