DanvilleSanRamon.com

Perspective - March 2, 2007

The business of culture

The curse of many nonprofit arts organizations is they have no one with business savvy on their boards. But they must be run like businesses to succeed.

Arts boards often bubble over with creative ideas and innovative activities. And the mission of sustaining and promoting arts in the community is a noble one. But hard decisions must be made as far as raising funds, charging for performances and displays, and meeting expenses; business expertise is invaluable in these areas.

The Danville Area Cultural Alliance is currently working with the Town of Danville to open another art gallery after it closed its venue above the Village Theatre in November. The town reported DACA had not paid rent for a year, which was $100 per month plus 3.5 percent of its gross income. In effect, this means the town was subsidizing the group more than was its intention. For DACA's first two years after its founding in 1989, the town did not charge any rent to give it a chance to get on its feet.

The Danville area group exists "To promote, sustain, and enhance visual, literary, and performing arts, their artists, and the community." In order for any group to do this, it must have a solid financial foundation. After a meeting with DACA in December, town management concluded the group was not able to articulate either a mission or specific goals. Also, town staff noted that while the group listed several programs, including the Poet's Society, art classes, salons and exhibitions, notably missing were fundraising programs. DACA reported an income last year of $28,000, which went largely to advertising expenses and holding events.

The group is under new management, and president Bill Carmel said they are aware they must operate in a professional manner. This is good news for this group, which has so many worthwhile endeavors.

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