The Chronicle of Higher Education carried a story about a Carnegie Mellon professor complaining that a film, Smart People with Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker, was being filmed on the Carnegie Mellon campus. He questions whether colleges and nonprofits are getting too commercial. Too late and wrong question. Too late because films have used college campuses and cultural and nonprofit facilities since the beginning of filmmaking. Then the question should be: are they getting commercial enough to stay in the competition? Our Americans for the Arts research shows that some 50 percent of the budgets of most arts organizations comes from earned revenue sources. This means sales and revenue come from something-tickets, coffee shops, bookstores, space rental, or perhaps even film shooting fees. All this is very commercial and necessary in today’s market. In a world where daily life is a blur of sectors and competing influences, this consideration is probably a fairly valuable one if taken as part of an overall learning opportunity. And all this commerce going on in the nonprofit sector today creates the need for commerce skills like branding and marketing. This is why our National Arts Marketing ProjectÂ Conference and training programs are in such high demand. The for-profit and the nonprofit increasingly blur in creative ways. Ball State University in Indiana plans to name their $21 million communication and media building after television icon (commercial side icon) David Letterman who has been a $20k annual contributor to his alma mater since 1985, according to the Indianapolis Star and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The New York Times also quotes business superstar (and friend of the arts and Americans for the Arts) Sidney Harman of Harman International as saying “get me poets as managers”â€”a succinct understanding of the value of the arts in 21st century workforce readiness and the value that an arts education can bring to someone whether they are entering the nonprofit or for-profit career worlds. In Business Week, the presence of the arts in airports is celebrated as being both good for airports and the cities they serve, as well as good for the arts. “You’ve got a captive audience,” says Greg Mamary of the American Association of Airport Executives.
And of course in our country, it all comes together in politics, as the Southbend Tribune reports that country music performer Sammy Kershaw announced to run for Lt. Governor of Louisiana. Why not Sammy Kershaw as a candidate, or Clint Eastwood as a mayor, or Arnold Schwartzenneger as governor, or Ronald Reagan as president, or Alec Baldwin, Issac Stern, E.G.Marshall, Uma Thurman and all the other non profit or for-profit artists I have had the pleasure to work with in advocating for the arts and arts education for all Americans. I am for more arts experiences, more arts involvement, more arts presence whether from the nonprofit, the for-profit, or the unincorporated sectors of America. The mix makes working, playing, and just living all the richer.
– Bob Lynch, President & CEO, Americans for the Arts