Cultural Confidence Levels: It’s Always Darkest…

In a word, the cultural outlook is dreary. At least, that’s what respondents indicated when asked about their outlook toward economic conditions at their orchestra by the end of the season. On the bright(er) side of things, although respondents indicated a slightly lower level of confidence about current economic conditions, those levels were still 10 points higher than the all-time low experienced over the 1/18/2009 polling cycle…

Conversely, the outlook on economic conditions by the end of the season reached the highest levels of “poor” since polling began in October, 2008. Likewise, this polling cycle generated the lowest combined positive confidence levels in future economic conditions; in particular, both of the positive options (“excellent” and “good”) garnered zero results. The chart below illustrates the changes in confidence levels over the poll’s duration.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

At the same time, the latest polling cycle did generate some positive economic news is the fact that the final stimulus package approved by congress managed to stave off attempts to cut the $50 million National Endowment of the Arts allocation (NEA). It will be interesting to see if those funds will have impact on cultural confidence levels, especially since the NEA has announced that it will release details on how it plans to distribute those funds later this month.

In the meantime, keep your eyes on the news from the NEA, sharpen your grant writing pencils, and take a moment to cast your vote for the current polling cycle: 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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