Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Needless Pressure on Arts Funding

The Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser responded early to the Great Recession, organizing a website and team that puts desperate arts organizations together with better-positioned mentors in a noble effort to keep more arts organizations alive through this very rough patch. His recent Huffington Post note tells how that's been going. Basically, funders have been quite exigent, demanding impeccable arts management performance that at-risk arts companies simply can't provide, even with mentoring. Arts organizations have been going down, and will keep going down unless something fundamental changes.

Kaiser points to arts management skills. This makes sense if you take funders at their word that impeccable arts management would get them to open their wallets. If that's just a pretext to deflect attention from the economic pressures funders face, though, all the arts management training in the world won't save a lot of these performing companies. What would save them is a substantial increase in available funds, and as my comment to Kaiser's note points out, art museums have the financial wherewithal to generously fund the arts embedded in their permanent collections. Deaccessioning or leasing from those collections to generate liquidity would be a mistake, though, now that Coaccession offers a better alternative that lets a museum have its Monet and money, too.

It's time for artworks to support the arts!