Ten Work Items for 2011, Task #6

Let’s break down, get rid of the artificial barriers between not-for-profit arts and commercial arts.  This artificial designation does us no good, as it causes internal sector strife, and confusion and misunderstanding among the public.

There’s plenty of really cheesy not-for-profit art, and plenty of high quality commercial art.  Examples surely pop into your head as you think about this.  That a dichotomy emerged out of the “501c3 movement” is still hard to understand: that not-for-profit = quality art (or even worse, “high art”) and that commercial art = low quality art.  It’s easy to reduce this equation.  If it sells, it must be bad and vice versa. 

So, knowing that the premise is fatally flawed, and that maintaining it is unhealthy to our field, let’s actively work to break down barriers this coming year.

But how? 

Open your eyes and attend several of the “other” side’s work.  Interact with your “opponent.”  Seek opportunities to speak to the issue.  Find partnerships that make sense artistically and financially.  And perhaps high on the scale would be creating new ventures that optimize the advantages of both organizational models.  Check out World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, where Hal Real, their creator, has constructed a commercial/not-for-profit combo of  (www.worldcafelive.com) and www.liveconnections.org



About the author

James Undercofler

Jim has been a Professor at Drexel University since May, 2009. His previous appointment - since August, 2007 - was as the President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jim was Dean of the Eastman School of Music from 1997 to 2007. He has played a prominent role in musical arts and music education throughout his career. Before joining Eastman in 1995 as associate director for academic affairs and professor of music education, he was an active, performing chamber musician as well as first horn in the New Haven Symphony. Jim serves as board president, American Music Center; advisory board member, Arts Education Policy Review; board member, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, New York State Association of College Music Programs and American Symphony Orchestra League, and is a founding member, NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools and Mercury Opera of Rochester.

Read James Undercofler's blog [l=http://web.esm.rochester.edu/poly/blog/author/junder/]here[/l].

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