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Devos Institute

Remembering Phyllis Curtin

Michael Kaiser | Posted 06.06.2016 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

I have stopped writing my weekly blog but I had to write a special column when I learned of the passing of the remarkable Phyllis Curtin. Ms. Curtin w...

Fellowship Brings Together U.S. and International Arts Managers

Michael Kaiser | Posted 11.30.2016 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Now, the DeVos Institute will combine our domestic and international programs. Where we previously offered separate programs for American and international arts managers, the Institute will offer one unified three-year fellowship beginning in 2016.

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts

Michael Kaiser | Posted 06.01.2016 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

While there are many active arts institutions in Northern Michigan, there has not been a year-round arts center that routinely presents the best of the world's professional theater, music and dance artists and arts institutions.

Museums Large and Small

Michael Kaiser | Posted 05.04.2016 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

The justified excitement surrounding the re-opening of the Whitney should not obscure the importance and vitality of numerous smaller arts institutions that are not located in the largest of American cities but that play equally important roles in the lives of their constituents.

A Difficult Century

Michael Kaiser | Posted 06.06.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

This insecurity has caused rifts between staff and board members in too many organizations; the search for approaches to address our challenges will only come to a satisfying conclusion if we are willing to work together on solutions.

When Donors Have Too Much Power

Michael Kaiser | Posted 05.30.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

I have spent the last 30 years helping arts organizations build their fundraising operations. I believe strongly that the future of the arts depends o...

Entrepreneurship and the Arts

Michael Kaiser | Posted 05.23.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

As many of my consulting clients seek to move in new directions, I am increasingly involved in helping arts organizations select their leaders. This has forced me to consider what characteristics are essential for a strong arts leader.

The Challenge of Discount Ticket Programs

Michael Kaiser | Posted 05.16.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

We need new audience members now more than ever as so many people have not had a comprehensive arts education and others are more likely to enjoy electronic entertainment.

Where Is Earned Income Growth?

Michael Kaiser | Posted 05.09.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

While earned income isn't growing, many arts institutions are also having a harder time raising money than ever before since, as audiences erode, there are fewer natural development prospects.

Ailey in Opelika

Michael Kaiser | Posted 05.02.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

A remarkably diverse audience fell under the Ailey spell. By the end of Revelations, the entire community was cheering as one and demanding an encore.

Organizational Culture

Michael Kaiser | Posted 04.25.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

While those who study organizational development and psychology have developed myriad ways to analyze the culture of institutions, I have my own simplistic way of evaluating culture: I find some organizations are fun to work with and others are not.

Making a Mountain Out of a Molehill

Michael Kaiser | Posted 04.19.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

It is not necessarily true that there is more going on than there was 20 years ago, but there certainly is far more information directed at all of us, constantly, and without pause. All of this makes it harder for arts institutions to gain recognition for the work they do.

Executive Committees

Michael Kaiser | Posted 04.11.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

The Executive Committee is also a place to "try out" ideas without subjecting them to full board scrutiny. Discussions about board dues, new programming ideas, even new trustees, can help the arts manager discern how the full board may react to a new idea.

Let Artists Dream

Michael Kaiser | Posted 04.04.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

When artists stop dreaming and begin to plan to a budget, they are doomed. The greatest works of art emerged from an artist's vision, unaffected by concerns about budget.


Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.28.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Lack of clarity as a leader results from lack of clarity in the plan going forward. Initiating a comprehensive planning effort can help the imprecise arts manager develop a clear game plan and eliminate a great deal of unnecessary discomfort within the organization.

Marek Vrabec

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.21.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Over the past 25 years, I have spent a great deal of time teaching arts managers, and I can attest that there is nothing as satisfying as having a student take what was learned in class and apply it with creativity and individual flair in their own lives and careers.

Making a MOOC

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.14.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. It allows a teacher to have access to an unlimited number of students who participate in online training; the students watch videos, read assignments and take exams.

Sticking One's Head in the Sand

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.07.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

It is indeed true that there is less demand for classical music than there was in recent decades, that it is harder to balance our budgets and that numerous orchestras (and other arts institutions) are likely to disappear in the coming decades. This does not mean that every institution is doomed nor that classical music will not be available in the future.

Heroic Donors

Michael Kaiser | Posted 02.14.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

While there certainly is an element of luck involved when searching for these heroic few, the organizations that have built a cadre of dedicated supporters almost always have a few who simply cannot imagine the organization going away and are willing to put their resources where their passion resides.

Teaching Abroad

Michael Kaiser | Posted 02.07.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

The arts environment is deeply challenging here in the United States, but it is more so in other countries where government funding is falling, sometimes precipitously.

Young Patrons Groups

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.31.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Arts organizations must work tirelessly to engage more and more people, to entice them to attend performances and exhibitions, to make it fun and interesting to become donors and volunteers, and to interest them in a long-term relationship with the organization.

What I Am Giving Thanks for This Year

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.24.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

I am grateful to the many patrons who continue to support their favorite arts institutions, especially those who are willing to risk the most when things are at their worst.

A Tale of Two Cities

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.17.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Seattle lost a vital theater company when the Balagan Theatre announced on September 24 that it was permanently suspending operations.

No News Is Bad News

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.10.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

I am a voracious consumer of arts news; I read as many news stories, reviews and features as I can in newspapers, websites and other electronic outlets. Yet, as a new arts season has begun, I have been struck by the nature of the arts coverage that I have been reading.

The Planning Committee

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.03.2015 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Developing a potent strategic plan is not easy. Simply survey a large sample of plans for arts organizations, and one will find a bland sameness to mo...