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April 30, 2009



That's crazy talk. You mean you can raise money to pay artists the same way you can to put in drinking fountains? Get right out of town! :)

I kid, but I agree with mostly with everything here.

And a simple thing that orgs. can do is allow folks get to know the artists working on shows the same way they would talk about the topics discussed in the shows. (I probably sound like a broken record by now on that.)

I don't know if I'd agree with the argument against restricted funds. I'm not sure about an endowed position, I'd rather see an endowment for salaries (a group instead of one.)

Practically speaking as the boomers donate more and more restricted funds, I think the strings are already going to be set by donors anyway.

I think that is one development trend that will only ramp up in the future. Ideal, no. But nothing we do is the prototypical ideal.


I also think that if one is serious about improving actor pay, specifically earmarked donations/endowments for that purpose are the way to go. The great thing about having strings attached is it removes the temptation to spend the money on other things. Bluntly, I can't think of a single arts organization that I would trust to not reallocate those funds the first time they have a tough year if the funds aren't restricted. The performers have been the least valued asset in this industry for too long, and the habit of giving them short shrift financially, especially when times are tight, has become too ingrained. If we really are agreeing that the *human* capital in the building is the most valuable asset of the organization, there shouldn't be any problem with making it official by restricting use of some raised money to salaries only.


I agree with Ed that restricted funds are rarely restricted, in the real world, even those set aside for building. Though the actors would probably take it in the neck first. Then again...here's a counter-example: a developmental organization I know raised a lot of money during an event one year and decided to use that raise artists fees. The staff was very clear with the artist members (who actually raised the money) that this meant a change in the organization's budget and they would need to find a way to maintain that new line-item. The artist members were adamant and the fees were indeed raised and a yearly event, that traditionally was for general expenses and special projects, was now essentially dedicated to this new line-item. And everyone was pretty happy with that (largely). I think that kind of transparency and decision-making is key and it can only be acheived by having the artists included in the decision-making process. As with anything, there are trade-offs. But we can make them. We just have to know what we're trading.


I can speak from experience that trying to move funds around from restricted to unrestricted is a bit of high wire act. It does happen a lot, but if it goes wrong things can get messy.

As for your example 99, I think that really shows how artists and fundraisers can work together as long as everybody puts the cards on da table.


On the update, I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but how is that different than selecting the artistic staff who get's paid now? (Say selecting a new AD)

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