Inventive capitalization program reaping benefits for theater festival

Legacy Bond image

The Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) in Winona, Minnesota has created an inventive capitalization instrument that will interest the broader field. The Festival's "Legacy Bond Investment Program," launched in September, 2011 is a state-approved investment offer for Festival patrons that provides GRSF with significant working capital.  Essentially, GRSF is offering donors the opportunity to support the organization through interest-bearing loans, with the idea being relatively small loans ($5,000) from a relatively large number of … [Read more...]

New business models? Bring them on

Peter Frumkin

I have been following the modest torrent of discussion in the blogosphere about appropriate business models for the nonprofit cultural sector. A recently published paper was useful to my own thinking about this so I'll summarize it here and direct you to the link. The paper's author is Peter Frumkin of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the University of  Texas, Austin. It was distributed to the 100 arts leaders who are part of National Arts Strategies' CEOs Program, which convened in Austin in May and is now posted on the … [Read more...]

Thoughts on being a worthy opponent


Earlier this month the Walker Art Center hosted a symposium on agonism in collaboration with Northern Lights. I only attended a small portion of the week-end's offerings but even a small dose has been enough to keep my mind active for the past two weeks. And what's stuck with me is the idea that there is good work to be done in being a worthy opponent, "a thoroughly dedicated adversary." More on that in just a bit. The first question is, what is agonism? Maybe you all already know all about it but I had to read and think about it before the … [Read more...]

Does your organization need a Chief Experience Officer?

A big part of our choice of favorite products and companies comes from the quality of how they engage us. My favorite coffee shop not only has the best coffee in Saint Paul but also the best playlist going in the shop, the best free Internet access, comfy chairs, an entertaining and useful Facebook page, and multiple ways of interacting with writers, visual artists and local food producers. It’s a sole proprietorship that’s curated by its owner in every sense of the word. Apple tries to do this on a global scale (and in my opinion, fails in … [Read more...]

American Mavericks 2012

american mavericks logo BIG

The San Francisco Symphony is celebrating its Centennial this season with gusto -- they've invited six major American orchestras to perform in their home at Davies Symphony Hall, created three national symposia on the state of American orchestras, issued new recordings and produced new television, web, and radio broadcasts, and produced the second American Mavericks festival, the brainchild of the Symphony’s energetic music director, Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). The festival ended Sunday in San Francisco and now is traveling to Chicago, Ann … [Read more...]

The problem with problemization

Snapshot of 2009 foundation funding, from Foundation Center and GIA Reader

I wasn't sure whether or not problemization was a word until I looked it up and found that it is one. Problemization is to consider or treat as a problem (Merriam Webster). I've been thinking about this a lot. The reason is that increasingly when you look at a foundation’s grant guidelines you are asked: “What problem are you trying to solve?" I put the following into Google: “Foundation funding what problem are you trying to solve.” The search result: 182 million hits that included dozens of foundations’ guidelines and many articles about … [Read more...]

“The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras”

Robert J. Flanagan

Stanford Emeritus Professor Robert J. Flanagan's book, The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras, Artistic Triumphs and Economic Challenges, was just released from Yale University Press and will be of interest to anyone working in, volunteering for, or listening to orchestras. The slim volume is jammed with interesting data, and its extensive bibliography will be helpful to readers who want to delve even deeper into the subject of the economics of symphony orchestras and their prospects for financial health and artistic vitality. Flanagan's … [Read more...]

Can you teach resourcefulness?


On the agenda at a recent Board of Overseers' meeting at the Curtis Institute of Music were past graduates, some with non-traditional careers both in music and not, speaking about the preparation their Curtis education provided them. The backdrop to the conversation was a speech the previous afternoon by Derek Bok, who advocated for the importance of liberal education beyond music as an essential component of an artist's preparation.  The context for the entire discussion was the current state of the classical music field and the idea that … [Read more...]

Whither classical music radio

Jasper's Antique Radio Museum (thanks to trustynick)

The Station Resource Group and Walrus Research, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, published a report in June on the Performance of Classical Music Stations.   The report is part of a larger effort at the Station Resource Group to advance thinking around what it would take to expand audiences for public radio stations of all types.  Organized under the project name Grow The Audience, this multi-year effort has convened station leaders, studied high-performing stations, commissioned research, and published provocations … [Read more...]

What I learned from Bill Kling

Bill Kling photo in studio from the MPR web site

Today was Bill Kling's final day of work as President of Minnesota Public Radio, where he's led the development of the largest and arguably the most successful public radio organization in the United States.  His 44-year tenure has been marked by a series of bold, anticipatory moves that taken together more than earn him the title of Visionary. I worked at MPR for 9 years in a variety of roles, worked with MPR for the prior 9 years as a representative of one of the network's largest funders, and work now for an organization that counts MPR … [Read more...]