Kaiser (on a) Roll
Not surprisingly, the man who wrote the book on how to save failing arts companies (The Art of the Turnaround) is in demand in this time of recession. Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, has become a weekly fixture on The Huffington Post, where he writes factually (meaning, these days, rather seriously) about arts funding issues.
Today, he talks to the inimitable Norman Lebrecht on BBC Radio 3 (you can listen live on the internet at 4:15 EDT, or for a few days after the broadcast) about his program to help struggling companies (some 350 have applied so far), his forecast for the future, his background as a singer, etc.
One of Kaiser’s main tenets is that in order to succeed, companies should cut costs but not programming. I wish more people were listening to him. The 2009-10 season is filled with examples of companies cutting their most interesting or unusual ventures (the Met’s “Ghosts of Versailles,” to name one) and replacing them with shows calculated to do well at the box office. This may work in the short term in terms of maintaining ticket sales, but it’s not the best way to convince prospective donors, or artists, that you are offering something exciting and artistically important.
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