THE BIG ASK: Artistic Directors Are Increasingly Involved in Fundraising. Is That Now Officially Part of the Job Description?

By Patterson, Lisa Lacroce | American Theatre, February 2018 | Go to article overview

THE BIG ASK: Artistic Directors Are Increasingly Involved in Fundraising. Is That Now Officially Part of the Job Description?


Patterson, Lisa Lacroce, American Theatre


in RECENT YEARS, THE FISCAL REALITIES of keeping a nonprofit theatre company operating "in the black" have required artistic directors to play a more active role in fundraising. Inevitably, this reduces the amount of time A.D.s have for such fundamental artistic duties as fulfilling the organization's mission, planning the season, and so on. This has been exacerbated in part by the growing reliance on contributions from individual donors, as corporate, foundation, and government funding has been dwindling.

Stephen J. Albert, a veteran consulting and search-firm executive with Albert Hall & Associates (who died in late December, after we spoke), remembered a time when "an organization could operate on just a few large national grants." But changes in the funding environment mean that organizations have had to focus on individuals, who by nature are responsive to in-person cultivation, requiring prolonged relationship-building in preparation for requests for support. Institutional donors may also respond to the personal touch, but most rely more heavily on written proposals and financial statements prepared by development and business office staff. With individual donors, the development officer is not the person they want to meet--it's the artistic director.

"The artistic director is often 'the face of the theatre,' and because of that, she is the person most people want to meet," said Emily Mann, artistic leader of Princeton, N.J.'s McCarter Theatre Center for the past 26 years. "I think the artistic director's time should be used judiciously. But it is part of the artistic director's job to represent the theatre, not only with major donors but with all members of the community. The idea is to grow single-ticket buyers into donors and subscribers, igniting interest and excitement in being a member at her particular institution."

Albert agreed, saying, "Artistic directors are our stars. What has changed is that they also need to be civic leaders. This is a new profile for the next generation. We have moved away from the period where it was enough to do great work which would ensure funding. The artistic director is the personality who personifies the mission and makes it feel vibrant to the community."

Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles for the past 12 years (following his leadership tenure at Massachusetts's Williamstown Theatre Festival), puts the situation more urgently.

"Everyone in our building is ostensibly a fundraiser," he said. "That's the new reality for nonprofit theatres. We are all more dependent than ever on the success of our fundraising efforts. Fundraising is no longer optional for an artistic director; it's an imperative."

In an August 2017 American Theatre online article reporting on artistic leadership succession, Disney Theatrical Group president Thomas Schumacher suggested a reason for the new urgency: the global economic crisis of a decade ago. "Any artistic director who gets hired today will also be expected to go out and raise an awful lot of money," said Schumacher, who spent five years on staff at the Mark Taper Forum. "That's just different."

Current job descriptions are candid about this decidedly unartistic job responsibility. For example, last fall's posting for the soon-to-be-vacant job of artistic director at Washington, D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company clearly stated, "The artistic director will have an important role in cultivation and solicitation of major donors and foundations." The same posting, prepared by Management Consultants for the Arts, noted that candidates should have "a clear comfort level, if not actual experience, in interacting with donors and potential donors, especially individuals and foundations; the ability to express artistic intention in written grant proposals and elsewhere is desirable."

I'VE WORKED IN DEVELOPMENT FOR A NUMBER OF NON-profit arts organizations, and over the years some have asked how I came to be a good fundraiser. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

THE BIG ASK: Artistic Directors Are Increasingly Involved in Fundraising. Is That Now Officially Part of the Job Description?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.