Kennedy Center’s Michael Kaiser Launches 50-State Tour to Help Arts Orgs Flourish in Economic Crisis

Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser Launches 50-State Tour to Help Arts Orgs Flourish in Economic CrisisBack in February, I read about Arts in Crisis, the Kennedy Center's initiative to help arts organizations survive in this challenging climate.  The program, open to non-profit performing arts organizations that apply online, provides free guidance for fundraising, planning and management.

I was heartened and intrigued by the concept, but not provoked to dive in deeper until I heard Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser interviewed yesterday about his 50-state tour to deliver guidance in person. This guy is incredible — he noted the (relatively) small volume of requests for help, and decided to take the show on the road where he can provide arts management advice face-to-face!

Far more than just a cheerleader, Kaiser strongest message is to avoid "bunker mentality," advising that's the quickest path to organizational failure. Here are his core guidelines:

  1. Do new things, adventurous things. Otherwise you'll be like everyone else, and won't get much attention or support.
  2. Be creative — do more for less. For examples, do staged readings, with the best actors, rather than full-fledged productions. Collaborate. Cut print marketing; relying more on online channels. Kaiser reminds us that a tough environment like this one allows organizations to become more creative.
  3. Don't cut programming, because when you do, you cut a revenue source AND your ambitions.

Kaiser's wisdom is relevant to nonprofit's in all fields. It's far too easy to retreat in the face of adversity. Since we are in tough times that seem to be here to stay for a while, push it to see how you can use them to grow your organization — marketing-wise and programmatically.

More useful guidance, for arts orgs plus, at ArtsManager.org, Arts in Crisis' info-packed, online resource center.

P.S. Share your creativity by entering your tagline today in the 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Awards! Deadline is July 31st.

Nancy Schwartz on July 14, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Professional Development, Recommended Resources, Special Opportunities | 1 comment
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1 Luise July 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

It also helps when your story get picked up by NPR!

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