Sources of Sclerosis: How Cultural Institutions Need to Rethink
Cultural institutions are struggling to cope with recent changes in their operating environment and need new sources of income – and the old ways of pleading with government are stalling. They need new business models, but one that do not threaten their mission and ethos. The structures of non-profits have a systemic bias toward the status quo: unwieldy non-executive boards, restrictive regulatory frameworks that are the corollary of their tax privileges, adverse tax implications for ‘unrelated business income’, and pay structures that cannot easily accommodate financial incentives and they cannot build risk capital They all push in the same fiscally conservative direction.
For decades the priority was to build more capital projects with the high overheads that entails and so being nimble with low overheads becomes impossible. And now a new threat is on the horizon as the large philanthropies are increasingly moving away from ‘legacy institutions’ with the rise of the social justice agenda. Many larger cultural institutions need to think afresh.
Adrian is the founder of AEA Consulting (1990) and the Global Cultural Districts Network (2013). He has worked in senior management and as a board member in both museums and the performing arts and as a strategy consultant to leading clients in the cultural, public, and business sectors around the world Adrian served as Executive Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center from 2007 to 2012. He began his career as a civil servant in the UK Treasury and the Cabinet Office and was Executive Director of the Conran Foundation which established the Design Museum in London in 1989.