Sunday, February 15, 2009

A fair question, part 2

This post is a continuation of the thoughts from last week.

I've always felt that the health of a system depends on the health of the different components. When all of the components are healthy and working together, the system is healthy. In southeastern Wisconsin, the arts community is healthy. Classical music, ballet, and theater are all thriving. This is not to say that the different groups are not feeling the recession - we just received a letter from the MSO stating that while ticket sales are good, they are expecting financial problems because of slower donations from corporations. And in any recession, this is to be expected. People and corporations will reduce discretionary spending, as their total funds are reduced.

We have a good tool for funding the larger groups within the Arts community in the United Performing Arts Fund. UPAF has done a wonderful job keeping our large arts groups thriving. However, they focus on the larger groups that also employ many people. They do not have funding for amateur groups with very small budgets, groups that produce concerts or events completely with volunteers.

An aside: In working with amateur groups for many years, I believe it would be very helpful for a foundation to set aside 10 to 20 grants of no more than $500 each to fund amateur group events (local guest artists, guest conductors, etc.). However, until I win the lottery, I can only lobby for such an idea to be implemented.

So, instead, I try to help by blogging about all the different community music groups in the area, in an attempt to generate interest and attendance at those events. Once a person has attended a concert or an event, they can determine if they wish to donate to the group to keep it thriving.

The end goal is to keep the good amateur groups growing, which will bring interest in attending events by the semi-pro groups (Waukesha, Racine, and Kenosha Symphony Orchestras as examples). That will in turn help boost attendance at the MSO concerts and keep our Symphony Orchestra world class. (When I travel on business, I always check to see if a classical concert is scheduled while I am in that city. I have been lucky to see a number of orchestras in a number of different cities. Our MSO is better than most of them! We are very blessed!)

And that's why I post every week!

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