Selling Art. Taking Charge. Funding Disparities. I decided to combine the postings for June and July based on what I hope is my correct assumption that many of you are not teaching or are not in class over the summer. Regardless, I hope you’ll take a look at the stories I have highlighted, and then you can put them to use when the time is right.

Sell More Art?

The saga of the Berkshire Museum continues (see Mgt & Arts Blog postings in February 2018, December and October 2017). As you might expect, the Save the Art-Save the Museum citizens group was not thrilled with this latest news. The museum leadership is pushing ahead with selling more works from the collection until they reach the $55 million-dollar target allowed by the court order from February 2018. If you are interested in a more comprehensive forum on deaccession, I suggest you check out the Art Law Podcast February 2018. You will find an excellent summary of the events up to that date as well as more information resources on the relevant issues. If you are into podcasts, you will be able to gain a much more nuanced perspective on the controversy.

Who Is In Charge Here?

The posting from The Medium blog about leading without authority seems a good fit for students and early-career arts managers as they think about how they interact with peers and others. The article offers practical advice and applications that seem useful in a variety of arts organizations. For example, the second Pillar of Influence – Create Alignment: The Power of Communication – can be applied in the project and deadline-driven work environment found in the arts. The solutions offered in the example which talks about “always wanting to say yes to new projects,” seemed relevant. Communicating when you need extra help which then results in getting the project done on time is a much more effective way to build your credibility as a leader than trying to do all the work yourself and then missing the deadline or worse, not meeting the quality expectations of your team or the leadership.

Funding Disparities

I thought the recently issued study on Mapping Small Arts & Culture Organizations of Color in Oakland coupled with the report published in 2017 entitled Not Just Money: Equity Issues in Cultural Philanthropy would make excellent resources for class discussions. The issues raised in the study of Oakland California about access to funding and sponsorships in communities of color can be explored in many urban and rural areas in America. Asking students to think about the funding situation in what constitutes your local arts ecology could open up opportunities for applied research projects. The findings from Not Just the Money can alert students to how significant the resource gaps are. This study points out “60% of the arts funding goes to 2% of the cultural institutions.” That information alone is a conversation starter.

Thanks for subscribing to the Management and the Arts Blog and have a great summer.

William Byrnes


Berkshire Museum plans to sell 9 more works, bringing total to 22

Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, June 25, 2018

Pittsfield, MA — Nine more Berkshire Museum works will be sold in coming months, the institution said Monday, in a drive to reach the full $55 million in proceeds allowed by an April court ruling.

Seven of the works will be sold in private transactions rather than auctions in an attempt to place them with new owners who will preserve public access.

Two other pieces will be offered for sale at a September auction at Sotheby’s in New York City, the museum said. All of the newly listed items were included in the original body of 40 artworks the museum announced it would sell to close a recurring budget deficit and help fund a building project.

The museum faced blowback nationally and locally over its plan. It fought off legal challenges and a monthslong inquiry by the state Attorney General’s Office, eventually securing consent from Attorney General Maura Healey and authorization from a justice with the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

To date, the museum has netted $47 million from sales in April and May. That means the nine additional works are expected to bring $8 million in net proceeds.


The Art Law Podcast:


How To Lead When You Have No Authority

Four Pillars to Increase Your Influence Both at Work and in Life

Matt Russell, June 5, 2018, The Medium – The Startup – 14-minute read

I was first introduced to the concept of leading without authority back when I worked for a highly dysfunctional organization. I watched as major projects nose-dived into oblivion, everyone swirled in a whirlpool of angst and mistrust, and people always seemed to think that “someone else” was the root of their problems.

This was a tough time for me because I didn’t know how to change my situation.

Sure, If I was in charge I could do something about it, but that wasn’t the case. My boss ran the show and I was powerless… or so I thought.

Someone proposed the concept of leading without authority and it sounded like an oxymoron to me. How could I lead if I wasn’t in charge? Still, something about the concept intrigued me.



Why Do Art Funding Racial Disparities Remain So Stark?

Eileen Cunniffe, June 26, 2018, Nonprofit Quarterly

Last week, a report titled Mapping Small Arts and Culture Organizations of Color in Oakland was published by the Akonadi Foundation and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, two San Francisco Bay Area funders with different—but overlapping—commitments to the region. The report was commissioned by the two foundations and compiled by Creative Equity Research Partners. A total of 138 organizations serving people of color in Oakland with budgets of $250,000 or less are included in the research. In addition to documenting the impact of these grassroots groups (hint: it’s not just about the arts), the report highlights challenges faced by smaller cultural organizations and offers four overarching recommendations for policymakers and funders to consider.

 The Akonadi Foundation has a mission “to support the development of powerful social change movements to eliminate structural racism and create a racially just society.” The Kenneth Rainin Foundation supports arts, education, and health initiatives; the foundation has awarded more than $20 million to small and mid-sized arts organizations in the Bay Area since 2009.

 The full report merits the attention of anyone working to change these funding inequities, in the Bay Area or elsewhere, as well as arts leaders in other communities whose work focuses on serving people of color. The study was undertaken in part to inform a new cultural planning cycle in Oakland, and in recognition of mounting evidence across the US of inequity in arts and culture funding, as summarized in the report:

In Not Just Money: Equity Issues in Cultural Philanthropy (2017), Holly Sidford and Alexis Frasz reaffirm findings from their seminal 2011 study of inequity in arts funding. The 2017 report makes clear that despite an increased focus on equity in the sector, inequity in arts funding has increased over the past ten years. Presently, 60 percent of arts funding goes to 2 percent of the cultural institutions, which present white and Western European art forms. Meanwhile, only 4 percent of arts funding goes to organizations with a mission to serve communities of color. The proportion of funding for these organizations has decreased despite the fact that people of color now comprise 38 percent of the US population and in many metropolitan areas organizations serving populations of color make up 25 to 30 percent of all arts organizations.


Link to 56-page report Mapping Small Arts & Culture Organizations of Color in Oakland:

Not Just the Money Report 2017: