Message from Chairman Michael M. Kaiser

July 2016

A few weeks ago, the DeVos Institute welcomed a new cohort of arts managers to our fellowship program. This year’s class brings together 13 arts managers from six countries. Like their predecessors in the program, these talented managers bring a diverse mix of experiences and perspectives. It is fascinating to learn about the challenges they face in their countries (Palestine, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Great Britain, and the United States) and in a wide range of arts institutions, from contemporary music ensembles to modern dance companies to community-based educational institutions. However, what I enjoy most is discussing strategies to address these challenges, whether they are universal to our sector or unique to one specific organization. Our fellows learn from one another’s successes and occasional setbacks, and it is consistently a pleasure to be part of this collaborative process. Their enthusiasm and expertise bode well for the field.

In September, the Institute will explore some of the primary forces shaping our sector worldwide in two panel discussions at the Cultural Leadership Summit: Prague, to be held in conjunction with the renowned Dvorak Prague Festival. My discussion will explore, in an international context, several of the themes addressed in my latest book, Curtains, on how 21st-century developments—including the decline in arts education, the aging of our donor base and the rise of electronic distribution of the arts—have fundamentally altered the cultural landscape. My colleague, Institute President Brett Egan, will lead a subsequent panel discussion on the impact of digital technologies on artists, arts managers, and audiences in the years to come. 

The Institute will take a deeper look at the issue of technology and the arts this fall with the launch of “Generation Elsewhere: Art in the Age of Distraction,” our second research initiative at the University of Maryland. While artists and arts managers have more tools than ever before to create, distribute, and market their content, they also face a rapidly growing number of digital substitutes for that content. This initiative launches on October 17 with “Technology, the Brain, and Audience Expectations: Vying for Attention in ‘Generation Elsewhere’,” the first of four debates exploring facets of this issue of critical importance to arts managers across the country. The debate will be free and open to the public; we’ll open registration at later this summer.

Meanwhile, the Institute continues to work with organizations worldwide through its consulting engagements and training programs, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work with so many dynamic organizations from California to Qatar. We are proud to be consulting to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, the Carr Center in Detroit, the Schwarzman Center at Yale University, and so many others, and to be leading arts management training programs in six American cities in Bloomberg Philanthropies' AIM program. My colleagues and I look forward to sharing updates on our work—including a Massive Open Online Course on The Cycle—in the coming months, in hopes we can contribute to a larger conversation on how to keep our sector vital and sustainable.

For more information about the DeVos Institute or any of its programs, please contact

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