Today’s headline is a line from Ron Spigelman’s 1/18/2010 blog post titled Adjusting the Seasonings in Salt Lake! – Time to Make a Play! In the article, Spigelman asserts that orchestras need to move past the self perception that the business must rely exclusively on handouts dictated solely by economic conditions. This is a particularly useful concept in today’s economic downturn as it is far too easy for nonprofit arts managers to forget just how much impact (real and/or potential) they have throughout their respective community…
Although the notion that the arts are a major economic force is arguable, there’s no denying the dynamic set of benefits a community receives related to having a full time professional orchestra in town. Unlike traveling shows or orchestras on tour, resident organizations attract artistic employees from outside the local talent pool who in turn contribute an otherwise unavailable skilled (not to mention taxpaying) presence. Concert events regularly draw people who would otherwise have little or no reason to leave their suburban homes during times of the day and to parts of town that benefit from foot traffic. This could go on and on, but you get the point.
Ultimately, each organization needs to work at quantifying exactly what they contribute in order to help their community realize that they aren’t merely a constant drain on resources and the first to be forgotten in tough times but as a cornerstone of community success and an integral component in efforts to climb out of the economic downturn. If nothing else, this is one area where foundations (not to mention academic institutions looking to strengthen ties with orchestras) can play an important role by providing resources and manpower to make sure research efforts are conducted thoroughly yet with haste. Certainly, this has been part of NEA chairman, Rocco Landesman’s mantra for the past several months.
Spigelman concludes his post with the following remarks:
“We can’t keep waiting for the recession to end, we need to actually try to help end it! This is the time that music and the arts are needed the most as people need to uplifted and inspired in these times. This is our golden opportunity to become relevant. Orchestras are special, but we need to stop talking about how important and meaningful we are and instead ACTUALLY BECOME IMPORTANT AND MEANINGFUL.”
And that’s where we’ll leave things for today. What do you think?