Kaiser: arts groups must stop blaming the economy

Posted on: August 15, 2013

In his column in Monday’s (8/12) Huffington Post, Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, writes, “I am tired of reading that the arts are in trouble because of ‘the economy.’ … The stock market is at an all-time high, corporate profits are strong, housing is rebounding and the unemployment rate is falling. Yet arts leaders still blame poor ticket sales and fundraising results on ‘the economy’ and board members, the press and the public nod their heads in knowing agreement. It is true that there remain depressed sectors of the economy and too many people are still out of work. The economy has not rebounded equally for all.… The world has changed very dramatically: governments are giving less, corporations are far more selective about how they give away their money, there are far more entertainment choices available, our traditional audiences are aging and the younger potential audience members have not received as strong an arts education as their parents did. Arts organizations must adjust to these changes.… We cannot accept the conventional wisdom that ‘every not-for-profit arts organization is facing deficits’ because that is simply not true and is dangerous. I know of hundreds of arts organizations that have done a superb job of navigating the new world in which we live.”

Posted August 15, 2013