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November 10, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arts and the Economy

  |   Video
  • A discussion about the economic challenges facing Arizona’s arts organizations. Guests include Matthew Wiener of Actor’s Theatre, Rusty Foley of Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts, and Carol Kratz of Piper Trust.
  • Matthew Wiener - Actor's Theatre
  • Rusty Foley - Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts
  • Carol Kratz - Piper Trust
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: arts, economy, theatre,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Actors theater of Phoenix recently announced it will have to close its doors if its finances don't improve. And the theater group is not alone when it comes to arts organizations struggling to survive the economic downturn. Here to talk about the financial challenges is Rusty Foley, Executive Director of Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts. Matthew Wiener, Producing Artistic Director of Actors Theater in Phoenix. And Carol Kratz, who assists arts organizations for the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. It’s good to have you all here. Thanks for joining us. Matthew, I want to start with you. We mentioned your story at the outset here, what's going on, how much money do you need and when do you need it?

Matthew Wiener: We need to raise $70,000 by November 30th. That's our first big threshold. And then after that we have two other phases where we need to raise more money by December 31st and then more money by June 30th. But the real close the door deadline was, or is November 30th. And we're off to a pretty good start. So we've been very encouraged by the response we've been getting from the community.

Ted Simons: What happened? Did ticket sales drop because of the economy, donations drop? What happened?

Matthew Wiener: It's not like one thing happened. We're kind of in the middle after perfect storm that really is hurting a lot of not for profit organizations, especially arts and cultural ones. We're in the middle of a global recession, and we can't imagine that there's not a trickle-down effect to the local level. We respond to the consumer confidence level, and right now it's not very high. Our ticket sales are okay, but one of the things we've noticed is that more and more people are buying discounted tickets. So that even though they still want to go, they're looking for the bargain. So our houses are okay, we're selling an okay number of tickets but the revenue is decreased.

Ted Simons: Does that sound familiar to you? As far as other organizations are concerned?

Rusty Foley: Yes, it does, Ted. This is something that is impacting arts organizations all across Arizona. Large and small. It's not necessarily peculiar to small organizations. There are a number of large organizations that are struggling too. It is the perfect storm, that's the best description of it. We have cutbacks, severe cutbacks in government funding, there's reduced corporate funding, reduced giving by individuals, and of course people are sort of minding their dollars pretty carefully, maybe not buying as many tickets and waiting for a bargain to come by as well.

Ted Simons: What are your thoughts? The story here with Actors Theater, sound familiar?

Carol Kratz: Absolutely. The Piper Trust opened for grant making in 2001, and the business model for the arts organizations that we review is just a terrible business model. You have to go and raise half of your budget every year. And so we've been looking for different ways to create different business models. One of the things we did that Rhonda alluded to was to provide some venture capital money about $1.2 million to help arts organizations figure out, is there a revenue generating product that they could come up with, or is there a way to reduce costs, is there a way to maybe merge or collaborate? So the business model itself is terrible, and then the economy hits all pieces of it.

Ted Simons: Is there a thought to change business models? I mentioned grants and stuff like this, hire someone full-time, what changes as far as where you are now and where you need to be?

Matthew Wiener: Well, we're always looking for innovation, we're always looking to try to figure out how to do things differently and better. I'm not sure that I agree completely that the model is terrible. The model is very hard. It's very challenging. But we're a community asset. Just like the library, just like the fire department. Communities need what we do, and part of the not for profit idea is that we're not commercial. We could if we did "Bye Bye Birdie," six times a year, we would not need philanthropy, we would not need charitable giving. But that's not serving the community and that's certainly not the mission of the Actor’s Theater.

Ted Simons: How do you convince folks by not showing "Bye Bye Birdie" and something very different is good, even though maybe a lot of folks may not find a value there, but it's still overall good for the community?

Rhonda Phillips: I think the wonderful thing about the arts and culture community is and especially in Arizona, is that we have a very diverse array of cultural experiences available to audiences. So maybe Actor’s Theater isn't your cup of tea, but there are performing arts organizations that probably do the kind of work that you would enjoy, and they all together they make a tremendous contribution to our cultural life, to our community life in Arizona. And I think preserving that whole array of opportunities is really important. Talk about that business model, I think unfortunately in today's day and age there are challenges with the business model, but that's really been the business model that arts organizations all over the United States have operated under for about the last 30 years. And one of the really important reasons for that business model is that by depending on only about 50% of your budget to come from earned income and the rest of it coming from contributed income, you're making sure that arts experiences are available to the whole broad population of people. If we had to pay market rate for what Matthew is doing, we would be paying a Broadway priced ticket, and there would be so few people who could afford that experience. And that would be wrong. The arts should be available and accessible to every Arizonan.

Ted Simons: How does the Piper Trust, how do donors in general, how do you decide, what do you look at? What are the factors, he's listening over here.

Matthew Wiener: Piper's been a wonderful partner.

Ted Simons: They've been a wonderful partner for a lot of folks. When you decide to be a partner with a lot of folks, what are you looking at?

Carol Kratz: Well, I think one of the things that I want to make sure to say is that we do a broad array of grant making for children, for older adults, for arts and culture, health care education, faith-based organizations and we're looking for how we can help in the arts area with infrastructure, with capital. With these venture kind of venture philanthropy kind of things. To strengthen the organization, we do a lot with capacity building for the board, for management, we'll bring in board source, we'll do in-depth training with organizations, trying to help raise the level of knowledge of the management and the board. So we look for these organizations in the community, they come to us or we ask for them to come for a particular request for proposal, and we really look to see how is the organization structured, how is the board, do they contribute to the organization, is it a viable organization, and how can we help them?

Ted Simons: Are there ever times when all of those parameters just look lousy? They don't know what they're doing, they can't count to 10, with all fingers and toes, yet there's a gut feeling this is something that this is important to the community. Can you go that far?

Carol Kratz: I think that it's not restricted to nonprofit organizations. If you look across the board, but yes, a lot of the capacity building that we're doing now is really trying to help organizations kind of ratchet up. We've got four that are newborns that we're doing this board source training with, so to start off on the right foot.

Ted Simons: For those who say, put on "Bye Bye Birdie" give us "The Music Man" we'll show up and how do you respond to that? Because you do what you do and the people that like what you do really like it, but if it's not supporting itself, you're saying, “You better support yourself or you can't ask for any money from me.” How do you respond to that?

Matthew Wiener: We try to balance our programming. Even though we don't do "Bye Bye Birdie" and forgive me for picking on that show, we do other programs that a wide range of programming, hoping that everyone will find something, that's not true that there is something for a lot of different people. That a lot of different people can find something of pleasure in our programming. In terms of if they want to go see "Bye Bye Birdie" there are other companies that do that. Other companies around the valley that do it very, very well. One of the things I think is really critical is that when people say, “We're not going to fund you because we don't like that.” I think that while I understand the kind of selfish nature of that, we always kind of pay for what we like. But I think when it comes to charitable giving and true generosity and philanthropy, we have to understand that it's not necessarily we're not necessarily giving so that I will enjoy it this year. We're giving so that someone else can have the opportunity to choose whether or not they like it. If we don't give now, if we don't support this organization, whatever it may be, or Actor’s Theater, others will not have the opportunity to make that choice. So it's really important that people recognize that this broad spectrum needs support across the board.

Ted Simons: I want to ask you before we go, this concept of compromise, is there a concern when this kind of economic climate and folks maybe they would want to do X but they know I can't afford to do X, I gotta do Y instead? Are you seeing compromise in not just the theater, but other arts organizations right now?

Rusty Foley: I don't know that I am. But having served before I had this position in a number of nonprofit arts boards, I know that temptation is always there. I think it's important to remember for the good and the bad, and it's mostly good. Arts organizations are businesses. Matthew employs people. Matthew pays taxes. He's people pay taxes. Arts organizations like Matthews in the City of Phoenix alone pay about $17 million a year to the city coffers. If Matthew's business goes away, the Actor’s Theater goes away, there will be people out of jobs, and people who come downtown to see his shows who won't be eating in restaurants, who won't be parking or going to maybe have a drink afterwards. It's a huge impact, but then on the other hand, if you're the arts organization, you have to make some very tough decisions about the programming in order to make it through this tough period we're in.

Ted Simons: Okay. We've got to stop there. Great discussion. Thank you all for joining us.

Legislative Arts Appropriations

  |   Video
  • State funding for the arts has gone from little to nothing in recent years according to a policy briefing from ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Hear from the author of the report Rhonda Phillips, Associate Dean of ASU’s Barrett Honors College Downtown Campus
  • Rhonda Phillips - Associate Dean, ASU Barrett Honors College, Downtown Campus
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: arts, education, funding, ,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona is jumping into Arizona's race for the U.S. senate. Carmona is a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran who served as surgeon general in the George W. Bush Administration. A lifelong Independent, Carmona will run as a Democrat. Reports are that he was aggressively recruited by the National Democratic Party to run for the seat being vacated by Jon Kyl's retirement. Carmona will face Don Bivens in the Democratic primary. Bivens is a former chairman of the state Democratic party. And the state senate has a new president. Steve Pierce will succeed Russell Pearce, who was recalled by voters on Tuesday. The two Pearce’s are not related but the new President Pierce says he'll continue what the old President Pearce started, saying Russell Pearce did a, quote, “wonderful job, and did not deserve what happened to him.” State funding for the arts has gone from little to nothing in recent years A new briefing from ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy takes a look at the decline in public funding and how the arts can be an engine for economic growth. Here to talk about the report is its author, Rhonda Phillips, the Associate Dean for ASU's Barrett Honors College Downtown Campus. Let's start with where we once were. Arizona once ranked kind of in the middle in terms of legislative arts appropriations. Correct?

Rhonda Phillips: That's right. We've lost a lot of ground in arts funding here in the state. Particularly by legislative appropriations. At one time we were pretty good, about 25th in the nation, and this year we've dropped to zero, to the last position. With no funding coming from legislative appropriations.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, you can't get much worse than that. Was this a slow decline? What happened here?

Rhonda Phillips: It happened rather quickly with the onset of the recession. And we've just seen it plummet to the point where we are now 50th, although we're tied with one other state that cut all of their funding as well, and that state is Kansas.

Ted Simons: Implications on economic development here in Arizona?

Rhonda Phillips: Oh. There are many. We have a sort of a natural link between arts and cultural development and economic development. And when we decrease our ability to have gas in the arts and culture, we obviously decrease the quality of life that we as Arizonans enjoy, but also our ability to attract others to Arizona.

Ted Simons: Are there ways to measure, like the economic impact and the quality of life impact, are there metrics you can use on this?

Rhonda Phillips: Absolutely. Quality of life is a little tougher. It's one of those nebulous concepts, but we know when it with we see it and we all enjoy various aspects of the arts and the cultural dimensions in our state. If we decrease our capacity to both educate and inform others, and have outreach in the arts, we're not able to attract that quality of life that we seek. And going back to this idea of metrics, we have the Arizona indicator system, which looks at a variety of factors across many spectrums, and one of the things that we look at pretty closely is this idea of culture and how do we measure that. Right now we're mostly looking at appropriations, but also the numbers and types of arts organizations that we have in the state.

Ted Simons: To measure arts especially, because it can be so subjective in a variety of ways, to measure that has to be kind of difficult, doesn’t it?

Rhonda Phillips: It is. And it's a true challenge. But we keep trying. And a lot of people try. It's not just us. There's interest nationally and beyond in trying to capture some of those indicators that reflect quality of life. Some of those range from things like participation in the arts, education in the arts, and various outreach programs, nonprofits that work in the area, and other dimensions that we can capture.

Ted Simons: Talk about the impact of nonprofits and how they are being used or not used here in Arizona.

Rhonda Phillips: Oh, absolutely. I'm a big believer in the nonprofit sector. I believe they are the ones that really help us build our capacity, and they link the private and the public sector together. Here in Arizona, we have over a thousand nonprofit organizations that are centered on the arts. And many of these are doing remarkable work, and of course they've been impacted by decreased funding and the recession, but they are essential in so many ways, because they're the capacity builders.

Ted Simons: How do you build a nonprofit profile? What do you do?

Rhonda Phillips: Well, the nicest ways to do that, the best ways, and other states are very good at this, is providing seed funding for various initiatives, various programs, and that's what's been cut in many ways here in Arizona with no legislative appropriations for groups, the Arizona Commission on the Arts has seen a pretty dramatic decrease in the funds. Without the seed capital to spur programs and projects in the nonprofit sector, it becomes much more difficult to build that capacity.

Ted Simons: You mentioned we were tied with Kansas as the only two states that have zero funding appropriations from the legislature. What regions, cities, states, what have you, who's doing it right? Who's got a good idea that Arizona could follow?

Rhonda Phillips: That's a wonderful question. And there are some excellent models. For example, when the Arizona Commission on the Arts was established, it was loosely modeled on the Denver, Colorado model. However, Denver went a step further and they were able to capture just one 10th of 1% of a special sales tax district within their arts and cultural zone in downtown, and they have been able to generate millions of dollars to support arts from that.

Ted Simons: Is that kind of an idea, where, there's no kind of concentrated arts area here. Maybe the Roosevelt district or certain areas downtown, Scottsdale, but how would we do that here?

Rhonda Phillips: It would have to be a bit of a convoluted district, if you will. It may not be spacially oriented but it may be oriented by function, by art functions. But 1/10th of 1% is not a lot and they've received incredible benefit from that.

Ted Simons: Gerrymandering if need be.

Rhonda Phillips: We do it in other things.

Ted Simons: True. The idea that other areas and other regions have come up with some the ideas maybe folks in Arizona are trying to work with, is anything relevant when the economy is so bad?

Rhonda Phillips: Well, it's sort of them, it goes back to that old question, chicken and egg, in a way. Having a better quality of life can actually spur more economic development outcomes. And if we are able to invest in the arts when right now things are more affordable, space is more affordable, everything from labor to you name it is more affordable. Having the seed investments and building that capacity now will generate long-term outcomes in economic development. And there's no better time to try to help some of these particularly nonprofit organizations, but our arts education in the state. And to refresh and regroup so that we can have that capacity.

Ted Simons: Okay, I'm a lawmaker. Convince me in a very short period of time, because I'm a busy lawmaker, convince me what I'm doing now is wrong and we've got to get some funding. Some seed money at the very least going.

Rhonda Phillips: Here's the bottom line on all this. Without high-quality arts and cultural characteristics and dimensions of an economy, we don't have a hope to attract and grow the kind of economy that we want to have and to continue. You have to have that. It's a given, and the relationship between economic development and the arts, and if we're not able to compete in that dimension, we can't hope to enjoy that sort of outcome.

Ted Simons: Are real lawmakers, the real McCoys, are they listening right now to that argument or is it tough sledding?

Rhonda Phillips: It's been tough. I hope they will listen if for nothing else the economic development argument should be very attractive.

Ted Simons: All right. It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Rhonda Phillips: Thank you. It's been a pleasure. Thank you.

Teaching Patriotism

  |   Video
  • Lucian Spataro, President and CEO of the Scottsdale-based Joe Foss Institute talks about how the organization is teaming-up with veterans to teach elementary students about the values of patriotism and public service.
  • Lucian Spataro - President, CEO, Joe Foss Institute
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, patriotism, public service,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Veterans inspiring patriotism is a program offered by the Scottsdale-based Joe Foss Institute. It sends veterans into classrooms to discuss patriotism and public service with students. Here to tell us more is retired Air Force Major General Carl Schneider. It's an honor to have you here. Thank you for joining us. Tell us about this program, inspiring patriotism. What are we talking about?

Lucian Spataro: Basically we go into classrooms and just talk to kids tell them a few war stories, not too gruesome, about what we did in the service. Each veteran sort of integrates the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and how we got all the great freedoms with our own personal experience.

Ted Simons: What kind of age groups are you targeting?

Lucian Spataro: We start from elementary through high school.

Ted Simons: Do you present -- do you tell your story, do you have a power point? How do you do this?

Lucian Spataro: Each veteran is a little different. We have a general theme of what we do, we want to cover appreciation for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and then just integrate that in with what your own experience was when you were on active duty.

Ted Simons: Kids pay attention?

Lucian Spataro: They really pay attention. They really do. Never have a peep out of them.

Ted Simons: What kind of questions are you often asked?

Lucian Spataro: If you’re Air Force, where did you fly, what war did you fight, what did you like about it, just general questions.

Ted Simons: For those who say we have civics classes, we should at least, and these kids should be taught the Bill of Rights, at least a general understanding of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Are they not getting that information?

Lucian Spataro: I think they get it, but it's a bit watered down in my opinion. It's not as strongly emphasized as math and science and so forth. Not to downplay the other subjects, arts as you were just talking about, and the other subject, but they really need to understand the fundamentals of how this country was founded and the importance of understanding how we got the freedoms and the sacrifices of the persons fighting and the families involved.

Ted Simons: Bill of Rights as an example. What do you tell the kids about the Bill of Rights?

Lucian Spataro: Basically we hit the high points. We don't try to go into detail. But we encourage them to use books like this. You can get the U.S. Sonstitution, it's called a You can get that on the Internet. You can get these booklets, one of them you can get free, or order them in bulk. We've passed down I think overall about 2 million copies total and that's a really good tremor of the history of the country, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and so forth.

Ted Simons: When you walk in dressed like that I bet the kids pay apt attention.

Lucian Spataro: Rapped, yeah they do.

Ted Simons: Did they -- what -- I asked this before, I'm curious. Does it seem -- shouldn't there be a general understanding in terms of the questions they're asking? What do you get when you walk in?

Lucian Spataro: Well, basically what we do is make a presentation. I use a PowerPoint presentation to show a lot of the aircraft flaw, and just talk about the life in the military. We don't try to recruit anyone, we don't have any agenda. But just tell them what it was like to serve our country and how proud we are to be able to serve your country, and give all these freedoms to all the folks that we have here.

Ted Simons: When they asked for war stories what do you tell them?

Lucian Spataro: I tell them fun stories. I've got a story in Vietnam, I tell them the tiger story about a fun time when I was down to the delta and a bunch of army guys had a tiger that they tied up outside just outside of window, and they set you right behind at this window and one guy would let out a loud yell and the tiger would come up over your loud shoulder. So you tell some stories.

Ted Simons: I guess think would get a kick out of that. How long have you been doing this?

Lucian Spataro: I was on the original board started 10 years ago, when Joe started it, and I had breakfast with Joe and a men's bible study for 20 years before he passed away in 2003. A wonderful guy. He shot down 26 Japanese airplanes in World War II, and got the Medal of Honor, was the governor of South Dakota for two terms. After the war, first commissioner of the American Football League, President of the National Rifle Association. He's one of our great heroes.

Ted Simons: This program sounds like it must be royally rewarding when you go into classrooms and talk to these kids.

Lucian Spataro: Yeah, it’s great. I've got a stack of thank you notes from kids. That high.

Ted Simons: That's fantastic. It was good to have you here. It’s great to have you here. And thank you for your service.

Lucian Spataro: Thank you.