I was asked an interesting question on my Arts in Crisis tour stop in Phoenix: Is there conventional wisdom amongst arts organizations that I disagree with and try to fight against? I didn't give a full response during the live interview. Here is a more thoughtful list:
- All we need is an endowment. Of course, if someone drops an endowment in my lap, I will be thrilled to accept it. But the cost of creating an endowment is high since it takes focus away from the key strategic areas for all arts organizations: making great art, marketing aggressively and building the size of the organization's constituency. When revenue is diverted to endowment rather than to making more great art (and marketing it aggressively) the organization can begin to lose its constituents and, therefore, its revenue. And, since every arts organization grows to the point of discomfort anyway - new expenses naturally follow new income - building a larger endowment rarely means financial security. Instead, it almost always translates into a larger budget with the same old tensions.
I am so glad I was asked this question; it made me recognize how much work is yet to be done.
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