Monday, June 12, 2006

June 12, 2006

Report from Americans for the Arts Convention

Hi Everybody.

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

Last week we did the Hessenius Group Live at the Americans for the Arts Convention in Milwaukee. The theme of the convention was "changes". (I am in the process of transcribing the tape of the session to bring you the highlights (in context) of each panelist's thoughts (and to try to provide a link to a digitized audio playback of the session as it happened). Give me another week or so.

Group Members included:
Bob Lynch
Cora Mirikitani
Cuong Hoang
(guest member)
Andrew Taylor
Nancy Glaze
Anthony Radich

The session began by asking:   
What will be the direct impact on the arts of the following kinds of changes:

Geographic, ethnic, age, gender and migration shifts in populations

Global events, trends, incidents, and natural and man made disasters.

Technological advances and the accelerated rate of those advances.

Economic changes

In five key areas:

ISSUE ONE: On arts audiences - on their development, on the way we market to them, on they way we deliver our product etc.

ISSUE TWO: On the way art is created and viewed - it's look and feel.

ISSUE THREE: On our human resources - on our staffs, boards, volunteers, constituents etc - generational succession, recruitment, roles etc.

ISSUE FOUR: On our organizational structures - on how we do business.

ISSUE FIVE: On our finances - funding streams, allocation of funds etc.
The discussion was lively, provocative and spirited. Bob Lynch declared the audience as we know it to be "dead". Anthony Radich suggested it might be time for euthanasia of the traditional arts organization. Cora Mirikitani suggested that it is folly to allow the traditional gatekeepers to control everything in the arts. Nancy Glaze admitted foundations tend to move in a "pack".

This week I would like change the format somewhat and ask all of you as readers to respond to these same questions (and for the group members to chime in as they may want to). How will these changes impact our field? What do these changes mean for us? How should / can we respond?
The following data was presented to the session as context for the discussion (and as food for thought for you):

African Americans, Asian / Pacific Islanders and Latinos will make up one-third of the U.S. population in 2016; Hispanics, now one of every seven Americans, will be one in four.

Almost one-half (46%) of U.S. population growth in the next decade will come from three states: California, Texas, and Florida

More than one-fifth of all American adults (22%) say that they have a close relative who is married to someone of a different race, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

African Americans, Asian / Pacific Islanders and Latinos account for 54% of the population of large cities and 42% of medium cities, with increasing control of city governments.

Just 10 of the nations metropolitan areas attracted two-thirds of all immigrants between 1990 and 1998
58% of the U.S. Latino population lives in ten metropolitan areas.

The new immigrants and their children are likely to account for more than half of the 50 million additional residents who will be added to our population during the next 25 years.

Asian owned businesses generated more than $326 billion in revenue in 2002. Asian / Pacific Islanders number 13+ million 4% of the population.


50% of all children under the age of five in America are African American, Latino or Asian / Pacific Islander.

Economists predict that at least 400,000 boomers a year with an average of $320,000 to spend on a new home will choose greener pastures beyond their state borders. Many are moving back to the cities.

Boomers control $2.3 trillion in annual spending power more than half of total U.S. consumption.

Over the next 25 years the elderly population will increase by almost 80% due to aging baby boomers.

The greatest boomer gains will be made by the upscale "yuppie elderly" age categories 65 to 74 increasing by 16 million between 2010 and 2030


60 million baby boomers will be retiring in the next 20 years.

According to the Employment Policy Foundation, between 2003 - 2013 over 30 million jobs openings will exist for candidates with at least a 2 year college degree. However, only 23 million new graduates will be available to fill these positions - leaving a shortfall of over 7 million positions. The result will be increased competition for fewer candidates.

Forrester Research estimates that 3.3 million white-collar jobs will move overseas by 2015. According to projections, the hardest hit sectors will be financial services and information technology (IT). Will America attract the creative talent it will need to sustain its competitive edge in idea generation?

45 million Americans already work full or part time at home.


There are 42 states with projected current budget surpluses.

Demand for fossil fuel will keep gas prices high globally with the result of increased inflation as the price of everything related will rise impacting discretionary spending, tourism, philanthropic giving and school budgets.

Health care costs continue to soar constituting an increasing percentage of the needy elderly base line expenditures.

Entitlement programs and defense spending make up nearly 75% of government spending.


Women make up approximately 58% of the undergraduate college population, and that figure is rising. Within 10 years, at least 3 million more women than men could be attending college, and because educational and economic achievement are so strongly correlated, those gains will inevitably translate into cultural influence, purchasing power, and corporate leadership

According to the National Association of Realtors, the percentage of single female home buyers in the past 20 years has nearly doubled.

40% of all business travel is now by women.


Experts predict millions of people will work at home and otherwise try to minimize exposure to a pandemic flu outbreak. They will NOT go to movies or museums or arts performances - for as long as nine months.

The World Bank predicts in such case: a severe demand shock for services sectors such as tourism, mass transportation, retail sales, hotels and restaurants (and the arts?). Business costs would no doubt also increase due to workplace absenteeism, disruption of production processes and shifts to more costly procedures.

Hurricane Katrina completely devastated the arts infrastructure in New Orleans.

Global Warming has already permanently changed future weather patterns according to some experts.

Confrontations between fundamentalists of the worlds major religions have spawned terrorism and impacted (often negatively) the influence of American arts around the world, including our ability to export culture and other nations receptivity to our arts.


Three quarters of all adults say they prefer to watch movies at home, up from 67% in 1994

PEW estimates that more than 6 million iPod or other MP3 users have downloaded a podcast รข€“ 29% of the total owners.

Perfect Vision Magazine estimates 25% of US Households had some kind of home theater in 2004. 7 million flat panel tvs (LCDs and plasma) were sold in 2005. 15 million are expected to sell this year.

New technologies have expanded the look and content of what we define as art and the rate of technological change will likely forever redefine art.

Last Blog's Survey Results: Here's some additional information for you to consider:
In the last blog there was a link to a simple two question survey asking people to rank the most important issues facing the arts, and the changes that might impact the arts the most. The number one issue was the re-establishment of arts education in the schools, followed closely by establishment of the arts as a core value. The highest ranked change that might impact the arts was a virtual tie between changes in the economy that might impact funding to the arts, and changes in the economy that might impact audiences.

Click here to view the complete results of the survey:

So, what do you think?

What are the changes that will likely impact us the most? What will be the impact? What can / should we do in preparation?

Just scoll down and enter your thoughts as a comment and I will include them each day.



COMMENT: This is a comment following up on the Milwaukee discussion. I've been wondering for a while -- where are the HR professionals in the arts? Why aren't they at the table? Where is the new research and scholarship on HR in the arts? We are now rich with arts management programs and their graduates; not one of the graduates I've met recently has focused their studies on human resources. I have never heard of an association, group, or roundtable for arts HR professionals; there seem to be many such groups for arts educators, grantmakers, fundraisers, marketers, executive directors, program officers, etc.

I am concerned that the arts doesn't value human resources as a profession. AND YET, the issues we are presenting as the biggest changes and challenges to our field include leadership development, recruitment and retention, boomer retirement, shifts in how people work (especially utilizing new technologies), diversity management, emergency preparedness. Aren't these issues of human resources, and so shouldn't we be encouraging new scholarship and professional development for arts HR professionals?

When I asked this question of arts leaders in Milwaukee, many said that their organizations cannot afford to hire HR professionals or recently cut their HR manager. I would be interested to hear if anyone on the blog is aware of trends or research in arts HR, and any other thoughts on the subject.
Thanks for the great discussion in Milwaukee! I look forward to more to come.

Following up on these comments about HR professionals in the arts, I have been concerned for some time about this same issue. One by one management disciplines have been developed and refined in an arts context - finance, fundraising, PR, marketing, technology, strategic planning, etc., but HR seems to be seriously lagging. Only the largest arts organizations even have dedicated HR professionals, and in mid-sized groups the function is handled - usually minimally - by finance. Many arts organizations that I think are large enough to afford an HR professional, and need one, cut corners in this area, directing resources to other departments deemed more important. Even senior managers hardly ever get access to sophisticated training and leadership development services, especially in "softer" skills, because nobody is paying attention to this. This is not just an issue about how to cultivate new leadership, but how we can make existing leadership better. An HR department can also be the watchdog for corporate culture and morale, which if neglected can destroy an organization as easily - if more insidiously - as the loss of a major grant. Lack of focus on HR can also lead to mediocre benefits packages and family-UNfriendly personnel policies, driving workers to other industries in search not just of more money, but of parental leave, flex-time, tele-commuting, long-term disability insurance and other benefits that most arts groups don't offer.

Don't have easy solutions - but I think even just putting it out there as a problem that needs to be addressed is a good first step.