The Kennedy Center announced yesterday it is expanding its arts management initiative to include a concentrated program in New York.
Called "Arts Advantage/NYC," it is a cooperative effort among the center, Time Warner and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Michael M. Kaiser, the Kennedy Center's president, said the venture would use the techniques employed in consultations for minority arts organizations and mid-size American orchestras, but would focus on unique issues in the New York arts world.
"These organizations have a hard time typically building an individual donor base. They are usually too reliant on foundation and government money," Kaiser said in an interview. Reaching out to the individual giver, he said, is a challenge in a market where cultural offerings are plentiful and groups have to work hard to get noticed. But, he says, private donations are the only "engine of growth."
"It is the most culturally dense city in the country, and cultural density in one sense is wonderful for the purchaser, but difficult for the organization because they are competing with so many others for funding, particularly so many large ones," he said.
The Department of Cultural Affairs, which is helping facilitate the program, is the largest cultural funding agency in the country, with a budget of $131 million for fiscal 2006. The National Endowment for the Arts received $125.6 million from Congress this year.
The initiative is directed at cultural groups, including theaters and museums, that have budgets of $250,000 to $2.5 million. The instruction includes online chats, symposiums and one-on-one consultation.
For instance, Kaiser said, the Pregones Theater, a Puerto Rican and Latino troupe based in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium, is participating in the center's seminars for the culturally specific groups. After discussions on fundraising, the musical theater group raised $70,000, mainly from its existing audiences and immediate neighborhood. "I believe that is 10 percent of their budget," said Kaiser.
Arts Advantage/NYC grew out of two speeches Kaiser gave in New York on arts management. In the brainstorming that followed, Kaiser said he offered to develop a program based on the existing models.
"We knew right away that we wanted to play a major role in bringing Arts Advantage/NYC to life. The community-based arts groups that this unique initiative will serve are an important breeding ground for new creative voices, and helping to strengthen these organizations through innovative programs like this is vital to the cultural heart of New York," Lisa Quiroz, Time Warner's vice president for corporate responsibility, said in a statement. The media and entertainment company has pledged three years of financial underwriting.