All posts by INACTIVE
Banking on arts
Last July Virginia Hepner, a twenty-five year veteran of the corporate finance world, dove into the nonprofit sector as president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center. Awaiting her was a musicians’ strike that threatened to leave Atlanta, already maligned as a lukewarm arts town, without a symphony orchestra. With that crisis averted, Hepner is now banking on a more stable and accessible future for arts and culture in the city.
Are there similarities between banking and the arts world? Whether it’s a for-profit or nonprofit organization, you need to run things in a businesslike manner. To be successful, you have to be very clear on what your mission is. In this world, it’s fulfilling our artistic and cultural vision to impact this community.
What are the big differences? In the for-profit world, if you have a great idea, it will attract capital. In the nonprofit sector, you can have the greatest need and people can agree with you, you can have the greatest artistic product, but if you can’t generate enough passion for a contributed income, it won’t happen.
How do you combat that? You do all you can to make sure you make the case to different audiences in terms of what is most important to them. For example, if I’m talking to business leaders who really understand the need to invest in the community, to attract the right workers, the right tax-paying citizens, you have to make the case for why it matters.
Does it matter here? Does Atlanta appreciate the arts? I actually think it does. Here are the facts: The Woodruff Arts Center campus was built with no public money. Even in our current campaigns, we have a budget of roughly $100 million, only about $1 million is public money. What that tells you is, for whatever reason, the private funding is exceptional. What plays into the concept that Atlanta is not really an arts town is that it’s a relatively new town. If you look at older cities that have generations of family philanthropy, it makes a big difference.
You mention wealthy private and corporate funding, are the arts accessible to those who aren’t wealthy? It’s a huge personal mission of mine. If you have art and no one gets to see it, that’s elitist, and that’s the opposite of what art is to me. Art is about communication and emotionally connecting with each other. The reason I default to the funding issue and why I think public funding is so important is because only a certain percentage of people will be able to come to Woodruff because we have to charge a certain amount to support it. The High Museum would, I’m sure, love to have a lower price or love to be free.
You also have to keep the artists happy, an issue that got attention from the ASO musicians strike. It’s just one more example that we have to be financially stable to offer what we do. This time it was a musician’s contract, another time it could be supporting the technology platform or paying maintenance on a building. It’s a sensitive topic because these are the artists. We’re here through their art to impact our community. Everything has a cost. They have tremendous value. It’s an emotional situation when you have to ask people to contribute to a cost structure. It’s an industry-wide issue, not just an Atlanta issue. The symphony is very well-run. We want it to be a world-class orchestra. We want it to be accessible from a ticket price standpoint. All of that is extremely expensive. We’ve actually increased contributed income and ticket revenue. The staff on the nonmusician sideRead more
Contributions to pop culture that we’re proud to point out are connected to Atlanta
1) Morgan SaylorRead more
As Dana Brody, daughter of Damian Lewis’s terrorist/congressman Nick Brody on Homeland, the Decatur High student provides an emotional core—compared to the heartless adults—on Showtime’s runaway Emmy-winning
How Southern Are We?
What does it mean to “be Southern,” and how do we fit into the picture? This month, we explored Atlanta’s regional identity through essays, photos, expressions, recipes, and a quirky look at accents. PLUS:
> Read about our identity crisis
> Take our quiz to find out how Southern you are
> View stats on how Southern Atlantans are
Nostalgia for the Athens music scene
Twenty-five years ago, there was nowhere cooler in the college-rock scene than Athens, Georgia. The Classic City famously spawned R.E.M. and the B-52s as well as a massive roster of indie acts, including Love Tractor, Pylon, Flat Duo Jets, Kilkenny Cats, and Bar-B-Q Killers. All that angsty creativity was celebrated in the 1987 documentary Athens, Ga.–Inside/Out, a valentine to the city as much as its music scene. The film features concert footage intercut with a cameo by folk artist and R.E.M. collaborator Howard Finster, gospel performances, and lingering shots of downtown dives and the University of Georgia campus. It screened in limited release, and the accompanying LP soundtrack is long out of print. Omnivore Recordings is reissuing the movie on DVD this month, along with a CD soundtrack with bonuses, the highlight of which is Love Tractor and Peter Buck covering “Shattered.”Read more