Should arts organizations be thinking globally?

November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Cleveland Orchestra has been involved in several overseas partnerships that are part of what appears to be a strategy to expand the organization’s global reach. Their current efforts to establish a new residency in Paris were discussed in a recent article in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. While it is quite common for American orchestras to perform overseas, the Cleveland Orchestra’s approach is unique in that they are also trying to build long-term relationships with their European audiences. As this article notes, they even have a European board which is dedicated to fund-raising in Europe. Not only is Cleveland bringing the performances of a fine ensemble to a wider audience, they are also expanding the pool of potential donors.

At a time when arts organizations, especially orchestras, are facing the prospect of dwindling future revenue from donations, thinking globally might not be a bad idea. Of course, it might not be workable for many organizations. Cleveland, as one of the classic Big Five orchestras, already has quite a bit of international name recognition, which gives them an advantage in implementing a global strategy. But perhaps groups that don’t have the same name recognition could at least think beyond their immediate surroundings. Cleveland also does residencies at other locations within the U.S., such as Miami’s Adrienne Arts Center and Indiana University, so such ventures do not necessarily need to be overseas. It is also worth noting that pursuing residencies outside of an arts organization’s home city presents plenty of its own logisitical and funding hurdles, but if a performing arts group can find a cost-effective way to implement such an approach, it might prove valuable in expanding the organization’s network of supporters over the long run.

-Taj

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