Kennedy Center expands consulting effort to help struggling arts groups survive the recessionBy Brett Zongker, AP
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Kennedy Center offers help to strapped arts groups
WASHINGTON — The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced plans Tuesday to expand its crisis consulting for arts organizations that are struggling to survive the recession, an effort championed by first lady Michelle Obama and congressional leaders.
Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser will meet with arts leaders in all 50 states and Puerto Rico over the next year, he said, beginning with visits to New York, Kalamazoo, Mich., Indianapolis and six other cities in the next two months.
Since February, the center’s “Arts in Crisis” initiative has offered emergency planning advice for fundraising, budgeting, marketing or other strategies as box office revenues decline, along with donations and endowment income. Groups that cut their programming budgets won’t be able to compete for funding that remains, Kaiser said.
“Right now, the truth is with so much less being given to the arts … it means arts organizations have to compete harder for the money that is out there,” Kaiser said.
First Lady Michelle Obama noted in a statement Tuesday that arts and cultural activities employ about 6 million people and contribute more than $160 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
“Our future as an innovative country depends on ensuring that everyone has access to the arts and to cultural opportunities,” she said.
Orchestras, opera companies and ballets nationwide have been grappling with huge budget deficits. The Baltimore Opera declared bankruptcy and closed its doors this year, while the Los Angeles Opera has cut staff and salaries — and is staging fewer performances.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada lamented the recent closure of the Las Vegas Art Museum, which had operated continuously since 1974. Such closures show “that this economic recession is taking a serious toll on our art institutions,” he said.
Kaiser said it’s too soon to account for the impact of $50 million in economic stimulus funding devoted to the National Endowment for the Arts. Most of the money will be used to preserve arts jobs through grants.
State lawmakers have visited the Kennedy Center, which receives some federal funding, for advice on how to sustain their programs. Kaiser urged them to continue investing in the arts even as they deal with their own budget troubles.
“As our economy changes and we have less and less of a manufacturing base,” Kaiser said, “we have to teach our children to be creative.”
On the Net:
Arts in Crisis: www.artsincrisis.org/
Tags: Dc-meltdown-arts, Endowments, North America, Philanthropy, Recessions And Depressions, United States, Vegas, Washington