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June 17, 2007

Brave New World

by Moy Eng

I think that we stand on the edge of a new world where what we know as the nonprofit arts and culture sector will be transformed over the next 5-10 years or at the very least, be significantly changed. It is exhilerating, breathtaking in the potential pervasiveness of the change. Scary for Doug and possibly for others, but not me. With all that you described in your posting and in your essay for Bill's book, structures as we know them now may all be deeply affected.

So...for a foundation funder supporting one of the most dynamic, culturally rich regions in the country, the immediate and long-term challenge is for me to figure out how to best support artists, arts organizations, and creativity in this fluid context. Given the long timelines foundations typically work under, foundations tend to be at least 6 months to 1 year behind the curve in beginning to respond to important trends. What we're experiencing appears to be unlike what has gone before and requires creative, bold thinking.

So...I'm asking you, Vanessa, what roles could arts supporters play in the immediate and longer term future to support the arts? What strategies should we be thinking about or implementing in the very near future?

Posted by meng at June 17, 2007 10:12 AM


I'm so glad someone had brought foundations into this conversation, because foundations seem to be increasingly the tail wagging the dog in this buisness. I'm glad Moy, that you call yourself an arts supporter, but many funders simply don't think of themselves that way. If you start reading some of the consultant driven new mission statements, they often include bits about growing democracy and changing society and the like. We have to remember that one reason that we are all talking about this, is because influential funders have suddenly decided that this topic is important. The old idea, that someone would look around for some great artists or companies and give them general operating support seems old hat to funders. So they have changed their mode to project support, because they want to fund things with IMPACT, with juice, that will get their name in the newspapers, which of course are becoming ever more likely not to write about any of us at all.

Also, if he's reading this, a question for Mr. Sandow, you have often mentioned that you believe that classical music needs no explanation to get its point across to the audience, but your story about the teens going to see Tosca would point to an opposite conclusion. If you go to an italian opera expecting a realist drama, then you are likely going to be confused. This happens to me all the time; I'll invite my friends over to watch 'Double Idemnity' or somehing, but they are all expecting 'The Wire', and of course are dissapointed. It seems there would be less dissapointment if there was some way to introduce better expectations of stuff we are going to see, don't you think?

Posted by: Jonathan Gresl at June 17, 2007 12:02 PM

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