Career Info. Selling off art. Growing audiences. Redefining culture.

Career Information

I added a link to a career-building resource in Chapter 14. You will find the information in the section entitled “Career Resource Websites. ” The new sub-header is called “38 Great to Know Nonprofit Career Resources.” The site also has information on resume building and other career development tools. This link is not intended to be an endorsement of, by the way.

If you have some career development resources or a resume writing websites you think would be helpful for students to explore, please send me the links. I’ll be happy to update Chapter 14 with your resources.


The October 2017 update includes stories about the controversy bubbling over at the Berkshire Museum, a story about how the Seattle Symphony Orchestra is programming for growth, and survey results that purport we need to redefine what term “culture” means.

Berkshire Museum – A Strategy for Financial Security Meets Reality

There has been a great deal of attention in the art and museum world focused on the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts since they announced there were planning to sell some of their collection to help shore up their financial position. The board decided this would be a viable strategy to ensure the long-term stability of the museum. The WBUR story below indicates a donor offered the museum $1 million to rethink this strategy, but the offer was rejected.

A board decision like this makes me wonder what went on in the meetings leading up to this plan of action being made public. Someone surely pointed out in at least one of the board meetings that selling off part of the collection was not going to go over well with members of the museum community and the community at large. There must have been a tipping point in a meeting where board members who were arguing this would be a bad idea lost out to the advocates for selling off a few paintings.

I imagine there could be class discussions on topics such as board fiduciary responsibilities, collections management and governance policies, fiscal management and planning, and crisis management. (By the way, the Berkshire created this crisis, and so far, they are not doing a very job managing it.) The topic of professional museum standards can be added to the discussion mix, and you can talk about the idea of “museum collections as non-fungible assets.” How many times do you have the opportunity to talk about the concept of fungibility?

Wallace Foundation Updates

The Wallace Foundation recently shared an example of their effort to help an arts organization make a difference in the long run. The web posting, Can the City’s Boom Mean New Audiences for the Seattle Symphony? should be a helpful resource to share with students. This article is a good example of how an arts organization experimented with programming ideas and marketing. There is enough detail in the report to give students a feel for the trial and error process that occurred as the Seattle Symphony tried to increase its impact, connect to the community, and bring new audiences to its programming. Granted, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra has significant financial and human resources to help launch new programming initiatives like this. However, it seemed to me, what SSO attempted is scalable to smaller budget arts organizations.

The market research discussion in the posting is also valuable for students to read. It was interesting to see the focus-group finding that, “it was the music that drove attendance” and not some of the enticements offered to people to attend. To me, that was reassuring. The research about the “NUCC’s” of Seattle (New Urban Cultural Consumer) was also fascinating.

Culture Track 2017 – Culture and Paradigms

I thought it might be interesting to also look at some other research related to audience interests and taste considering the Seattle Symphony story. Maybe there is a connection with the NUCC’s of Seattle and the cultural omnivores mentioned in the Culture Track report.

The company LaPlaca Cohen Advertising, in partnership with the firm Kelton Global, recently posted their detailed Culture Track 2017 report. The findings in the slide deck could be used in a class discussion about marketing, audience development, research, and overall trends in the world of culture, entertainment, and the arts.

The report states, “Today, the definition of culture has democratized even further, possibly to the point of extinction.” (Slide 16) There is also a slide that indicates the folks they surveyed defined “culture” to include a very broad range of activities. The report goes on to talk about the “new cultural consumer,” and that idea could be an area to explore in your classes too. The “Five Key Takeaways” at the end of the report (slides 111 to 115) also offer opportunities to talk about the role of arts and cultural organizations in shaping and defining culture.



Peabody Essex Museum Directors Challenge Berkshire Museum Not To Destroy The Public’s Trust

October 13, 2017, Dan L. Monroe and Robert N. Shapiro, The ARTery

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, recently announced a plan to sell 40 of the most valuable and important works of art in its collection, including renowned paintings by Norman Rockwell and other major American artists. The museum’s board argues that unless they sell the most valuable and important part of its collection the museum will not be able to survive.

Link to the posting:

And more recently  . . .

Opponents of the Berkshire Museum Sale May Have Just Found an Ingenious Legal Loophole

The museum’s members have filed a new lawsuit in an attempt to halt the planned sale.

October 26, 2017, Eileen Kinsella, artnet® News

In yet another attempt to halt the planned sale of works from the Berkshire Museum’s collection, a group of museum members filed a lawsuit in Boston today. The heirs of Norman Rockwell, whose work is headed to the auction block as part of the sell-off, and other museum donors filed suit in another county last Friday.

Link to the posting:

UPDATE 11-3-2017: Attorney General’s Office files emergency motion in Berkshire Museum suit

Link to posting:,523351?mc_cid=32b2feab8b&mc_eid=1a1932085a

UPDATE 11-8-2017: Judge Rules That Berkshire Museum Can Move Forward With Planned Sotheby’s Sale

Link to posting:


Can the City’s Boom Mean New Audiences for the Seattle Symphony?

​​In line with the community’s spirit of innovation, Seattle Symphony is using audience research to help target and woo recent transplants.

October 2017 – Written by Judith Dobrzynski. Video produced by Stephanie Carter of WNET New York Public Media. Video directed by Bob Hercules. The Wallace Foundation

For years now, downtown Seattle has thrummed with the sound of earth movers and cranes, as corporations like Amazon, Microsoft and Google moved into the area and even more new residential buildings went up. The noise could be unbearable. But to the Seattle Symphony (SSO), the rumble—and the influx of people it brought into the neighborhoods surrounding Benaroya Hall—sounded like opportunity knocking.

When Simon Woods became chief executive in May 2011, followed that fall by the arrival of Ludovic Morlot as music director, the Seattle Symphony’s audience was shrinking. During the 2011-12 season, its core Masterworks concerts were selling at just 63 percent of paid capacity—a low not seen for a dozen years or more. Something had to be done.

As SSO began to consider changes, officials kept its mission—to unleash the power of music, bring people together and lift human spirits—top of mind. Tacitly, that statement implied being a vital part of the city. And: “When you think about Seattle,” said Woods, “I think about two things more than anything else which make up the values of this city. One is about innovation and the other is about community.”

Link to the posting:


Culture Track 2017 Report

Cultural organizations are facing a paradigm shift.

For today’s audiences, the definition of culture has democratized, nearly to the point of extinction. It’s no longer about high versus low or culture versus entertainment; it’s about relevance or irrelevance. Activities that have traditionally been considered culture and those that haven’t are now on a level playing field.

With the traditional notion of “culture” no longer being a distinguishing factor, it is up to cultural organizations to reassert culture’s purpose in an increasingly complex world, by powerfully articulating and delivering on their essential impact.

Link to Culture Track:

Link to download of 2017 Study: The PDF includes 116 slides.

What is Culture Track?

OUR MISSION – Culture Track is a cultural innovation engine, dedicated to addressing the most pressing challenges facing the worlds of culture and creativity through research, education, dialogue, and action. We believe that studying and tracking the shifting patterns of audience behavior is critical to shaping the future of culture.