The Capacity of Performing Arts Presenting Organizations

Mark A. Hager, Thomas H. Pollak
Review by Pamela Gregg, Flintridge Foundation

April 2002, 47 pages. Supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the Urban Institute. (Research conducted by the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute with assistance from the Center for Survey Research at Ohio State University and the Center for Survey Research at Indiana University, Bloomington.) 202-833-7200,

Although more than a year old, this report still provides relevant information for funders who want to understand an important part of this country's performing arts ecosystem: presenting organizations, defined here as "an organization, or a department or program of a larger organization, that works to facilitate exchanges between artists and audiences through creative, educational, and performance opportunities. The work that these artists perform is produced outside the presenting organization."

Researchers mailed surveys to 7,000 entities that conceivably might fit this definition, and 800 organizations responded. The respondents represent a diverse range of presenters, including traditional performing arts centers and programs that are part of an academic institution (nearly 50 percent of the respondents), fairs, festivals, museums, and other cultural venues with presenting programs, as well as performing groups that present the work of other performing artists.

The report classifies the presenting organizations by budget size (less than $100,000 to more than $2 million), "hosted status" (free-standing nonprofits or hosted by other entities), community type (urban, suburban or rural), and presenter age. Using these organizational categories for comparisons, the body of the publication explores six different areas: scope of programs and activities, sustainability and financial stability, leadership, international artists and cultural diversity, audience development, and technological adaptation. This array of topics provides useful information for funders with different interests. While such research findings are narratively and graphically accessible in the main section of the report, readers can find an excellent snapshot of the key findings in the publication's twelve-point conclusion.