July 1, 2010

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Turn the art around
Expert advises leadership, innovation
By Adam Coughlin acoughlin@hippopress.com

The best way for a struggling arts organization to revitalize itself is not by cutting programs, according to the president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., but instead to focus on offering unique and innovative art because donors will choose to fund organizations that are vital and offering more to the community.

Michael M. Kaiser, as part of “Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative,” spoke to a gathering at the Capitol Center for the Arts on June 24. Known as “The Turnaround King,” Keiser has a reputation of taking arts organizations, from the Kansas City Ballet to the Royal Opera House in London, on the verge of bankruptcy and turning them into thriving operations.

To do this, Kaiser does not rely on the patronage of large foundations but instead believes that individual donors, which provide 60 percent of arts funding, are the savior of arts.

“I don’t believe there is one country or city where you can’t raise funding,” Kaiser said. “No one city or state is immune [to] fundraising but you have to get people excited.”

That is why Kaiser recommends a two-pronged promotional strategy. The first is program marketing, which gets people to buy tickets. He said the easiest way to do this is by offering programs that are new. Kaiser said arts organizations should lead the public, not follow it. They shouldn’t focus so much on giving people what they want but instead offer things that are illuminating. This takes imagination, which Kaiser said has been beaten out of many because of worries about money. But he said if leaders in arts organizations are able to carve out a few hours every week to plan four or five years down the road, it will give them time to plan some special events.

If those involved, especially the board members, are excited about the programs it will be easier to get people excited about the organization. Organizational marketing is something Kaiser said can be inexpensive and have a huge impact on creating a positive cycle. Kaiser said many board members fail to involve their friends, family and colleagues, which wastes a valuable resource.

Kaiser said when times are tough — and he would know because when he began at the Royal Opera House it had a $30 million deficit — it is important for the arts organization to have one voice that delivers the best message. Kaiser said occasionally if an arts organization says it is about to go bankrupt it will get an emergency donation but those are few and far between and carry a huge cost.

“If things are bad you don’t have to lie,” Kaiser said. “But point out the positives.”

A positive for many arts organizations is joint ventures, which Kaiser said if used properly can have real power. Of course, these sorts of collaborations need to be made by competent arts managers, and Kaiser said there has been a real failure to educate these types of people. He said billions of dollars are spent training artists but much less on training the managers. If an orchestra is failing, the great oboe player won’t be heard. This is why Kaiser started the Kennedy Center Arts Management Institute to equip artists and lovers of art with the skills to thrive in any economy.

“We are no longer a manufacturing nation,” Kaiser said. “We need to educate kids to become problem-solvers and independent thinkers. The arts is a good place to start.”

With such a reputation, Kaiser has spoken all over the world. But he said most countries look to America for advice on how to independently raise funds — because America was founded by Puritans there has been a separation of art and state, Kaiser joked. In other countries the government funds the arts. Now that many of those governments are cutting back, other countries are looking toward America to learn how to fill the gap.

He said arts like symphonies and operas are in particular danger because, whereas a theater can do a smaller show, if there are 80 members of an orchestra there are 80 members of an orchestra.

“In the arts we don’t increase worker productivity very well,” Kaiser said. “There are the same number of people in Hamlet as there were when Shakespeare wrote it.”

Yet, when a 1,300-seat theater is built there will be 1,300 seats next year and the year after, so there is a fixed potential there. To fill this gap between rising costs and fixed earning potential, many organizations raise ticket prices, which squeezes a lot of people out.

And there are a lot of people who want to see good art. Kaiser said more tickets are sold each year to art events than to sporting events.

“Seventy percent of tourists in America come to observe culture,” Kaiser said. “That is a big economic sector.”

Now all arts organizations need to do is figure the best ways to capitalize on that.


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6/17/2010 Meet Van Macleod, cultural resources guy
6/10/2010 High on art
6/03/2010 Art in motion
5/27/2010 Needs no translation
5/20/2010 Artist meet writer
5/13/2010 Art by the people, for the people
5/5/2010 Sing Out will wait: NEA likes NH arts
4/29/2010 A little peace in the Gate City
4/22/2010 Artist laureate
4/15/2010 Art at school and more new exhibits
4/8/2010 Art under glass
4/1/2010 For Jon Brooks
3/25/2010 Three "Trolley" nights for 2010
3/18/2010 Emerging art
3/11/2010 New England focus
3/4/2010 Currier celebrates 80 years
2/25/2010 Cell phone guides, fruit and poetry
2/18/2010 Contemporary concepts
2/11/2010 Intown has new downtown designs
2/4/2010 In transition
1/28/2010 Academic
1/21/2010 SOPHA plans photo sale to help Haiti
1/14/2010 More than the title implies
1/7/2010 Last chance to see Weston photos and prints from the Stahls
12/31/2009 Art goes outside and other stories this year
12/24/2009 Last chance to see Weston photos and prints from the Stahls
12/17/2009 For the arts lover
12/10/2009 Photography around the region
12/3/2009 All the craft/art fairs, ever
11/26/2009 Nashuan starts new venture for art for a cause
11/19/2009 News for artistsand art appreciators
11/12/2009 Saint Anselm College brings art, poetryand music together
11/05/2009 Photographic stand-off
10/29/2009 Manchester by Google
10/22/2009 A bull and 'Dia de los Muertos'
10/15/2009 Pumpkins, pets and architects
10/8/2009 New photography show at Currier
10/1/2009 Andres sculptors wrap up
9/24/2009 Two-day tour
9/17/2009 Workshops, recovery, pumpkins and more
9/10/2009 Meet the masters
9/3/2009 Green living
8/27/2009 MAA is early
8/20/2009 Maa Art in the Park show link with People Fest
8/13/2009 Greeley tradition
8/6/2009 Taming the painting
7/30/2009 Make your mark in Goffstown
7/23/2009 Kimball-Jenkins update
7/16/2009 Local color
7/9/2009 Currier offers free admission and wood-turning demos
7/2/2009 Not a drop to drink
6/25/2009 The SOPHA Community
6/18/2009 Manchester and Concord host gallery nights June 25
6/11/2009 Art out in the open
6/4/2009 Keeping jobs
5/28/2009 Monastary and Concord Arts Market return
5/21/2009 Her own path
5/14/2009 Nine public artworks for Nashua?
5/7/2009 Indoor and outdoor Mother's Day ideas
4/30/2009 SOPHA members show off to help Food Bank
4/23/2009 Visit the Currier for free during school vacation
4/16/2009 Colleges show off around the state
4/9/2009 Artist hotline pilot program launches
4/2/2009 Cause for soldiers
3/26/2009 Can art spider link NH?
3/19/2009 Group art shows open this week
3/12/2009 Earth, animals and learning to draw
3/5/2009 Where curiosity can lead
2/26/2009 Rockin' the art degree
2/19/2009 Where the art came from
2/12/2009 Get ready for free admission at Currier
2/5/2009 Pottery served with soup
1/29/2009 Wine and desire
1/22/2009 Art for your Valentine
1/15/2009 NHAA shows off at Currier
1/8/2009 Art on the airwaves in Nashua
1/1/2009 Learn to paint or draw
12/25/2008 Arts in 2008
12/18/2008 Conserving New Hampshire art with a moose
12/11/2008 What is it?
12/4/2008 New show openings and holiday fine craft offerings
11/27/2008 New shows and new lecutures
11/20/2008 Find out about 100 artists at Salmon Falls open house11/13/2008 A Warhol film, and Dean Spiilotes at the center
11/6/2008 A wealth of gallery openings
10/30/2008 Squeaky wheel
10/23/2008 Be surrounded by art making10/16/2008 Receptions and open studios everywhere
10/9/2008 Copyright blues
10/2/2008 Andres Institute at 10 years
9/25/2008 Andy Warhol's world leaders
9/18/2008Local color
9/11/2008Local color
9/4/2008 A weekend of fests
8/28/2008 Currier ventures into pop art
8/21/2008 Expert help on a craft project
8/14/2008 Great outdoors
8/7/2008 Local color
7/31/2008 Continuing tradition and exchaning culture
7/24/2008 Drinking for animals; masters of woodcraft
7/17/2008 What's an arts market
7/10/2008 Curtain calls
7/03/2008 The Lambovich Brothers
6/26/2008 HAS: How Art Sells
6/19/2008 It's trolley tour time
6/12/2008 Helping hand
6/5/2008 Sumi-e and photography
5/29/2008 Digital to paint
5/22/2008 New Kimball-Jenkins board members
5/15/2008 Making it in New York ... or New Hampshire
5/8/2008 Public eye
5/1/2008 Art for Mother's Day
4/24/2008 New art walk planned for Manchester
4/17/2008 Awards for the state's artists
4/10/2008 New directions
4/3/2008 New exhibits: no April Art Walk
3/27/2008 Monastary Gibbons "Visions of Monadnock"
3/20/2008 Currier opens March 30 with week of free admission
3/13/2008 Looking back at baseball
3/6/2008 Painting, calligraphy and classic cars
2/28/2008 More snow delays; Dartmouth receives arts endowment
2/21/2008 Prints and animals in Concord
2/14/2008 From the Andes to New Hampshire
2/7/2008 What does your butt say
1/31/2008 Local color
1/24/2008 Local color
1/17/2008 Conversation starter
1/10/2008 Nominate your favorite arts-loving business
1/3/2008 The inner personalities of rubber finger puppets
12/27/2007 Changes in the arts in 2007
12/20/2007 Local Color
12/13/2007 Portsmouth markets Christmas spirit
12/6/2007 One more cause
11/29/2007 Three days of merriment
11/22/2007 Advocating for arts; Zimmerman season ends soon
11/15/2007 Images, past and present
11/8/2007 Back in time at a Concord mansion
11/1/2007 Governor honors artists with art
10/25/2007 Spatial Matters
10/18/2007 Perfecting a craft
10/11/2007 Handmade furniture
10/04/2007 Capturing nature on canvas and by camera
9/27/2007 Local color
9/20/2007 Nashua, in the abstract
9/13/2007 Local Color
9/6/2007 Looking at the world
8/30/2007 Art in the fresh air
8/23/2007 Berlin pride
8/16/2007 Finding money
8/9/2007 Park of arts
8/2/2007 New Hampshire treasure honored again
7/26/2007 Taking care of wood
7/19/2007 Local Color
7/12/2007 Local Color
7/5/2007 Local Color
6/28/2007 Local Color
6/21/2007 The great outdoors
6/14/2007 Play per day
6/7/2007 Goodbye, gallery
5/31/2007 Impressions
5/24/2007 Local color
5/17/2007 Stieglitz in Manchester
5/10/2007 They're artists and they vote
5/3/2007 Lowell is the canvas for a summer of art
4/26/2007 Local color
4/19/2007 Local color
4/12/2007 Local color
4/5/2007 A Saint paul student returns to show recent work
3/29/2007 Local color
3/22/2007 Compassionate cause
3/15/2007 Local color
3/8/2007 Making money
3/1/2007 Local Color
2/22/2007 Local Color
2/15/2007 Local Color
2/8/2007 Local Color
2/1/2007 DreamFarm Cafe's big show
1/25/2007 Built world
1/18/2007 Expressions of character
1/11/2007 Best practices
1/4/2007 Nominate your favorite for Governor's Arts Awards
12/28/2006 Art in 2006 in southern New Hampshire
12/21/2006 Time to learn
12/14/2006 Frisella's new studio; sell art for animals; girls only time
12/07/2006 Stained glass, found objects and ornaments
11/30/2006 No shortage of art sales
11/23/2006 A Granite State greeting
11/16/2006 Santa Claus hangs with artists
11/9/2006 Visual art meets poetry
11/2/2006 Local Color
10/26/2006 Local Color
10/19/2006 Local Color
10/12/2006 Almost 80 artists in Hollis ...
10/05/2006 Fine art in a field
09/28/2006 Local Color
09/21/2006 Local Color
09/14/2006 Local color
09/07/2006 Bel Espirit, a happening of chance
08/31/2006 An artistic endeavor
08/24/2006 The almost-all architecture edition
08/17/2006 Half century of creativity
08/10/2006 Obsession with the Isles of Shoals
08/03/2006 See the precise craft of carving with a chainsaw
07/20/2006 For museums or your living room
07/13/2006 Making their mark
07/06/2006 Sense of place
06/29/2006 New ground
06/22/2006 MAA honors scholars an artists of the year
06/15/2006 Galleries open doors
06/08/2006 It's sticky up here
06/01/2006 Mural for MCAM
05/25/2006 Scenes from the air
05/18/2006 Vanguardians sit down
05/11/2006 Public masterpiece
05/04/2006 Art helps kids at MAA show
04/27/2006 In-house artists on display
04/20/2006 No Pinocchio here
04/13/2006 School's out art's in
04/06/2006 Meet Michael Toomey
03/30/2006 Art builds community ...
03/23/2006 From Celtic design to Ayn Rand
03/16/2006 Got Cow?
03/09/2006 A creative view of China
03/02/2006 Monastery Arts open new show
02/23/2006 Love and art in one location
02/16/2006 Job loss leads to artistic success
02/09/2006 Art in the key of Adam and Eve
02/02/2006 Art to make you think
01/26/2006 New York artists to show at Derryfiled School
01/19/2006 A new age of artwork
01/12/2006 Photography buffs unite
01/05/2006 Jeweler teaches her trade
Alison Williams
All together now
A forest through the trees
A light in the dark
An event for artists, by artists
Anne Dufresne
Armand Szainer: never forget
Art group picks artist of the year
Art In The Park
Art in the Park sees attendance dip
Arts In Education Conference
Art like Crayons for grown-ups
Art you can sit on (if you own it)
Better Living Through Artistry
Capturing history with a panaramic view
Ceramic Biennial
Currier Kicks Off 2005 With NHSS Show
Die fotografieren
Doug Mendoza: Body Artist
Enjoying the Open Doors Trolley Tour
East Colony Fine Art has gone jazz
Equal Arts Opportunities
Exploring purgatory and paradise
Expressions coming from within
Fighting cancer with creativity
Free food, free music and plenty of art
Harry Umen: New Work

Head of the class
Heating up the canvas
Inside the artist’s studio
It’s art, and it’s even practical!
James Aponovich

James Chase
Jan De Bray
Local Artist, Global Message
Lollipops and Hand Grenades
MAA Adds New Dimension To Gallery
MAA Gallery Mixes It Up
Making Book With Children
Manchester Art In 2004
Morgan's "Danse" Comes To Manch
Morin Avoid Typecasting
NHIA chalks it up to May 14
Open Doors Manchester Returns
Open Doors Trolley Tour, The Winter Version
Looking for a crowd? Just add art
McGowan Fine Art Turns 25
Nita Leger Casey
Patti Matthis
Saint Anselm Favorite Returns
Searching for the extraordinary
Small Town Art Hits The Big City
Spirit Of The Holidays Exhibit
Step into the Art Pad at Langer Place
Stride and ride
Tagging goes to wall, gets legit
The art and craft of Glendi
The art of signs to art and stuff
The Art Of The Qashquai

The Return Of The Art Trolley Tour
The Ubiquitous Ann Domingue
Two-continent painting exhibit opens
Using nature as a canvas
Waxwork
Women's Art Group Marks 10th Year
Wyeth Works Return To The Currier