Arts in Crisis


In December 2009, Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts visited Florida to hold community conversations as part of his 50 state Arts in Crisis Tour. Over 400 people attended the conversations held in Orlando and Miami. Kaiser's message comes from over 20 years of experience leading arts organizations. Much of his work has been with failing organizations and Kaiser has documented his success in turning around those organizations in his book, The Art of the Turn Around.

Kaiser lauded arts organizations for resilience in surviving through tough economic times. Although the worst predictions of mass failures of arts organizations have not come to pass, the crisis may still be coming. Kaiser is concerned that arts organizations have squeezed both quality and quantity of arts programming which may leave them weakened and less relevant as the economy recovers.

Marketing, fund-raising, board development and strategic planning were the some of the main topics that Kaiser brought to life with real-life examples and his dry wit. The audience sighed in recognition and cheered the success that described. Included in the audience were educators, funders, arts administrators and community leaders.

Of particular interest to FAAE and many of our members who were present is the relatively new education initiative by the Kennedy Center, Any Given Child. This program integrates arts education across the curriculum and across grades so that every child has the same educational opportunities in the arts and brings community arts organization into partnership with public schools for enhanced, meaningful arts education.

Ann Killets
Former Chief Learning Officer
School District of Palm Beach County

Malcolm Thomas
Escambia School District

Dede Schaffner
School Board Member
The School Board of Seminole County, Florida