This Is How It Should Work

Today’s Wisconsin State Journal featured an article by Anita Clark detailing the exceptionally large private gift by W. Jerome Frautschi to build the new Overture Center in Madison Wisconsin. 

The $205 million gift was presented by Frautschi because he simply believes that private money, not public funds, should pay for the new Performing Arts Center.

This sort of philanthropy harkens back to the days of Andrew Carnegie and George Peabody, men who believed in stepping up to the plate with their personal fortunes in order to make their communities better places to live.

America may be unusual in its lack of government sponsorship of the arts, but people like Frautschi provide an example for everyone to follow when it comes to supporting what’s important to a community.  You can’t rely on the government to make decisions that you should be making yourself it’s just irresponsible.

And unlike most major league sports parks that have been built in recent years, the Madison PAC will be owned and operated by foundation, not an individual.  Wisconsin won’t see public tax dollars go toward making one rich man even richer under the guise of “benefiting” of the community.

Hopefully this gift will help inspire a new mentality among professional fundraisers to look toward the private sector and not gear the bulk of their efforts toward government funds.

In time, I hope we can see this level of financial support become commonplace; not just from those among the wealthiest class, but also as the combined efforts of a community.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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