Independent Thoughts

I came across an article on the Inc website titled: An Entrepenure’s Declaration of Independence, by Rhonda Abrams.

Because many elements involved in running an arts organization are similiar to running a small business, I saw a number of declarations included here that an arts administrator would do well do heed.

Among them are: “Independence from 80-hour work weeks”–Many arts administrators end up putting their body and soul into the job. (I know I and some of my friends have at least.) Most people do the job because they love it, but when you aren’t getting much sleep, you end up resenting your work rather than loving it.

“Independence from overly-powerful customers”–read this one as including patrons, donors, board members, etc. The author’s advice is mine as well–diversify your base so falling from grace with one person doesn’t put your programs in peril.

“Independence from overly-dependent employees. If your employees are not allowed, encouraged, or developed to make independent decisions, then you’re going to be constantly burdened by their dependence. Create a working environment that gives employees responsibility and authority, making certain that employees are also given the training and support to handle such authority. ”

That one says it all for me as does the next one…

“Independence from a sour work environment. You started your own business so you could enjoy going to work; you certainly don’t want petty office politics, personality spats, and malicious gossip to ruin your daily life. Treat your employees, customers, and vendors with respect, and they’re less likely to want to declare their independence from you!”

“Independence from constant insecurity”–Probably the one problem that faces the majority of arts organizations–financial insecurity. I am sure a lot of people would be a lot happier if it were much easier to build up cash reserves/endowments for a rainy day.

There are a few more “independence” points the author makes (from overhead, bureaucracy) that give you something to think about and makes the article worth reading. (It is also rather short and an easy read.)

I hope everyone in the US had a good independence day and will perhaps take this summer (which may be a lull period for some) to mull over how you might declare your indepedence from the forces that assail you.

So Many Niches, So Little Money

A while back I noted an article that discussed the fact that while newspaper circulation is down on the whole, ethnic newspaper circulation is experiencing growth.

According to another recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the same is true of magazines and journals. Magazines focussed on to very narrow audiences, (people trying to get pregnant, people who like hybrid cars and living like tycoon Donald Trump are among those mentioned), are beginning to appear more and more often.

As I mentioned in a number of earlier entries, this type of thing makes it very difficult for organizations with limited budgets and a mission to reach a wide portion of the audience. If people are getting their news and information solely from a few sources with limited circulations, it makes it increasingly difficult and expensive to communicate with a fairly large number of people. (Of course, it being able to promote directly to people who fancy themselves tycoons can be useful.)

This is probably one of those cases where reality runs counter to expectations. The advent of email was heralded as the beginning of the paperless revolution, instead paper consumption went up. Now where the internet might be expected to be cutting costs since you can email instead of snail mail brochures and information to patrons, it has created the expectation that one can access information specially prepared and filtered for one’s own interests and view of the world. So now those “savings” have to be employed to put your information in a thousand places instead of a handful.

Don’t you just love progress?

Arts Attendance=Longer Childhood

Due to a horrendous virus attack I missed making an entry yesterday. (Took me 8 hours to get virus software installed and working due to virus interference.)

Because it is lovely summer time I thought I would make an entry that isn’t so much musings and research on helpful resources as it is about plain amusing thoughts.

Both these links come to me by virtue of The first is a study done in Italy that shows a link between watching TV and playing video games and the earlier onset of puberty. It seems that artifical light and exposure to television and computer monitors lowers the amount of melatonin in your body which has been shown to be a factor in hastening the start of puberty. Regular exposure to sunlight and darkness slows this process.

Now my grandfather always said playing outside in the fresh air would put hair on my chest, but it appears he was just plain wrong!

I was thinking it might be helpful for arts marketers to exploit this study. It would be inconcievable that children would sit quietly in the dark without some form of entertainment, so take them to theatre/ballet/opera/concerts. While the performing arts do use artificial light to illuminate their productions, there is far less of it than sitting in front of a TV or even reading under a lamp. Isn’t it still better that a child be exposed to the arts and extend their youth and innocence just a little bit longer? And with all the sexual imagery on television these day, also preserve their brains’ innocence as well? There is less sexual content in 2 hours of O Calcutta than two hours of television.

On the other hand, late bloomers will probably use the study to rationalize why they should watch more TV.

The second article is an amusing column from the St Paul Pioneer-Press (username:, password: access) The paper’s theatre critic writes a satirical article claiming that NEA chairman Dana Goia has teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security and created a color coded warning system to alert patrons that they might be experience “”heightened and specific” threats to the integrity of a given performance.”

These “threats” consist of sitting next to a person who will make multiple trips to the restrooms, cellophane crinklers, cell phone and pager rings, people who explain and narrate the play to their neighbor, etc.

Protecting the arts patron from the terror of these experiences are marshals armed with tranquilizer and curare darts (the latter reserved for the most heinous offenders) and electromagentic gaget neutralization devices.

It is a fun little article. It is even more fun if you make up your own list of punishments for all the offensive behavior you have experienced while attending a performance. Since even the fines system for offenders in NYC is difficult to practically enforce, if you are going to dream, dream big!

Nothin’ to Say

Except for a couple research papers, something I am trying to avoid covering too much here, I haven’t really come across any new and interesting ideas lately. Perhaps it is the summer days making me lazy, but I am actually reading articles as much as I have ever been. However, I don’t know that discussing the success of the Yuengling brewery has a lot to teach the arts at this point. (Though they did weather Prohibition and the Depression so perhaps it offers a lesson in survival during bad economic times.)

On the other hand, it doesn’t take a lot to read my entries these days! I am sure to find something interesting and applicable soon enough so keep on stopping by!