Economics, Culture and Leadership

Attended a great event last week, which was ostensibly to launch The Economics of Cultural leadership: An economic impact assessment of the Cultural Leadership Programme, and debate how we assess the benefits of leadership development. It did absolutely both of theses things, but it also evolved into a celebration and wake for the great work of the  CLP, the closure of which in March had been announced a few days previously; and a fanastic disscussion of how we could use broader measures than simply economic impact studies to capture the value of arts and culture (and warning that if we dont grasp the opportunity to do so soon it may be too late).

It was orgnised by the Work Foundation and it was a delight to hear from the inspirational Will Hutton in person, as well as Hasan Bakhshi from NESTA, Ruth Jarratt from the ROH, Ben Reid from the Work Foundation and David Kershaw from the CLP.

My take-aways:

A plea for assessing the economic value of culture not just the economic impact. And related to this, a warning that economic impact studies, which are only as good as the worst    – you know who you are flimsy multipliers and exaggerated claims  – are increasingly not believed by funders.

We need a ‘Frascati’ moment in arts and culture (yes, the home of the Italian wine of the same name). This was the location of,  apparently, a meeting of leaders from the sciene and technology sectors at which they  created their own set of measures by which their impact and success could be measured by government – and lo and behold their measures were taken on board. Rather than fitting into a different stakeholders’ various  measures (instrumental, economic, intrinsic, social  etc) what is stopping our leaders working together as a sector to create a set of agreed meaures of the impacts of arts and culture? Its not like we are lacking the brains – ( the people in that room could do it) – but what about the will ?

A warning that if we don’t seize this opportunity we could be in the same position as medical research, the impact of which is measured by the profits of pharmaceutical companies rather than the number of lives saved…

Arts Legacy Fundraising Report

Arts Quarter in partnership with Legacy Foresight have just published their report on Arts Legacy Fundraising. You may be aware that Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State, DCMS highlighted the potential of legacy giving as a fundamental source of arts funding in his plans. The report points out that legacy fundraising is still very much in its infancy with very little awareness from arts organisations in promoting legacy giving or receiving gifts in wills.

Read a summary of the report by following this link:
Legacy Fundraising in the UK Cultural Sector

Cultural Sector Data Generator

Have you ever wondered how many people work in your sector? How that breaks down by region, gender, age or ethnicity? Well you can now with this useful Data Generator website created by Creative Choices. The stats tells us more about who’s working in the creative and cultural sectors and can be useful for adding into your presentations, reports and funding bids. It’s free for the time being so make sure you sign up!

NPC article on measuring impact

I came across an insightful article on the New Philanthropy Capital website. It talks about how arts funders, in this case, JP Morgan are looking at ways in which measuring the social impact of the arts projects they fund can be better achieved. Read the full article by following the link above.

Evolve or Die? ITC shakes up our thinking

At a packed Independent Theatre Council conference in Tuesday we answered the call to discuss the timely issue of seeking alternative funding sources or models in these times of cuts and gloom. The title was deliberately provocative; and we all giggled nervously as we considered on which side of the divide we would fall.

The challenge of the title carried on through initial presentations by Dawn Austwick of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, ACE’s Althea Efunshile and Lorna Brown of Nalgao – and on through the afternoon’s breakout sessions.

 The clear messages of the day were:

  •   Cuts are here, don’t pretend they’re not.
  •   Arguing that ‘the arts’ per se are a special case and should be protected will not win any sympathy – indeed, quite the opposite – in the minds of the greater public.
  • Concepts such as the ‘Big Society’, a shrinking public sector and the cuts themselves are aimed at fundamentally changing our society, a paradigm shift. How can we frame what we do in the context of these ideologies? How do we ensure our values and ideas become part of the concept?
  • We can no longer be a ‘growth’ society as we’ve been used to – forever doing more. We need to learn to do less, better.
  • Big scale philanthropy may kick in, but not for a few years yet.
  • We need to prepare our minds for working with lower budgets – and not just a ‘keep doing what we do but squeezing and cutting corners’ mentality. This is a time for radically re-thinking how we structure our organisations, our offer and our relationship. Get creative!
  • Focus on what your core purpose is but also on what your assets are. Are they your building, your brand, your audience and supporters, your ability to create connections or unlock memories…?Image of an audience at Sadler's Wells
  • Keep close to and fully understand your audiences – their needs, desires and perceptions of you. Audiences are still a substantial source of income for many organisations. Now is not the time to cut your communications with them. It’ll also help you understand and respond to your own ‘Big’ community.
  • Collaborate, make partnerships, share and save – maybe even merge. From sharing sets to sharing producers; co-training to giving office space to a smaller company; from co-commissioning audience research to reusing past productions.

For Audiences London’s part, as well as implementing our own new models of working with you, we see ourselves as helping arts organisations collaborate between themselves – through such projects as the newly-established Outer London Venues Audience Development Support project and through the wealth of intelligence from previous joint research projects, available free on our website.

Where are all the American audiences? Maybe they’ve gone to the ball game instead.

The New York Times posted a very interesting article yesterday looking at the (astronomical) salaries of the chief executives of a number of American cultural institutions. It appears that many of these head honchos have responded to the downturn in their organsiatsions income and lead from the front by slashing their salaries; like Peter Gelb, the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera who graciously cut his $1.5 million salary to $1.3 million over 2 years. Once I’d stopped spluttering into my tea, I pulled out a couple of sideline points that I found interesting – Gelb in particular took a pay cut due to “declining donations, ticket sales and endowment”. Now across the pond we’ve also seen a decline in donations and endowments, but ticket sales are on the up by what I’ve been seeing, certainly in London. What does this tell us about American audiences? Are they reigning in their spending so much that they’re not going out at all? Or are they going elsewhere, and if so where?

Audiences London produced a guide to “What to do in a Downturn” back in March 2009 when we first started to see impacts of the recession on the cultural sector. Download this free guide from the AL website here.

ACE investment in arts for older people

Great to hear that several of our bolder and wiser contributors were successful recipients of the recent one off grant from arts council england.   Both Entelechy Arts and the Building Exploratory will be working in new partnerships in 2010 to develop arts opportunities for older people ; Entelechy with Battersea Arts Centre and the Building Exploratory with Cubitt Gallery.  We’ll look forward to hearing more about what happens next year…

Congratulations also to Greenwich Dance Agency, Akademi, Arts Depot, Space in partnership with Age Concern, and Westminster Arts who also successfully bid for funds.  You can read more about the work each has planned here.