Monday, October 12, 2009

What will you do for our cultural community?

In a fantastic piece for the San Diego Union-Tribune, Ian Campbell, General and Artistic Director of San Diego Opera, is asking us - all of us - to take ownership of our cultural community. Campbell writes in part:
As world economics have changed, so too has the world of the performing arts. Orchestras and opera companies around America have reduced productivity, laid off staff and some have even closed after many years serving their communities.

Sometimes the culprit was a lack of ticket sales or poor management. But the primary cause for all of our struggles has been the inability to close the income gap between the real cost of producing the art and the revenue earned from ticket sales. Most of the performing arts need at least 50 percent of their revenue in contributions, and right now contributions are very difficult to find.

In too many of our cities, the burden of supporting the not-for-profits, and particularly opera, symphony and theater, has fallen upon the shoulders of too few trying to support so much for so many.

Visit any city and compare the donor lists for major not-for-profits and you will see many of the same names; generous people who believe in leaving a legacy for future generations. They have invested in their community. But they will not be here forever...

In a world of shallower roots, greater personal mobility and a reduced sense of “ownership” of the community and its resources, where are the new donors to put on the mantle of generosity the previous generation wore so proudly?

...It is time to look again at what we are, and what we can be if we remember the American tradition of personal generosity that is critical to sustaining cultural excellence.

What do you choose to do?
Links:

Ian Campbell is General and Artistic Director of the San Diego Opera. Single tickets for the opera's 2010 season go on sale today.

See the original article in it's entirety at San Diego Union-Tribune.

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