It is no wonder why Michael Kaiser has 4,694 Facebook friends. After hearing the Kennedy Center president speak at the ‘Arts in Crisis: A Conversation with Michael M. Kaiser’ event at McCarter Theatre last Wednesday, I was inspired by his optimistic, yet realistic, can-do attitude. For those who missed it, key points can be found here at the Arts in Crisis video series website.
According to Mr. Kaiser the key to a healthy arts organization is exciting programming—not surprising for a man that plans productions 4-5 years in advance! To this end, he believes programming should only receive cuts as a last resort, and when big programming cannot be scheduled right away, it should be announced 2-3 years in advance. This planning time allows for fundraising, marketing, involving board members, and generating the excitement a production needs behind it. Mr. Kaiser explained that he feels exciting, high-quality programming brings in new people who attract new audiences, which all adds up to more money to fund programming.
As the topic of conversation was “Arts in Crisis,” much of the discussion focused on finances, fundraising, and closing debt—all topics you can learn more about in his writings or in the Arts in Crisis video series. While Mr. Kaiser did discuss the extremely difficult economic climate, his tone was a hopeful and encouraging one. In such challenging times, it was motivating to hear Mr. Kaiser, a man who is certainly no stranger to accepting a challenge, rally the troops with words of wisdom and his favorite thing: excitement!