Great Art Well Marketed



The Arts in Crisis: Los Angeles 

Timothy & Michael

Over 300 arts managers, artists, educators and private and corporate investors gathered at the California African American Museum on Thursday, October 8, 2009 to learn from Kennedy Center President, and performing arts turnaround master consultant Michael Kaiser about how to build a healthy performing arts organization in challenging economic times. 

The newly-appointed Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Arts, California Senator Curren Price (D-26), provided introductory remarks in which he acknowledged the important role arts organizations play in stimulating over $5.4 billion in economic activity for California.  This includes over 161,400 full and part-time jobs and 300 million in sate tax revenue.

The Senator also expressed his commitment to small businesses, many of which are small and mid-sized arts organizations.  He also expressed his interest in learning about the critical issues facing the arts and culture sector and welcomed our partnership in moving a progressive agenda for this committee forward. Senator Price backed this message up by staying for the entire symposium.  In fact, he was still chatting with CAAM's Executive Director, Chairmaine Jefferson when I left at 12:30pm. 

East West Players' Executive/Artistic Director, Timothy Dang, conducted the interview-style symposium, which addressed critical issues many of our organizations face on a daily basis.  How to foster excellence, market a product on a shoestring budget and strategies for engaging board members were just a few of the topics covered.

Kaiser & Friends

A significant take-away was the concrete strategies for board engagement, such as encouraging them to bring prospective investors to a rehearsal, reading, host a dinner or post-performance reception. Connecting a Board member to the creative process inspires increased investment because this kind of interaction is meaningful and authentic. This in turn depens participation and attracts additional investors. Mr. Kaiser also stressed the importance of long-range planning.

The thought of planning amid such such uncertainty, raised eyebrows. Yet, time and time again, we see that organizations that plan well have a greater adaptability.  It raises the question: How does your organization plan in an uncertain environment? Share your insights with others in the comment section below. 

Having a great product is the top priority.  In fact, Michael's mantra continues to be: "Great art, well marketed."

We've uploaded a video of the interview to YouTube.  If you missed the event, or want to share it with your board members, visit

CAAMIllustrating one again that the Los Angeles arts community is highly collaborative, Arts in Crisis was organized by Arts for LA, California Community Foundation and the Center for Cultural Innovation. Co-Sponsors for the event included local members of the Kennedy Centers Capacity Program for Culturally Specific Organizations: East West Players, Lula Washing Dance Theatre, Native Voices at the Autry and Santa Cecilia Orchestra.  Additional co-sponsors included: California African American Museum, California Arts Advocates, Emerging Arts Leaders/LA and LA Stage Alliance.

Our sincere thanks to Tim Dang, for posing tough questions to the very real challenges that face our organizations and of course to Mr. Kaiser for his unwavering commitment to helping arts organizations across the globe become stronger and healthier. 

Generous support for the event was provided by the Boeing Company, The California Community Foundation, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angles County Arts Commission.

Danielle Brazell is the Excutive Director of Arts for LA. 

This event was spectacular

This event was spectacular and so very helpful and relevant. Thank you, Arts for LA, as well as the other sponsors, for hosting this wonderful event!