Eat your spinach, and other arguments for learning to play music

baby-spinach

With the New Year came dozens of media stories about resolutions and how to stick with them.  Two of my favorite were the Oliver Sacks' Op-Ed in the NY Times (This Year, Change Your Mind) about things you can do (at any age) to strengthen your brain function, and a Wall Street Journal article on the neuroscience of developing new habits by Sue Shellenbarger (How to Keep a Resolution: Forget Willpower, Reaching a Goal Means Retraining Brain to Form New Habits).  Both of these reminded me of the inspiring section in Benjamin Franklin's … [Read more...]

Must charitable giving be tax deductible to be sustainable?

tax_medium

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to encourage charitable giving without evoking the tax deductibility of gifts as a benefit.  Why? As government looks for ways to balance its books, both revenue and tax code simplification proposals are being widely debated among policymakers and the press.  Among these are proposals to terminate both the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable gift deduction.  For example, an article in last week’s New York Times by University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler (“It’s Time to Rethink the Charity … [Read more...]

New audiences via online coupons

For the past few months, the SPCO has been experimenting with on-line coupons to reach new audiences.   This is part of our multi-year plan to expand our audience using non-traditional and grassroots methods.  We give more than 100 classical music concerts each year in ten locations around the Twin Cities.  Just about half our concerts are performed at the Ordway Center in downtown St Paul; the remainder are in surrounding communities, including Minneapolis.  One hundred concerts translates to a lot of tickets, and our goal is full houses for … [Read more...]

Just say no

ad_capitalization

When you go to the Grantmakers in the Arts website you can read two documents there that provide deep background on a conversation GIA members are having about trends in their work and how their grants shape the financial and artistic vitality of the nonprofit cultural sector.  The reports posted there are the result of a literature review and then meetings to discuss capitalization in the nonprofit arts sector (and lack thereof). The funders' group asserts that a) arts and cultural organizations are undercapitalized which "leads us to be … [Read more...]

Farewell Bush Artist Fellowships Program

Bush Foundation logo

In an email message last Wednesday, The Bush Foundation announced the end of its existing Fellowship programs, including the Bush Artist Fellowships,  and the beginning of a new, single program which will be called the Bush Fellowship Program.  The new program's aim is to "help people increase their capacity to work with others to improve their communities."  Guidelines will be released December 1st. It's interesting to look back on the Foundation's Artist Fellowship guidelines and wonder who in our current professional philanthropic sector … [Read more...]

Good Experiences

GEL conference logo

Every week or so I get a push email from Mark Hurst at Good Experience with some of his ruminations and observations. Mark's interest is in "what enables or detracts from meaningful experiences of creativity, technology, community, and life."   If you look at the Good Experience job board you'll see that most of the postings are related to e-commerce and other software applications where "user experience" has a specific meaning.  But it turns out once you start thinking about user experience it carries over into all manner of experiences that … [Read more...]

Foragers needed

A personnel ad in this morning's NY Times caught my eye.  A Forager is needed by Dean and Deluca.  It reminded me of the first time I saw this job title, back in the 1970s when I lived in the Bay Area and Chez Panisse hired staff to look for the distinctive ingredients that shaped their cooking, combing California for interesting suppliers and encouraging growers to invest in cultivating the tastiest varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and meat. In the food business the job title and function is old news now.   It exists in a lot … [Read more...]

Competing Values Model

innovation model

One of my favorite days at the recent NAS seminar mentioned in a previous post was the day led by Jeff DeGraff on Leading Innovation.  Dr. DeGraff aka Jeff showed us his "Competing Values Model."  The model offers a way to think about four different kinds of innovation that can produce benefits: Do things first, Do things fast, Do things right, and Do things that last.  Or, put another way, innovation around creation of new things, innovation around competition and speed, innovation around internal systems and structures, and innovation around … [Read more...]

Neighborhood concerts in Cleveland

It is interesting to see in this morning's news that The Cleveland Orchestra is making a move that the St Paul Chamber Orchestra made seven years ago, namely to move some of their concerts to neighborhood locations around the Cleveland area and to lower ticket prices in those venues.  What we've learned since expanding our neighborhood concerts over the past seven years is that there are many people who want to attend our concerts who will not come downtown to do so.  In fact, neighborhood expansion has led to a 40 percent increase in … [Read more...]

Leadership and Convergence

Lobby of the Ross School at the University of Michigan

Next week a few arts folk from around the US are gathering at the Ross School of Management in Ann Arbor to talk and learn about "convergence" and how it is affecting the institutions we lead.   The faculty have not defined convergence specifically but they're talking about turmoil in the external environment -- in media, in economics, in demographics, in audience expectations.  We'll dive deeply into the subject for four days and come out better prepared to lead our organizations, or so we hope.  I'll blog about the seminar, which is sponsored … [Read more...]