Response to Kennedy Center’s “Arts in Crisis” initiative

Posted on: February 19, 2009

“Within 24 hours of announcing a free consulting program for any troubled arts organizations in the country,” writes William Triplett in Thursday’s (2/19) Wall Street Journal, “Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, received 110 emailed pleas from 31 states. … Over the course of almost three decades, [Kaiser] has specialized in resuscitating arts outfits once on life-support, including Harlem’s Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, the Kansas City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre and London’s Royal Opera House. He’s even written a how-to book based on these experiences—‘The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations,’ essentially a 183-page prescription, published last fall by Brandeis University Press. … ‘Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative,’ which Mr. Kaiser unveiled on Feb. 3, is essentially an online hotline (www.artsincrisis.org) for troubled groups.” The initiative is “fundamentally driven by a passion to end a self-defeating phenomenon he has witnessed throughout his career.” Says Kaiser, “So often in a troubled organization, there’s so much focus on ‘what happened, what went wrong, who did what, whose fault was it?’ But turn that around and focus on ‘what do we do next year?’ and the energy from that is amazing.”