Tuesday, December 13, 2005

December 13, 2005

HESSENIUS Group Year End Wrap-Up

Hi everybody.

"And the beat goes on..................."

I asked some of the group members to share their thoughts on this year and next. I asked them this:

ISSUE ONE: What happened last year -- what one (or two) major events, trends, etc. -- do you think had particular (significant) impact on the arts field this year (for example -- the merger of Business & the Arts Council with Americans for the Arts, or the publication / debate over the Rand Study, or the continuation of depressed arts funding). Or it might be something that happened within the whole of our culture, society, political arena etc. that had -- or continues to have -- impact on the arts field - e.g., the economy, Katrina or the impact on donor giving), and

What do you think will be the biggest challenge / opportunity for the arts for 2006? What do you suggest would be the best move the arts could make to improve their lot in 2006?

Top on my list, Barry, for 2005 is the economy, how the war in Iraq and this year's rash of natural disasters affected it and, in turn, how the state of the economy has impacted the solvency of arts organizations. Costs to keep the doors open, lights on and pay staff livable wages outpaced most organizations' budget projections. For-profits passed on unanticipated increased operating costs to the consumer. Arts organizations have been reluctant to increase the price of participation for fear of driving away audiences or, worse, fueling perceptions of elitism. Given unprecedented compelling need for disaster relief, sustaining contributed income levels, never mind increasing them, has become an all-consuming activity. In my work in communities across the country, both small and large organizations with a broad, diverse loyal following (and the contributor base to match) are holding their own. Organizations and artistic genres with narrow audience appeal are being far more serious about audience development. And I'm seeing the realization among arts organizations whose existence has depended on the largesse of a few big funders that diversification of their support base is probably a good idea.

The biggest challenge/opportunity for the arts in 2006 and beyond is increasing arts relevance to the public. Endless excellent research and studies have been conducted on arts participation. Somehow, someway, we need to better translate for our field the volumes of participation research. That, plus adequate resources and assistance to help them apply it.

Biggest Impact in 2005

The publication of Gifts of the Muse http://www.rand.org/publications/MG/MG218/ and Creating Public Value Through State Arts Agencies http://www.artsmw.org/start/CreatingPublicValue.pdf, marked the completion of a series of tools that can fundamentally improve our capacities to increase participation in the arts as well as reveal the personal benefits and the public value of that participation. These publications joined A New Framework for Participation in the Arts http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1323/, The Values Study, Rediscovering the Meaning and Value of Arts Participation http://www.ctarts.org/pdfs/CT_Values_Study_Report.pdf, Engage Now (disclosure: written by Jerry Yoshitomi) http://www.artsmarketing.org/marketingresources/files/JYNotes-Apr022003.pdf, and many other resources that build participation, personal benefits and public value.

This work was initiated primarily by the arts program at the Wallace Foundation, first led by Holly Sidford and then by Michael Moore. Through a carefully orchestrated program of research, direct grants, convenings and communities of practice, significant advancements have been made in thirteen state arts agencies and in arts organizations throughout the country. Leadership in recent years was also provided by David Fraher and Emily Maltz at Arts Midwest and Kelly Barsdate at the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

Results have included increases in:

State funding for participating SAA's
Broadened, Deepened and more Diversified Participation
Ticket Sales and Earned Income
Communications with Ticket Buyers and Donors
Evidence of Personal Benefits and Public Value

Biggest Challenge/Opportunity for the Arts in 2006 will be making more of a transition from old ways of doing things to new ways of doing things. It will be about learning and putting into practice more of the new tools. Those that do will see increasing success. Those that don't will see a widening gap between aspirations and accomplishments, as well as between expenses and revenues.
I'm pleased to respond to any questions the readers might have. They can email me at meaningmatters@aol.com.

1. Significant event in 2005 - the death of Susan Sontag - revealing the lack of meaningful thinking & writing about art, culture & ideas in her absence.
2. Challenge in 2006 - the increasing pressure on necessary dissent, finding the will to offset the multiple guises censorship comes dressed in these days - market, institutional, political, philanthropic, etc.
That will be a challenge.

Two trends of significance in 2005 involved the political devolution of America's cultural "hardware," and the rapid evolution social networking software on the web. The two may seem like separate trends, but they carry a common thread.

On the hardware side, America's built cultural infrastructure got more massive and more contentious in 2005, with controversy over several arts facility mega-projects. The Miami-Dade Performing Arts Center continued its trials with massive construction cost overruns and political bickering. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts discovered higher operating costs and lower-than-expected revenues, along with continuing acoustical problems...filing suit against their architect for the lackluster sound quality of the hall. The Overture Center for the Arts in Madison had a public spat with the mayor over a proposal to refinance the facility just prior to its completion.

And the proposed multi-venue arts development in Richmond, Virginia, exploded into a political free-for-all when the committee behind it couldn't meet a fundraising deadline.

Meanwhile, Dallas broke ground on a new $275 million performing arts center, and Kansas City took steps toward its proposed $326 million complex.

The massive multi-venue arts center has been an icon of civic pride and boosterism for over 30 years...drawing inspiration and original concept from New York's Lincoln Center. Wealth and under-served arts markets sparked the trend, and a string of public arguments for professional arts facilities helped fuel the flame (economic impact, healthy cities, creative class, civic engagement, and on and on).

But the public challenges of these developments in 2005 suggest that a tide is turning. With the growth of wealth slowing or even dipping in the past years, with more saturated culture and entertainment markets, and with fiscal troubles in local and state governments, the multi-venue arts center is becoming a bit of an albatross. Managers and consultants are quietly suggesting that the economic model driving these facilities isn't working anymore (touring Broadway isn't the cash cow it used to be). Local arts groups and resident companies are seeing local philanthropic dollars and ticket sales sucked into the higher-cost infrastructure, and away from their programming budgets.

On the software side, other areas of society and business are moving in the opposite direction from large, central, professional-grade infrastructure. Social networking software -- like the Flickr photo sharing site, weblogs, Google maps and groups, and even podcasting -- are pushing production and content development out to the edges.

Passive audiences are now active producers of creative content on- line, and curators of their public self and personal entertainment mix.

As the arts have become more professional, they have also tended to become more detached from the daily creative lives of their communities. The big, boxy, multi-venue arts center will need to reinvent itself...perhaps not in 2006, but in the decade to come.

Problem is, we continue to build these facilities according to the old model of how they work. It will be difficult to reshape the granite and glass to a different focus.

The biggest challenge, suggested above, is to stop and take stock of the role of professional arts infrastructure in a participatory society. Audiences don't just want to sit and listen anymore, if they ever did. Sitting and listening are still powerful forms of participation, but only as part of a spectrum of creative experiences and expressions. That spectrum also includes participatory practice (a much less charged term than ''amateur'' arts), lifelong learning, curatorship of identity and self, creative expression through living (cooking, fashion, personal appearance), and ambient arts experience.
The wise arts organization will be finding ways to foster and support the creative lives of their communities, not just selling them content.

*The on-going war in Iraq and the soaring Federal debt;
*The impact of national and international disasters on individual and corporate giving;
*The "branding" and "ownership" by conservatives of the term "moral values" and a sense of growing intolerance;

Representing my colleagues in the State Arts Action Network, Allen Hoffman suggests that philanthropic trends will have major implications down the road as public funds continue to dry up. Developing individual investors in the non profit arts sector is critical and how that might be developed should be of primary interest. A secondary issue would be a discussion of the Rand Report with participants that are both pro and con. He'd like to see that report taken apart as an in-depth discussion.

For question #2: What I hear from the local arts council field as issues of concern are:
*Leadership Succession - the "graying" of the arts administrative field;
*The challenge of building participation in the arts -- in the broadest of definitions;

After I sent off my Hessenius Group contribution, an associate sent me news of a radical restructuring at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They're basically discontinuing the venue as a professional performing arts center, and returning it to a university function hall. Among the driving factors:

The financial picture changed even more drastically than expected due to a decline in quality new Broadway product, changes in funding models and increased local competition for the discretionary entertainment dollar.

I was hoping not be so immediately reinforced in my gloomy outlook on large performing arts centers.

I think the Americans for the Arts Action Fund - an ARTS PAC - while still embryonic, is an encouraging sign that someday the arts might take back their own future by organizing and becoming a political force. As a sleeping giant, our field might wield tremendous clout if we were to accept lobbying as part of our jobs and were to make the financial commitment to becoming an effective, competitive "interest group" (which is what we are in the political arena).

I think moving along - city by city, state by state and nationally - the effort to become poltiical players is the challenge for the future.

Well, Barry, you kind of gave me a hand-off in that first question that I can't resist grabbing!

It would perhaps be self-interested to say the merger of Arts & Business Council and Americans for the Arts was the most significant event of the year, but it certainly was the most significant in MY year, or even my decade. But let me instead highlight what I think this merger represents, and what it might mean for 2006 and beyond.

The merger was driven by heightened interest in the challenge of generating more private sector support for the arts. It was also driven by the challenge of achieving some greater scale and clout in the pursuit of that challenge. I think the issue of private sector cultural support and earned income was a theme of 2005, and will be with us for some time to come.

This does not mean that public sector advocacy has become less important “ far from it. We still must have a rigorous and effective effort at the national, state and local level. But increasingly we must realize that 90% of the average arts organizations revenue stream comes from private contributed and earned sources. Many newer arts organizations are highly entrepreneurial, sometimes generating almost all their income from earned sources, and sometimes even structuring themselves as for-profit organizations, transforming the model of what an arts organization is. Several of the artist-practitioners we are working with in our Creativity Connection program, for example, are structured as for-profit or sole-proprietorship entities rather than nonprofits. They are using the arts to inspire and educate a segment of the public (corporate employees), are employing artists, and are stimulating appreciation of the arts in potential arts attenders/participants. Does this mean they are not part of our community, or do we embrace them? And, of course, the traditional model of nonprofit arts group has not gone away if anything, their numbers and financial needs continue to grow. Are the resources available in our country to meet their growing needs, even with the best advocacy efforts possible? Are mergers like this one part of the solution, as we seek greater efficiencies in pursuit of our mission and goals?

Much has also been made this year of generational shifts in a variety of different ways. There is the issue of the aging Baby Boomer generation, leading to heightened interest in cultivating this populations segment as audience members, board members and donors; their leisure time will increase as they begin to retire and arts organizations must figure out how to capture their interest, or other causes will, and we will lose out. At the other end of the spectrum, we have a new segment of the population who have considerable wealth at much younger ages than in previous eras. These new philanthropists behave in a totally different way. They see the arts as represented by the major institutions, which they see as stodgy, belonging to their parents or even grandparents, and not having an impact on the community or needing their money. How do we change their attitudes, getting them to value our great cultural assets, recognize they need support too, yet also convey the message that the arts are also about changing lives, building community, and bringing people together values that resonate with this generation?

I believe 2006 will bring further dialogue on some of these tough issues: 1) making our case better to the private sector, and related to that the issue of how to develop better messages that resonate with the broadest population; 2) striving for more clout and more efficiencies in our operations, even if it means radical change; 3) rigorously examining the nonprofit arts model, along the lines of the recent paper by Bill Ivey, and figuring out how to embrace new models, including for-profit arts and informal arts, without undermining the case that needs to be made for the continuing support of our great nonprofit cultural assets. I think in 2006 we will see more mergers, maybe a few more major nonprofit arts bankruptcies or dissolutions, but also perhaps some high profile announcements of extraordinary cultural projects that break the mold and demonstrate new ways of operating and funding.

Happy Holidays to all!

Others in the HESSENIUS Group may add their own thoughts this week, and everyone is invited to chime in and enter their own comments.

The Hessenius Group will begin 2006 on Tuesday, February 14th.

I would like to thank all the members of the Group for their participation in this experiment this year. As an ongoing enterprise, I hope it will only get better as we can refine it. I would also like to thank the many readers who were kind enough to email me with encouragement, good wishes and sage advice. I hope too that more readers will share their perspectives and thoughts -- my whole purpose is to generate a real dialogue about the bigger issues the arts face. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

I wish all of us Peace on Earth - and I hope next year sees the arts prosper and thrive.

Thank you.

And remember: Don't Quit!


Tuesday, November 8, 2005

November 08, 2005

HESSENIUS GROUP 3 online now.

Hello everybody.

"And the beat goes on.................."

This week's participants include:
Ben Cameron - Theater Communications Group
Shelley Cohn - former Executive Director of the Arizona Arts Commission
Moy Eng - Hewlett Foundation
Nancy Glaze - Packard Foundation
Sam Miller - LINK

[A QUICK NOTE FOR US AGING BABY BOOMERS WHO WOULD PREFER THAT THIS BLOG USED A LARGER TYPE FONT (so we could read it easier). Go to the 'VIEW' tab on your toolbar, scroll down to "text size" and make the font as large as you would like.]


As the baby boomer generation of arts leaders nears retirement from the field, how do we insure that the storehouse of knowledge, experience, contacts, and understanding (of both the practical aspects of arts administration and the broad policy issues and their implications) is best preserved to the advantage of all of those of us who remain? How do we archive that knowledge and experience so that the maximum number of people can access it in the future?

Shelley Cohn, you've just retired after 21 years in your post as head of the Arizona Arts Commission. What are your thoughts for other leaders who might retire in the near term:

Now that I am actually one of those baby boomers who has retired (for all of three weeks), I have some thoughts on this issue.

Leave a legacy of your values and information both practical and conceptual through mentoring of staff members and students before you leave; I chose a time to leave when there was a firm foundation and relative calm with the legislature giving a new leader time to get their grounding.

Be available after you leave, but don't be a shadow expecting to influence decision making and direction as you did before you left.  Support the new and emerging leadership on their terms, not yours; speak when asked and avoid imposing yourself when not asked.

This transition has actually been very liberating on both sides. I have seen the remaining staff demonstrate their maturity and knowledge, taking responsibility and initiative, that maybe I stood unintentionally in the way of when I was there. We are very respectful, exploring new boundaries. Neither the staff nor the board nor the retiree has the chance to practice these changes. I am the only person who had residence in my particular space (for 21 years as director and 30 years at the agency).

Where I might have been fearful about how the work would move forward, I am pleased by the initiative of both the staff and the board.

I also know that there is energy around dealing with issues that I had begun to find tedious and irritating or too much trouble. I see others dealing with those issues for the first time with positive energy and an ability to make lemonade where I had begun to be satisfied with lemons.

Trust and be calm have been among my annual resolutions throughout my career in state arts agency work. Those qualities are still at work through this transition.

Sage advice Shelley. Now how do we make sure your three decades of arts experience and all that you have learned during that time is somehow preserved and not lost to the future? Sam, can we do that?

I'm not sure you can. It would be nice if this generation of leaders could transition from active to emeritus roles within their respective organizations but there would probably be a bit of resistance to this idea - lack of space, lack of funds, previous leaders looking over the shoulder of new leaders - that sort of thing, but maybe, in some cases, they could be placed at aligned or proximinate academic institutions where they could teach (or team teach) a course informed by their experience.

It would also be nice to imagine these leaders "downloaded" into interactive databases - some material available to all, some password protected and restricted to the organization(s) connected to this leader. This material could include oral history, previous writings, annotated publications (maybe even board minutes), and a timeline documenting key events, etc. This idea assumes that organizations are maintaining instituitional histories, that might also need to be encouraged.

I could also imagine commissioning some time-based cultural histories that would not be institutionally specific, sort of like Edmund Wilson's review of literature by decades (the Twenties, Thirties, etc). These would capture and contextualize the movement of people, ideas, and policies across and between institutional practice - the CETA Years, Dance Touring, the legacy of American Dialogue, Backstage at the Ford Foundation - that sort of thing.

And then a series of dialogues at field convenings might be fun - multiple leaders could look back with some facilitated rigor and then these could be documented and disseminated.

Moy, you've thought about this a lot, what's your take on this?

The decentralized nature of the US nonprofit arts sector has enabled the proliferation of artmaking of staggering breadth and diversity. Yet that decentralized nature coupled with low salaries have conspired against the creation of a system to develop and nurture leaders. Yes, there are a handful of respected arts administration and nonprofit management university programs to train potential new managers. I graduated from one of them: the master program in arts administration at New York University which melded the study of nonprofit arts management practice with M.B.A. training. And there are also a number of good management intensives for professionals. That said, the development of leadership remains informal, decentralized and fragmented.

Could we create an organization or program that could comprehensively address the issue of leadership development from "cradle to grave": training, professional development, regular forums for conversations, networking, coaching throughout arts manager's careers, archiving of e- and print-resources on arts and culture from performance studies to cultural policy to arts management "how tos"? And could we capture the power of technology in this effort?

Riffing off of Sam's response, perhaps we could share the knowledge and experience of our elders through live interviews and conversations over the net - of those who played a pivotal role on critical issues over the past sixty years such as the 1990s politicization and demonization of contemporary artists, 1970s appearance of identity-centered art: African-American, Chicano, Asian, Queer film and live arts, and 1980s emergence of performance art, fusion and mixed genre work. A combination of contemporary arts, US history and leadership development. These conversations could be recorded live and then virtually housed within an organization centered on cultural policy, leadership, nonprofit sector and scholarship such as Harvard University and the Leveraging Investments in Creativity initiative. Supplementing this effort could be written essays by mature and mid-career individuals addressing critical historical matters, contemporary issues and future trends.

There might also be a way to create and link on-line a network of mature leaders in the field with mid-career and younger individuals working in the field. Using the net this way could provide e-coaching: immediate access to experts across the country (if not internationally) for problems from how I do gracefully transition a board of directors which is comprised of fatigued board members to successful advocacy strategies on easing visa application practices for international artists appearing in the US and US artists performing and teaching in Canada.

Nancy, didn't the Packard Foundation fund a program that addresses this issue?

For the past six years, Bill Moskin and Jill Jackson, with funding from the Packard Foundation, have been exploring ways to nurture the next generation of arts leaders. The program that was created, Arts Leadership for the Future, includes the use of world-class mentors (all boomers) and hands-on problem solving. This model program mines the knowledge of the old-timers and combines it with the fresh thinking of the newcomers.

Apart from the problem of funding various projects that might deal with this issue, finding the right leadership to shepard them, and figuring out how to sustain those efforts, let's explore a little further the ideas of using virtual space to preserve a knowledge / experience base, of assembling those who are making an exit at conferences where they might share some of that knowledge, of peer network mentoring, and the idea of some sort of journal that captures (in the retirees own words) their experience in specific areas. Any thoughts about how we might move on any of these approaches?

Frankly, this question leaves me of two minds. Especially in a technologically driven age, there seems to be no shortage of options--this blog being a prime example--of forums in which people can leave their thoughts and opinions to posterity. Between blogs, self-created websites, home video cameras, in-house archives and more, there are many opportunities to commit thoughts and practices to paper, e-espace, video and more.

The real challenges to me increasingly are as follows:
1) The plethora of options has a downside--as Deguid and Brown said in their book THE SOCIAL LIFE OF INFORMATION (and I paraphrase here), in this information age, we are drowning in information and starved for wisdom. How do we sort through the increasingly deafening white noise?--a direct reflection of...

2) Time. Who has time to record these thoughts in a meaningful way, and who has time to read/view them? I'll be absolutely frank here: while I am deeply grateful to my predecessors here, I have yet--after almost eight years on the job--to delve into their files and documents. In this moment when the pressure is on us to hit the ground running, who has the time to sort through that same increasing volume of paper, websites, and more?

3) Isn't legacy most strongly felt in the work left behind and the relationships that we make and create in our work? While there is much I respond to in both Moy and Sam's suggestions, the idea of yet another organization makes me a bit weary, and I wonder whether the issue isn't more that we think differently about our roles in our daily lives as active mentors, transmitting what we know on a daily basis, passing along our work and thoughtfully engaging others. Are we willing to think differently about how we structure the time of our leaders, encouraging them, for example, to be constantly active in teaching--at least in an adjunct capacity--on a fairly regular basis? Can we take seriously to heart Shelley's suggestions even before we contemplate transitions or retirement? Perhaps if we think about transmission of information as an exit or retirement moment, we are missing the proverbial boat: any commemoration of ideas or insights that are committed to paper/video/etc., are at best reminders of the lessons that have already been transmitted in an ongoing way through the work the leader has done, through the relationships the leader has developed, the example the leader has set.

I totally agree with Ben on the issue of who, new to their jobs, has the time and inclination to delve through the written documentation of an organization, particularly when it is not organized to share knowledge and insights.

At the same time, there is need to provide some documentation that provides context and is presented in a meaningful (rather than stream of conscious) way.

I am looking forward to the book initiated by the Ohio Arts Council and Ohio State University on the first generation of state arts agency directors (from the 60's and 70's). State arts agencies is a new field and the oral histories of these former directors provides an important story about the environment and attitudes in the arts and public sector support of the arts at the beginning of the field.

Another monograph recently published by the Wallace Foundation and writiten by Mark and Galen Moore also provides a very succinct and compelling story about state arts agencies. Until now there really was not a publication that spoke to the history, approaches and policy implications of state arts agency work. Arizona is using this monograph as a key orientation piece for new staff and board members.

You are of course right Ben, about no one having the time, and that there are many ways knowledge can be shared along the way, but I have seen the scenario countless times in individual organizations where new leadership comes in, and spends considerable wasted time repeating the mistakes and re-inventing the programs of a previous administration, and there ought to be some way that we could avoid that waste - if for no other reason, as you point out, we have so little time in the first place. We all share a healthy skepticism of new layers and new organizations, but sometimes it seems to me, another layer might be just what we need. As Shelley points out, the difficulty in availing oneself of past written knowledge is that it remains unorganized - and therefore, largely inaccessible. The question remains how do we share past knowlege to our benefit? How do we preserve the wisdom without the information overload?

I am very much aware and concerned about the generational shift in the field and from a variety of perspectives, including arts practitioners, funders, and those that are assisting and advising the arts. There is a body of knowledge, and perhaps as important, a set of principles and values of a given generation. Not only is the generation changing, but the environment in which everyone is working has changed enormously as well.

One issue for me has been this sense of wanting to download in some way the years of history, experience and stories. At the same time the person or persons on the receiving end has to be interested and ready to hear. The two partners in communication have to be ready for the give and take of the exchange; and the exchange has to go both directions.

Additionally, my generation has to also be aware that some of things that we believe are so precious and vital are not seen in the same way by the next generation. The exchange is an important and sensitive and timely one.

So how do we manage that download, particularly as you and Nancy suggest, there are generational concerns to consider if we want the exercise to be relevant?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

October 26, 2005

Natl. Governor's Assoc. brief touts the arts

Hi everybody. Bad moon rising - turn our clocks back Saturday night and to me, that's the worst day of the year. Dark next week at 5:30 - ugh.

"And the beat goes on........................."

According to a National Governor's Association Report issued last month:

For the full report click here: http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.1f41d49be2d3d33eacdcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=cf949286d9de1010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD

"Every state has areas with rural characteristics. Rural areas are often noted for providing an enhanced quality of life and some of the highly distinctive and treasured dimensions of a state's culture and character. However, these regions also may face economic development challenges such as geographic isolation from metropolitan areas, infrastructure deficiencies, poor links with metropolitan and global markets, and the flight of skilled human resources to metropolitan regions. States have successfully addressed these challenges through the arts.

An arts-based economy can enhance state efforts to diversify rural economies, generate revenue, improve the quality of life, and attract visitors and investment. Rural areas often feature various arts and cultural industries, which, with some assistance, can become productive economic sectors. In addition to stimulating substantial employment and tax revenues, arts enterprises are highly entrepreneurial, readily available in many communities, and attractive to tourists. The arts also create a highly desirable quality of life that draws businesses and knowledge workers to further stimulate the economy.

Many state initiatives are harnessing these creative assets to help revitalize rural regions while improving their ability to compete in the new economy. State arts agencies are positioned to assist in economic development efforts; many already initiate, support, and grow arts programs that contribute to rural economies. States have adopted a wide array of arts-based economic development strategies, including the following.

1. Integrate the arts as a formally recognized and quantified industry into state economic-development planning as a part of overall investment strategies and programs.
2. Use traditional entrepreneurship and economic-development tools, including incubators, start-up capital, and training.
3. Attract the arts community by offering incentives, supporting business collaboration, and improving physical infrastructure.
4. Use higher-education systems in training and business assistance efforts.
5. Integrate the arts into planning and marketing to build sustainable tourism.
6. Invest in cultural resources for rural areas by helping fund rural programming and providing incentives for other entities to invest in rural communities.
7. Identify, obtain, and creatively use the wide variety of federal resources available from sources including the National Endowment for the Arts and U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, and Commerce."

Beyond the Ramp - a White Paper published by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters - makes the case for addressing accessibility issues of people with disabilities as smart business for arts organizations seeking audience development strategies. Click here for the report:

According to the November / December issue of the Montana State Arts Council's State of the Arts newsletter:  Artists' Health Insurance Resource Center (ahirc)offers a comprehensive website information resource for health-care needs of the arts community. "The website provides a state-by-state overview of such topics as individual and group insurance plans; what to look for in selecting a plan; eligibility; cost and scope of coverage; public benefit plans for which artists may be eligible or arts associations they can join to qualify for group coverage; and links to other arts, insurance and information resources." Click here:

Have a great weekend.

Don't Quit.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

October 11, 2005


"And the beat goes on..........................."

Hello everyone and welcome to the second Hessenius Group (a McLaughlin style group on the issues facing the arts).

This week's Group includes:
Wayne Lawson - Executive Director of the Ohio Arts Council
Cora Mirikitani - CEO - Center for Cultural Innovation
Andrew Taylor - Director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, University of Wisconsin School of Business
Jerry Yoshitomi - independent consultant
Betty Plumb -
former co-chair of the State Arts Action Network and the current Executive Director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance.

The Group runs from today (Tuesday 10/11 through Friday, 10/14) Bookmark the URL to follow the discussion each day - www.westaf.org/blog

Please join the discussion by adding your comment at any time by clicking the comment button at the end of the scroll.

What follows is background thoughts for this week's discussion, provided by Jerry Yoshitomi:

Participation Strategies

1. Extraordinary events (positive or negative) are openings for breakthroughs in personal growth, organizational development and human progress, because they suspend beliefs about what is possible and what is not. Yet they are temporary openings as the extraordinary eventually becomes routine. Our responses to these openings, individually and collectively, shape the legacy of trying times.

2. People need to believe; people need to belong; people need to contribute; people seek transcendence. A breakthrough leader seizes the extraordinary events and uses the organization's resources, formal and informal, to facilitate the expression of human needs for believing, belonging, contributing and transcending.

3. Trying times elicit a range of emotions and deplete personal strength. People who face trying times have trouble finding meaning in activities, lose perspective, feel stress and over-focus on immediate problems. People and organizations can overcome this loss of meaning and purpose, regain personal strength and become leaders in trying times by re-envisioning what they want to create and changing their behaviors accordingly. Re-envisioning emphasizes the organization's core values and the emotions, social relationships and other personal meanings experienced by artsworkers and arts participants to foster actions of organizational compassion.

4. People need consistency and certainty in trying times and beyond. The arts provide consistency and certainty. Experiencing the arts reminds us who we are.

5. The common thread of new models and methods to increase participation is that each focuses on the needs, benefits and experiences of participants. In past months, arts events provided emotional benefits and strengthened social relationships through common experiences.

6. Arts leaders are looking to do more, yet most arts organizations are tradition bound and slow to change. There are no role models or best practices for "trying times and beyond." Action in trying times necessitates breaking standard routines and violating everyday expectations. Undertaking extraordinary action demonstrates courage.


As Jerry Yoshitomi has so succinctly asked: "Given the devastating impact of Katrina and Rita, rising fuel prices, an increased federal deficit to pay for disaster relief, increased donations going to those relief efforts, and as aid to storm victims throughout the country, the war in Iraq," and, I add, a still marginal economy and the fact that the arts economic eco-structure has yet to fully recover from 9/11:

1. Do you think these factors will result in a negative impact on artists and arts organizations, both in your region and nationally, over the next 12 months, and if yes, what will that impact be?

2. What steps do you think arts organizations might take to mitigate that impact?

I ask you Cora Mirikitani

I do think that the outpouring of American giving in support of Katrina and Rita hurricane relief will result in fewer dollars going to the arts this year - I think this was evidenced after 9/11 and this pattern is likely to be repeated again.

How can arts organizations mitgate the impact? I've noticed that many arts organizations are providing links on their websites to Hurricane Relief efforts - something that I applaud. It may not result in short term giving, but it makes those arts organizations seem more connected to larger community issues and concerns, which gives the arts a greater relevacy overall. Service, integrity, loyalty, relevancy. Those are the kinds of attributes that we need to cultivate in our donors and audiences and not just focus on the short term marketing aspects.

After these disasters, I immediately heard from local arts and non-arts organizations that they were experiencing the post 9/11 period all over again, especially with shrinking attendance to fundraising events, and with corporate sponsorships.

One local arts council that had a scheduled art auction/dinner event within a week of the disasters, was receiving phone calls from those would-be patrons that didn't feel comfortable coming out to party or to buy art at that particular time. Another had it's corporate underwriting for a future project pulled because the powers-that-be at the home office wanted the funds re-directed toward national huricane relief efforts.

Even now our local social service organizations have seen their coffers dry up and the shelves of food pantries are near empty because of national relief efforts. What is ironic about the drop in their local support, is the extra burden these organizations have taken with assisting the displaced hurricane victims who have taken up temporary residency in our area. I'm sure that is happening elsewhere across the country.

On the other hand, I attended another art auction/dinner fundraiser on Hilton Head Island about a week ago that dared to kick up the ticket price from $50 to $125, make it "black-tie optional", sold every piece in the live auction and netted a record high profit for the arts education programs in their school district. Was it timing, the right audience, the right cause? In this case, I'm sure it was all three. I was told the same auction had been having a tough time since 9/11 and they just had to do something different.

What steps will arts organizations take to address the negative impact of these natural disasters (or otherwise)? After four years of state budget cuts, our local arts organizations have learned to make tough choices whether it's cutting programs or staff, re-evaluating what is esseential to their mission and doing more with less. They know they must change to survive.

Although we don't want to minimize the loss of funding support, arts organizations can't afford to damage relationships by whining either. We have to sympathize with those constituents, patrons, and funders who are also making tough decisions about where to spend their dollars, while embracing those that are still supportive. The arts are recognized for their theraputic ability to help us cope in times of loss and sorrow. Arts organizations may want to capitalize on that spirit by embracing community celebrations and memorial observations as inspirational and instrumental in rebuilding their base of support and participation.

Wayne Lawson - what do you think?

We are all facing globalization issues, technological, human, economic and ideological issues. When one does an environmental scan--it can be quite scary or it can be quite invigorating for artists, arts organizations, and public funders. We cannot rely on just the knowledge that exists for solutions---we need to become inventors. We need to find new knowlege and connect it to existing knowledge. We need to work in our communities(artists, organizations, local communities, etc.) and find out who needs what---what are the problems--and what knowledge is going to help--new or old. We need to start with the seekers of knowledge, not necessarily the providers. We need to share what we know and don't know now more than ever. We need to have more and more conversations around each of the issues I mentioned in the first sentence--more convenings; we should stop waiting for the "experts" to tell us what to do. It is about communicating with others in new ways as Jerry states in his participation strategies.

Andrew - Jerry - give us your take on this.

Artists and arts organizations were already feeling the pinch on both sides of their economic equation before Katrina and Rita (and now Pakistan). On the revenue side: a soft economy; reduced leisure travel and spending; crippling structural budget deficits at city, county, and state levels; and a down stock market affecting wealthy donors, foundation endowments, and organizational endowments. On the expense side, like any other business: balooning health insurance costs, higher construction costs (the price of steel, for example), and other increases in expenses.

The catastrophic events of the past month are certainly stretching charitable resources even further. Annual fund drives are likely to see the effects of redirected giving to these great tragedies. I would be macabre to describe it as competition for philanthropic funds. It's a sudden spike in desperate need that will certainly impact what we do in the arts.

The question I'd like to ponder in this group, relating to the second question you ask, is whether "negative impact" is really the appropriate take. If we want to keep working as we have always worked, with a similar support structure, a standardized way of engaging our world, I suppose "negative" would be an appropriate term. And as most arts managers and staffs I know are already working over capacity, more constraints on the resources that make them work will not be a welcome change.

But art embraces change, and arts organizations can do so, as well. They can be beacons of empathy, places of solace, and vessels of unsolvable questions about who we are and what we do in the world.

As we saw in New York on the heels of 9/11, art was a response to tragedy, not a victim of it.

I'm eager to discuss how arts organizations and cultural managers can take the same stand.

The first question is whether or not there is an "impact", and assuming there is and that the impact is a decline in revenue, then the next question may be, I suppose, is that negative or not. At a time when everyone seems to agree that funding streams are down and inadequate, then that impact seems "negative" to me. I agree that the arts have a consoling, comforting, even healing, role to play post disaster; and also, as Betty pointed out, we don't want to be perceived as petulant whiners - but what do you do about the reduction in cash flow? Will that cost jobs? Will that mean cancellation of marketing? Will that affect creativity, access to art, or what?

I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO MAKE: I've just been informed that Wayne Lawson has been taken to the hospital. He apparently has a problem that his doctors believe they have caught in time and can successfully treat without resort to surgery. They expect him to fully recover, but he will have to remain in the hospital for now. I know everyone who knows Wayne joins all of us in wishing him a speedy and full recovery.

Recent articles/research findings suggest that arts organizations/artists reflect a set of core values. The core values will differ from organization to organization.

Recently, on the site of NAMM, the National Association of Music Manufacturers, there was a story posted about a high school band/orchestra that was meeting, but didn't have any instruments. It's possible for organizations to collect funds to buy instruments for these high school students on the Gulf Coast. Maybe next year we could do the same for students in the inner city. If we connect our participants to values, they will continue to be connected to us.

Comments to this blog seem to be focusing on your point Jerry - about "connecting" to the public on smaller, more manageable and personal levels. In the face of the possibility of increasing disaster impact (greater population density and other factors may mean that natural disasters will likely have greater, and more frequent human impact in the future), I ask you all whether or not we are moving to a period where philanthropic largess will increasingly be allocated to victims of an immediate need (and, as a consequence, away from on-going programs and organizations), and if so, what will be the effect of more relevant and personal "connecting"?

How does art become more of Andrew's "response to tragedy", and is there any danger of that response dominating what art is all about? The arts were a "beacon" offering "comfort and solace" post 9/11 - but was there a "spike" in public support as a result?

I wanted to pick up a thread posted earlier by Andrew Taylor, and another posted by our artist colleague (R. Calloway) from Oakland, both of whom I believe are speaking to a crucial point from different perspectives. I think we're all agreed that the nation's recent natural disasters will have a negative impact on nonprofit arts organizations, at least in terms of disrupting short-term annual charitable giving patterns. And while it's likely that the majority of arts organizations will hold on and survive this down cycle, a few may not. What I'm stuck by, though, is how resistant most arts organizations (their managers, boards, et.al.) have become to change -- the kind of fundamental, uncomfortable, possibly messy, off-road kind of institutional change that will build new capacities, allow the new programs and audiences to take root, and result in a more realistic (and responsive) business model to sustain their work in the future.

So we should ponder: Why is systemic change so hard? Why are most arts organizations so resistant? And what can we do about it? Now R. Calloway from Oakland, who is an arts administrator and a working artist, provides an enticing clue - in the face of disaster, this arts organization was able to look in the mirror, dig down to their core, down to the vision and passion level, and use this to motivate immediate action and change. Maybe it's because this is an artist-run organization, and risk-taking and self-reflection come more naturally. Whatever the case, I applaud it.

On the whole, and I'm sorry to say this, I think a lot of arts organizations, managers and boards, have just gotten too complacent and too comfortable with business as usual. And because they occupy a privileged place in the nonprofit economy, there's not enough marketplace reality to force fundamental (i.e., hard, uncomfortable) business changes that are going to build stronger arts organizations in the long-run, or drive weak organizations out of business. The irony is that the arts (as a sector within the larger NP sector) claim to be the creative, edgy, innovative and risk-tolerant ones, but I wonder if this is true.

So my question back to all: Can the arts get its groove back?

Cora raises fundamental issues. We've talked about the twin goals of increasing arts organizational "capacity" and "sustainability" for years. My question to you all is have we failed to link the two - addressing the two goals separately; increasing capacity without regard to sustaining that increase, and has that approach contributed to the complacency Cora alludes to? Have we inadvertently "institutionalized" the way we fashion our approach to adaptation and our attepts to improve our model? Does that have anything to do with our "groove"?

Jerry and Andrew - you've both dealt with this issue for some time. What are your thoughts?

In response to the great comments and probing question from Cora:

Can the arts get its groove back?

A few responses, especially related to our topic:

There's a powerful tension between creative endeavor and the corporate infrastructure we've constructed over the past 50 years to support it. In our struggle to be more professional, accountable, responsible, and responsive to our revenue sources (consumers, public, foundations, individual donors), it seems that managers and boards have become stuck in the idea that formal structure and creative innovation are somehow mutually exclusive properties. Any artist that works in a defined medium (whether haiku or oil paint or sonata or steel) knows that structure, constraint, and creation are bound together, and actually inform the power of the final work.

The other response, contrary to my first, is that we may be judging arts organizations too generally, based on limited direct observation. We're all ready to agree that arts organizations are fixed, immovable, inflexible entities. It's obviously true for some, but have we observed enough to generalize to the larger population? I'm sure we all know artists and arts organizations that are completely contrary to the common view. And we've heard from some already in this conversation.

Global Business Network draws a distinction between three critical environments
- Internal environment - the organization itself and its people, systems, assets, processes, and culture.
- Market environment - customers and competitors, products and substitutes, supplies and partners.
- External environment - political dynamics, economic growth, technological development, social and demographic shifts and changes in the physical environment.

In GBN's experience, most organizations pay far more attention to the first two than they do to the third. Though externally originated risk is hard to understand, it spells opportunity for someone who can separate, even partially, signal from noise. (Note 1)(See notes below)
A conference call this week provided an opportunity for five of the nation's brightest arts managers (Note 2) to discuss the impact of Hurricanes Katrina/Rita and their byproducts (increased fuel prices, increased travel costs, rising federal deficit, etc) on the arts.

The call began with direct concern about artists/arts organizations displaced by the hurricanes, including the many artists and the National Performance Network staff who lived in New Orleans. One call participant, Houston's Sixto Wagan just this week was able to return to his office at DiverseWorks.

Several on the call will be presenting artists from the impacted area this year and have developed emergency mitigation plans to accommodate artists' needs and plights.

The moderator (Yoshitomi) pushed the group to consider how the changing external environment might impact on each of the organizations represented on the call, even though they may be thousands of miles away from the site of direct devastation.------

We heard (in the Gulf Coast as well in other areas) about:
--Diversion of corporate contributions to assist in hurricane relief
--Arts organizations across the country stepping forward to raise funds for hurricane relief, taxing their limited resources to help others
--A reluctance by arts organizations to fund-raise for themselves when immediate survival assistance is needed
--Motels packed with refugees fleeing the devastation leaving no room in many Southern communities for touring artists
--Concern that rising fuel costs would raise touring costs as well as discourage cultural tourism and arts attendance
--Realization of the long-term impact of increased federal spending/deficits might have on government budgets/publicly supported arts programs across the country------

However, rather than just lamenting the above, the call was peppered with ideas and examples of how artists and arts organizations are/might address the above
-Arts organizations in many parts of the country are helping displaced artists finding new homes (Note 3), others are attempting to fill-in for cancelled tour dates along the Gulf Coast (Note 4)
-Residents and building owners are stepping forward to provide low-cost/free housing for touring artists, in some cases mitigating the impacts of rising transportation costs (Note 5)
-Others are considering further use of technologies to offset increased travel costs
-Displaced groups are learning on the fly about virtual and network strategies
-The crisis raised issues of race and politics of race. The arts have the capacity to deal with important and relevant issues, bringing communities closer together
-Developing a long-term strategy to seek increased individual donations to mitigate the effects of diverted corporate support and reduced public funding
-Conversation about some of the long term impacts of 9/11 like increased insurance rates and more difficult visa requirements? What will be the long term impacts of this devastation?

Those on the call recognized the value of collectively sharing our ideas of how we're addressing major environmental issues (Note 6) that will impact artists and arts organizations over the next five to ten years. What are we doing now to get ready?

Jerry Yoshitomi
Erin Boberg
Jennifer Bleill Calienes

October 6, 2005

1. A Delicate Balance Between Risk and Reward, Eamonn Kelly, Steven Weber, September 2005, Financial Times. Kelly and Weber tackle the common perception that risk is something to be avoided and minimized. If businesses are to succeed in the long term, the authors argue, they need to remind themselves that risk-taking is a powerful source of reward and opportunity.
2. Each is a participant a group called Next Generation Arts Administrators, Jennifer Bleill Calienes, Chris Prentice, Sixto Wagan, Erin Boberg, Wesley Montgomery. The call was hosted by the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University and moderated by Jerry Yoshitomi.
3. Displaced artists are taking the culture with them, like the second line band formed by musicians resettled in Utah.
4. Arts groups in Houston are using their existing networks to discuss complementary/collaborative strategies. The NPN staff are displaced around the country and are learning the value of virtual communications and virtual space. This may be a moment where the ways we work and our sense of place start to shift.
5. New World Theatre in Amherst, Massachusetts is presenting June Bug Theatre from New Orleans this season. They've addressed the logistical/production disruptions of the company, while also highlighting the historic importance of June Bug and their relationship to the civil rights movement.
6. Although she wasn't able to join the call, in a pre-call email, NGAA participant Dana Whitco raised the specter of predictions of rapidly increasing fuel costs impacting of cross-country and international travel. She asked if presenting organizations might consider aligning themselves with the slow food movement, presenting local artists and promoting locally grown foods/farmers?

Barry, to your point about my point: ''The arts were a 'beacon' offering 'comfort and solace' post 9/11 -- but was there a 'spike' in public support as a result?'' And to the other bubbling commonality in this conversation about personal connection as an essential response for the arts:

We seem to get ourselves confused about the MANY forms of arts participation...assuming that all roads should lead eventually to attendance, cash, and respect for the professional nonprofit arts.

The outpouring of art after 9/11 -- in the streets, on lamp posts, in storefront windows -- was predominately from those who would never define themselves as artists, but who still felt a compulsion to create in ink, in photos, in poetry, in prose, in quilting, in banners, in crayon.

There were certainly artist responses to the tragedy, and professional arts organization responses, as well. But the haunting power of the place came from the non-professionals.
How strange that so many professional nonprofit arts organizations now find themselves detached and separate from the power of individuals MAKING art, rather than just observing professional artists at work.

I was struck by the image by a commenter to this conversation, describing a kitchen full of kids making a massive, messy cake, and forming bonds and conversations in the process. Contrast that with the sterility of the contemporary orchestra experience (don't budge, don't clap, don't wiggle...even if the music moves you to do so), or the modern museum (don't touch, don't talk).

Ironic that so much of the arts have become impersonal and dispassionate...a bizarre achievement that must have taken us some years and some extensive effort.

I think your points are very well taken Andrew, and I think I understand the dispassion you reference -- though I also think there is still a great deal of passion there - perhaps hidden and cloaked because of the organizational model that has become so difficult and entrenched. A fundamental axiom of organizational dynamics is that once formed, organizations quickly take on their continued existence and survival as the reason for their being. How did this come about?

And then harkening back to Cora's query on how to get the "groove" back - or perhaps get it at all, how do the 'professional' nonprofit arts benefit from the kind of 'nonprofessional spike' in creative output that came after 9/11, or otherwise "mine" the energy and joy of the kitchen cake bakings for further support, (or for ideas and means to advance their missions)? Does the dispassion and impersonality you see lie exclusively in the arts organizational structure, or does it also bleed out to touch the artists that are the focal point for many of the organizations we are talking about (i.e., actors, dancers, choreographers, painters, musicians, composers et. al. whose work is presented, performed and exhibited by the 'professional' arts organization)?

All roads cannot, of course, lead to bigger audiences, more cash and greater respect, but for the nonprofit arts organizational field, that's what they need. What do we do, where do we go from here then? How do we convert the post 9/11 artistic involvement of the public to sustained public support for the field, how do we replicate the cake baking joy? Is that not possible? Not a worthy undertaking? And are we talking fundamental, systemic, core change as Cora asked, or are we talking tactics and strategies?

Barry. Great final thoughts. Thanks. As with most shocks to the system, Rita and Katrina and other pressing social and humanitarian crises around the globe have served to highlight underlying structural challenges that were always there.

Churchill once said, "we shape our buildings, and thereafter they shape us," which also goes for the corporate and support structures we've created to promote and support and professionalize the arts.
The challenge is learning how those structures have distracted or disconnected us from our original purpose and passion. To my mind, that learning is where we begin. How have our structures influenced our choices and behaviors to bring us to this place? And how can that awareness lead us to a better place?

I look forward to that conversation.

Alright, that wraps up this month's HESSENIUS Group, and I would like to thank Cora, Jerry, Andrew, Betty and Wayne (and wishing Wayne a speedy recovery) for their time, insights and ideas, and to everyone who was able to follow some, or all, of the week's exchange. I think we are close to hitting a "rhythm" to this experiment, and I am optimistic that it will only get better over time.

Next month's Group is scheduled to begin Tuesday, November 8th.

Have a great weekend.

Don't Quit!


Sunday, October 2, 2005

October 02, 2005


Table of Contents:
I. Hessenius Group #2 - October 11th
II. Computer Advice

Hello everyone.

"And the beat goes on.........."

Tooting my own horn indirectly:
"You're still the one............."

A personal note: Last week the New York Dance Community awarded Alonzo King - the creative director of the organization I now run - Alonzo King's LINES Ballet - its coveted BESSIE Award in the Choreography / Creation category:

"For building a graceful bridge between tradition and innovation in LINES Ballet and other companies, and for infusing classical ballet with cultural expansiveness and a contemporary slant on human vulnerability."
--Bessie Awards Committee, 2004-05

Congratulations Alonzo.

ARTS DAY in CALIFORNIA is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7th. Write your local newspapers and call your local television and radio stations and leave a ten second message urging them to "cover" ARTS DAY. And celebrate the rich, diverse cultural heritage and legacy that is yours.

"Do it to me one more time, once is never enough.........."

The second HESSENIUS GROUP will go online at 9:00 am Pacific Time on Tuesday, October 11th. Slated for the panel are:

Sandra Gibson
Wayne Lawson
Diane Mataraza
Sam Miller
Cora Mirikitani
Andrew Taylor
Jerry Yoshitomi

and maybe, subject to availablility,
Ben Cameron
Bob Lynch

Bookmark the blog site now - www.westaf.org/blog - and then follow the Group that week. Enter your comments and thoughts by clicking on the "comments" button.

Ideas for topics? Email me at barryarts@comcast.net - hit "reply" button in your toolbar.

"Here's my story, it's sad but true..........."

My computer crashed last week. No apparent reason. A Dell Laptop(NOT recommended, particularly in light of their virtually useless and, unfortunately, often times completely erroneous technical support - which takes anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours to connect to - so much for "customer service"). After countless hours of their 'help', it was finally identified as a hard drive problem - but not until they incorrectly had me reinstall Windows XP thus making possible retrieval of data virtually impossible without recourse to specialists. I spent almost all of last week trying to identify the problem and get it fixed. Still working on it. Lost a lot of data - due to the bad "technical advice" from Dell. Fortunately for me, I can recover most of it - though it will take more time out, and some out of pocket expense.

The reason I bring this up, is that I didn't back up all of the data as I should. Most of us do this at the office (though not all - and those of you who don't are courting disaster), but fewer of us do this at home. Save yourself a lot of time and a huge hassle - back up your most important documents and files on a regular basis. Use a Zip Drive, make CD copies - email it to your office - doesn't matter - just do it. You don't think your computer will crash, but it is a far more common occurance than you might suppose. Do it now. You'll be glad you did.

Just when I was thinking the fates were singling me out to "dump" on me, I saw a great bumper sticker on a car. It read:

"Only one-sixth billionth of life on planet earth, is about YOU!"

Put it all into perspective.

Short Update this week - back to the computer problem. Please pass the word to your colleagues about next Tuesday's Hessenius Group.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit!


Monday, September 12, 2005

September 12, 2005



"And the beat goes on................" 

Welcome to the inaugural launch of the Hessenius Group, a monthly exchange of ideas on issues of importance to the Arts & Culture sector. Each month, five to seven Group Members will, from Tuesday through Friday, post their responses to my questions and to the comments and responses made by other group members. Beginning on Wednesday, the public can enter comments and share their reactions.

Bookmark this site and return each day, click on the "COMMENTS" button at the end of the current blog and you can read entries posted since your last visit, or enter your own (after Wednesday, please)

As this is the first Group Dialogue, we might have a glitch or two, so please be patient. The exchange cannot be as instantaneous as it is on television, or live. We're trying out the format, and will likely learn from the experiment to improve next month's Group.


According to the American Arts Alliance:

"The US Senate plans to vote on whether to take up a bill (HR 8) to permanently repeal the estate tax. The House has already passed this bill which would make the estate tax repeal permanent beginning in 2010. Permanent repeal of the estate tax would severely hurt nonprofit performing arts organizations and the audiences we serve.

Gifts from estates are an essential source of revenue for performing arts organizations. Full repeal of the estate tax would undermine this critical form of charitable giving and wreak havoc on planned giving decisions, resulting in the loss of major source of donations for performing arts organizations. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study in 2004 reported that repeal of the estate tax could decrease charitable giving by $17 billion annually.

Eliminating the estate tax will also reduce federal revenue by nearly $1 trillion over the first ten years of full repeal. This revenue loss will have to be made up somehow - by raising taxes and/or by cutting services and programs, such as arts funding."

Underlying this dire prediction, is the theory that if Americans can keep their money for themselves, there is no incentive to give it to charity. There is also the fear that if the government loses one of its revenue sources, the arts - already way down on the totem pole of priority funding - will drop further and it will be virtually impossible to get lawmakers to vote for arts funding.

So I ask you GARY STEUER -

Witnessing the extraordinary response of giving from the American public to the victims of hurricane Katrina, is the prediction that donations will shrink for the arts if the Estate Tax is permanently repealed based on fact or fear? Is charitable giving entrenched in the American fabric or does it exist ONLY because there is a financial incentive to do so? Are the Arts, in the final analysis, simply NOT that important to people? And if government revenue shrinks as a result of a change in the Tax Code, what should we be doing now to protect ourselves politically from being cut out of the game as it were?

And, if the repeal of the Estate Tax will be a much larger catastrophic event to the arts, more so than the current PUBLIC financing crisis, particularly for performance based organizations heavily dependent on large and small donors, are the arts built on a foundation of sand - a disaster waiting to happen - if not now, later? And is there anything we can do about it in any event?

GARY: The business-centric person in me understands the conservative anti-estate tax position (even if I may not agree with it). Individuals make money during the course of their lifetime, and pay taxes on their wealth through individual federal, state and local income taxes. In addition, corporate income is taxed through the corporate tax structure, and income distributed from business to individuals as dividends or interest is taxed again as individual income (unless invested in a tax-free retirement vehicle like a 401k or IRA). The argument goes that the desire to tax estates is politically, not economically motivated, - to prevent the amassing of great family fortunes, and that if untaxed this wealth would be reinvested in the economy, thus eventually replacing any short term loss of tax revenue.

However, putting aside a political argument on whether income equalization is a valuable goal in a democratic society, we have a very practical consideration here. Will the elimination of the estate tax result in a reduction in federal revenue and in a reduction of philanthropic support? And, if so, will these outcomes negatively impact the arts sector?

I think the answer on both counts must be yes. The idealogical argument that the estate tax represents double taxation and some sort of social engineering withers in the face of the practical and real loss of tax revenue at a time when we are not running a budget surplus but some of our largest deficits in history. Katrina has certainly exacerbated pressures on an already stretched budget.

Would charitable giving continue with or without an estate tax? Absolutely. The American people have historically demonstrated a spirit of philanthropy that is the envy of the world. The vast majority of religious giving, for example is not tax deducible because the donors are non-itemizers, simply throwing a few bucks into a collection plate each week. They are not giving due to any tax incentive, but because they wish their money to do good work (OK, also because they want salvation or whatever their religious equivalent is). However, would giving suffer to some extent - I would be astonished if it did not. It is also very clear that tax incentives for philanthropy are motivators for a significant share of the population. In fact, some of our nation's wealthiest individuals have advocated for a continuation of the estate tax for precisely this reason - that it motivates many givers and that even though its repeal would benefit their heirs, its continuation would benefit society as a whole.

Now, the thornier question here is whether there is an "arts-specific" nature to this debate. That is, would the arts suffer worse somehow than other sectors were the estate tax to be done away with. On this front, I am not convinced the arts are in worse position than other sectors. Would a federal budget deficit added to by the loss of estate tax revenue increase pressure on the NEA budget? Perhaps, but no more so, it seems to me, that thousands of other programs and needs. Are arts organizations somehow more dependent on the incentive provided to primarily wealthy donors by the estate tax? Perhaps, but it would seem to me the arts groups most likely to be so affected would be the largest arts groups, with wealthy donors, board members and endowments to fall back on - not that it would not be challenge. I just don't see this issue as one of a dire crisis for the ARTS as somehow more apt be hurt that human service, or education or the environment. I think it is reasonable for nonprofit arts groups and advocates to stand with our colleagues from other segments of the "independent sector" and advocate for continuation of the estate tax.

And finally, as for the argument that our dependence on various tax incentives means "our house is built on a foundation of sand" I would again say, if so, then we have lots of company. Actually, smaller performing arts groups are probably LESS dependent on these incentives than other types of nonprofits because they at least have 50% of their budget coming in from earned income. Many other types of nonprofits are entirely dependent on philanthropy and government contracts, both of which make them much more dependent on the tax code and government funding/contracts.

I believe the nonprofit arts in this country have been built on a foundation made up in part of the expectation that private donors will support our organizations and our programs, and that this support is dependent at least in part on tax incentives that encourage such support. Yes, our "foundation" would crumble without this, but the alternative would be an entirely market-driven system which I think would leave our nation and its people poorer. If forced to face such a world, however, we are a resilient and creative group and I am sure we still find a way to make art and get it in front of people. However, would the poor still be served? Would adventurous, daring work still be created? Would arts groups still maintain outreach and education programs? I fear much would be at risk if we entirely lost our system of tax incentives for philanthropy, a system which, incidentally is the envy of the world.

PAUL MINICUCCI - what is your take on this?

PAUL: I have more questions than answers. I wonder if wealthy arts contributors view this policy issue as good for them in lowering possible estate taxes, as opposed to bad for them as trustees of arts organizations? One danger area may be the effect it will have on instability. If we are still heavily dependent on the supply side rather than the demand side (for arts) then the impact may be more painful.

I wonder too why haven't Congressional arts supporters commissioned a paper that quantifies and highlights the losses? I have never seen legislative bodies back-fill losses to the arts. They just assume cuts are cuts. Bye-bye funds. Is our stance on this issue once again a "reactive" posture - coming too late?

If the Board members of large arts organizations, many who are affected by these cuts the most (that is they stand to gain), were to come forward and say: "look I have a lot to gain by this measure personally, but then my organization will feel the pinch and I will have to go out and fundraise further. It doesn't make sense. Don't pass this legislation" then we might see some action. So far I have only seen staff people talking about this.

Shouldn't we position the argument this way: "What revenue source will you (Congress) increase to make up the losses in the charitable fields?" Any answer that raises taxes would be more regressive than the estate tax.

I think the prediction is more fact than fiction although I suspect many small arts organizations will "ho hum" this issue because they rarely get the benefit of big windfalls.

I studied tax policy. All the data shows that if a tax code includes a specific "credit", people will use it more than if you gave the money to them and then asked them to contribute. The reasons are complex but here are a few observations.
- First, the vast majority of these credits are part of the estate planning professional's arsenal of weapons. They want to look good to their clients so they will agitate for credits if there is any kind of dollar for dollar swap.
- Secondly, people use this credit because in their minds the money would otherwise go to the government so they might as well direct its use themselves. If they get the money back or they are relieved of estate tax the zeal to contribute has worn off.
- Third, if you give the money back to them and then they contribute, they create a deduction not a credit. Now logic says it is all the same since you will get back more money to spend from having no estate tax but it is also true they will shelter less.
- Fourth, big capital campaigns and endowments will be the victims here, it seems to me. If I can get public recognition, in memoriam, I will give a lot of money to high visibility things like arts buildings that I might not do while alive - may be a persurasive tactic.
- Fifth, there are people with no heirs. Their estate plans are already developed and many people pre-publicize their gifts. That won't happen if there is no estate tax and estate tax credit.

I don't see much of a connection between hurricane Katrina and the estate tax issue. Certainly, contributions to Katrina relief will squeeze arts contributions at some level, and we may see another round of arts giving contractions like those that occurred after 9-11. Regarding the estate tax--except for upper mid-size, large cultural organizations and a few lucky small organizations--any change in the estate tax will only have a marginal impact on contributions to cultural organizations. Most people do not pay estate tax. My personal view is that the estate tax should be expanded not contracted. Wouldn't some of the funds passed from one generation be another be better used to ensure arts education in the schools (a public good) rather than for the purchase of a new Mercedes (a private good)? I think so.

Again, I don't think the estate tax has very much to do with the health of most arts organizations. Is it important as another source of money for a field scrambling to secure funds from any and all sources? Of course. Will the field feel much if it goes away? Probably not. The big impact, if it were to disappear, is that the arts will have lost one more small battle in an ongoing battle to retain an array of federal tax and funding advantages. This in a time when the field seems to be losing many of these funding positions.

A hidden issue within your question is the need for more oversight of the funding patterns of private foundations. Foundation funding exists in part because all of us pay relatively more in taxes to allow individuals to form foundations and thus receive the benefits of lower taxation. In spite of this public investment in private foundations, there is very little accountability regarding their funding. Certainly, they do good deeds, but they also distort the manner in which funds are allocated away from a direct public accountability model. One result is that a number of foundations are propping up areas of the arts the public has long ago stopped supporting--and probably will no longer support no matter how much private foundation money is pumped into them.

OK - Let's talk about the issues the topic suggests. Estate bequests aside, are the arts too dependent on donor based income? Is there an alternative? To the extent we rely on public funding, whether at the local, state or federal level, do we have the political clout to defend and protect what we have? Does it matter even a whit what position the arts (or all nonprofits) take on the Estate Tax issue?

In thinking a little more about the issue and reading the comments, the predominate view I have is this: just with other policy areas that affect the arts along with a lot of other areas the arts field (define it however you like) has not done a real good job in defending the public good or predicting what might happen should estate taxes be abolished. Or why we should care if this funding source is abolished. That's an issue in itself. How is it that we know so little? I suspect Anthony is correct in saying that most organizations do not see the benefits of estate related gifts but shouldn't we know how the field is affected? I am betting that American Cancer Society and Lung and Heart Associations know with some precision what will happen. So, it is frustrating to me not to have available models to analyze this.

I also echo what Anthony has said about losing one more small battle about federal tax advantages we have. This particular tax rescission may not be crucial but there is a drift here that is not good.

I guess I have a bias toward field analysis and away from specific analysis. So it doesn't matter to me that most arts organizations won't be affected. It's the policy principal behind the decision that is troublesome. It seems to me the tax code is no longer being viewed as a means to build public capital, but rather as a means to concentrate wealth.

I seem to remember that Adam Smith in writing The Wealth of Nations makes this distinction. That is, he stated that the purpose of private enterprise is not to build personal wealth and capital but to build public wealth and capital. That seems to be a policy point worth debating. There has to be a balance here in building systems that guard the public wealth from being eroded. Whenever incentives begin to tilt so much in the direction of concentrating wealth in too few hands we run the risk of having that capital become "dead" capital. It is taken out of private and public enterprise. The economy suffers and public services are reduced. In this case the issue is: should the government be in the business of coercing the building of public capital.

The hardest thing for the arts to do is to inculcate an investment strategy. That is, develop the sense in people that putting funds into the arts is like any other investment. There is a return on investment (ROI) that is measured in the development of public capital. Public capital being the improvement in the capacity of our society to rebuild public trust in institutions, a sense of civility in our society and the feeling that together through the arts we are building our civilization. In short we build the social and civic capital.

That's why the current debate about the "public value" of the arts is so important. We have to know at what point is the public good suffering. If we can make that evident then it becomes clear that the arts are an essential. When an essential service is threatened then the government must intervene to build back up the public capital. To me it is like eminent domain. Public service is threatened when people can no longer move around in their cities. Business suffers, churches and social functions suffer and so the government (local government in this case) steps in and takes back a piece of private capital for the good of all through public transportation. They give back ?fair value? in buying up homes and property.

Now in these cases, the private landowner could say, "my right to property is a larger imperative than your right to public service. Besides, the money you are offering isn't enough." In these cases most people rightly observe that the greater good requires active government so that essential public services are not threatened. The capital here must be in the public sector.

So in the case of taking estate taxes so that wealth is held in the public trust, there has to be a similar argument about why the government needs the funds. The tax credit is an alternative way to funnel wealth into public capital in a direct way. It used to be the case that citizens welcomed a swap of fair value between the public sector and the private sector. In the estate tax case, we give up some public funds that used to be tax revenue to allow the citizen to contribute to public services that are valuable to the greater good called non-profit or "public benefit corporations" services.

It is for these reasons that I think the policy is worth fighting for. At what point does the government make the decision to withhold private dollars so that the public good is served. It may well be that the arts field is bloated and that a thinning out would be a good thing. It may be that the arts do not have the public value some of us think they do. If that is the case then the conservatives may be correct in their assertion that the arts should be in the private commercial arena. It is just a matter of people making a series of private choices. But it seems to me the arts MUST engage in public debate about what is so valuable that it requires the private capital to public capital exchange. To me the arts, all arts that serve the public good do that. When any part of our capacity is threatened through diminishing public funds we should engage in the debate.

I would like to respond to Barry's restatement of the question of whether the arts are too dependent on funding based income, and whether this is the underlying problem. Back when Baumol and Bowen wrote "Performing Arts - The Economic Dilemma" it was already clear that the arts were facing a long-term challenge of generating sufficient revenue to cover the cost of their operations. I think in the decades since the arts sector has made enormous strides in developing sophisticated marketing strategies to maximize earned revenue. We have also developed the science of fundraising and I think are much more strategic and effective now about how we raise money.

Yet, as B&B noted, it still takes the same number of actors and technical staff to put on a production of Hamlet, more or less, as it did in Shakespeare's time. However, virtually all other areas of industry have benefited from enormous gains in productivity, due largely to technological advances. This has left us disproportionally vulnerable to increased labor cost, and has made it impossible to ensure that ticket prices and earned income cover all our costs.

So, are we too dependent on donor-based income? Perhaps, but I don't see an alternative. For some art forms, and some organizations, innovative and different models can work. Cirque du Soleil has been enormously profitable and is structured as a for profit business. HBO has produced some of the best documentary films in recent years, and does not need money from foundations or the NEA to do it. I do believe, we need to be open to exploring more entrepreneurial models when the art we are doing has the potential to capture the imagination of a broad public audience. But a large and important segment of the arts field will never be able to seriously pursue such avenues because they are more community-based or R&D focused. I think we need philanthropic dollars, and therefore need a tax code that rewards giving.

I do agree with Barry's contention that the underlying challenge is clout, which is also implied in Paul's comments. How do we develop the clout to make our case for the public good of the arts, the public benefit, in a way that gets us past worrying that if the estate tax goes it will trigger a domino effect of a huge federal deficit leading to huge budget cuts and the arts being axed as extraneous? I do also think there is a related issue of how we get people in the arts to even care about issues like estate taxes of itemized deductions. We tend to focus on things that are arts-specific like the NEA budget, when issues like changes in the tax code may have a much larger impact on our field. But maybe that is for a future blog topic!


A subscriber writes:
" No one is discussing the collapse of alternative arts presenting in the US? Presenters are scared, seats are not being sold, conservatism is being embraced by arts organizations. No risks are taken any more. I no longer get bookings through the traditional arts venues. Fees have dropped. No one is talking about this."

ARE we seeing the precipitous decline in the presentation and support for alternative arts performances? Is this the result of economic or other factors? Is there a spillover to mainstream (whatever that term may mean) arts performances in the traditional music, theater and dance disciplines. i.e., a drop in attendance, a return to the traditional? What can (should) the arts field do to protect and nurture the growth of alternative, risk-taking, cutting edge, experimental art? And is there a similar decline in access, support, presentation for younger, less established visual artists - for the same or different reasons?


I would agree that there has been a decline in alternative arts presenting and that the decline could be termed "precipitous." Certainly the economy has something to do with it, but the increasingly conservative trends in society may be a more central reason for it.

While public arts funders and private foundation arts funders need to make certain they support this critical area of endeavor, they also need to ensure that the broader public continues to be served. One could argue that support for the arts swung too far in the direction of innovation and experimentation over the past 20 years and, as a result, we lost a lot of audience and also our credibility as entities interested in serving the broader public.

Regarding less established visual artists, I believe that because of the structure of their exhibiting work, they, more than most performing arts groups, can operate somewhat successfully on very limited resources. For example, some artists show work for brief periods in rented motel spaces, etc. Those of us who live in areas where the leading visual arts institution is pretty much asleep at the wheel, know of or can readily take advantage of these opportunities. Where visual and all other emerging and innovative artists in this country lose out, however, is in the area of international fellowships that allow them to network across the globe--his is a serious problem for all artists today.

A hopeful sign is that many arts innovators are finding ways to operate outside of the public/private support system. I like the vision of them not needing such a system. However, I find it disturbing that the present system does not seem to have the will to support a reasonable portion of the new on behalf of all of us.

As my wonderful sister says, every good question deserves another good question. This is a very good question and deserves several. Does our question contain a premise that the special value of the not-for-profit arts sector is its presentation and support for "alternative" artifacts? What are we actually talking about as "alternative?" Folk art, outsider art, art not in English, art critical of major party administrations or party politics, art that dramatizes gender issues or features glbt characters, art that uses "dirty" language, art that portrays or debunks race/ethnic stereotypes, art that employs challenging narrative techniques, art that mixes forms and appeals to multiple senses in innovative ways, etc., etc.? Each of these is a different question even if one believes there is an identifiable dominant culture. Some precision here would enable information gathering that I have no doubt would be useful for cultural policy makers and grant givers. I have to admit, however, that I'm distracted by the fact that I can easily access engaging art that fits every one of the above definitions of "alternative"--including artifacts I'd consider "risk-taking"--on HBO, Showtime, Sundance, public broadcasting and DVDs with director and actor interviews. Cable affords us a bevy of Washington-spun-news deconstructors including Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and, even more powerfully, the BBC, not to mention the blogosphere. I wonder whether the reason some perceive a diminishment of "alternative" art in live arts performances is because alternative art is so much more present in broadcast and digital media. Digital media can be expected to challenge increasingly each of the special powers and values of live art (sensory mmediacy, stagecraft, the communal experience, etc.) increasingly. The barriers have been falling (e.g., Rocky Horror interactions) and live and electronic art have been crossing (e.g., Angels one way, Wizard of Oz to Wiz the other way) regardless of subject matter for decades. Would love to hear from Sandra Gibson and Ben Cameron on this question.

Congratulations on kicking off the blog, Barry. A couple of questions for future discussion: What value and special claims for the not-for-profit arts industry will affect what happens to its tax-exempt status? Also, I think it would be interesting to explore Anthony Radich's thought-provoking comment re the first topic--that charitable giving is "propping up areas of the arts the public has long ago stopped supporting--and probably will no longer support no matter how much private foundation money is pumped into them." That raises lots of worthwhile philanthropic and public policy issues.

Ah.......so the entertainment industry, so often the villian to the arts for their tepid support and virtual cold shoulder to appeals to help make the case for the arts and stand up in its defense, is, arguably, far more out front in terms of nurturing and supporting alternative art - or at least some of it? But would not the "alternative artists" not so fortunate to be on the cable producers' "A" list disagree? And in any event should the nonprofit arts sector not have some role in insuring that the creation of edgier, riskier art thrives?

Well, sounds like between Jonathan, Anthony and Barry one question has splintered into many! (And all important and worthwhile.) I would agree that it is hard to identify "alternative" with precision, but for now let's define it as I think the original commenter intended it - art that is daring, challenging, new, perhaps difficult to understand or even offensive to some. If that is the definition then I agree that venues for such art, especially in the performing arts, have become harder to sustain. As noted by Anthony, this may be due to changes in the public mood and taste as much as it is changes in funding. I think it is also due to the phenomenon that I described in an earlier post, that it just so much more expensive now that it was in the 60's and 70's to produce the performing arts. In economic terms, the cost of entering the market has risen to the point where in many communities only the well-capitalized can compete and survive. However, let us not start the funeral dirge just yet- the NY Fringe festival just ended and presented literally hudreds of such artists, and similar opportunities do still exist all across the country.

I also agree with Jonathan that we in the nonprofit arts often do not given enough credit to the daring and innovative artistic work that is happening in commercial entertainment media like cable television and alternative music clubs.

I think the best thing we can do in the arts to preserve alternative, risk-taking arts is to 1) make sure that we define our field in a way that recognies that this "R&D" is part of its long term health; 2)that we also recognize that alternative risk-taking art required an audience that wants it and demands it - if we don't nurture an audience for it then venues for the creation and presentation of such work will not succeed; 3) that we recognize that the nonprofit arts sector is not solely responsible for such art nor always the best place for it - we need to be more open to the blurred line between for and non-profit art; 4) that we address the issues Jonathan has indirectly raised - that "alterntive" art is perhaps not just "difficult" or "avant-garde" art, but also outsider art, art by indiginous peoples, etc. By this definition the solution to ensuring this art has a voice is more complex than simply stimulating more (at the risk of being oxymoronic) "traditional alternative" arts presenters/centers.

And I add my thanks to Barry for initiating this dialogue!

Picking up on Gary's mention of "R&D," that is one role the not-for-profit sector will always be needed to play: providing a place for and access to the voices and viewpoints that are not profitable. As unprofitable niches become profitable, of course, they are picked up by the for-profit sector or become a for-profit center feeding the not-for-profit parent. (Remember when only public television covered tennis?) The point is, there will always be art that is unprofitable because it has one or more of the characteristics that Gary and I named, and it will always take support from the non-commercial marketplaces (philanthropy and government) to enrich our lives by giving us access to it. One important role that the not-for-profit arts sector must play is helping artists get work TO the marketplace. We do not think often enough and strategically enough about focusing enough support on the role of distribution. Think of how underattended by funders the distribution role is in bringing dance, crafts, small press literature, chamber music and independent film to market.

Not today, but at some point, we should discuss how to change the situation so that when those "unprofitable niches" that WE develop become profitable, at least some of that profit inures to our benefit.

What is apparent to me from these discussions is the fragility of funding of the non-profit art sector. Continued limited public support for the arts means the underfeeding of an important sector and perhaps more importantly, the reinforcement of inequitable distribution of art access and opportunity. While I agree that the commercial sector is providing a significant menu of alternative art, I think we all have, and should have, a strong stake in the vitality of the emerging art sector of the nonprofit world. Is this country ready to support the arts through the public sector in a more serious way than letting it live off the crumbs of a tax policy? Probably not. Nevertheless, I do think that arguments and strategies (such as the public value approach) are spooling up and these will ultimately help us prevail.

The stagnation of public funding for the arts is another topic for future discussion. While every argument we can muster helps, I'm afraid that without political clout, public funding for the arts will continue to languish far, far behind those of most other nations, certainly on a per capita basis. There may be pockets of enlightened public officials who, if they don't fully understand the value of the arts on the myriad levels the arts provide value, nonetheless understand the some public support is essential. For most, the arts are still nothing more than "fluff" and a luxury to support only when economic times are sky high and the coffers so flush that they literally don't know what else to do with the money. To me the inescapable conclusion is that unless and until we in the arts muster political power - which means money and involvement in the campaigns of elected officials - nothing will really change for us.

Anybody with any Bulletin that they want to pass on?

There are a lot of questions here and so I would say we are off to a great start. I have spent a lot of time recently in digital and electronic arts, partly for the reasons that Jonathan sites. The fact is by expanding cable to hundreds of channels and opening up streaming and other direct art transmission from artist to viewer has allowed niches to become viable markets. A "national" audience made up of 100 people in 1,000 places for a difficult art piece might be large enough to sustain it, even though we could not physically gather enough people in any one city (except New York perhaps). So electronic transmission allows us to build a large audience from a small slice from many geographic locations. That's why electronic presentation of the arts works because it gets over the efficiency of labor that Gary mentioned. The big question I have with electronic art is equal access. The makers of the images can no longer create them with a ten-dollar canvas and some paint. But those are questions for another day. Thanks to Barry and the cast of co-bloggers for a stimulating start.

In the bill coming before Congress to supplement $60 B already allocated for Hurricane Katrina relief, the NEA plans to seek signifcant economic development funds to rebuild arts and cultural facilities, restore artistic community livelihoods and assist artist evacuees far from home. Meanwhile, donations directly to those most affected can be made to the Southern Arts Federation Emergency Relief Fund at http://www.southarts.org.

Thank you all. While there were some glitches in this first Hessenius Group experiment, and schedules prevented some from participating, I think we can build this into a useful forum for the arts. The next Hessenius Group will begin Tuesday, October 11th. I hope to make improvements by then so the dialogue flows better. And I hope those who tuned into this exchange will join the conversation with their own comments.

Americans for the Arts has established the Americans for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund, a permanent fund developed to provide timely financial assistance to areas impacted by a major disaster for the purpose of helping them rebuild the arts in their communities. Created with an initial contribution of $100,000 from Americans for the Arts' own reserves, the relief fund will distribute support directly to local arts agencies to assist with their own recovery or to provide needed services and funding to local nonprofit arts groups and individual artists in affected areas and to other relief efforts dedicated to helping the arts. One-hundred percent of the contributions to the Emergency Relief Fund will go directly to these efforts. For information on how to make a tax-deductible contribution or to apply for funds, visit the Americans for the Arts website or contact Americans for the Arts toll-free at 866.471.2787 and ask for the Americans for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund. www.AmericansForTheArts.org/EmergencyRelief

Don't Quit.

Have a great weekend.