Cultural Confidence And The Madoff Effect

The latest Cultural Confidence update indicates attitudes surrounding the current economic situation as well as the economic outlook among cultural institutions remained mostly unchanged since the last polling cycle. Since polling began, negative outlooks overshadow positive by no less than two to one while those who believe the current economic condition at their organization is “poor” (the lowest available option) has risen steadily. It was interesting that the Bernie Madoff scandal appeared to have little impact on this polling cycle but that situation should still serve as notice to all performing arts organizations that transparency and accountability have never been more important..

The economic outlook remaines mostly unchanged.
The economic outlook remaines mostly unchanged.

If investors are scared, imagine how donors feel. Think of it as the Madoff Effect: a trickle-down version of anxiety and insecurity that paralyzes donors with crippling mistrust (not to mention any direct and/or indirect losses performing arts organization may suffer if any of their investment revenue was tied to Madoff’s Ponzi scheme). Regardless of prevailing opinion inside the institution or if similar efforts were recently implemented, shrewd board officers and administrative executives would be wise to realize the value in assessing their organization’s fiscal management practices and institutional transparency with an eye toward bolstering public trust.

Simply put, going through this process and announcing the results publicly will be a useful development tool in addition to marginalizing the Madoff Effect. Even with all of its problems, the new economy is an opportunity for nonprofit performing arts organizations to embrace previously unknown levels of institutional transparency with the goal of raising internal business practices and public opinion.

Voting for the current polling cycle is now open so if you haven’t cast your vote what are you waiting for? VOTE NOW.

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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