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Help for hard-hit arts nonprofits

February 04, 2009|associated press

WASHINGTON — With the nation's nonprofit arts organizations suffering in the dismal economy, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is offering crisis consulting to see them through.

The arts aren't at the top of many lawmakers' lists for a federal bailout. So Michael Kaiser, the Kennedy Center's president, announced an unprecedented "Arts in Crisis" initiative Tuesday to offer free assistance to performing arts managers across the country.

He said his team could devote significant time and up to $500,000 in expenses to provide emergency planning for fundraising, budgeting, marketing or other strategies as box office revenues decline and donations and endowments run dry.

"I worry about many, many arts organizations disappearing," Kaiser said. "My concern is: Are they cutting the right things? Are they going to survive? And are they going to be able to compete for resources when there are fewer resources to compete for?"

The nonprofit group Americans for the Arts estimates that 10,000 arts organizations could disappear in 2009.

Kaiser's first piece of advice for struggling groups: Focus on generating revenue. "Too often the nature of survival is to focus on cutting costs," he said. "The second is when we do have to cut costs, cut programming last, not first."

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