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Arts Management

The Need for Arts Journalists

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.31.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Arts journalists keep those of us who run arts organizations honest. They question us when they believe our offerings are too timid, too easy, too glib.

Angels or Devils

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.24.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

There is one reason that a subset of arts organizations are facing difficulties that can and must be avoided at all cost: the loss of one, incredibly important donor whose gifts were so large that the organization does not know how to move forward without them.

Getting the Most From Your Most Potent Board Members

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.10.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

As virtually every arts organization tries to improve their fundraising results, the pressure to get help from board members becomes a priority. And yet, try as they might, I find that many arts managers find it difficult, and often impossible, to get board members to assist, actively, in the fundraising effort.

The Balancing Act of the Executive Director

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.03.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

There are numerous skills and qualities an executive director of an arts organization should possess, but my experience over the past 28 years suggests the most important quality is the ability to balance many needs, demands and requirements.

The Importance of Full-Year Financial Forecasts

Michael Kaiser | Posted 02.24.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

At a time when financial health has become so precarious for too many arts organizations, it is a cause of concern that a great many arts organizations do not take one important precaution: they do not forecast year end results periodically throughout the fiscal year.

Likely vs. Able

Michael Kaiser | Posted 02.18.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

The fact that people once came to a gala, made a modest contribution or attended a performance -- and happen to have a great deal of discretionary funds -- does not make them strong prospects for a capital campaign.

Avoiding Silos

Michael Kaiser | Posted 04.12.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

I have written often about the problems that emerge when silos develop within arts organizations; when artists, marketers and fundraisers stay in thei...

An Amazing Week

Michael Kaiser | Posted 04.05.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

I have grown increasingly nervous about the future of diverse arts institutions in the United States. So many have disappeared, others are facing huge cash problems and most are watching as donors shift their priorities to other interests.

A Good News Orchestra Story

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.29.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Yes, some will say, the Symphony was 'lucky' to attract a major endowment gift. And luck is always part of the equation. But I prefer to view this as an instance where an organization does so many things correctly that donors are willing, indeed happy, to support its work.

It's Time to Celebrate

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.15.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

We hear so much about a few, high profile arts bankruptcies that the conventional wisdom has it that every arts organization is in trouble. This has repercussions for all of us who manage, or care about, arts organizations.

Farewell, Kate Levin

Michael Kaiser | Posted 03.08.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Anyone who cares about the health of the arts sector in New York City must be grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for selecting such a grand champion and empowering her for all of these years.

The Milwaukee Symphony and Me

Daron Hagen | Posted 02.21.2014 | Arts
Daron Hagen

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, according to its recent press release, is "in danger of running out of money and faces possible extinction if additi...

The Ideal Board

Michael Kaiser | Posted 02.15.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

The ideal board is a zero-based approach to designing a board. It starts with the assumption that the board has no members and we describe the salient characteristics of the board members we want.

Nelson Mandela and the Arts of South Africa

Michael Kaiser | Posted 02.08.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

There will be so much written about Nelson Mandela in the wake of his passing -- about his personal history, the struggle for equality in South Africa, his political contributions -- but, I fear, there will be little discussion about his impact on the arts of South Africa, and the world.

Grabbing Every Opportunity

Michael Kaiser | Posted 02.01.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Here is troubled organization which has a thin staff and a modestly involved board with an ambitious plan for survival and growth. Can this group really afford to grab at every opportunity?

When Cultivation Events Are Not Cultivation Events

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.25.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

I think there is a great deal of confusion about the meaning of 'cultivation event.' Every arts organization I know mounts several of these a year - ...

It Ain't the Bylaws

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.25.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

One of the tell-tale signs that a troubled arts organization is off course is when one or several board members announce they are revising the bylaws of the organization.

The Governance Committee: A Key Element of a Successful Strategy

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.23.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

I am not a fan of having numerous standing board committees for arts organizations. But there is one committee that is crucial, and that is carelessly assembled all too often: the governance committee.

The Changing of the Guard

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.23.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

As governments worldwide cut their level of subsidy to arts organizations, these same organizations are increasingly turning to the American model of private arts funding. And a substantial amount of this funding is typically given, or raised, by members of the board.

A Plea to Board Members

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.23.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Especially for those arts organizations that are reducing staff, board members must be willing to prioritize their requests, be willing to forego the occasional set or committee minutes or pitch in and write and send a board meeting agenda themselves.

Questions for the Future of the Arts

Michael Kaiser | Posted 12.21.2013 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Are we witnessing a major transition in the arts from regional organizations to fewer mega-organizations with the sophistication to mount large scale productions, to market them well and to raise large sums of money?

How Much History Is Enough?

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.23.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

When a founder retires, the transition can be especially challenging. The organization was created specifically to support the vision of the founder. How does it support the new leader, and provide necessary visibility for a new vision, while recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the founder?

Structural Deficits

Michael Kaiser | Posted 01.23.2014 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

Having spent most of my arts management career working to erase deficits of arts organizations, I must suggest that most organizations that face deficits do not face structural deficits.

Elevator Speeches

Michael Kaiser | Posted 11.30.2013 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

While I never want to dissuade board members from serving as ambassadors for their organizations in their communities, I truly dislike the notion of a set elevator speech. I do not like the assumption that the organization can be reduced to a static group of sentences.

The Speed of the Turnaround

Michael Kaiser | Posted 11.16.2013 | Arts
Michael Kaiser

A successful turnaround requires a leader, a plan, an exciting roster of programs, an aggressive institutional marketing plan and a great deal of discipline. But there is something else a turnaround requires: speed.