Bold Partnership for Dallas Arts Orgs (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Michael Granberry On November - 29 - 2012

Dallas-based AT&T is putting its business acumen to work for five financially challenged arts organizations. The corporation will provide free oversight to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Opera, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas Theater Center, and Dallas Summer Musicals.

The goal of the partnership is to stanch the financial bleeding that has plagued the organizations since the 2008 recession.

“The old economic business models are not working,” DSO chairman Blaine Nelson said. “Revenues are falling far short of costs and expenses.”

Financial woes have besieged the DSO, Dallas Opera, and Dallas Summer Musicals, which recently asked the city for money.

The partnership is designed to help the companies streamline operations and share numerous endeavors, while preserving their independence. It’s also aimed at quelling the fierce competition that has existed at times between the performing arts center and Dallas Summer Musicals, both of which present Broadway shows.

Nelson says that “donor heroics” are no longer a winning strategy. Donors are, he said, increasingly younger givers who have tired of “a bottomless pit” and the absence of a “sustainable business model.” They prefer to be seen, he said, as investors, not donors.

Nelson helped conceive the new model, called the Performing Arts Collaboration, which was first broached six months ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Expanding Community Participation

Posted by Libby Maynard On December - 9 - 2011

Libby Maynard

Continuing the focus on community engagement and participation in arts and culture, I’d like to share with you how we at The Ink People in Humboldt County, CA, have been practicing these principles for the last 25 years.

Our DreamMaker Program invites community members who have a vision for an arts and culture project or see a need in their community that can be addressed through such a project, to partner with us.

Sometimes I think of us as the center of a broad web, supporting and nurturing community-initiated visions. We are not a fiscal receiver. The board of directors decides whether or not to adopt each project as a full-fledged part of The Ink People, with full nonprofit benefits and stakes our reputation on each one.

In addition to this, we give administrative support and intensive mentoring to each project, as well as offering a series of Mini Nonprofit “MBA” classes. The classes are designed only to give project leaders an idea of what they don’t know, so they can ask the right questions to have the best chance at success.

Generally, a project follows one of four paths. It may be short term, with limited and well defined goals and outcomes, such as the publication of a book about Japanese Senryu poetry by the artist’s grandmother, with illustrations by the artist, and a series of workshops on writing Senryu poetry. Read the rest of this entry »

Partnering Under a Banner

Posted by Wayne Andrews On December - 9 - 2011

Wayne Andrews

Competition is hard. In the business world market share, loss leaders, and incentives are used to drive product loyalty. This does not work in the creative economy.

You can’t coupon a radio listener into supporting your local songwriter’s organization, or celebrate that the ballet has gained market share over the orchestra.

The arts are one of the few business models where we don’t celebrate growth by one organization over another. Never have we heard the Opera Generation is involved in an art war with New Ballet.

There are a host of incentives and promotions arts groups utilize to entice people to try the ballet or opera. Every arts group has tried a “pay what you can night” or “free tickets promotions” hoping to expand their audience.

Still I don’t care that a prune is a dried plum because to many people it is still a prune. Just as opera is opera or modern art is confusing. Most products realize once the discounted price, coupon, or gimmick that lured the consumers to buy their brand of soap is gone, and so is the customer.

How will art groups build a new audience? By merging more than marketing efforts, but by merging their programs. Read the rest of this entry »

TACLing Collaboration

Posted by Marc Folk On December - 7 - 2011

Marc Folk

“There was nothing to do here.” That was Toledo’s myth.

Sure, if you bought it as it is often packaged, you would see Toledo, OH as a barren, struggling post-industrial city with a bleak future and little cultural vitality. Toledo is near bull’s eye center in the “rust belt” region, frequently discounted on a whim and cast with a left-for-dead mentality too often projected on to mid-size Midwestern cities.

Yes, it is true that our community faces stern economic challenges, scant resources, and is faced with its own reinvention. But too, we are graced with profound, rich, and growing artistic heritage and cultural identity.

And let’s not forget, Toledo is a labor town, a little hard work has never scared us.

Scratch just below the soot of our “rust belt” stereotypes, and you’ll see a burgeoning artist community and growing public participation in the arts. Scratch a little deeper and discover that the Toledo Museum of Art was voted America’s favorite museum (it’s true) and that its halls hold the bulk of your art history book.

A little past that and you’ll see the world class Toledo Symphony Orchestra recently performed, by invitation, at Carnegie Hall. Read the rest of this entry »

E Pluribus Unum

Posted by Will Maitland Weiss On December - 7 - 2011

Will Maitland Weiss

I had a cup of tea recently with Rachel Cohen. You probably don’t know Rachel, which is too bad.

She’s a choreographer, and her dance company is called Racoco. She’s lithe and creative—and happens to be really smart and articulate (it cracks me up to know her Ivy League alma mater, a place you do not associate with turning out dance talent).

She has a day job, three days a week, in order to afford cups of tea and, really, to feed her demon within, which cries out her version of Gotta dance!

There is absolutely only one Rachel Cohen, but—you know what I mean, you know some of them—there are hundreds of Rachel Cohens. Thousands, just in NYC.

She talked to me about how Racoco partners with a couple of other dance companies to pay for a booth at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters gig in NYC each January, and for a space and time to showcase some of their work. How else, we wondered to one another, might Racoco partner with other companies?

Share the effort to get college residency bookings, and share the residencies? Share marketing, having figured out who would perform on which weekend in which venue, so every one of their precious few NYC performances isn’t on the same Saturday? Share auditions, and you know what—share hiring of dancers who can perform the work of more than one choreographer, offering them a longer, contiguous chunk of employment? Read the rest of this entry »