Thursday, August 4, 2005

August 04, 2005 Update #10

Table of Contents:
I. Hessenius Group on the Arts - Coming in September
II. "And the Band Stopped Playing - Rise and Fall of the San Jose Symphony" and the issues raised.

Hello everyone.

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

You can post a comment to this blog by going to the site and clicking on comments. It easy.

"Everybody's talkin' at me......................"

Next month I will launch a new feature on the blog - a once a month, McLaughlin Group (as on PBS television) type roundtable discussion of major issues facing the arts.

The following national arts leaders have accepted my invitation to participate in the group:

Ben Cameron - Executive Director, Theater Communications Group
Moy Eng - Program Director, Performing Arts, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
Sandra Gibson - President, Association of Performing Arts Presenters
Jonathan Katz - Executive Director, National Association of State Arts Agencies
Wayne Lawson - Executive Director, Ohio Arts Council
Bob Lynch - President, Americans for the Arts
Diane Matarazza - Consultant (former Senior Staff at the National Endowment for the Arts)
Sam Miller - President, LINC (leveraging investments in creativity) (former Executive Director, New England Foundation for the Arts)
Paul Minicucci - Consultant (former Deputy Director, California Arts Council)
Cora Mirikitani - CEO, Center for Cultural Innovation (former Senior Program Officer, James Irvine Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust)
Anthony Radich - Executive Director, WESTAF
Gary Steuer - Executive Director, Arts & Business Council
Andrew Taylor - Director, Bolz Center for Arts Administration, University of Wisconsin School of Business
Jerry Yoshitomi - Consultant (former Executive Director, Japanese American Community Cultural Center, Los Angeles)

Here's how it will work:

The 'Hessenius Group' will convene online once per month, beginning on the second Tuesday of each month at 9:00 am Pacific Time, with the participants' initial responses to my questions on pre-determined key issues posted at that time. Five to six members of the 'Group' will participate in each month's blog. Then, over the next three days, the panelists will respond to follow-up questions and each other's postings. Starting on the Wednesday of each week, the current group's panelists will have the option to invite one other person each to co-blog with them (if they so choose) so as to try to expand the dialogue to include new and diverse voices.

As there are far more gifted leaders that I wanted to invite to be a part of the 'Group' than reflected on the list, I will also, from time to time, invite people to participate in a given month's blog - with an eye towards insuring there is geographic, discipline, multicultural and other balanced representation of our community. Readers of the blog will be able to post their own comments at any time. As the moderator my role will be to keep the flow moving and the dialogue on point.

If this experiment proves successful, we may do it 'live' at various arts conferences.

I hope this generates expanded interest in the issues surrounding the larger policy questions we face in the arts & culture sector.

I welcome suggestions for topics for the Group to consider.

"It's all over now baby blue..........."

A book co-authored by Dr. Thomas Wolf (Wolf, Keans & Company consulting), and Nancy Glaze, Director of Arts for the David & Lucile Packard Foundation) entitled: "And the Band Stopped Playing - The Rise and Fall of the San Jose Symphony." has just been published, and I hope it gets as wide an audience as the recent Rand Report, because it raises equally important, critical issues for the arts community.

A well written, thoroughly researched chonicle of the closure of the symphony orchestra in San Jose, California, the work explores what went wrong and is a casebook study applicable to performing arts organizations across the country. In a balanced and careful analysis, it asks hard questions about a host of issues, including:

1. Overly ambitious strategic visions, and the need for realistic appraisal of market conditions by arts organizations.

2. The responsibilities of boards and staffs to provide real leadership and what their responsibilities are.

3. What consistutes real marketing and fund-raising capacity and the price of the failure to build that capacity.

4. The difficult issue of the need to address audience expectations vs. the maintenance of "purity" of artistic vision.

5. Why venues are so critical to success.

6. The importance of outreach and building partnerships by performing arts organizations.

7. The obligations of funders and supporters NOT to tolerate and ignore managerial inadequacies, and their role and responsibility in arts organization failures.

At its core, this seminal work asks the basic question the arts have studiously avoided, to wit: "Is there a point where it's simply better for a given arts organization to close down?

These (and other issues)are extremely important for a huge sector of our community, and need to be widely debated, discussed and considered, particularly during the current cycle of tight money and across-the-board, declining funding streams. I would hope the authors would be willing to travel and that presentations might be organized to publicly present this work to arts audiences in much the same way our community considered the issues raised by the Rand Report on making the case for the arts.

I urge everyone to download this work (it's free - and it's relative short - less than 100 pages - and so well written that it is a very easy read) from either the Wolf, Keens & Co., or Packard Foundation websites:

Congratulations to Nancy Glaze and Dr. Wolf - this is a major contribution to our field.

Have a great weekend.

Don't Quit.