A Crusader for Boldness as the Arts Face Deficits
Alarmed by reports that arts groups were cutting programming because of money woes — a recipe for disaster, in his view — he created a Web site, artsincrisis.org, where organizations can write to apply for free planning help from Kennedy Center staff members or a group of volunteer mentors. So far more than 800 groups have applied.
When the tour ends, on July 20, he will have spoken in all 50 states, hammering home an argument familiar to readers of his book, “The Art of the Turnaround,” that in hard times arts organizations retain audiences, and donors, by offering their most exciting programming, not by scaling back or trying more conservative fare.
Among his fans is the executive director of the Sacramento Philharmonic: "Mr. Feldman said he felt empowered by Mr. Kaiser’s message, which he described as: “It’s O.K. to be passionate. It’s O.K. to be out there and pushing for your company. You don’t have to be just cold and numbers driven.”
On the other hand, one of the interesting things about the article is that it quotes those who are skeptical about Kaiser's approach and more or less critical of his image as a miracle worker for cultural institutions. For example, "the president of the imperiled Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, said he was disappointed in Mr. Kaiser’s remarks there in February, which he called too general and removed from day-to-day realities."
Until reading the piece, I hadn't known much about Kaiser beyond what I have read on Ballet Talk. What do BT's think about his campaign? Will "passion" and "boldness" work? What IS "boldness," anyway? How to you decide where "passion" should be allowed to take you? Also: what about Kaiser's critics?