Get Your Government Affairs Groove On

Sarah Marczynski published an article at ArtsHacker on 3/27/2015 titled 10 Ways to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Legislator and all 10 are worthwhile tips and it made me think about one of the most overlooked areas of governance we haven’t examined in a few years: the need to establish and maintain an effective government affairs committee.

Adaptistration People 022It never ceases to amaze me at how many arts groups either neglect to leverage the value from city and state lobbying efforts. In some cases, there are misperceptions about nonprofits and lobbying but more often than not, it is good old fashioned reticence that prevents arts orgs from developing a crack team of connected board members capable of keeping their organization on legislature’s minds.

Nonetheless, this is a topic worth exploring in more detail over the next few months; in the meantime, take a look at the pair of articles here on the topic and give Marczynski’s list a read as well.

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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