TRG Insights

Search or browse our knowledge center for TRG insights and solutions that work for arts and entertainment organizations of all genres and sizes.

Most recent posts:


Karen Gahl-Mills

I had an interesting conversation with a smart colleague today, on the topic of the role of cultural organizations in civic affairs.  We were talking about the current, polarized state of public discourse and what role, if any, arts organizations should play by bringing residents together to celebrate differences and share views.  He asked something simple yet profound – “Yeah, but what if I just want to run my ballet company and dance?  Can’t I just do that?”

His question stuck with me, as it gets to the crux of our agency’s approach to grantmaking and why we think we, as public funders, have the responsibility to address topics of public value and community engagement. 

Posted April 27, 2016


Photo by via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Quick quiz: Over the last 3-5 years, has your annual operating budget:

·        Grown?

·        Stood still?

·        Declined?

And, if it’s grown, has it exceeded the standard inflation rate of 3%, or merely kept pace?


Executive directors likely know the answer.


Finance directors always know the answer.


And departmental leaders almost never know the answer.


Yet, the growth (or lack thereof) of your organization’s annual budget is everybody’s business and is a clear signal not only of how healthy your organization has been, but how innovative you can afford to be in the near future.

Posted April 21, 2016


Amelia Northrup-Simpson

Do you treat arts patrons like customers, clients, or collaborators?

In the first post in this series, Doug Borwick laid out this important question. Let’s re-cap the definitions of each:

  • The exchange with a customer is largely arms-length. We provide something, they buy it. End of story.
  • With a client there is a relationship, but they still come to us for the "product" we create and are selling. We may tailor it to their particular interests but we are in charge of the "supply." 
  • A collaborator is a partner, suggesting mutual benefit and of participation.

If our job as arts managers is to bring artists and audiences together, these definitions become very important. The spectrum from customer to collaborator indicates how deeply we allow the connection to artists to go.

Posted April 20, 2016


This post is part of a series in conjunction with Doug Borwick and ArtsEngaged on developing relationships with both new communities and existing stakeholders through artistic programming, marketing and fundraising, community engagement and public policy. (Cross-post can be found at Engaging Matters.) 

Photo: Some rights reserved by Didriks

In January, Doug McLennan published a post Is Earning Making Money The New Audience-Building Strategy? In a comparison of for-profit and not-for-profit enterprise, he began to intrigue me when, addressing the former, he said "More than ever consumers are about relationships – the kinds of relationships that non-profits have worked on for years." He then went on to consider whether crowd-funding, which began as simply a way to raise money might be morphing into a relationship-building mechanism. He really started to intrigue me when he titled that section "Crowdfunding: Raising Money Or Building Audience?" However, he riveted me when he said, "But how many arts organizations make their communities feel like investors?"

Posted April 13, 2016