Are You Anxious About How The National Election May Impact The Arts?

It’s difficult to imagine that anyone in the US isn’t aware of the carnivalesque spectacle that has become the national presidential election but for those who work in the arts, have you given any serious thought about how those elections might impact the field? Just imagine what might transpire if one of the more extreme candidates wins.

Adaptistration Guy TrumpCheck that, you don’t really have to imagine.

Instead, you can follow along in real-time by watching Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, a political appointment to the position and member of that country’s dominant political party.

During her tenure, she’s been called out for freezing government funding to an Arab theater that produced a work deemed sympathetic to Arab terrorist and her current proposal to force what she defines as failing arts organizations to merge with those believed to be successful.

But wait, there’s more.

Regev proposed legislation that would allow her ministry to deny or terminate funding for what the government deemed as “actions against the principles of the state” and elaborated on her intellectual justification for such a position during a recent speech at the 3/6/2016 Haaretz Culture Conference (emphasis added).

“It is unimaginable for a country that wants to continue existing to fund plays, movies and cultural institutions that strive to undermine the very nature of its existence,” said Regev. “Categorically, freedom of expression is important for democracy but the right to security overrides freedom of expression – you are not demanding [the right to level] criticism, but the destruction and ruin of what was built here.”

But wait, there’s more.

At the same conference, reports indicate that she told artists and arts administrators in attendance they needed to “cut the bullshit” and executives, both artistic and administrative, should have five year limits to the length of time they can run an arts institution. According to Regev, the proposal isn’t designed to stem abuse or implement oversight but because she believes culture would be better suited by instituting this Logan’s Run style policy in order to make room for younger professionals.

The 3/7/20165 edition of published an article that includes quotes from Regev about her position.

“Managing institutions without a time limit is bad for the organization and the industry, and it doesn’t make sense,” says Regev, “Talented people from the theater come to me and tell me, ‘Miri, we have nowhere to go, there’s nothing on the horizon.’ They’re right.”

If you see the irony in proposing term limits for arts administrators in order to make room for emerging leaders juxtaposed with simultaneous forced institutional merges, don’t worry; it just means you’re rational.

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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1 thought on “Are You Anxious About How The National Election May Impact The Arts?

  1. The situation with the NEA is always a concern. Either way, I’d say organizations have to learn how to get the most out of whatever “system” is in place. So understanding what it means for patrons at various financial levels, understanding their financial obligations at various points in their life, understanding when giving is easiest for them, etc. If the organization can help them make a wise decision (like with gift annuities), then there’s more comfort in being generous. Just have to play the right game.

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