The core of my teaching, research and academic program development has been addressing the organizational challenges facing the creative industries in the United States: the sustainability of opportunities for artists to connect with large, diverse and enthusiastic audiences. Achieving sustainability is particularly difficult for the not-for-profit cultural sector:
- Competition with social causes for philanthropic and private funding increases every year,
- Corporate support of the arts has shifted almost entirely from a desire to contribute back to the community to being simply another tool for cause-related marketing,
- Volunteer leadership is stretched thin,
- Foundation support for operating expenses is virtually nonexistent, and
- Many of these organizations continue to operate at levels beyond their available financial and human resources.
In spite of these obstacles, art is still created at a staggering pace in this country. The passion of artists to create their work remains very powerful, and their desire to connect with a community is equally strong. Admittedly, there is very little that can be done by artists to improve efficiency in the creation of art. For cultural institutions, minor increases in productivity have emerged and various efforts to bring economies of scale have been implemented, but the creation of art remains an expensive and time-consuming handmade process. Arts managers struggle to support their artists, to find ever more efficient ways of facilitating both the creative process and how the results are shared with an audience, and to create larger and better prepared audiences for the presentation of the work. Further complicating this effort is the fact that sustainability is a shifting target, complicated by social, cultural, technological and economic changes. What works today can be ineffective tomorrow. We must constantly seek out better ways of managing limited resources and developing new audiences and new resources. I left my life as a producer and executive in professional theatre to join the academic community because of a deep-seated desire to help prepare future generations of arts managers to meet these very challenges and identify new opportunities.