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A Practical Approach to Managing Arts Organizations

Michael M. Kaiser

Publication Year: 2013

In the third book of his popular trilogy on creating and sustaining arts organizations, Michael Kaiser reveals the hidden engine that powers consistent success. According to Kaiser, successful arts organizations pursue strong programmatic marketing campaigns that compel people to buy tickets, enroll in classes, and so on--in short, to participate in the organization's programs. Additionally, they create exciting activities that draw people to the organization as a whole. This institutional marketing creates a sense of enthusiasm that attracts donors, board members, and volunteers.

Kaiser calls this group of external supporters the family. When this hidden engine is humming, staff, board, and audience members, artists, and donors feel confidence in the future. Resources are reinvested in more and better art, which is marketed aggressively; as a result, the "family" continues to grow, providing even more resources. This self-reinforcing cycle underlies the activities of all healthy arts organizations, and the theory behind it can be used as a diagnostic tool to reveal--and remedy--the problems of troubled ones.

This book addresses each element of the cycle in the hope that more arts organizations around the globe--from orchestras, theaters, museums, opera companies, and classical and modern dance organizations to service organizations and other not-for-profit cultural institutions--will be able to sustain remarkable creativity, pay the bills, and have fun doing so!

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Title Page

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pp. 4-5


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pp. 6-7


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pp. vii-9

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Authors' Note

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pp. ix-13

One central characteristic of the cycle we discuss in this book is that various elements—artistic programming, marketing, fundraising, board development, etc.—are interlinked. In an effort to make each chapter a useful guide for practitioners, we have,...

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pp. 1-5

I am always amazed when speaking with groups of arts leaders that sports are mentioned in a disparaging way: “Why are sports so popular while we in the arts are underappreciated, if appreciated at all.” The word sports is almost always said in a sneering tone, as if it were one step above porn. (I must confess, I am as...

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1 | Programming: It Is All about the Art

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pp. 6-23

There is one fundamental truth about arts management: the key to a healthy arts organization is strong, exciting, surprising programming. This programming might include performances, exhibitions, educational or outreach activities, or service to the field, but I have yet to...

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2 | Programmatic Marketing: Putting Butts in Seats

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pp. 24-46

There is no question that excellent, vibrant programming lies at the heart of any successful arts organization. Without strong productions, exhibitions, presentations, educational programs, or service offerings, no arts organization can achieve its mission or maintain fiscal strength for an...

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3 | Institutional Marketing: Image Is Everything

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pp. 47-78

However, simply mounting good work and selling it well are not enough to ensure the health of most arts organizations. Few, if any, arts organizations can survive on earned income alone. Those that do not create excitement for their broad range of products and services and do...

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4 | Building the Base: It's All in the Family

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pp. 79-89

I have been speaking and writing about the importance of producing exciting art and pursuing aggressive marketing campaigns for decades; this was reduced to a mantra: good art, well marketed. And while this felt intuitively correct, I never could specify a theoretical model that explained...

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5 | Assembling a Productive Board: The Head of the Family

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pp. 90-103

While every family member is important, there is one group that has heightened impact on the health of the organization and its ability to create a sustainable cycle: the board of directors. A happy, engaged board is vital because it provides leadership for the internal family, ambassadorship...

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6 | Generating Revenue: Earning Rent from the Cycle

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pp. 104-137

A happy family, led by an engaged board and competent staff, produces money for the organization in several different ways: earned income (ticket sales, tour fees, licensing, rentals, auxiliary merchandise, parking, food, and unrelated business income), contributed income, and...

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7 | Controlling Expenses: Not Glamorous, but Essential

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pp. 138-143

We have spent the majority of this book discussing resource generation, and for a good reason: it is very rarely the case that the cycle has broken because an organization has an expense problem. Despite depictions in numerous movies of the spendthrift artistic director, most arts managers...

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8 | Implementing the Cycle: The Cycle Worksheet

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pp. 144-153

Many of our colleagues accept and understand the concept of the cycle, but far fewer of them use its principles to change the way they manage their institutions. This is a direct result of the fundamental reallocation of time and priorities that must accompany implementation. Cycle-driven...

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9 | When the Cycle Breaks

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pp. 154-163

While the cycle is easy to explain and to understand, many arts organizations, unfortunately, do not enjoy as smooth a ride as the theory would suggest is possible. Too many are struggling with severe cashflow shortages, dysfunctional board/staff relationships, loss of donors...

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10 | The Cycle and Strategic Planning

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pp. 164-181

Of course there are other vital reasons to write a strategic plan: it allows disparate voices to develop a common framework and roadmap, it provides staff with a clear set of priorities and assignments, and it ensures that nothing is wasted—not one dollar or minute. For new cultural...

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pp. 182-185

One of the most disappointing days of my arts management career came during my Arts in Crisis tour of the United States in 2010. I had just presented to a large group in Charleston, South Carolina, and received a rousing ovation. The centerpiece of my presentation was a discussion...

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pp. 187-201

Helen Henderson and Adrienne Arsht were the principal funders of my Arts in Crisis tour—and so many other ventures—which spurred the development of the whole cycle concept. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation...

Also from Michael M. Kaiser

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pp. 189-192

E-ISBN-13: 9781611684780
E-ISBN-10: 1611684781
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611684001

Page Count: 212
Publication Year: 2013