[During last week’s Private Sector Blog Salon], fellow guest blogger Diane Ragsdale got me thinking after she posed the question: what would have happened if the nonprofit regional theatre movement had embraced (and had the opportunity to embrace) the L3C instead of the 501(c)(3) corporation?
This is an interesting and subtly radical thought experiment. Diane is effectively proposing that we rewind history and build what we now think of as the nonprofit arts sector as a socially-conscious for-profit arts sector instead. Has the horse left the barn or is it really possible to reinvent ourselves at such a fundamental level?
In truth, I’ve always believed that the alleged conflict between artistic purity and commercial success was largely overblown. If anything it’s a healthy tension, not an insurmountable chasm. Certainly there are arts organizations whose missions are to push aesthetic envelopes and operate at the leading edge of craft and artistry. They will always need philanthropic subsidy to survive, and so they should probably be 501(c)(3)s regardless. But these brave, unpopular pioneers are the exception, not the rule. Most of us operate in the vast middle ground between Broadway and The Wooster Group. Read the rest of this entry »