From his perch in
Kaiser expanded his stable of clients while also being president of the
Crisis is what has made
If any leaders hoped Kaiser would recommend that arts groups trim their sails to fit the perceived amount of money available, they might have been disappointed. Cutting budgets in a crisis is a common mistake, he believes, creating a downward spiral, yet it is a common impulse.
"The first thing they cut is artistic initiatives, and the second is marketing, and those are the things that create interest and let people know about what's interesting," he says.
His reports for the ballet and PTC recommended more: more fund-raising, more ambitious artistic offerings, boards reinvigorated with new members and higher expectations of donations, and more effective marketing. His work for the ballet has ended, and though he consulted on the search that produced artistic director Ángel Corella, Kaiser did not recommend the recent dismissal of key artistic personnel.
Kaiser comes to his philosophies after a lifetime of straddling the arts and business. Born in
Kaiser became something of an arts management star -- if there is such a creature -- three decades ago by bringing the
That reputation as a turnaround artist is well-earned, says
At the same time, Devan says, "I've never heard him speak about lofty ideas without having some sort of business plan behind it."
At the Mann Center, where Kaiser consulted five years ago on a pro bono basis, president
He is working on a book about where the arts will be in 20 years, Curtains? The Future of the Arts in America -- whose content is more optimistic than the title, he assures -- and he sees several trends ahead.
"We are at the beginning of a major change in the way people receive their arts, and I believe online will become the source and a major competitor to live arts," he says. "And it appears to me that we will see a bifurcation of arts organizations, with the large ones, who will make revenue based on selling performances online, and local organizations who service the community. I am very nervous about the midsize regional organization, whose ticket prices are so high that they are not going to be able to compete, yet [are] so large they can't be a community organization."
PTC and the
That happens, he says, with what's on stage or in the galleries.
"You have to allow your artists to be creative," he says. "Too many organizations have to plan art according to what the budget is, as opposed to thinking about what they want to do artistically and then figuring out how the budget can be paid for."
That less-ambitious approach has beset
"Philanthropy is different," he says. "It is unlike much of the country in that it has been very much foundation-driven and less individual-driven. It's an arts environment that was used to getting relatively large grants from foundations, not all of which still fund the arts, and the building of that individual donor base was not pursued as aggressively as it was in other cities."
Moreover, many of the city's largest gifts -- which have often brought naming rights for their donors -- were not as large as they might have been. "If you look at the larger gifts across your larger institutions, that larger size is smaller than gifts to the same-size organizations in other cities." This sets the bar low for future naming opportunities.
And so, as the city's museums, orchestras, and dance troupes are producing at a very high level, they are doing so under financial strain.
"If you look at the 10 largest organizations in
Endowments are smaller, too: "There is a tremendous history of art-making in
Projecting excitement, whether among donors or ticket-buyers, means something different to everyone, he says. It could be allowing patrons to learn in more intimate ways about the art form, or building a social life around the organization.
"What people are not looking for are what arts organizations like to give to reward people, which is hats, umbrellas, and mugs," he says. "It's experiences. I really focus on the experience you can't buy, like coming to a dress rehearsal. For me that's not a big deal, because I do it all the time. But for some people, it is life-changing."
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