Oh, I can hear it now.
“See?” they’ll say. “People don’t care about outcomes when they make donations. The Washington Post said so. Ergo: we don’t need outcomes.”
To come to that conclusion is just whistling past the graveyard.
Remember these hard facts:
- The arts are not mentioned in section 501 (c) (3) of the US tax code (you know…the law). The arts fall under “charitable organizations,” which require a measure of public good.
- Using the arts as a cover for an individual’s vanity vision is fine, as long as it’s a commercial venture. Once you pull the taxpaying public into it, ethics demand an outcome.
- The arts can be transformative, both on a commercial and nonprofit level. What differentiates the nonprofit is that a measurement of positive change of the human condition is necessary to rationalize funding.
If we are to take on board the axiom that individuals and corporate bodies are not interested in outcomes and, as here in UK, the Arts Councils and Government arts funding schemes DEMAND outcomes, we find our funding strategy diametrically divided. This means we adopt a ” horses for courses ” approach, which implies a disingenuous schism at the ethical core of the arts organisation. Do we just say that surviving in a culture that is hostile to culture is a paradox too far so our unified projection of who we are is thrown out the window? Or do we try and sell the complexity of what we do in an ever-increasing competitive beauty contest?
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