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Michael Kaiser Headshot

What I Want for Christmas This Year

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The holiday season is a time for giving and getting gifts. This is what I would like to receive this year:

1. An online 'fact check' capability that mirrors the spell check function. I am a passionate believer in the power of the Internet to benefit the arts (and the rest of the world) but there are so many incorrect statements of 'fact' that simply mislead people. Wouldn't it be great if all online documents came with warnings about statements that simply are not true and the statements that were simply wrong were not stored on-line for posterity?

2. A cure for what is ailing the entire American orchestra industry. I know I am not smart enough to figure it out but there must be some answer to the problems that seem to be affecting virtually every orchestra in our nation: smaller audiences, lower donations, pressure to reduce numbers of musicians and services and benefits. We are losing so many orchestras that provide important service to their communities and others are being forced to reduce their number of performances and the size of their education programs. Please, someone, develop a cure!

3. More attention to serious music, theater and dance on PBS. Support for public television seems to be eroding. I have to believe this is a direct result of a dearth of strong arts programming. We need our public television stations to broadcast the nation's best performances regardless of where they are produced. Increasing arts presence on television would be a huge service and would attract a larger viewer base that is used to making contributions to the organizations they care about. Perhaps, additional arts programming would allow PBS to raise the funding it needs.

4. A serious discussion about the power of arts education by senior government officials. If our economy is going to become robust in the long-term we need to think about the way we are going to develop the next generation of creative thinkers. The arts can play a major role in this endeavor. We need the leaders of the Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the relevant leaders of Congress to discuss practical ways arts education can help the nation.

5. Greater public appreciation for the work of grass-roots arts organizations which provide education, inspiration and entertainment to the underserved and provide access for new audiences and emerging artists.

6. Boards, staffs and artists of arts organizations to reduce the time spent discussing ways to cut spending and increase the time spent discussing ways to increase revenue. There are few problems faced by most arts organizations that could not be solved if revenue were increased. If we want a healthy arts ecology and far happier and more productive relationships within our organizations, it is time to focus on revenue.

I appreciate that this is a long and ambitious list. Some might say I am greedy to want all of this in one year. But imagine what an amazing new year it would be if I got all of my wishes!

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