I found the following points and forecasts regarding arts and the economy posted by noted Chicago columnist Jim Hirsch. Hirsch writes primarily about music, but his take on our immediate economic future may be applied across all arts sectors. Hirsch says:
“I expect that over the next 6-18 months we will see things getting worse. I suspect that the next economic “shoe to drop” will be credit card debt, and my guess is that the stock market will be slow to recover. As a result….most arts organizations (will operate) more conservatively than normal. The big guys will do okay – they have a lot of resources, but more importantly, the type of broad-based community support that makes going out of business almost impossible. No, it’s the smaller organizations that will feel the brunt of this brutal economy. This is a time to hunker down and survive.
Here is my prescription for the arts in a tough economy:
1. Budget for a worst-case scenario and be pleasantly surprised if/when you outperform it.
2. Don’t sacrifice programming excellence or audience development activities. Present brilliant programming.
3. Work hard on advancing sustainable relationships with ticket buyers and donors.
4. Stay focused on executing against your strategic plan and don’t get sidetracked.
5. Develop restructuring options in case the worse happens.
6. Be very thankful you work in the arts and not in the real estate or financial sector.”