Representatives from area art and nonprofit organizations gathered Thursday in the University of Central Arkansas’ Reynolds Performance Hall to glean wisdom from "the turn-around king."

Michael Kaiser, Kennedy Center president, was donned the title for his many successes in reorganizing marketing strategies and the images of tanking arts organizations.

Kaiser told the audience in a question-and-answer session that the mistake many organizations make is to cut programming.

"So many arts organizations responded to the economic crash in 2008 by cutting programming and marketing," Kaiser said.

This in turn leads to smaller revenue sources, less programs to excite donors and eventually a smaller "family."

Kaiser gave an example using the American Ballet Theatre, which had been offering its patrons the same Romeo and Juliet performance seven years in a row because it was cost-effective to do so.

"You can’t save your way to health. You must keep the work vibrant," Kaiser said. "Donors have less money to give and will give it to someone else, more healthy and more vibrant. We have to compete harder in this economic environment."

Kaiser implored listeners to refrain from cutting anything visible to the public.

"I cut everything else, never programming," Kaiser said. "I’ve never seen an arts organization that gets better by becoming smaller."

To survive, Kaiser told the audience to plan ahead for new and exciting programs, despite economic insecurities.

According to Kaiser, small organizations should produce one "exciting thing" three to four times a year. Larger organizations should make a major announcement, hold an event, or provide education once a month.

He also encouraged joint ventures for revenue support and sharing families, or supporters.

"Especially in this economic time, collaborations are important," Kaiser said.

Kaiser’s key points also included utilizing free electronic marketing and using community venues to exhibit history and the organization’s impact on the community. 

Also key in institutional marketing, is using who you know, Kaiser said.

"Institutional marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, only creative," he said. To survive, organizations should jump on upcoming events hoping to be included.

United Way of Central Arkansas Director Amy Blaylock attended the "Arts in Crisis" presentation in hopes of learning new practices to lead a non profit to success.

"I’m going in with an open mind. We realize things are different these days, and we must change and be different as well," Blaylock said.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at