Thursday, December 31, 2015

Can an Arts Organization Meditate?

Health experts define self-care as any necessary human regulatory function that is under individual control, deliberate, and self-initiated. Examples include making time for one’s self, maintaining a balanced diet, meditation (I use an app for that), exercise, and actively avoiding harmful behaviors and habits. The emphasis here is a conscious effort of observing yourself and making changes that will improve your situation.

This post is not about the self care of staff and volunteers working in an organization. That is an extremely important topic that gets a lot of attention, and for good reason. Without leaders who are rested, trained, and ready for what the day throws at them, the organization will suffer.

Instead, let us focus on the self care of the organization as its own entity. Many of the same principles will apply, but the implementation of them is drastically different, challenging, and involves members at all levels of the organization.

Why is this important? Why treat an arts org like a human being? Because it’s a living, breathing, changing, flexible, emotional entity that has power over its own fate, and is at the same time helpless against some outside influences like the economy, a snowstorm, occasional bad actors, and media scrutiny.

One element of self-care that I have found useful is meditation. In it, I take time to shut off the noise, stop the activity, ignore the email, and focus on the most basic element of my life – breathing. That’s it, just sit and breathe. It’s akin to practicing scales as a violinist. If you can do the most basic thing frequently and with ease, then you can build on that.

Arts organizations rarely meditate. When are emails not flying? When is a concert not being planned? When is an ad not running on Facebook or in the local paper? When is a board not giving time and money, and when is a staff not expected to work? It begs the question - can an organization meditate?

Absolutely. It just takes a little planning, and a unified answer to a central question. What is your most basic element?

What is your breath, as an organization?

I know I know, how are you supposed to decide on the one thing that you can’t live without? If you are a community orchestra, can your org survive without fundraising, and instead rely on ticket sales and a volunteer staff? If you are a singing organization, can your org survive without rehearsed singers, and instead rely on an eclectic audience to show up for sing-alongs?  If your organization promotes Cuban artists, can you make an impact online instead of having physical inventory ready to sell in a storefront gallery?

The answer is different for every organization. So let’s take an example. The organization I serve, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, is a $1.1m non-profit with 7 professional staff and roughly 300 singers on the roster throughout the year. A lot of planning, resources, email, money, emotion, time, and music go into all of that. But what is our breath? Our singular element that is the only attribute we can’t live without?

Can we live without staff? Yes – we did for several years at the beginning of our 35-year history.

Can we live without ticket sales? Yes – we did that at the beginning too.

Can we live without a Board? Yes – see above.

Can we live without a conductor? Yes – we didn’t have one for our first rehearsal.

Can we live without rehearsals? Yes – many of our singers are great sight readers.

Can we live without singing? …

We are a chorus. Our most basic element, above all, is people singing together. That’s what we do, and it’s so much a part of us that the back of my business card reads, “Use Your Voice.”

I will be the first to lament that meditating is a weakness of our organization. The artistic quality is world-class, but notice I did not define our meditation as good singing (thankfully we have that). Our meditation, our breath, is simply the act of people singing together. And in the midst of ticket sales, increasingly beautiful and complex choral arrangements, fundraising events, international concert tours and live albums, this writer all too often forgets that the organization needs to take time to meditate, just like he does.

So, in our real world case study, how does an organization implement meditation once it has defined its breath? That may take more than one blog post, but my gut says the answer will be well worth the time it takes to uncover it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lessons from Downton

With the new season of Downton upon us, I'm reposting an oldie but a goodie with pictorial updates. 

A problem that almost all arts organizations will face at one point (or many) is the perception that they are stodgy, elitist, high-brow entertainers for the wealthy and highly educated.  This actually wasn't a problem for a long time.  Organizations were happy to be associated with inaccessible artists, flirting with the wealthy elite, collecting large fundraising checks, throwing galas and balls and receptions and masquerades and jamborees and affairs.  But in a time when an 8 year old can become a household name through her youtube channel, when CD quality recording is possible with your phone, when the definition of art is decided by the people and not told to them, when fundraising is turning into crowdfunding, when the President of the United States rebuffs high society balls in his own inauguration celebration - the idea that arts organizations exist in a golden circle of culture is almost laughable.  

So what do we do?  We turn to Downton Abbey, of course.  Adaptation in changing times is a key theme of the show, and indeed will be the linchpin of survival for the great family.  In a remarkable resemblance of real life and art, PBS has adapted itself from a boring, professorial, high-brow network into one of the most talked (and tweeted) about forms of entertainment.  Think about it: five years ago PBS was synonymous with antiques, kid's puppets, a droll (yet informative) hour of news, nature shows, and the like.  Now, it's on DVRs all across the world.  Pirated seasons that are only available overseas are coveted, and the online streaming audience that PBS has garnered is huge.  PBS understands a few things that we all should learn.

First - it's all about the programming.  PBS didn't suddenly change it's brand, or it's logo or its mission statement.  PBS still uses classical music and awkward actors to introduce the Masterpiece shows.  The PBS logo is a bit shined up, but more or less the same.  What they have changed, or augmented, is their programming.  That's why people tune in - to watch awesome stuff.  If you want to have successful fundraising, successful marketing, and generally a successful organization, you need to have great programming.

The amazing thing about Downton Abbey is that it has caused viewership to spike for PBS's other programs.  People who didn't know, or forgot, about PBS are sticking around on the TV or the website to watch other things.  This is the power of good programming - if you have a few home run acts, your audience will trust you to give them other great programs they may not have thought of.

Another thing PBS does well is they make their programming really accessible.  They live stream on their website, which helps them keep their brand in front of consumers.  They also let cable providers use their content for on-demand programming.  PBS, the stuffy old public broadcasting service, has embraced new content delivery like a pro - and it's working!

The cool thing about programming and program delivery, is it makes everything else easier.  It makes marketing easier (Downton practically sells itself now), it gives a huge boost to cross-promotion, it gives funders a great reason to give, and it attracts other artists/shows to your organization for future seasons.  Not all arts orgs will become the cool new thing.  But there's no reason not to try a little new programming to bring in a new audience.  

This blog post has been brought to you by the letter P - for programming.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

¡Nos Vemos Cuba!

“There's no one thing that's true. It's all true.”
-Ernest Hemingway

It is fitting to sum up my experiences in Cuba with a quote from Hemingway, who lived in Cuba on and off for two decades. While on concert tour in Cuba, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington was provided many truths. All children are educated. Children have no food. Healthcare is free and widely available. There is no medicine. It’s the American Government’s fault. It’s the Cuban Government’s fault.

After eight days in the beautiful and crumbling Havana, I came back to the U.S. dizzy after a ping-pong of realities. In particular, two meetings during our time on the island exemplify the discordant harmony we experienced.  And another provided some ironic beauty.

Leaders from GMCW and YFU were afforded the opportunity to have dinner with the presumed U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis. Among many discussion points including housing, lack of private industry, and crumbling infrastructure, Ambassador DeLaurentis provided a candid statement on the future of Cuba. Paraphrased, he said, “What will happen next depends on the Cubans.” Self-determination is foreign to the Cuban people we met. They have little to no control over their employment, housing, or access to food. It’s a bold and hopeful statement, therefore, to say this will change.

Another meeting was with Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro. Ms. Castro heads up CENESEX, the national center for sex education (and de-facto LGBT rights group). The reason for her visit was to welcome and thank us for carrying a message of equality, through music, to Cuba. No one anticipated nearly 30 minutes of remarks, and it was a lot to process. An interesting moment centered on the role of the people in shaping policy around LGBT rights. She described that process as necessarily coming up from the people, rather than top down from the government. That’s the only way it will work, she remarked.

In a country where everyday people feel they have no control over the simplest things in life, I wonder how achievable this idealized process of policy change really is. There are times, Ms. Castro explained, that if people disagree with the efforts of the government, in LGBT rights or any other policy arena, then “sanctions” are necessary. Taken to the extreme, it begs the question, does the end outweigh the means?

Our delegation with Amb. DeLaurentis            Mariela Castro listening to GMCW

A third experience in Cuba provided yet another perspective. Four of us on the tour left the group to go wander the city and look at art one morning. What started as a simple adventure to bring some beauty back from the Caribbean turned into one of the most memorable days of my life. We met Americans living part-time in Cuba in a small cafĂ©. We befriended art gallery owners, and even got to know one up-and-coming artist well enough to be invited back to his flat for coffee with his wife. Here was a young man painting highly charged anti-government art and hanging it in state-run galleries with lots of zeros on the price tag. We learned that all art at the gallery level is highly political, and often anti-communist. We learned that, even so, artists are among the highest-paid people in the country and they mostly enjoy freedom from “sanctions.” We learned that the main purchasers of Cuban art are Americans, followed next by a small percentage of Russian buyers. We also learned that the government takes a cut of this art that is, without question, anti-government. The ping-pong balls were going pretty fast at this point.

These experiences did not, for me, provide opposing realities, but rather created a complex and long-developed truth. Cuba is a young nation that is still fighting itself. Even the most charismatic and learned leaders don’t agree on the answers. And there are glimmers of the future, as I saw on a canvas, which still can’t escape the past. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cuba Day Five: Authors, Singers and Poets

Unlike any country I’ve visited before, processing everything I’ve seen, heard and experienced in Cuba will take time. That’s my big disclaimer that there are necessary holes in my daily reflections because I need to collect some thoughts and build on them throughout the week, rather than throwing all the spaghetti strands against the wall now.

This morning, our delegation made a visit to the Hemingway Museum – the home and Caribbean influence of the iconic author.

In the afternoon, we completed what was one of the cultural highlights of this tour. We performed with the gay Cuban chorus, Mano a Mano for Cenesex (the government organization for sex education in Cuba).  First, Cenesex:

Prior to the performance, we had an hour long discussion with who I understood to be the #2 at Cenesex. During the conversation, there were one or two admissions of things that need improvement in Cuba (namely adoption rights for LGBT people and family-based discrimination). Many questions were asked about HIV/AIDS, discrimination, and gender identity. A relatively rosy picture was portrayed on the state of LGBT rights in Cuba. I’ll have more time to process and accurately write more on this topic from home, so please stay tuned for that in the coming days.

The performance with Mano a Mano was a highlight of the week. Mano a Mano is a five-member group that looks more like the backstreet boys than a chorus. We tooks turns singing. The Cuban group, all very young, attractive and musically talented (if not a bit green), sang with a live band accompaniment. We’ve learned that many performers in Cuba rely on what tracks and music are available in Cuba to determine their programming. Fortunately for Mano a Mano, they have a great production team behind them and are able to sing mostly original works. At the end of the performance, both groups combined to sing two songs. Sondheim’s “Our Time” translated into Spanish has become a bit of an anthem for Mano a Mano. And of course “Make Them Hear You,” sung in Cuba’s native language, takes on precient meaning when being performed for the heads of the Cuban government’s de-facto LGBT rights group.

Amazingly, the day didn’t end there. When we returned to the hotel (again State-run), the lobby was decked out in rainbow flags hung next to Cuban flags, and there was a stage set up with our banner hung behind it. With TV celebrities and politicals drinking mojitos, GMCW performed a near hour-long set for some of Cuba’s elite. It was one of our most energetic performances thus far, and I don’t think we know yet the impact it will have.

Later at night, GMCW was invited to a house party given by the director of Mano a Mano. With actors, well-known singers, and members of the local gay community, it was one of the more authentic and eclectic experiences of the week. Among many surprises and learning experiences that occurred, the producer of Mano a Mano (who has 3 Latin Grammy’s by the way), was shocked to learn that the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington is all volunteer. That would never happen in Cuba.

I was surprised, and very pleased, to learn that artists are among the better paid people in Cuba. Jose Marti, the poet-revolutionary whose status as a national hero means his statue can be found on every block in Cuba, left a legacy of personal and political expression through art. Cuba, not known for it’s tolerance of free speech, does not seem to censor music and art nearly to the extent that it censors other types of political dissidence. I suppose even the tightly controlled government of Cuba can’t turn its back on the artistic roots that sparked its founding.

Cuba Day Four: A Day Off

Our fourth day was a very welcomed day off. We spent it in Las Terrazas, an eco-tourism community about an hour outside of Havana. At night, we returned to a party that was thrown for us at a new private gay club called King Bar. It was truly a let-your-hair-down night (and an Advil-morning)!

Something unexpected happened at King Bar. A drag performer came out during dinner in what, at first glace, appeared to be blackface. There was an almost audible collective gasp by the 40 Americans in our delegation. I know the cars are old here, but had we really stepped this far back in time??

Quickly it became apparent that the drag queen was indeed black herself. My shoulders relaxed a bit. This experienced sparked a conversation among our delegation on cultural indicators and the lense that each participant brings to this type of people-to-people diplomacy. As Americans, especially with the news headlines of recent months, we come to the race discussion with a great deal of sensitivity and fear of offending (well, some of us). In the US, your life expectancy can depend on the color of your skin.

In Cuba, racism exists, but not in the same way or severity that we see in the United States. The black figure with over-exaggerated features is not a cultural indicator of anything malicious. It’s a historical figure in Cuban Theatre that is a part of the culture. It’s a visage we have seen in high and low-brow art all over the city. The Cubans in the audience (black, mulato and white) all seemed to be perfectly entertained and happy with the performance, and this allowed us to relax a bit and adjust our lense. 

I realize I sound a bit like some people in America who use “history” as a justification to fly the confederate flag. To an American living in America, that makes sense. But this is Cuba, with an entirely different history and approach to race. 

P.S. Sorry for the lack of pictures. They are all on my phone and today I'm using my laptop. Look for more in the coming days. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cuba Day Three: Feeling Heard

Our third day in Cuba encompassed the most aggressive schedule, a triple header with concerts in the morning, afternoon and evening. After going for a run outside and experiencing the diesel-filled air (I won't be running a marathon here anytime soon), we went to the Cuban Institute of Friendship for a presentation on Cuba's history and relationship with the US. The presenters acknowledged imperfections in the social project as they call it, and made clear that there is room for growth in Cuba. We also had a conversation about gender equality, and I was surprised to learn that 44% of the Cuban Parliament members are women. 

Next we went to the National Library of Cuba, one of the most important cultural and historical institutions, for a performance. Afterwards, we spent time asking and answering questions with the audience. A gay Cuban asked us about organizing as a gay community in the US, and wanted to understand how our groups are formed and founded. After explaining to him the structure and processes of our organization - he became more impassioned and asked "now that you have marriage equality, when was it that you finally felt heard by the majority?" I think what he may have really been asking is "how can I be heard?"

Again, a pin drop moment, because we had just finished singing "Make Them Hear You" in Spanish. I explained to him and the audience that in many places in the US, LGBTQ people can still be fired from jobs, and that's just one example of the rights we still lack. There was an audible gasp in the audience and I truly believe they were surprised to hear that the struggle for real equality is still alive back home. 

Earlier in the concert, our Artistic Director Thea Kano had asked someone from the audience to hold a rainbow flag while GMCW sang Over the Rainbow. It was this same man who asked the question, and we learned from him after the concert that he has never had a rainbow flag before (the sale of them is not permitted in Cuba). He was near tears asking if he could keep it. After today we have one less flag and one new friend.

Another audience member told us he had been waiting for a moment like this in the country he loves neary his whole life. And there was acknowledgement throughout the room that it is because we are connecting over music (not speeches, not political dissidence, not policy convenings) that this experience is possible. Once again, music paves the way to mutual understanding. 

Our second performance took place in an arts school for elementary through high school aged students outside of the city. Aside from the lack of A/C and crumbling walls, this could have been my elementary school. Proud parents filled the room taking photo and video of their kids, whose performances ranged from adorably mediocre to polished and earnest. 

Our third performance was at a block party organized for our delegation in a neighborhood near our hotel. There are so many things to remember about this evening, among them musical performances by us and local residents for each other, andif course lots of rum. 

The most memorable part for me came from a seven year old girl named Laura. With my passable Spanish, I introduced Chris to this seven year old as my "novio," or boyfriend. Public references and displays of affection in Cuba are still new and raise eyebrows, but I figured what the hell. After asking about Laura's family and watching her dance with my mom (who became the life of the party), it was time to leave. Laura ran up to me to say goodbye, and then said she wanted to say goodbye to my novio without an ounce of hesitation. She gave us both kisses and asked us to stay longer. This is a child, and indeed a generation, that will grow up knowing that love is love. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cuba Day Two: A Flag Flies in Havana

I have quickly learned that the experiences which occur in a foreign country in 24 hours are far too numerous to comprehensively include in one blog post. So, for the next week I will distill what I think are the most important takeaways from each day of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, DC's concert tour in Cuba. My lense may be different from that of others, so I hope that my friends and colleagues on this tour will also document their experiences. 

Okay, enough with the oversized asterix...let's get back to Havana. While my first entry had us looking back, today's entry has us looking to the future. There's a lot of talk back home about flags lately, and the US is not alone. 

I awoke at the early hour of 6:30am to go to the gym - cliche, I know. I couldn't help but stop myself as I walked to the elevator and saw out the window what was, for many LGBTQ Cubans, a mirage. Something that the eyes may see but the heart can't quite believe. 

This is a photo taken in front of our hotel, La Quinta Avenida in Miramar. Among the many flags seen, including those of Russia, USA and Cuba, flies the pride flag. Proudly flowing in the wind, in front of one of the newest and more prosperous hotels in Havana (and a state-run entity), is a symbol of LGBTQ equality that is seldom seen on such public display. Having been only a very small part of this event, I can't do justice in words or any other medium to properly honor the importance of this symbolic act. 

It was not just the flag that struck a chord with me today. GMCW had the privilege of hearing and performing for the Mariana de Gonitch Chorus at Casa de la Amistad (the house of friendship).

There, a special thing happened. One of the songs from Mariana de Gonitch was also on our set list. Impossible Dream is a song that knows no borders - political or social. Our new Cuban friends belted it out with passion, sharing their experience and dreams. About an hour later, the Gay Men's Chorus sang a haunting a capella arrangement, sharing a different version of the same dream. You could hear a pin drop and you could see both Cuban and American tears being shed in the mutual understanding.

Later that night, we ended up in the Regla neighborhood where a few original Buena Vista Social Club members train and perform with the next era of Cuban Jazz musicians. The concert, emcee'd by a fabulous woman I can only describe as the Cuban Bea Arthur, featured a series of old guard singers who seemed to increase with talent, energy and dance moves as they grow older. Most of them were in their eighties (according to our emcee)!

In a spontaneous moment, Bea Arthur introduced the Gay Men's Chorus to the whole audience and invited is up to sing. It was a recognition not only of us as musicians, but of the advancing acceptance of LGBTQ people in Cuba. It is moments like these that we hope will occur more in the following week, and well beyond our time here. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cuba: Day One

To talk about the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's first day in Cuba means going back in time. But I don't mean going back several decades when most of the cars on the island were built. Rather, we're just looking back to one day before we left the USA for what I have already found to be an enchanting country full of personality, beautiful and strange dichotomies, and plenty of heart.

Our Cuba experience actually started the night before we left with a moving and well-attended kickoff performance at Trinity Cathedral in Miami, where my brother is the Assistant Dean. 

Churches are often associated with antipathy toward the LGBTQ movement. But being hosted by the Cathedral for the kickoff concert of a tour that promotes LGBTQ rights in the Caribbean makes me one proud brother. Hearing the phenomenal sounds that came from 21 talented musicians makes me one proud ED. 

The fillowing morning, on Saturday July 11, just a few hours before departing for Cuba, I awoke to an email criticizing GMCW for accepting an invitation from Mariela Castro and thereby legitimizing the oppression that is historically associated with Cuba. It wasn't the first time we had received this kind of message and I have been ready to hear it for quite some time. But if I have to be honest with myself, I was angry when I first read the message. "Isn't our work as musicians beyond politics?" I a not unusual flash of idealism.

But quickly I checked myself. There is very real pain in Cuba's history, particularly for LGBTQ people. There is very real and positive change that has occurred in Cuba, and Mariela Castro's influence will always be linked with that. There is still a long way to go on the island, and yes, there are very real politics associated with an LGBTQ concert tour in Cuba. We are citizen diplomats.

I was reminded of these politics as I sat at dinner on our first night next to Ambassador DeLaurentis, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba (and the presumed new Ambassador to Cuba beginning July 20 after diplomatic relations are formalized again). Many times in our conversation I was reminded of two things: that people connecting with people is the best way to advance social change; and arts and music are always ahead of politics when it comes to democracy. 

After dinner, Chris (my boyfriend) and I made our way in a 1950s Chevrolet to a Havana gay bar where more than a dozen American singers and at least as many Cubans were dancing to late 90s anthems. It was encouraging to see this collage on the wall of the bar:

A symbol of hope juxtaposed against iconic visages of the past seemed to be perfectly fitting for our first day in a country that, slowly but surely, is moving the needle on LGBTQ rights. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Economic Impact of the Arts (or...Why the #$%@ should I give you money?)

There is a lot written lately about the economic impact of arts. For instance, I visited Asheville, NC over Memorial Day Weekend, and found this article featuring the Asheville Art Museum while I was there.

As with many things, I approach this discussion more with my corporate hat on than with my violin bow in hand. Why is it that we as arts managers need to prove economic impact? Some would argue so that we can make donors feel good. Well, feeling good is important, but donors (can we call them "investors?") want return. Sometimes the return is a "good feeling," but for most people with lots of money to spend, a return means growth of arts orgs, or really cool innovative art happening, or more audience engagement, and ideally all three of those things.

So forget about the feel good stuff, and let's talk business. Why the $#%@ should I give you money when there are 20 other orgs out there?  To answer this question with credibility and success, let's pretend for a minute that we're in the tech world and look at the following conversation:

     Investor: I believe in your mission and I want to help. What's the one thing you need more of?

     Tech Firm: Money

     Investor: Great, how much do you need?

     Tech Firm: $25,000

     Investor: Okay, if I give you $25,000, what will I see in return?

     Tech Firm: In three years, you'll see an additional $0.50 for every dollar invested based on our growth rate, our product price, and the demand that industry experts have identified. You can see our balance sheet is strong, we've been steadily growing, and demand is still high. So, your $25,00 investment will grow to $37,500 in three years.

     Investor: Who do I make the check out to?

Wasn't that easy? Now what happens if you change the "return" to something that an individual donor to your arts organization might be seeking?

     Arts Donor: I believe in your mission and I want to help. What's the one thing you need more of?

     Dance Company: Money

     Arts Donor: Great, how much do you need?

     Dance Company: $25,000

     Arts Donor: Okay, if I give you $25,000, what will I see in return?

     Dance Company: In year one, we'll use your donation to leverage more new money from other donors, and we'll improve our product by putting more artists on payroll and better visual production value on stage. The improved product will help increase our audience and donor base in year two, which will allow us to re-invest a bit more into the product and our marketing budget. By year three we'll be able to add another production to our season and we will have started a reserve fund for the rainy days with the additional donations that have become routine from the initial match that your gift made possible. Your investment of $25,000 will keep us sustained and help us add a financial cushion for years to come. We'll also throw in a back stage tour.

     Arts Donor: Who do I make the check out to?

Arts donors aren't necessarily looking for the money to come back to them. But if they're savvy, they want to see their money result in growth for an org they care about. Make sure your donors know that their legacy will last for years.

There's another relationship that needs exploring - state and local funding agencies. More and more cities are talking about "economic impact" and city-wide cultural plans that align the arts goals with the overall strategic goals of the city. And let's face it, the overall strategic goal of the city is to raise more money. So when arts orgs apply for state and local grants, you would think that conversation would have some emphasis on the economic impact of the art on the municipal budget. Some agencies do this better than others, and it's true that not all art can show strong impact. Sometimes art needs to happen for art's sake, and that's important! Still, in a money-driven environment we can't be afraid of talking about money. Below is a conversation that I wished happened more.

     Local Arts Agency: I believe in your mission and I want to help. What's the one thing you need more of?

     Performing Arts Org: Money

     Local Arts Agency: Great, how much do you need?

     Performing Arts Org: $25,000

     Local Arts Agency: Okay, if I give you $25,000, what will I see in return?

     Performing Arts Org: On average, each audience member spends $27 additional per ticket on food and drink before or after the performance, resulting in $2.70 in tax revenue to the city (10%). Tax revenue from the parking lot next door is about $1 per performance ticket sold, and we estimate hotel taxes to be about $0.10 per ticket sold. Each performance ticket provides the city with $2.60 in ticket tax revenue on average. So, you will see $3.80 per ticket in tax revenue going back to the city.

In year one, we'll use your grant to leverage more new money from other donors so we can improve the product, as well as spend more money on marketing to bring in new audience right away. With expanded marketing capabilities and the money to produce an additional performance, we project 5,000 tickets sold in the first year. In the second year we anticipate an additional 1,000 tickets sold as we will have more money from year one ticket sales for marketing as well as more word-of-mouth. By the middle of year two, your investment of $25,000 will be paid back in the form of tax revenue surrounding our concerts, and are money-spending audience will have grown. By the end of year three, our concerts will continue attracting new audiences thanks to your investment, and the city will see more tax revenue surrounding our concerts. We hope you'll consider this investment return in future years as we have new projects and needs appear.

     Local Arts Agency: Who do I make the check out to?