Thursday, May 12, 2005

May 13, 2005 Update #4

Table of Contents:
I. Printing Costs - Are we wasting money?
II. Collaboration - planning for the future
III. Bits & Pieces

Hello everybody.
We have spent the last couple of weeks trying to get all the kinks out of this blog thing, and making sure we comply with all the rules and etiquette of sending it out. I hope we've got it now.

And the beat goes on.......
I. Printing Costs
"Come on, come on, let's get together............"

I was getting quotes for a small printing job last week, and it re-awoke a thought I had some time ago, to wit: the Arts must be one of the largest customer base groups for the printing industry (relatively speaking). Besides the usual office products (stationery, envelopes etc.), the performing arts and museum sector prints all kinds of posters, postcards, flyers and other advertising / marketing materials, and many other arts organizations print other marketing items. Printing is expensive. I suppose before we had the ability to design print orders on the computer and transfer the layout / design online, it was more important than it is now to have a local printer near to one's office.

II. Collaboration
"It's a long, long, long time coming.........."

Now that I am the Executive Director of Alonzo King's LINES Ballet, I am getting a different perspective on a lot of things. Alonzo is a collaborator - he likes to work with musicians from varying backgrounds and genres. One problem, particularly with higher profile musical artists, is in scheduling. Everyone is so busy that just finding a date so artists can get together to talk and explore what might be, seems to take forever. An idea comes to mind, an inquiry goes out, and by the time talks are underway and movement happens, it might be two years down the pike before something finished is ready.
I was thinking about that, and it seems like we have the same problem the creative side has when we want to create a collaboration by and between arts organizations. Just getting together to flush out an idea can take months. We're too busy, and understaffed to be able to seize opportunities when they arise. There must be some way we can institutionalize a protocol that might allow us to take advantage of timely open doors and not miss out on opportunities that have a limited life span. This is an organizational dynamic problem and we need to pay more attention to situations like this. Collaboration is probably our best defensive weapon and programmatic tool and yet we pay precious little attention to the dynamics of how we approach this aspect of organizational theory. I'm not talking about the nuts & bolts of how collaborations work, but more the application to external forces such as shelf life.
I wonder if other people have thought about this already, and there is some body of thought of which I am unaware. Hmmmmm.
But that necessity no longer applies. If the arts sector owned its own printing facilities (four plants strategically located in different regions of the country could probably handle the whole of the arts needs nationally), we could probably produce all of the print materials we currently order, at the same quality, on the same delivery schedule, at a fraction of the cost, and the enterprise could probably yield a substantial profit that might fund other arts needs. We may be wasting money by spreading our printing requirements over hundreds, if not thousands, of individual local printers, thus squandering our buying power and paying someone else the profit margin.
I think maybe we should at least explore more of this kind of cooperative venture as a way to increase our efficiency and extend our budgets. We are a large industry with buying power and we ought to address using that size more to our advantage than we do.

III. Bits & Pieces
* The Voice of Dance website - is one of the best discipline based sites I have ever seen. It houses extraordinary content and is updated continuously. Other disciplines might check it out to borrow ideas for a comprehensive approach.
* Americans for the Arts Conference in Austin looms just ahead.

Have a good week. I would really appreciate it if you could forward this to others who might subscribe. Thanks very much.

Don't Quit.