Tag Archives: Poverty threshold

Feedback from You (yes, you): 9 Words That Describe the Nonprofit Arts Issues That Are Placing You at the End of Your Rope


This blog, as most are, is pretty much one-way.  I share experiences, advice, consultation, and observations; you read ’em.  I can discuss 1,000 issues that affect nonprofit arts organizations.

But that’s me.

What keeps you up at night?

What concrete issue (not just “there’s no funding for…”) is fraying your rope?  Or better, what issues are figuratively tying a noose around the end of your rope?

Here’s your assignment.  In 9 words (no more, no less), write that issue and send it to info@137words.com.  That’s it.  Beginning in August, we’ll periodically take each issue and I’ll give my take.  Then we’ll open up the discussion to everyone who reads 137 Words.  Let me know if you’d like your name in or if you’d like to be anonymous.  And if you’d like my help privately, let me know that, too.


Charity Missions: Are They Relevant, Or Are They Adorable?

Charitable mission statements tell us what the world looks like as the charity succeeds.

When the mission is rendered moot, the charity is superfluous.

Outside the USA, arts nonprofits are suffering due to reductions in government subsidy. In the USA, however, subsidies are almost non-existent, save for the NEA, which supports with pennies, paper clips, and Cheerios from underneath the Congressional Budget couch cushions.

So the US turns to capitalistic support. Survival of the fittest.

I don’t know. Perhaps the NEA now only exists to exist, like the NRA, PTA, PBS, Catholic Church, or the United Way.

Because in a country where the wealthiest 1% own more than the least-wealthiest 90% and where 95% of monetary gains since 2009 went to the wealthiest 1% of the population, could it be that charities are now just quaint relics of a populist past?

Charity Culture: If Doing the Right Thing Makes You an Endangered Species, Do It Anyway

Sadly, few people know “Profiles in Courage.”  Ask around.

Among performing arts charities, some leaders shrewdly keep their positions because they fear appearing impolitic. They seek sustainability for themselves first, and then, secondarily, their organizations.

To them I implore:

  • Pay performers wages, on the books, legal standard or better, for every hour they spend:  rehearsals, performances, fittings, etc.
  • If your charity isn’t making a substantial difference, merge or close. If it is, share your secrets.
  • It’s about social progress, not black ink. Both are preferable, but you’ve failed if your best work is 30 years of balanced budgets.
  • Take a stand. Don’t buy trouble, of course, but don’t become invisible to save your own skin.
  • Theatres:  plays aren’t written, they’re wrought.  It’s about the production and the viewpoint, not the script and sets.
  • Do something.  Don’t be something.

“Do You Have Experience Working with a Diverse Work Environment?”

A university’s job application asked that very question.

What I wanted to write:

“What’s your definition of non-diversity?  Is it…

Average build?

Moderately healthy?








If so, then the following list might represent descriptions of who divert from your implication of what is normal:

Black. Yellow. Red. Brown.

Geriatric. Juvenile.

Giant.  Little.

Amputee. Physically handicapped.

Wheelchair. Cane. Crutch.

With service animal.

Bald. Hirsute.

Fat. Skinny.

Muscle-bound.  Frail.


Nine-toed.  Six-fingered.

Widowed.  Divorced. 


Bearded.  Mustachioed.

Blistered. Blotched.

Diseased.  Cleft Palate.

Dyed.  Kinky-haired.  Carved.

Tattooed.  Branded.  Freckled. Pimpled.

Toothless.  Bandaged.  Pierced. 

Orthodontia. Glasses. Hearing aid.



Asymmetrical.  Wrinkled.  Ugly.  Malodorous.

Muslim. Jew. Buddhist. Hindi. 



Bi-polar. Depressed.  Anxiety disorder.

Blind. Deaf.  Mute.

Foreign.  Multiracial.

Sad.  Manic.


Homosexual.  Bisexual.  Pansexual.  Transgendered.


Circumcised.   Sterilized.

Genius.  Imbecile.


Therefore, in answer to your question…yes.”


On July 24, 2009, the national minimum wage was $7.25/hour.

A year has a capacity for 2,080 hours (40 hours x 52 weeks). 2,080 hours provides an annual gross income of $15,080 (if the employer pays for holidays, sick days, insurance, parking, etc.).  Income tax lowers the figure down to $12,516.

The 2009 official poverty line for the US (family of four) was $22,050.

4½ years later, minimum wage is still $12,516/year.

If the minimum wage were doubled for businesses with 50+ employees, the gross annual minimum wage would be $30,160.  After federal tax, those employees would take home $25,033. 2013’s official four-person-family poverty line is estimated to be $25,000.

Sounds about right. Unless the economy is built on maintaining a working poor. If that’s the case, we should reduce the minimum wage and build workhouses.

%d bloggers like this: