City by City: Variations in the Arts Ecology

October 20, 2014 1:00 PM

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We often read about the challenges facing rural arts institutions or even those that operate in less populous cities and states. Building a philanthropic base, for example, is more challenging in rural Kansas than it is in Kansas City, Missouri. There are fewer donors and audience members, less press attention and costs of marketing are so much higher since potential audience members are far less concentrated. Developing a plan for a rural arts institution requires attention to these challenges.

As I work with arts institutions across the United States, however, I am increasingly struck by the differences even between our most populous cities. A simple chart of the 10 largest arts institutions, with their annual operating budgets, in our 10 largest cities raises so many questions about the ...

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