Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 09, 2006

Barry's Blog focus on arts administrator compensation

Table of Contents:
I. Arts Administrator Compensation Survey
II. HESSENIUS GROUP live at Americans for the Arts Conference
III. New York creates new office to retain creative advantage

Hello everybody.

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

The HESSENIUS Group is taking April off, and will resume May 9th.

I. Arts Administrator Compensation - TAKE THE SURVEY
"The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I want money, that's what I want..........."

As there is little real change in the five year depressed funding for the arts in America, I've been wondering about the impact on the level of salaries paid to arts administrators. Several comments to last month's HESSENIUS Group on recruiting new leadership mentioned the continuing low pay as an issue.

Except for the very largest (major city) cultural institutions, and perhaps some of the national arts organizations, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that base pay for senior arts administrators remains below competitive market levels for the private sector. There are, of course, numerous issues to consider in discussing compensation: how can we recruit the best and brightest of the next generation if we lag too far behind the private sector in competitive pay? To what extent does low pay result in systemic turnover? Is this an issue nonprofit boards of directors are dealing with? What role do funders play in either the solution to the problem of low pay, or in the problem itself?

I wonder if arts administrators have gotten any raises in the past couple of years? Have organizational budgets grown during the same period? Is health care and / or retirement plans the norm or the exception? What do arts administrators think is "fair and reasonable" compensation for their jobs?

I've put together a very simple, on-line, unscientific survey that I hope you will complete.
It is completely anonymous.
There are only 13 multiple choice questions, and
it will take you less than three minutes to complete.

Here is the link to be taken directly to the survey: ">Click here to take survey Please pass on this link to your colleagues. The more people that fill out the survey, the more accurate it will be.

If enough people take it, I will report the results to you in a couple of weeks.


II. HESSENIUS Group "Live" at the Americans for the Arts Conference in Milwaukee June 3rd.   
"Together, at last at twilight time............"

The HESSENIUS Group (the McLaughlin take off with an arts focus) will go live at this year's Americans for the Arts Conference on June 3rd in Milwaukee.

The AFTA Conference (like the Rose Bowl, the "granddaddy of them all") is perhaps the single best "networking" conference for the arts. I've been to ten of them, and have come away from each one with an idea and contacts for something specific that later became tangible. If you've never been to one of these conferences, you should consider going. Click here for registration information: http://www.artsusa.org/events/2006/convention/010.asp

III. Squandering the advantage of creativity
"The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind............."

In an article in the New York Times last week (April 5th), it was reported that:

"Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city would create a new office to "aggressively pitch New York City around the world as the nation's art and cultural capital" by helping nonprofit organizations, especially those in the arts, cope with the high costs that threaten their survival.

"We won't and can't be complacent," Mr. Bloomberg said, adding that he was determined not to cede New York's status as a world cultural center. "In the creative sector, as in so many other areas, at one time New York City didn't have to compete with other cities," he said at a conference at the Museum of Modern Art that brought together 220 officials, artists, business people and academics. "Now we do. Other cities are quickly learning the benefits of being a creative hub."

The conference was intended as a response to a report in December that described the "creative sector" -- defined broadly to include advertising, publishing and broadcasting as well as the arts as a critical element of the city's economy. The Partnership for New York City, an alliance of business leaders, organized the conference, along with the city, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based research organization that prepared the report with help from the consulting firm Mt. Auburn Associates.

"This is our competitive advantage, and we are losing it," said Robin J. Keegan, a research fellow at the Center for an Urban Future and co-author of the report.

The arts have been chanting this mantra for years. Building on Dr. Richard Florida's thesis, we've been arguing that the economic advantage of American's creative capital is being threatened. New York is, at least, seemingly doing something to address the issue. Can this approach be replicated?

Those concerned with global warming have, of late, been trying to awaken people by suggesting, based on experts' beliefs, that we have perhaps ten years before it will be too late to do anything about the problem -- you can't re-freeze the ice caps. Maybe we should steal a page from that strategy and posit that in "X" period of time, it will be too late for America to retain its' creative capitol status (if it isn't too late already).

I think we've been doing a good job in making our argument - but, like those concerned with global warming, we face the question of whether or not people are listening. Anything we can do to keep the issue at the forefront helps, and so maybe we can urge city leaders across the country to consider a New York approach and create an office within each Mayor's office to do something to protect creative capital.

Have a great week.

And, Don't Quit.