I would like to talk about why I would like you to be planning some of your art four and five years in advance and more of your art two, and three years in advance. I make a very simple chart. And when I say, ProArc. I mean, programming. So please if you're a membership organization, you're not exempt. If you're a gallery, you're not exempt. I'm talking to all you, because I know what you all do. I make a very simple chart of all the next, this year and then the next five years and then I list all the program we were doing this year. And when I say, all. I mean, all. I don't mean just the things with earned income. I mean, also our education work and our outreach. All the things we do all of our programs and then I list what we're planning for next year, which is typically a shorter list, because there's a few things that we haven't figured out yet. And then the next year, which is smaller. And then the next year and the next year, and the next year. And again, I didn't get lazy by doing fewer. It's because I have fewer planned and I actually think about programming I dream about programming. I worry about programming for the next five years and let me tell you why I do it. I do it for a lot of difference reasons and I want to go through it before you tell me why it doesn't work for you. Number one, I believe we can make better art. Bigger art, more interesting art. And by bigger, I don't mean bigger budget. I mean, bigger concept if we really think things through. Example, my last project at the Kennedy Center a year ago this spring was a huge festival about the art of the Nordic countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe and the Aland Islands. We had the musicians and the theater professionals, and we had the dancers, and we had the Lego makers, and we had the knitters, and we had the cooks, and we did the whole thing. The Kennedy Center you may know is just some sort of big, boring, white box of marble and we had the northern lights projected for a month. So it was just so beautiful, particularly when you flew over the whole northern lights went around the Kennedy Center for a month. We had the visual arts of the Nordic countries. We had classes. We had the writers of the Nordic countries. It was this mammoth festival. It took us five years to put it together. If I had been told, do this in a year, it would have been puny. But because I took five years, we could really study what we were going to have. Who's the best? Who's been the most interesting? How are we going to form the relationships? How are we going to write the contracts? How are we going to get the visas? All of this could get planned and we could do something bigger. That's one reason why I like this longer and the main reason I like the longer term. It gives you time to think, what's going to really be great? What's going to make it wonderful? Which artist do I want to collaborate with? I find small and mid-size organisations are too scared to ask really famous artists to work with them. You think that choreographer or that painter or that writer isn't going to want to work with you, because you're not famous and big. And then you prove it by saying, you write them a letter saying will you come work with us next February and they write back saying, no. And you say, see I was right. I don't do that. I say, when in the next ten years can you come work with me? Then they usually say, they always say yes, but at least they started a dialogue. So you could make more interesting art, but you can do other things. One of the big other reasons I love this is in terms of fundraising. If you're just planning, most of you had your hands raise you plan are six to a years in advance, six months to a year in advance. What happens is when you only do that, you go to a prospective donor or you meet someone who might give you a grant. And you go to Chris Collins and you say, Chris, our next project's going to be this and it's going to be so wonderful and we want you to support it and blah blah blah blah. We tend to talk too much when we fundraise and we blather on about how important this project is and how much we need their support. Now Chris is sitting there going, God, I couldn't care less about this project. How do I get the guy out of my office? And so either he says, no or I'll get back to you or he gives me $100. Which is not what I was looking for from Chris, because Chris looks pretty good in his suit. Now, I don't do it that way. When I go to a donor, I listen to what their interests are. It is not and I'm saying this on camera, it is not that you make a project to make the donor happy that is not what I'm saying. What I am saying is I have in my head not just next year, I have a whole menu of projects. I call it my menu. I have tons of projects in my head for the next five years. And when I meet a donor, I meet Rebecca Butler and she tells me her interests are X, I then can figure out which project is the most likely to interest her. And I don't get the $100, I get $10,000, because I'm hitting her in her sweet spot. I just find out this is the project she would really care about. Does that make sense, what I'm saying? Again, I'm not making art to please the donor. I'm making art that I want to make, but I'm matching the donor to the right project. A lot of people hate fundraising. I love fundraising, because I love making that match between the donor and the right project. Not just what we planned six months from now, which we need money for, because we don't have the money for it and I'm doing this all the time. So, I'm constantly matching donors to projects. So when a year starts, a lot of my money is already raised for that year, because I've been talking about it for awhile. Does that make sense? There's something else I can do. When I have a project that I plan five years out and this is my Nordic festival, I now have five years to bring people into my family who would care about that project. We tend to go back to the same donors too often. I know this happens in this city, because it happens in every city. We have a few major foundations, a few government agencies and a few really rich people. We constantly go back to them and go back to them, and go back to them. And it's not that they get tired so much as they get mad, because you're constantly relying on them and I don't do that. What I'm doing is I'm saying, okay, this project in five years, this Nordic festival. Who cares about Nordic culture? And I start to make a list. One of the places I raise a lot of money is foreign government, because they care about their art being seen in the United States. So, I work on that. I work in corporations who are doing business in the Nordic countries. It is easy to study with internet use through a Google search. I look at foreign countries from the Nordic countries who want to be doing business in the United States. I find people of Nordic extractions. It turns out that one of my board members was a big old Swed and she loves Swedish stuff. I didn't know that, but I found it out. And it turned out that over 60% of the money we raised for this festival, I know it was a big festival with a big price tag came from people who had never given us money before. Does that make sense what I'm doing? I'm taking the luxury of time. You're cheating yourselves of time. And because you're smaller and because you don't have the hugest staffs and because you don't have the biggest force, you're actually making it harder on yourself than you need to. And if you thought about some of these projects earlier, you could take the time to do exactly what I'm suggesting, which is to do the research. And to start to do some of the cultivation and thinking. And what that means, is you can enter into this project, with much more security. Because over time, you're building this cadre of people who are getting to know your organization, think you know what you're talking about, excited by your plan. And teach you also about their interests. And all of a sudden, you start to build a much bigger and richer, and more diverse family. Does that make sense what I'm saying here? Your family is not just the people who come to you, your family is also people you reach out to, and you reach out to them thinking through this project's coming up, there's some people who would really care about that project, I'm going to reach out to them and bring them in. Yes this is really important. I mention we plan our budgets too much. I want you to do the opposite. I want you to dream. I want you to sit in a nice cool room relaxed cool particularly in Dallas. With a glass of wine. Or whatever it is you drink. I'm a Sprite Zero person. As you can see down there. And just relax. And dream. And say, what would we really like to do? What have we always wanted to do? Not what can we afford. Don't worry about the money to start with. And for those of you who think I'm a spendthrift. I spend money I don't have. It's just not true. I've run arts organizations for 30 years. I've never had a deficit in any of those 30 years. I don't do deficits, I don't believe in deficits. So I'm not saying spend money you don't have, but the way you get the money is to dream big. And sit in a room and say, what have we always wanted to do? What would be a remarkable, truly remarkable. And then don't place that on the calendar for this year. Put it three or four or five years out. Give yourself the time to make that happen, but have the discipline to make it happen. Don't just sit back and say, it's on the chart, so it necessarily will happen. I like the longer trajectory because it really makes joint ventures easier and I love joint ventures. One of the ways to make art interesting is to do art that your organization can't do by itself. One of my favorite projects I did when I was at the Kennedy Center was a festival of Shakespeare. I did this festival, I really wanted to do something to embrace the whole arts community of Washington. And I said, which artist really influence the most art forms, and I came up with Shakespeare, because our obviously, the plays of Shakespeare, but there's also dance based in Shakespeare, and there's music based in Shakespeare, and there's visual arts based in Shakespeare, and poetry, and chamber music. You go down the list, Shakespeare's there somewhere. So what we did was we put out a call. Any arts organization in the Washington area, any Washington, Northern Virginia, or Southern Maryland, that want to participate could, name the product they want to do that's Shakespeare related. And we just served as a clearing house. A, for the overarching institutional marketing, but also just to make sure no one duplicated effort. And 65 arts organizations participated in our Shakespeare Festival. So much interest that even our local visitors bureau that only in Washington, cares about cherry blossoms and monuments, they were willing to put some money into marketing this festival because it was so broad. And the measure of it for me was, we decided to open the festival on January 6th, which is Twelfth Night. And the local Shakespeare company had a reading of the play Twelfth Night, which is not one of Shakespeare's biggest hits. But they did a reading and we decided to do at the Kennedy Center and we made the gamble of putting it into our concert hall which is our largest theater, which is 2,400 seats. Sort of nervous. Who's going to come to a reading of Shakespeare out of Twelfth Night, not a play they want to see in January when the weather's not so great. We decide to do it anyway. We figure we'd put people in the front of the orchestra section and we'd see if we needed more seats. There was so much attention to the Shakespeare Festival because so many arts organizations were engaged, 7,200 people showed up for a reading of Twelfth Night. This was a way of making something bigger than the Kennedy Center could do by itself, by embracing others. We can do that. We can do projects that are in our imagination that are way beyond our normal capability. If we find others who have other skills, other families, other boards, other donors, other audiences, other artistic knowledge, other educational knowledge. But when we do a big venture with someone else, all of a sudden we have ability to make things bigger than we can do ourselves. But it takes time to make that joint venture work. And when joint ventures don't work it's almost [INAUDIBLE] as a contract. Not a good one. It's lashed and you didn't really think through eventuality of what could happen. I like this longer term. Because I can actually think through what can I do with some more time. Another reason I like this approach has to do with strategic plans. I mentioned that I did a strategic plan for the ballet. I have read literally, thousands of strategic plans for arts organizations. And most of them I would characterize as really wishes rather than plans. Our plan is to increase individual fundraising. That is not a plan, that is a wish. You wish to increase individual fundraising. But I'm always looking in the document. Well how are you going to do it? We are going to increase ticket sales. We are going to strengthen our board. All of these are great wishes, but they are not plans. The plan is what are we going to do to get a stronger board, what are we going to do to sell more tickets. And I frankly don't know how to plan for how to do any of those things unless I know what the art is. Because to me it's all art focused. How do you get stronger board members if you can't tell them what's going to happen. In fact, in the arts we tend to talk about history too much. We tend to look backwards to much. I'm all for history. My brother is a historian. I'm all for saying, a few things to build credibility for an organization. But the truth is when you go to a prospective board member or a donor and you tell them all the great things you did over the last ten years, all you're telling them is what they missed. You're not telling them what their going to enjoy, you missed the most wonderful time [LAUGH] is what your saying, give me money. >> [LAUGH]. >> [LAUGH] >> It's not a great fundraising tool >> [LAUGH] >> I'm saying to them, look at all the stuff you are going to get. All the great things ahead. Now, don't you want to be part of that? To me that's a stronger message. And so for all of these reasons, I want to be able to talk ahead. I also want to look ahead because I like doing pro forma budgets for each year as I look forward, at least the next two or three. And I like to say, you know what, this year has too much that's risky. Let's take this project and move it over here. And let's take this project and move it over here. And I do balance the risk year by year, by year, and I also make sure I have few astonishing things each year, I don't want to have a year with nothing astonishing. I think of my year as a portfolio, and I'm trying to balance the portfolio. Some things I know are sure fire winners, some things are a luxury. I have at least one luxury every year. The luxury is allowing that I was going to lose money. We're doing it because it's important for our field, it's important for our reputation, it's important because we want to do it, but I also know it's going to be a hard one to sell. But I balance that with a few others in there that I think are going to be a little bit more easy, and I make sure each year is balanced. And I look at that years ahead. By the way, I do this in pencil. I'm constantly changing things, I'm erasing things. I have a great idea for a project and then I go it's really not so great. It sounded good, but not so much. And I'd take it off, that's fine. My least favorite word in arts is the word, slots. You know slots. We have the Christmas slot, the family slot, the risky slot, the new work, the community slot. You know what I'm talking about. And you think of your year as a combination of slots. And every year is the same slots, it's just different one name pulled out and another name pulled in. And as a result, every year looks the same. And we bore people. We just bore them. And they go after 14 years, do I need to do it again? Do I need to see it again? Our staff gets bored, our donors get bored. Our board gets bored. And we are doing it to ourselves by making every year exactly the same as the year before. Take out Beethoven's Fifth and stick in Beethoven's Seventh. It's not that different enough to keep people engaged. And I love Beethoven, don't get me wrong. But we have to surprise people. One of my favorites nights running the Kennedy Center every year was the night before we announced the season to the press, I would have 15 or 20 of my major donors come to my apartment, to my little living room, and I would feed them a glass of wine and a peanut and I would tell them the 10 or 15 major things to happen in the next year. And they were always so surprised, like where did you come up with that one, or that's so exciting. And just to see their eyes and to realize what this whole year was going to look like, that was a worth the price of admission for me, because I spent five years planning that list. But I also realized that my group was really engaged and excited. And surprised because every year was different. One year we did the ten plays by August Wilson together in one month and the next year we do a big Arab festival. Everything was different. Every year was different. And that difference, that surprise got people. They always wanted to know what's coming up next, what's coming up next. And that's how we keep our staffs interested and our boards interested and our donors interested and the press interested, is by always surprising people. And if we plan far enough in advance we can make that happen. Does that make sense? For all of these reasons I like looking in advance. And then there's one more reason that I want to talk about. And that is, we all have mission statements. And, Which is great, and our mission's critical obviously in the arts. Because, I would say in a for profit world, it's easy to know what your mission is, for profit. In a not for profit world, we only, we're not for, but what are we for? And that's our mission. >> [LAUGH] >> How do we measure success? And it's really important for us to be really clear in how we measure success. But the truth is to the public, those words are empty. What is really important to them is this. And so I look at my programing plan for the next five years and I say does this really define my mission? Does this sort of explain who we are? And if it doesn't, then our mission statement probably isn't right, or our program planning is wrong. When I got to the Kennedy Center and I did this the first time with my staff, and I looked at the list, and I said, it's great, but there's no really exciting Jazz work, and Jazz is meant to be a big part of who we are at the Kennedy Center. I said, there's something wrong with this or there's something wrong with our mission. And we went back to the drawing board and we really thought through it and what we realized was, we haven't been pushing ourselves hard enough in Jazz to think about what could be really special and we created some amazing Jazz moments and changed this plan. To me this is a check in our mission. And for those of you who are on boards, this is something that I would love for you to ask for from your staffs, because it's going to make you feel more comfortable about the way forward, rather than looking at each year. And typically when you just look at each year, everything's already been agreed to, the contracts have been written by the time the board approves it. So its really too late. This gives the board a chance to look ahead and say I'm comfortable, this is exciting, this makes sense. Or we need to do more. Or what else could we do? Let's make it more interesting. And I'm not just talking about our ticket sales activities. I'm talking about everything we do. Our outreach. Our education. Everything is on these lists. But if we really do this well, the whole organization is going to get excited about what these next five years look like. It's so much easier to engage your board members if they're really excited about what's coming, rather than just looking six months, or three months or two months ahead. What happens when you fear there's a difference between what the artistic director think they want to do and what you think what the public is going to buy? And I want to talk about from two dimensions. One is, I believe the point in time when that has to be discussed and negotiated is when you hire the artistic director. And I believe that most arts organization don't do a great job of hiring their artistic leader. And I think they go more on pedigree and personality than anything else. And I what I would like you to do if you're a board member about to engage in artistic director is say, show me a three year plan. What would be the art you'd want to do over three years? And then you can say, we like it, we don't like it. Rather than hiring someone and then saying, no, no, no. We don't like that. We don't like this. We don't like that. We don't like this. And then, you not let the artistic director do their job. But the other thing I want to say about this notion of what does the audience like, if you go to an audience right now, and ask them what they want to see, they're going to say Beethoven's Ninth, Swan Lake and Phantom of the Opera. >> [LAUGHS] >> And if you actually ask the same people, write down your most amazing arts experience of your life, it's never going to be Beethoven's Ninth, Phantom of the Opera or Swan Lake. It's going to be, I went to this thing, I didn't even know what it was, and there was this young kid playing this thing and I didn't even know and it was amazing. Our job is to lead taste not to follow taste, and my favorite learning about that comes from the industry. Not from the arts. It's from a big disaster called the Ford Edsel. I don't know if any of your are old enough to remember the Ford Edsel. The Ford Edsel was the biggest disaster in American corporate history, until new Coca Cola. >> [LAUGH] >> Ford motor, this is in 1950s, decided to make the car that everyone in America was going to want. And they did it in a smart, exciting way, which as I said, this is when market research was a new thing. So they did market research, and they did focus groups across America. They had hundreds of focus groups that people talk about. Which was the steering wheel they liked the best? Which was the fin of the car they liked the best? Which was the headlamp they like the best? Which seats did you like the best? And they had thousands of Americans expressing what they liked the best. And they took all this information, and they put it together and made the car that everyone would want. And no one bought it. No one wanted that car. Our job is to lead, not to follow. And that does not mean we shouldn't be cognizant of the implications of the work we choose to do. I did some consulting for a man named Richard Foreman. Richard Foreman is the leading absurdist playwright in America. And he ran a theatre company in New York until very recently. And he got every grant known to mankind because he is considered the genius of his field. I didn't understand a word of what he was talking about on stage, but that's okay, I didn't have to like it. He was considered the leader. And he did these relatively modest productions in a tiny little church in the lower east side of New York with 99 seats. And his balance sheet kept getting better, and better, and better. because every foundation gave him a grant, and he got more and more money and he didn't spent it. And I went and I said, Mr. Foreman, you have all this money. Why don't you perform in a bigger theater? Why don't you spend more on your costumes, your sets? Why don't you spend the money? You have it. You can't spend it on yourself, it's in your organization. He said you know, Michael, I don't want to be in a bigger theater because I know there are only 99 people a night who like my work. And he said, if I go to a big theater, I'll have to change my work to get people to come, or the theater will be empty. So he said I don't want to change my work. I love the work I do, it's 99 people a night, it's big enough for me. I learned so much from that. There are implications to our choices. If you want to do avant-garde chamber music, go for it. Just know you're not going to fill 3000 seats. That's okay. No one said 3000 seats is the measure of success. Just know what it is, do it great, market it well. Find the family that's going to support you and do your work. There's nothing wrong with that. But, so I'm not for the do the art that people like, I'm for the do the art we really want to do. Let's do it really well. Let's see if we can build enough of an audience and let's understand the implications for what our budget size can be therefore. Does that make sense? And to me that's a healthier way of working than saying we better play Jingle Bells, otherwise we're not going to get the people to come. And you know most people aren't fooled anyway. I got to the Kennedy Center in 2001. We have symphony there called the National Symphony, it's our symphony. And just before I got there, the symphony decided, like so many other arts organizations, we need a younger audience. We all say that. We need a younger audience. So they said they needed a younger audience. And their solution to the younger audience was they were going to change their subscription brochure and they were going to make it look like a subscription brochure from a really edgy organization like the Brooklyn Academy of Music. They broke all the musicians heads up and they had all the words going this way and everything. And that was going to get, we sold zero subscriptions because no young person was fooled that all of a sudden you're hip because your brochure is. And the senior subscribers couldn't read the damn thing. They didn't know what was in it. Now we had to do all this remedial telephone calls to get people to come back because they couldn't read the brochure. You don't fake people into buying art. And I really want arts organization to figure out its true calling. Why do you exist? What do you want to be? What kind of work do you really want to do? What's important to you? Do it really well and then do a great job of your marketing and do it so you start to build a family that supports your kind of work. And you're true to it. That's the way I think your going to compete successfully, with the online, the 10,000 Swan Lakes that are going to be online within a few years. Is not to do Swan Lake just because we think it sells, but do something that's really distinctively yours. And I think if we don't do that, we're going to have real trouble in the arts. How often have I put things on this calendar and then for some reason they drop off? It's happened frequently. For several reasons. The biggest reason was I realized it was a stupid project. >> [LAUGH] >> And it sounded great, and I was really excited by it. And then, all of a sudden, I realized it's just not so good. That's the biggest reason, frankly. Several times it happens because artists, for some reason, became available. They died. They got a different project. And it just didn't work. Every now and then, it was because I started to realize I couldn't get the funding. But usually if I can't get the funding, I make that the luxury for the year, and I use general fundraising to support that. But you know what? It's a surprisingly small percentage of what I put on this chart. And I've had funders where I got them to commit to a project. And I'd go back and say, you know what? Can't do it for, here's the reason. I'm totally honest and open. I don't lie, and they got it. because there was always a good reason. It wasn't because like, we were stupid or something. It was we were going to do this with so and so, and they were writing a play, and they died. No donor can blame you for that. >> [LAUGH] >> And so it happens but I'll tell you it's happened so infrequently compared to the others that actually we make happen and that really that process starts to really drive the organization forward. >> And we're ask you to do a longer term plan. To really start thinking about this. And use this as a fun opportunity rather than as dreary. Just think about, if it isn't fun, then maybe this isn't the right profession. If it's not fun to say, I've always wanted to do this, that's why we do this work. And I want you to be thinking about this. I think it's going to enliven you, it's going to enliven your staffs, it's going to enliven the board. And it's going to enliven the people around you care about your organization because they are going to be energized by the excitement you start to generate from having come up with some ideas for the future. I'd just like you to think bigger. If you think about your art five years out, are you sort of, the world changes in those five years. How do you create work that responds to the needs and the relevancy of today, and how, maybe five years ago, something wasn't an issue. And I think the answer to that is, I don't plan all my art five years out. I'm leaving lots of room for innovation. I'm just planning some projects out. That's part 1 and part 2, is if you're an organization that only does contemporary work, you don't necessarily even know the works you'll do five years out. But you can at least start to look at the artists you'd like to commission. And again, you have a much easier chance commissioning greater artists if you give them a much longer lead time. So even if you can't say this is the work I want to do in three years, but say there's this artist I've always wanted to work with, when are they available to work with us? Let's stick them on this list. You don't know what the work is they're going to come up with for you, but you know they're going to be around. That's something, really, to know and to plan around. So I don't think this doesn't work when you're dealing with contemporary artists. How do we go from where we are to doing that? We can't do it in one day, and you're exactly right. What I would ask organizations that are only looking six months or a year ahead to do right now, is go to your cool, calm place with your favorite drink and pick one or two projects, that's it. Don't pick 16, don't work with every year. Just pick one or two projects you've always wanted to do and stick them four or five years out. All right? Just do one or two. Don't do the whole thing. Grow into it. What you're going to find is you're so energized by the activity that you're going to want to put more down. This is fun, this is why we're in the field. We've forgotten that, I think. I don't mean you have. But as a group, we've forgotten a lot about our creativity and our excitement and the energy of coming up with a great idea. because we're so nervous, always, that we're not going to have the money to do our work. So we tamp down our ambition so much. So what I'm asking you to do is just think of one project. And stick it five years out. And what you're going to find is you're excited by that project, you're going to want a few more and you're going to bring people along with you. Because as you start talking about these, you're going to realize you're getting a lot of support for these ideas and that's going to encourage you to do more and you'll grow into it.