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Can arts save their way to health?

July 1, 2009
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"Arts organizations that consistently do good work and are aggressive about their marketing are the ones which succeed, both programmatically and financially."

So says Michael Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in a recent item at Huffington Post. Kaiser will be hitting the road, visiting all 50 states, to lead "Arts in Crisis" discussions. Included is an August 11 stop in Indy. Details here.

He states that canceling performances, eliminating educational programming, shortening seasons, or "dumbing down" product in the name of accessibility is wrongheaded.

"These approaches to dealing with the current recession all assume that cost is the underlying problem of the arts; conventional wisdom suggests that an arts organization can 'save its way to health.' But this is wrong, dangerously wrong."

Is Kaiser right? If quality stays up and the message gets out, will audiences (and donors) show up? Does what he says apply perhaps to the Kennedy Center's home in Washington, D.C., but not to Indianapolis?

Your thoughts?

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