Poll: The Cultural Confidence Level

The 10/1/08 article about the impact of the economy generated some fascinating responses, albeit all private. Most of which predicted that the downturn in economic conditions will have a very negative impact on the immediate future for most performing arts organizations. As such, I’m curious to learn more about a wider range of readers think…

Where are cultural economic conditions headed?
Where are cultural economic conditions headed?

Please answer the following questions from the perspective of an arts manager, board member, artist, donor, or ticket buyer.

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We’ll use the above answers to begin formulating something of a national cultural confidence level that will be tracked over the next few months (or perhaps the entire season if need be). In the meantime, weigh-in on the topic with a comment.

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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3 thoughts on “Poll: The Cultural Confidence Level”

  1. I had an interesting conversation yesterday with the president of an important funder of contemporary music. We were talking about the state of funding and the recent history of non-profits. What he said was that during the 90s there was a lot of grant money available and the barriers to starting a 501(c)3 were low, so lots and lots of people started them and got funding. So there are an awful lot of mouths to feed, and the current economic meltdown is going to have a significant impact on the funding that foundations have at their disposal. The downturn in funding may not happen for a year, given that the way foundations do their budgeting, but he thinks it’s basically guaranteed. It will be harder for organizations who receive ongoing support from foundations to stay on the list, and even harder for new organizations to get funding. Our conversation was limited to funding from foundations, but giving from individual donors will probably take a hit too, especially in the arts sector. Now is probably a good time to start stockpiling canned food and amunition 🙂

  2. Speaking of individual donors… people will always spend money on the things that are important to them. I learned during Katrina (and Ike) a while back that you can’t come to work worried about who might not give money. If your cause is a good one, then it’s good regardless of other conditions (economy) and you have to be fearless about promoting it and funding it. Otherwise it becomes very easy to use negative headlines and reports from other organizations as justification for lowered expectations.

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Poll: The Cultural Confidence Level