Outsourcing: an option for the arts?

Posted on: May 24, 2010

Sunday (5/23) on the National Public Radio website, Elizabeth Blair writes, “In Columbus, Ohio, a number of arts groups are doing what American businesses started doing a long time ago: outsourcing. The recession hit nonprofits hard, and now these organizations have no choice but to become more efficient. So they’re handing over the ‘back office’ to the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, or CAPA. CAPA handles their finances, marketing, ticketing and fundraising … Artistically, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra has a very good reputation, but financially it’s been a mess for some time. The recession nearly killed the orchestra altogether. ‘It was a matter of running out of cash,’ says Roland Valliere, president of the Columbus Symphony. … So Valliere went to Bill Conner, president of CAPA, an arts management organization. Conner says that he and Valliere arranged for CAPA to take over the symphony’s back office support—which freed up $750,000 in the budget. In the last year and a half, CAPA has made similar arrangements with five other cultural organizations—either handling their back offices or managing them outright. … [National Arts Strategies President and CEO Russell Willis] Taylor says she likes the idea of CAPA, but she believes arts groups that rely on their services need to be careful about giving up key relationships.”

Posted May 24, 2010