Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dance/USA Winter Forum- This Weekend!

Have you ever wondered what other organizations deal with in regards to employee turnover rates, health insurance premiums, salaries, etc. in this trying financial time? Do you know what a health screening can do for you or your dancers? Do you just need a community who can support in how your organization is run? YES?!? Attend this weekend's Dance?USA winter forum. It promises to be an inspiring and enriching series of meetings in New York City! Additionally there are special discounted rates for dancers!

Here is the write-up and links to further information.

Upcoming Winter Forum
Human Resources and Organizational Performance

January 30-31, 2009 in New York City

PRICE AND REGISTRATION - Reduced prices! “I fear that our organizations do not give the needs of administrative staff nearly enough attention. Let’s take the lead and raise the bar on human resource development in the arts!” - Rachel Moore, Executive Director of American Ballet Theatre.

Who Should Attend: Managing directors, artistic directors, human resource managers, operations managers, administrative staff of all sized companies, presenters, agents, service organization directors, choreographers and dancers are all invited and welcome to attend!
92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, directionsRead more about our generous hosts.
Schedule for Friday January 30, 2009: *Subject to change
8:30-9:30am Join us for a free breakfast!

9:30am Opening Remarks by Andrea Snyder, Executive Director of Dance/USA

9:45am Kristin Giantris, Vice President of the Northeast Region, Finance Fund will discuss the financial dynamics of various-sized dance companies and review the impact recessions have on arts organizations.

10:15am Human Resources lawyer, Kathleen McKenna of Proskauer Rose LLP, will tell true stories about human resources and economic crisis.

11:00-11:30am Dr. Richard Gibbs and Heather Southwick of the Task Force on Dancer Health will give an update on the Screening Project.

11:30am-12:00pm John Munger, Dance/USA’s Director of Research will present research on human resource issues during economic challenges regarding turnover rates, budget adjustments and compensation levels of Executive Directors, Artistic Directors and dancers of dance companies.

12:00-5:45pm Council Meetings (including free lunch)

6:00-9:00pm Networking and socializing reception. Free and open to all Winter Forum participants and the New York City dance community.Dance/USA is grateful to DeWitt Stern Group for their generous sponsorship of the Networking Reception. Thank you to the NYC host committee for their help with this reception.

Schedule for Saturday January 31, 2009: *Subject to change

8:30-9:30am Join us for a free breakfast!

9:00-9:30am Introduction to Engaging Dance Audiences, Arts Policy Recommendations in the New Administration, and the Dance/USA 2009 Annual Conference.

9:30-10:30am Agenda setting - Name topics and issues concerning human resources and organizational performance that you most want to explore on a deeper level during the rest of the day. Led by facilitator Heidi Nobantu Saul.

10:30-4:00pm Breakout sessions. Discover who shares the same issues and expand your network; Engage in dynamic discussion; Share ideas and what you are learning in the field;
Identify opportunities through taking ownership of what most interests you;
Read more about the discussion.

4:00-5:30pm Plenary Conclusion, Closing Circle

Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yes We Can!

It seems a bit brighter these days, winter always turns to spring. Particularly with this new government leadership comes great opportunity for individual responsibility. As President Obama stated in his Inauguration speech, "What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

So again I ask what is our responsibility to dance? I would love to think that just creating the art is enough, but alas now more than ever our jobs (particularly the artists themselves) extend beyond "creators" and "doers".

I read a story in Newsweek recently about a governmentfunded abstinence campaign in the schools created by former President Bush. The campaign has received more than $1 billion dollars in government allotments. For 2008, according to Medical News Today , the Community Based Abstinence Education which "gives grants to groups that teach abstinence but not how to use contraception" received an allocation of $141 million. Yet according to the National Endowment for the Arts page, for the same fiscal year the government appropriated $144.7 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Comparing the two numbers the NEA only receives $4 million more, yet its programs cover both education and private non-profit arts organizations in a variety of disciplines.

Again what can we "doers" do? The first and easiest thing is to join the current campaign through the Performing Artist Alliance and petition your local legislators to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. I just sent a letter to my sentaors and house representatives that reads,

"On behalf of my performing arts organization, I am writing to express our strong support for the inclusion of $50 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. Among the numerous benefits included in this bill, support for the arts is an essential part of our nation's recovery and investment in a vibrant and creative economy-based future. I urge you to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009."

It was online, easy and free!

There is also recently a petition, driven by Quincy Jones, that has already complied over 76,000 signatures advocating for a cabinent level postion for the arts (sign up here). An article in the Washington Post cites a few top arts leaders in response to this momentum:

"Whether you call it a minister of culture or not, it would be wonderful to have someone with a policy role to coordinate arts education, cultural diplomacy and support for arts organizations. Those activities are not coordinated but divided among many offices," said Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

"We need a voice that looks broadly," said Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, a national lobbying group. He is advocating a senior position, not necessarily a Cabinet post. "We are calling for a person at the executive office level who understands there is a National Endowment for the Arts, but also understands the arts portfolio in the Education Department, the State Department -- and in addition to the nonprofits arts, is looking at cultural tourism, broadband access and trade through records, movies and videos."

No matter what it is our responsibility and the time is now. Advocacy is a great tool. With the momentum of a new day it is time for us "doers" to move advocacy to the top of our to-do list!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Freelancers Union

There is a great organization out there, not dance specific, that can offer free lance dancers health care, insurance and educational opportunities.

The Freelancers' Union is a free service that can group individuals to get discounts on insurances, health club memberships, eye wear and T-Mobile plans. Again the enrollment is free. Additionally they offer seminars and webinars on a variety of business and life skills topics. (Want more information on what your accountant is doing with your taxes?)

Additionally they provide a classified listing for jobs and a yellow pages to find or list specific people and professionals.

As our economy is in such flux, aligning ourselves with such great resources and knowledge is vital.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reality check- it's your responsibility.

ECONOMIC CRISIS!!!! It is all over the news and the reality is that when our donors and patrons lose their jobs it will affect the state of the arts.

On the left of the my blog I have complied a list of ailing ballet companies. Previously I posted links to information on Texas Ballet Theater and its struggles early this season. Large and small companies are losing donors, funding and audiences; this is likely just the beginning. In regards to TBT, the dancers themselves worked to secure the ballet's future by organizing fundraisers and being ambassadors to the community.

Transparency and collaboration are great ways to stick together as an industry. Again I can't speak enough to the work of Dance/USA. To that end, the winter council is fast approaching January 30th-31st at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Dancers can attend for $30 including some meals!

Below is a survey from 2004 from the Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations, although the information may be a few years old, it does support the fact that art exists at all financial levels. As history proves, it always has. To me this is hope that although the arts may struggle and need to scale back, it will always exist. It's what we as artists and arts organizations do with out arts and resources that really matters.

* 59 arts organizations responded; 57 provided detailed financial information
* 25 are Arts Councils, 8 are Arts Centers
* 13 Service Agencies and 13 Discipline Based Organizations

*14 Organizations are Alliance Rural Arts Partners

(including pass through)
* 14 Reporting Organizations have budgets under $200,000

* 17 Reporting Organizations have budgets between $200,000 and $500,000

* 6 Reporting Organizations have budgets between $500,000-999,000

* 14 Reporting Organizations have budgets in excess of $1,000,000

* 2 Reporting Organizations have budgets in excess of $10,000,000

*Pass Through (including regrant funds) range from $2,500 to $8,107,100
*22 organizations do not have ANY pass through money

*10 Organizations receive Federal Money, including NEA Funds.


*Grants range from $1,000 to $1,462,000 of those organizations receiving grants
*NYSCA grants range from .15 % to 68 % of Total Organizational Budget of those receiving NYSCA grants *Average NYSCA grant is 22.1% of Total Organizational budget
*The average dollar amount is $115,775; median is $49,500 (includes pass through)

*3 organizations receive no grant money

*15 organizations receive grants under $40,000; 10 receive $20,000 or less
*7 organizations receive grants between $40,000-60,000

*34 organizations receive over $60,000

*11 organizations receive grants in excess of $100,000


*30 organizations receive money from their counties; amounts range from $500 to $156,000


*28 organizations receive money from their municipality; amounts range from $500 to $784,583


*22 organizations receive money from New York State, other than from NYSCA

*$26,000 is the lowest reported salary for a full time Executive Director

*$150,000 is the highest reported salary for a full-time Executive Director.


*The range for payroll as a percentage of expenses is from 5%-72%

*48 organizations offer medical benefits to their full-time employees

*19 organizations offer dental benefits
*23 organizations offer tax-deferred annuity
*19 organizations offer pension
Employee contribution is required for most benefits.
Employee medical is generally included in benefits. Family coverage generally requires an employee contribution. Other benefits include: flex time, paid vacation, paid personal days, sick days, free or discounted programs, parking, transit checks.


*3 organizations reported no paid staff

*The largest reported paid staff is 98 FT and 102 PT

*Most organizations report at least 1 full time staff person