Why Do I Have To Call Dun & Bradstreet To Apply For A State Arts Grant?

As we move further into the new year, many grant deadlines are starting to creep up en masse upon arts organizations. As you are filling out all the mandatory fields in your grant application, you may be wondering why you have to have a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number in addition to your Employer Id Number (EIN), especially since they are both the same number of digits.

You may also be wondering why a commercial data firm like Dun and Bradstreet gets to dole out these numbers, instead of a governmental entity. Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I did provide a good number of them in an ArtsHacker post on the subject a couple weeks ago.

As I write in that post,

The simple answer is that your EIN is associated with your IRS tax records and the DUNS number is associated with your business credit score.


One reason the DUNS numbers are separate from EIN is that a DUNS number is tied to a physical address. This makes sense in the commercial for-profit realm since a branch of a company in California may have better credit than one in Florida, but there aren’t many non-profits that are so large that they have a single EIN but require different DUNS numbers.

Learning that your DUNS number is associated with your credit score may be cause for concern—how many non-profits are going to have a great credit score after all?

Given that overhead ratio has been used as a measure of effectiveness for non-profits, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that someone is going to get the bright idea that credit score is a good shorthand for deciding whether a non-profit is being run well. This would be a really bad idea since the standards used to assess credit worthiness of a for-profit entity are inappropriate for non-profits.

But you know, non-profits should be run more like a business right?

In any case, if you would like to know a little more about DUNS numbers and how to get one for your organization, (or see if you already have one), check out my ArtsHacker post.

What Is A DUNS Number And Why Do I Need It?

You Don’t Know Entertaining

There has been a fair bit of evidence that people are not generally aware whether the place they are having their entertainment experience is a non-profit or for-profit business. An experience appeals to them and they participate. All those efforts invested in curating a balanced season of offerings may receive less recognition and appreciation than you think.

According the Colleen Dilenschneider, what the general public perceives to be an entertaining experience doesn’t align with the definition of non-profit curators/programmers either.

Leaders of cultural arts organizations tend to perceive an entertaining experience to be one that is simplified and dumbed down compared with the educational experience they offer. Participants have a much broader definition of what constitutes entertainment.

Surveying perceptions of memorial sites like USS Arizona Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the September 11 Memorial & Museum, Dilenschneider’s company, IMPACTS found that memorial sites,

Considered as a collective, they are generally viewed as entertaining! People find these sites relevant and meaningful – and thus find them entertaining. This is the opposite of what some internal industry leaders believe “entertaining” to mean!

In general, cultural organizations are seen as entertaining entities. That’s great news because entertainment value motivates visitation while education value tends to justify a visit. Moreover – as we’ve discussed – entertainment value is the single biggest contributor to overall visitor satisfaction.

If you recall my posts on the most recent CultureTrack study, one of the most consistent motivators to participation across all disciplines was to have fun. Dilenschneider has presented information before from other sources that reinforces this result as well.

Later in her post, she presents another chart showing

“Memorial sites are perceived as both educational and entertaining, again challenging the notion that “entertainment” is necessarily vapid, empty, or meaningless.”

and makes the following important observations:

1) “Entertainment” means engaging

A synonym of “entertainment” is “engaging.” The opposite of “entertainment” is disengagement. Why would cultural organizations be disappointed to learn that they are not disengaging? I posit it’s because we’ve created and promulgated the baseless cognitive bias within our industry that entertainment and education are opposing forces, and that one comes at the expense of the other. In reality, they must work together to lead a successful cultural organization.


2) “Entertainment” is not the opposite of “education”

As shown above, cultural organizations are generally seen as both educational and entertaining! An idea that one value necessarily comes at the expense of another is generally unfounded. If it were true, these numbers could not both be high at the same time – and yet they are!


Entertainment value and education value are not the same thing, but their relationship much more closely resembles that of partners than of enemies. They may benefit by being considered individually at times, but they do not necessarily function independently.

A great deal to think about in relation to how we frame our thinking about what we are doing.

One thing I misinterpreted was her assertion that “…entertainment value motivates visitation while education value tends to justify a visit.” I read that as something viewed as entertainment impels people to participate while something viewed as educational is seen as an obligation — you have to go to the opera because it is good for you.

But when I watched the accompanying video (below), I realized the perceived educational value aligns directly with the motivations found in the Creating Connection initiative. Desire to see and learn something new and different and wanting a child to learn/see something different are part of the perceived educational value.


You Keep Throwing These Terms Around. I Just Want To Know..Will I Get Paid?

Earlier this Fall I had a friend who was relatively new to the business of presenting performances. An agent had rattled off a series of numbers as part of the performance fee deal an touring group was looking to get and my friend had no idea how to interpret those numbers.

I realized these type of arrangements probably confuse a great number of people in the business, both presenters and touring artists, so I wrote an Arts Hacker post about some of the more common deal structures for performances.

If you are a presenter and you don’t know what $40,000/10% NBOR/60-40 split on overages refers to, it is difficult to decide if you can meet your budget for the show.

Likewise, if you are a musician going into a music venue and they are offering you a percentage of net deal, before you accept you’ll want a pretty good sense of what the potential gross is and just what expenses the venue will be subtracting out before you get paid.


Common Deal Structures For Touring Groups

Unexamined Initiatives Are Not Worth Implementing

It is no news flash to even casual readers of the blog that I am involved with Arts Midwest’s Creating Connection program to build public will for arts and culture. Last week, they ran a webinar just to present the basic research and program. In recent months they have been featuring two case studies where people talk about how their organizations are putting the research and messaging into practice. This session was aimed at giving people more complete information about the program.

As much as I have been a fan boy cheer leading the program, what I really appreciated about the webinar last week was the number and type of questions people were asking of the presenters.

It was an indication of just how serious people were thinking about implementing the research that webinar attendees were questioning the research methodology. I think people in arts and culture field are wise to scrutinize whether a new approach to doing business is a popular fad soon to fade or has some rigorous thought behind it. They have little enough time and resources as it is and don’t want to waste it on initiatives lacking substance.

What I really appreciated was when one person, identified as Zi Li, asked about case studies on failed programs because they were interested to learn why those program failed.  My friend Carter Gillies often mentions the problem of survivorship bias  where you only study the successful cases rather than gaining insight from those that failed.

The music on the Awesome 80s radio station is always going to be better than the music today because you are comparing the cream that rose to the top and endured the last 30 years to all the music being performed today, both good and bad.

If you are new to the concept of Creating Connection or just want a refresher, take a look at the video from the webinar which includes all the questions and comments made that day.

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