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Kaiser advocates arts pushing biz

Org provides hands on management training

WASHINGTON — “Arts organizations throughout the world must learn to become more entrepreneurial as they reach out to private sources of funding, many for the first time,” says Kennedy Center prexy Michael Kaiser.

With nonprofits everywhere dealing with cutbacks in traditional sources of funding, Kaiser is doing his part to help.

He believes that to survive in this climate, theaters and other arts groups need professional and aggressive management. To that end, the center’s Vilar Institute for Arts Management last week welcomed its fourth class of individuals who for the next nine months will be paid to learn all facets of running arts orgs.

The five Americans and five international participants, selected from 135 applications from 39 countries, get hands-on experience assisting KenCen brass here as well as helping needy arts groups elsewhere. Those groups include 33 U.S.-based “theaters of color” that participate in the center’s 2-year-old Capacity Building Program.

Kaiser also aims to elevate the arts scene in other countries via his post as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador for the State Dept. He and three other center execs recently participated in a workshop in Mexico with government officials and arts leaders. In November, he’ll visit China at that government’s invitation to provide more advice.

In Mexico there is no mechanism or culture for private giving to the arts, he says. The need there is twofold: “Not only must Mexican arts organizations become more entrepreneurial, but the government must create a new method of encouraging such behavior,” Kaiser says.

A two-year project aimed at helping establish a new foundation in Mexico under which arts can flourish is being coordinated through the State Dept. and the Mexican government’s arts org, Conaculta. It will help the government rewrite its tax code and other regs, and assist some three dozen arts groups with strategic planning, fundraising, ticket sales and increasing visibility.

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