Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two Announcements from the Feds:

Good morning. (Note:  click on the logo to go to the site and to leave comments)

“And the beat goes on………………………”

From the NEA: San Diego, CA – “NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman and Blue Star Families Chairman Kathy Roth-Douquet announced the launch of Blue Star Museums, a partnership with more than 700 museums across America to offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2010. The complete list of participating museums is available at

Wonderful Memorial Day gift.

From Kalpenn Modi’s Office – the White House: “Here’s a short video of Secretary of Education Arne on the importance of Arts Education. Feel free to share with your networks and friends.”

Here's some mind candy from Brain Pickings:

Don’t Quit.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Good morning.
“And the beat goes on………….”

An Associated Press Article last month pointed out that “America's suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes.”

According to a report by the Brookings Institution: “Ten states, led by Arizona, surpass the nation in a "cultural generation gap" in which the senior populations are disproportionately white and children are mostly minority. This gap is pronounced in suburbs of fast-growing areas in the Southwest, including those in Florida, California, Nevada, and Texas.”

The report went on to note: “Suburbs still tilt white. But, for the first time, a majority of all racial and ethnic groups in large metro areas live outside the city. Suburban Asians and Hispanics already had topped 50 percent in 2000, and blacks joined them by 2008, rising from 43 percent in those eight years.

The suburbs now have the largest poor population in the country. They are home to the vast majority of baby boomers age 55 to 64, a fast-growing group that will strain social services after the first wave of boomers turns 65 next year.”

What does this demographic shift mean for the arts? How will it impact our audience development and marketing efforts? What are its’ implications for fundraising – from both donors and government?

I doubt we know exactly what it means, but it is something we need to spend more time thinking about. It will impact us.

Also noted last month is this excellent Arts Education Survey of the California candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Congratulations to Joe Landon, Laurie Schell and the people at CAAE (California Alliance for Arts Education) for this excellent model survey instrument and report.

Have a great week.

Don’t Quit

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Good morning.

“And the beat goes on…………………………..”


I wrote a blog entry a few weeks ago, questioning what Kal Penn Modi, the White House liaison to the arts (among other of his charges), had done to reach out to the nonprofit arts sector during his term in office (after nearly a year in his current position, Mr. Modi is returning to the private sector).

I heard that Mr. Modi thought my characterization of his efforts was inaccurate and even unfair. My intent in writing that blog wasn’t to disparage Mr. Modi, but to ask what had been accomplished. It wasn’t meant as any personal criticism, nor did I mean to be disrespectful. I wasn’t criticizing Mr. Modi but was interested in what he had done as White House liaison to the arts.

I am fairly well connected and in the loop (though not nearly as well as many others), and, as stated in the blog piece, I was (and am) not familiar with what efforts Mr. Modi had made. I didn’t see any press releases, or other blogs, or any kind of media coverage of his work, and that is what prompted me to wonder what his office had been doing and whether or not his principal charge lie with other constituencies. I am delighted that somehow someone in the White House may have actually read something I wrote in a blog, though I take no pleasure if anyone was offended.

Now sometimes (perhaps many times) I get it wrong. When that happens, I have always thought the only thing to do is say you got it wrong and correct the error to the extent you can, and apologize if appropriate. So, to the extent I got this wrong, and my piece was inaccurate and perceived as unfair, I stand corrected and offer my apology to Mr. Modi and to his office.

I have learned that Mr. Modi did indeed hold numerous meetings with arts leaders in our field, including Bob Lynch at Americans for the Arts and Sandra Gibson at APAP – among many other outreach efforts. He also had regular interaction with the federal arts agencies including the NEA and the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities. I am glad to know that. I only wish he or his office had made those outreach efforts and conversations more public and shared with our field his and the White House’s intentions, interests, strategies and hopes for those efforts. To the extent his conversations with arts leaders, and in the White House, touched on what they thought were the most important issues, challenges and obstacles facing our sector, and how they might be addressed, as well as how the arts might play any role in policy making or implementation, I think the field would have benefited by such knowledge. President Obama is the first to occupy that office and appoint someone to his staff whose job, at least in part, was to be the White House liaison to the arts. That is a very big deal to us. I wish they had been more transparent as to what they wanted that office to do and what efforts Mr. Modi was able to make in furtherance of their purposes. It would have been valuable to us to know – and it still would be.

I wrote to Mr. Modi a couple of weeks ago, and told him that I would be pleased to print a correction to any false impression I might have inadvertently created as to his work and his accomplishments, and invited him to share with me some of his efforts so that I might share them with my readers. So far, I haven’t heard anything back from him in response to that inquiry. I really would like to know more about his office, and his activities while in that office.

So, as he is getting near to the date of his departure from the White House and his return to his former film career, I would like to invite him to do an exit interview with me for this blog.

I think his take on being a White House liaison to the nonprofit arts sector would be enormously interesting and fascinating to our sector. I would like to ask him what he perceives are the challenges and problems we face on any number of levels, including being heard within the White House and the whole Executive Branch of the government. I would like to give him the opportunity to set the record straight and share with us those of his efforts he thinks have the most important implications and consequences for our future. I’d like him to share with us what he learned over the past year about trying to be a liaison between the arts & culture field and the corridors of power. I’d like to know what gave him hope and what frustrated him. I’d like to ask him what role, if any, he thinks the ‘for profit’ entertainment industry, from which he comes, might partner with the nonprofit arts sector for the mutual benefit of both, and how that might be accomplished. I’d like to ask him what suggestions he has for our sector getting more government support. I would like to ask him his impressions on if, and how, the White House sets cultural policy. I’d like to ask him how information from the various silos of federal arts & culture (NEA, NEH, Smithsonian etc.) funnel information to the White House – or do they? There are so many things I would like to ask him. I would be happy to furnish him written questions up front and publish his responses in their entirety without editing of any kind.

So please Mr. Modi, accept my invitation to share with the nonprofit arts sector an encapsulation and review of your work over the past year, and more importantly, your impressions of trying to represent the White House to the arts community and vice versa, and your opinions and thoughts on how the arts might gain wider attention from the Executive Branch of government and successfully address all the challenges we face. You have an extraordinary perspective, virtually no one else has, and we would benefit enormously if you would share what you learned over the last year. You’re really the only person to ever occupy the position you hold, and we really need to hear what you think before you leave. I have a good platform and a fairly large readership here and I offer it to you. If you aren’t comfortable doing the interview with me, or just prefer to do it with someone else, I can suggest any one of several other blogger colleagues of mine to you that I think would be most interested in doing such an interview with you, and all would, I assure you, give you a fair platform and treat you with respect. So would I. I hope you will take me up on this offer. Please.


According to an Associated Press Article  Sunday: "More than 200,000 small nonprofits across the nation are days away from losing their tax-exempt status because they haven't filed a new form with the Internal Revenue Service.

It's most likely the nonprofits aren't aware of the Monday deadline that only applies to groups that report $25,000 or less in income, excluding churches. Those organizations may not find out until Jan. 1, 2011, when they're notified they have to pay taxes on donations they thought were exempt. And it could be months before their nonprofit status is restored.

Congress required the form, called a 990-N, when it amended the tax code three years ago and groups with a fiscal year ending Dec. 31 had until Monday to meet the deadline.

The Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics, which conducts economic and social policy research, estimated Friday that 214,000 nonprofit organizations haven't filed the form as required.

Tom Pollak, program director for the center, said organizations that lose their tax-exempt status are no longer eligible to receive tax-deductible donations and are not likely to be awarded grants."

Check with your accountant.

NOTE:  Moy Eng, fresh from a Spring sabattical to recharge and spend time with family (after her eight year stint at the Hewlett Foundation) is back as the Interim Program Officer for Arts & Culture for the San Francisco Foundation, taking over for John Killacky, with a two-fold charge:  to sustain its current activity and redesign the arts and culture program, given a new foundation-wide strategic plan.

Have a great week.

Don’t Quit!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Good morning.

“And the beat goes on……………………..”

A Venue Specifically for Jazz  -- and other Dedicated Places and Stuff I’d Like to See.

A SF Chronicle piece  last week announced a new 700 seat building dedicated just to Jazz in San Francisco. Great. Jazz has always been prominent in the City and jazz as an artistic medium has special needs in terms of a venue. And this one will be spectacular. A great addition to the SF cultural landscape. The $60 million stand alone building, paid for largely by board members of SF Jazz and an anonymous patron, will break ground sometime next year.

This item got me thinking: There are lots of areas where special arts interests could use their own places – be those real bricks & mortar or virtual spaces. Here are just a few I would like to see:

1. A Dedicated San Francisco Dance Center: I wrote about this last year.  San Francisco has 200+ resident dance groups, second only to New York. Every major dance company tours here as well. Dance has very special stage needs including size and special flooring. The number of venues that are even satisfactory for dance performances are few and far between in the City – with precious little time available for even the larger dance companies to book for performances. Certainly not nearly enough to meet the demand.  How wonderful it would be for a stand alone, dedicated dance venue in San Francisco. I can tell you it would be booked solid from day one.

2. After school arts centers. Every community would be enhanced if it had a dedicated facility for the provision of arts - practice & rehearsal space, room for training programs and creativity options for K-12 students after school and on weekends – open all year long.

3. On the virtual side – there are several areas we could use a dedicated website presence.

a. Federal funding opportunities - across all the various government agencies. One place to go to access all the federal government money that might be available to arts organizations and arts programs. Have to be comprehensive and thorough. Good NEA project?

b. A listing of cuts to arts funding. Both state allocations (easy – NASAA’s got these) – combined with a central listing of cuts to all local arts funding programs too (government and foundations) all across the country - so we knew who was being hit hardest and the prognosis for the future. We get this information piece meal, if at all. 

c. A centralized clearinghouse of nonprofit oriented arts blogs – sample, browse, subscribe / unsubscribe all in one place.

d. A clearinghouse of current professional development opportunities -- trainings, webinars, seminars, workshops and courses being offered in different regions and metro areas across the country, by all kinds of different providers, every month. What, where, when, offered by whom, targeted to whom, and how much. Updated constantly. Would make it a lot easier to access what was available.

When it’s finished the new SF Jazz Center will owe its existence to any number of key players, but no one more than Randall Kline, the founder of SF Jazz some 28 years ago -- for accomplishments like this are, as often as not, the result of one person with both vision and passion; someone who sees the need and thinks it important enough to push to fill it, and then simply never gives up. Tenacious dreamers (sounds like the name of a new Rap Artist) – and the arts are full of them, thank God. One person not only can, but often does, make the difference. Maybe there are some true believers and committed souls out there for some of the other things on my list, or on yours.

Have a great week.

Don’t Quit

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Good morning

“And the beat goes on………………….”

My apologies for recent over long, drawn out blog postings. I guess I am guilty of the conceit of thinking everything I have to say is really important and necessary. I need to remind myself that isn’t true, to be brief, and that (in the blog world anyway) less actually is more. I promise to try harder to bear that in mind.


The San Francisco Bay Emerging Arts ProfessionalsSFBEAP (an outgrowth of the Hewlett study on generational management in the arts workplace) is hosting a session as part of Theatre Bay Area’s annual May 10th conference in San Francisco (one of the better conferences I attended last year) as part of the After Hours program. Here is a thumbnail description of this important session:

Omni-Directional Mentorship: Beyond Yoda

• Edward Clapp - /20under40

Engage in an interactive 60-minute workshop exploring traditional concepts of mentorship. We’re all familiar with the ordinary structure of a veteran leader mentoring a junior colleague. But what about mentoring up? Or mentoring sideways in networks with your peers? Explore what you have to learn and what you have to teach while envisioning new methods for strengthening leadership in arts organizations.

The concept of omni-directional mentorship highlights the idea that all generations can learn from each other, and is, I think, a very important tool for our sector. Accepting that professional development is a career-long necessity, the reality of several generations working side by side in the arts sector workplace provides us with a unique opportunity to involve everyone in the teaching / learning process. And by doing that we also improve the working environment and build the sense of organization. We need to embrace that concept and take advantage of those opportunities to both teach and learn if we are to maximize our business acumen and become more productive, efficient and smart.

I agree with Michael Kaiser’s assessment in his latest Huffington Post blog:

“We spend billions of dollars to train singers, dancers and actors, and insignificant amounts to train the people who employ them.   I have said it before and I will continue to say it: the biggest problem we face in the arts is a lack of trained arts managers and board members.”

To a large extent we have only begun to empower (and train) our emerging leadership. One problem the SFBEAP  face is that the conversation they have launched is largely a dialogue with themselves. They need to expand that conversation to one that is by and between the emerging leaders and those leaders who currently are in the senior positions. One of the obstacles to both effectively managing the generational divides, and to the ultimate issue of generation succession, is that the boomer generation leadership hasn’t yet fully begun to see and appreciate that it is clearly in their own best interests to spend more time and allocate more resources to making the inter-generational relationship work well for everyone. That’s easier said than done. No older generation seamlessly passes the baton. For a variety of reasons, some good, some silly, there is always resistance to ceding control to those who are coming up in the ranks. Boomers faced it across the board when we were young. Now we just may be the ones perpetuating that resistance. But the more the boomers know what they have to gain (and to lose) by not embracing change, the better it will be for everyone – themselves more than anyone. Talking among the generations is a good first step.

So I urge all my boomer cohort senior leaders of local San Francisco arts organizations (and all those organizations that provide funds or services to those arts organizations) to attend the above workshop on May 10th. One hour of your time. 6:30 to 7:30 pm. $10. Availing yourself of the opportunity to be part of this conversation will, I promise you, be enormously valuable to you as the leader of your organization – even if you don’t have a whole range of generations in your current employ. For example, the Millennials in our sector can be extremely valuable to you as you move to new technologies in your fundraising, advocacy, marketing and audience development efforts. They have both familiarity in this area and great skills many of us older leaders lack, and just as they are anxious to learn what they don’t know from us, they are more than ready teach us skills and perspectives and offer us ideas and thoughts that we desperately need to understand and appreciate. You just may be surprised how much time and money you can save by opening up to what those who are already part of your structure can teach you.

Do yourself a favor. Attend this event and get in on this conversation early. It’s going to be one of the five most important conversations of the next five years.

And speaking of learning more about using online sites to market your organization here’s an upcoming webinar that looks interesting:

Market Smarter with Google and Facebook!

May 11, 2010  -  2:00pm-3:30pm Eastern
Register today:  $25.00

Presenter: Erik Gensler - President, Capacity Interactive, Inc.

Google and Facebook offer a suite of free to inexpensive marketing tools that allow you to target and better understand your online audience. This session will focus on helping arts organizations use Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Facebook advertising to market smarter.

In this 90 minute webinar, you will learn:

• How arts organizations can optimize Google Analytics understand how users are interacting with your site and which user behaviors are tied to sales. We will discuss basic reporting and set up as well as custom set up and ecommerce tracking.

• How to use Google AdWords to increase traffic to your site. You will discover how your orgnization can obtain up to $10,000 in free AdWords advertising per month. You will also learn about the Google Content Network where your organization can place banner ads on thousands of sites across the web from one central hub.

• How to target Facebook users that are interested in the programming your organization offers. You will obtain tips for crafting ads and micro-targeting users to make your Facebook advertising efficient and cost-effective.

Erik Gensler is the president of Capacity Interactive Inc. - an electronic marketing consulting firm whose client roster includes Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, and Roundabout Theatre Company.

Have a great week.

Don’t Quit.