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ARTS: Kennedy Center president will tackle crisis in the arts

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Heidi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 03:00 AM
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ARTS: Kennedy Center president will tackle crisis in the arts
Updated: 08/22/2009 07:16:41 PM CDT

Michael Kaiser understands that the arts are in crisis. He understands significant steps need to be taken. He just thinks too many American arts organizations are going about it the wrong way.

He knows of what he speaks: Before taking the reins as president of Washington, D.C.'s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kaiser made a specialty of turning around once-troubled arts organizations, including the American Ballet Theatre, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Kansas City Ballet. His 2008 book, "The Art of the Turnaround," doubtless sits on the desk of many arts administrators, and last February, he and the Kennedy Center staff initiated an online initiative called "Arts in Crisis" to provide free mentoring to arts groups large and small looking to turn themselves right-side up.

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There is no panacea that will save every arts organization, he said in a telephone interview from his Kennedy Center office. But there is a need to take a collective deep breath.

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But he also said that, across the country, he sees arts organizations and the boards that govern them acting out of panic rather than prudence. What's needed, he said, is the necessary but unsexy work of building arts organizations, both from the inside and the outside.

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