Get The Cash Before It’s Gone

The United States Federal Government isn’t even half way through handing out more than $700 billion in bailout funds to the nation’s financial institutions in hopes of healing self-inflicted wounds and now the three major US auto makers are looking for a handout. According to a report from CNN, the auto makers claim sharp declines in sales necessitate sizeable levels of government assistance in the form of direct bailout funds or massive low-interest loans. Given the government’s habit of handing out large sums of cash, no questions asked, for foreign wars and domestic financial impropriety the nation’s professional arts organizations had better step up with their hat in their hand soon before China decides to stop lending us money…

Get it before it is gone
Get it before it's gone

All bitterness notwithstanding, arts organizations simply have nothing to lose by pushing their federal representatives for emergency bailout funds. In fact, they can structure the request to include funding for large numbers of free public concerts. Compared to funds directed to other bailout efforts, every professional orchestra could provide no less than six free concerts per year for not even one thousandth of the $700 billion allocated to corporate bailouts so far.

At the very least, arts organizations should ask the government to provide the means for no-fee lines of credit and low-interest long term loans. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for the CEOs and board chairs of the nation’s largest budget arts groups to request a meeting with key congressional leaders to review what government can do to help (it worked for the auto makers). After all, what do you have to lose in asking?

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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