Arts and Culture Q&A with Laura MacDonald

Q: What general trends have you noticed lately among arts and culture organizations? Has anything changed significantly over the past few years?

A: Leaders in arts and culture recognize that old funding models won’t sustain their organizations in the future. Public funding is eroding.  Institutional funders’ (corporate and foundation) support for arts and culture is holding steady—but not growing much—and tends to be focused on educational support and outreach. In response, organizations are exploring new models of financial stability: increased endowments, earned-revenue enterprises, collaborations.

Earned revenue is also under pressure. Entertainment audiences are more likely to purchase tickets at the last minute, rather than subscribing to a series or joining as a member. Predicting consumer behavior more difficult.
At the same time, new organizations are springing up to reflect the art-making interests of a new generation. Audiences are responding to these authentic experiences. Some of these initiatives will be bright but brief; others may reshape arts and culture for the longer term.

Q: Why are you interested in working with arts & culture?

A: Its a vanguard market. These organizations and their constituents are sophisticated, so new fundraising tactics and approaches can often be pioneered in the Arts & Culture sector and then be adapted into other sectors. On a more personal level, it is rewarding and engaging to hangout in museums and performing arts centers – they are cool.

Q: What do you think is the hardest challenge with it?

A: Determining how to generate an engaged and informed volunteer and donor corps in an increasingly busy and fragmented world. Inspiring the next generation of civic leaders and engaging them in the fundraising process.

Q:What is the most relevant advice you could give arts and culture organizations?

A: You can’t cut your way to fiscal health or artistic relevance. Sustain your investments in authentic and engaging experiences, and your audiences will sustain their investment in your organization.