Tag Archives: gala

Talk to Me Like I’m 10: a Lesson in Long-Term Planning for Artistic Directors and Board Chairs

talk to me like I'm 10.jpg

Does long-term planning cause a rift between your artistic director and those other people?

Does it cause discord between your board chair and those other people?

Seen all the time among arts charities:  carefully (and successfully) executed annual development plans reduced to rubble after the board institutes a high-priced capital campaign.  The capital campaign sucks up all in its path, causing 5 years of stakeholder repair.  Indispensable Chair happy.  Staff leaves.

Artistic directors substituting their taste for vision and their personal and professional relationships for core values.  Idiosyncrasy obviates mission.  Indispensable AD happy.  Board leaves.

Both cases: company imperiled, stakeholders leaving.

Time to create an action plan, written at a 5th grade level.  Make it about impact rather than income.  Test the theory that your arts nonprofit is indispensable.  Make sure that your most important stakeholders don’t leave.

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Face-palms in the arts world: Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light

Head in Hands

Somewhere…

  • A managing director is face-palming because the budget draft is still a departmental wish list;
  • A marketing director is face-palming because the artistic director decided that he knew more about marketing than the marketing director;
  • A development director is face-palming because the board chair has fashioned a multi-million dollar “capital” campaign (actually, a “get-out-of-debt” campaign) with no feasibility study, no regard to the annual development campaign, and no accountability to anyone else;
  • An artistic director is face-palming because the plays she wants to do don’t jibe with the mission of the company;
  • A board member is face-palming because every meeting is about reporting, money, by-laws, and the gala;

And somewhere, performing arts audiences and constituents are collectively face-palming, hoping against hope that the arts folks in their region remember that for them, it’s about the art.

Omnibus Festa, Omni Tempore: Raising Money to Spend on the People Who are Raising Money to Spend on the People Who are Raising Money to Spend on the People Who are Raising Money…, etc.

Eating_money_large“You scrimp and save and beg and borrow and where does half the money go?  Down the throats of the organizing committee.”  — Athene Seyler, “Make Mine Mink”

The 1980s and 1990s were the golden years of galas for arts charities.  Mostly because there were fewer of them.  But also because high percentages of the money actually went to the organization.

Today, putting on massive galas to feed donors – netting scant revenue to the charity but plenty of “goodwill,” “friend-raising” and resume padding – are often construed as elitist, inefficient modes of raising income.

One annual gala, or perhaps groups of organizations sharing a larger gala and splitting the receipts, might thin out the calendar and make them more financially effective.  Hundreds of hours of employee and trustee resources might well be better spent on relationship-building, not napkin swans..

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