Good leaders exploit new opportunities and new practices that offer greater efficiency and effectiveness. This competitive edge is what I contribute to the creative sector through my research and service, focused primarily on issues and opportunities influencing organizational structure/culture, planning and management systems.
The advances in information technology in the mid-1990s led me to establish the Center for Arts Management and Technology (CAMT) in 1997. CAMT investigates the applicability of information technology in the arts management process; its mission is to explore ways technology can serve cultural organizations. We incubate Web sites and services for scores of local and national arts institutions. Our applied research in data management systems with state arts councils, private foundations and related service agencies has helped them better understand the impact of their work and identify new opportunities to serve their stakeholders.
Our accomplishments over the last 13 years have been significant. We developed the very first Web-based grant application system, eGrant, that allows funders to accept applications online and manage data in a more efficient manner. In 2005, in partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts, we developed CueRate, a Web-based software service that facilitates the application and review process for fellowships, festivals and museums. Agencies currently utilizing CueRate include the American Academy in Rome, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. To help promote the visibility of individual artists, CAMT developed the Artists Registry, an online portfolio service; its users include the U.S. Department of State’s ART in Embassies and the Southern Arts Federation. We also provide technology training and resources through blogs, podcasts, webinars, conferences and consulting. Recent clients include the Coalition for Artists’ Preparedness and Emergency Response, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Alliance for Artist Communities and Women Make Movies.
After the dot-com bust in the late 1990s and the 2000/2001 recession, cultural organizations faced a stagnant, if not decreasing, pool of contributed revenue and a steadily increasing number of not-for-profit organizations in need of subsidization (a condition that continues to this day). Cultural managers adopted more aggressive and sophisticated fundraising tactics, but many of these were less effective than expected. Many cultural institutions were simply seeking more support from that same pool of diminishing and cash-strapped donors. What is the key to recovery and the path toward stability? Increased market penetration and participation: new audiences that not only bring additional earned revenue, but who, over time, will provide cultural institutions with a new pool of prospective donors to expand contributed revenue as well. Unfortunately, the sector has been obsessed with contributed income for several decades; the marketing strategies and tools of a number of cultural organizations are nowhere near as sophisticated as their fundraising efforts.