Leading Roles

50 Questions Every Arts Board Should Ask

Michael M. Kaiser

Leading Roles

Michael M. Kaiser

Distributed for Brandeis University Press

192 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth $29.95 ISBN: 9781584659068 Published October 2010
Not-for-profit arts organizations struggled to survive the recent economic recession. In this increasingly hardscrabble environment, it is absolutely imperative that the boards of these organizations function as energetically, creatively, and efficiently as possible. Michael M. Kaiser’s personal history with boards of arts organizations began when he served on the board of the Washington Opera (now the Washington National Opera) in 1983. Today, in his capacity as president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kaiser recently completed a 50-state, 69-city Arts in Crisis tour. Board issues came up repeatedly as central to the success or failure of the organization. Drawing on these and many other conversations, nationally and internationally, Kaiser’s book offers members of boards and staffs the information they need to create the healthy atmosphere necessary to thriving arts organizations. Organized in a clear, readable, question-and-answer format, Leading Roles covers every aspect of board participation in the life of the organization, including mission and governance; fundraising and marketing responsibilities; the relationship of the board to the artistic director, executive director, and staff; and its responsibilities for planning and budgeting. Kaiser addresses boards in crisis, international boards, and boards of arts organizations of color. Throughout, he emphasizes the importance of transparency and clarity in the board’s dealings with its own members and those of the arts community of which it is a part, showing how anything less results in contentiousness that can immobilize an arts organization, or even tear it apart.
Contents
Apology • Acknowledgments • Introduction • LIFE CYCLE • How Does a Successful Arts Organization Function? • How Does an Arts Organization Evolve? • Has Our Board Matured with Our Organization? • BOARD AND MISSION • Why Do We Need a Mission Statement? What Constitutes a Good Mission Statement? • How Should We Develop a Mission Statement? • Do Our Board Meetings Reflect Our Mission? • BOARD GOVERNANCE • What Are the Major Responsibilities of the Board? • How Many People Should Serve on Our Board? • What Are the Best Leadership Structures? What Kind of Board Leadership Do We Need? • Do We Need Board or Staff Diversity? • Do We Need Board Members with Specific Skills? Should We Have Other Not-for-Profit Executives on Our Board? • Where Do We Find New Board Members? How Should New Members Be Added? • Should We Have a “Give-or-Get” Policy? • Do We Need Term Limits? • What is the Function of a Governance Committee or Nominating Committee? • How Do We Fire Unproductive Board Members? • Apart from a Governance Committee, What Other Committees Do We Need? • Should the Artistic Director and Executive Director Serve on the Board? • BOARD AND FUNDRAISING • Are We Relying Too Heavily on Contributed Revenue? • How Do We Attract Corporate Contributions? Foundation Contributions? Individual Contributions? • How Do We Maximize the Results of Our Annual Gala? • How Do We Evaluate a Fundraising Plan? • Are Board Members Responsible for Fundraising? How Do We Get Board Members to Raise Money? • Are We Embarrassed about Our Organization? • Are We Ready to Mount a Capital Campaign? How Do We Pursue This Campaign? • BOARD AND MARKETING • How Do We Evaluate a Marketing Plan? • How Do We Get a Diverse Audience? A Younger Audience? • Are Our Ticket Prices Appropriate? • Why Are Subscription Sales So Much Lower Than in the Past? • Are We Using the Internet Properly? • Our Theater Is Empty, What Should We Do? • Our Theater Is Filled, What Should We Do? • BOARD AND STAFF • What Should We Think about When We Hire an Artistic Director or an Executive Director? • Should We Hire from the For-Profit Sector? • Is It Appropriate for Board Members to Do the Work of the Staff If They Are Not Doing It Well? • How Should the Artistic Director and the Executive Director Relate to Each Other? • BOARD AND PLANNING/BUDGETING • How Should We Approach a Strategic Planning Process? How Can We Make Sure the Plan Is Implemented? • Do We Really Believe the Budget We Just Passed? Where Should We Cut If We Need To? • Should We Build a New Facility? • What Are the Major Pitfalls of Planning We Should Avoid? • BOARD IN CRISIS • Our Organization Is in a Crisis, What Do We Do? • INTERNATIONAL BOARDS • Our Organization Is Not in the United States, Does That Make a Difference? • ARTS ORGANIZATIONS OF COLOR • Our Organization Is an Institution of Color, Does That Make a Difference? • SUBSIDIARY BOARDS • Should We Have a Subsidiary Board? A Volunteer Group? • BOARD AND PROGRAMMING • Aren’t All Artists Spendthrifts? • What Is the Board’s Role in Artistic Planning? • How Many Years Out Should We Be Planning Our Art? • Should We Form Joint Ventures? • Should We Build a Touring Program? • Do We Need an Education Program? • Epilogue
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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