LEADING QUESTIONS: Arts groups strive to keep lean

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where 
IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead
to success.

Dave Lawrence, 42, was named president and CEO of the Arts Council of Indianapolis in December after an 11-year career with
the arts funding and advocacy group. Intimate knowledge of the group's programs and the local arts community would be
vital in guiding the not-for-profit through perhaps the most challenging period in its 23-year history. Local government grants,
which the council allocates to the city's arts groups, have shrunk from about $2.5 million in 2007 to $1 million this
year. In that time, the group's budget has fallen from $5.5 million to $2.8 million.

In the video below, Lawrence discusses his hopes for continued support from the city of Indianapolis in
its 2011 budget, which will be announced later this month, as well as prospects for finding alternative sources of city funding
beyond the general fund. And as arts organizations struggle to find places in their already notoriously tight budgets to trim
expenses, Lawrence notes the dangers in the recent trend of pruning programming and rehearsal time.

Public funding for the arts has been a divisive issue for decades. The Council found itself in the middle of that debate
in 2008 when some local interests, anxious about big increases in property taxes, took aim at the city's budget for arts
funding. In the video below, Lawrence discusses the group's initial response to critics and how it needed
to sharpen its message.

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