Commentary: Why do business titans feel the need to 'give back' to charity?

Michael Skapinker, writing in The Financial Times, November 29 2010

 "Giving back to the community" is the way business people often describe their philanthropy. It is an arresting phrase because it suggests that their careers have involved taking something away from the community.  As Graham Mackay, chief executive of SABMiller, wrote in the FT, the biggest benefit a business brings to society is "the very act of running its business - paying suppliers, paying wages, paying taxes".  So why do executives feel the need to give something back?  Many explain that money is no use to them when they are dead - "shrouds don't have pockets", as Sandy Weill, once head of Citigroup, and his wife Joan put it.  Others say they do not want to spoil their children by leaving them too much.  Why not set up funds to invest in new companies that can employ people whose taxes can finance universities, museum and medical research?  First, because some business philanthropists accept that markets don't solve every problem.  Second, governments can't provide all public goods, nor should they.  In his letter to the Giving Pledge, Michael Bloomberg says: "Giving also allows you to leave a legacy that many others will remember. Rockefeller, Carnegie, Frick, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Duke - we remember them more for the long-term effects of their philanthropy than for the companies they founded."  Peter Peterson suggests another motive: "I get much more pleasure giving money to what I consider worthwhile causes than making the money in the first place."  That hints at something underlying much business philanthropy.  It seems there are human needs -- gratitude from others, a sense that life should have some deeper meaning -- that financial success does not satisfy.


Commentary: Endowments are a bad idea for small to midsize arts orgs

Posted by the Meyer Foundation's Rick Moyers on, December 1, 2010

The idea of building an endowment is almost irresistibly seductive to nonprofit board members. And while I understand the many good reasons for this, it's usually a bad idea.  Small to midsize arts organizations face a steep uphill battle in raising money for endowment. To create an endowment that would have a significant impact on the annual budget, even a relatively small organization would need to raise millions of dollars.  [Most smaller] nonprofits struggle to raise several hundred thousand dollars each year from private sources. An organization that has a hard time meeting modest annual fund raising goals just isn't in a good position to launch an audacious campaign.  Even if it were, a large pool of restricted capital is probably not what most nonprofits need to thrive in the short or medium term.  Nonprofits need operating reserves that can be used to weather tough times and unexpected financial setbacks. They need working capital that can be used to build organizational infrastructure and take advantage of unanticipated opportunities, such as expansion or merger. An endowment doesn't help with any of these things. Having an endowment is a worthwhile long-term goal once an organization has a sustainable capital structure and a large pool of engaged donors.  But for easing today's pain, endowment is not the answer.


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Royal Shakespeare Company to embrace amateur performers

From, December 2, 2010

Every amateur theatre group in the UK is being invited to apply to a celebration of Shakespeare and live theatre being led by the Royal Shakespeare Company, eight regional [UK] theatres and a number of organisations representing amateurs. The initiative will see amateur groups given professional support and new opportunities to perform their own Shakespeare-themed productions.  Successful applicants will become members of RSC Open Stages, receive marketing packs to help with publicity and recruiting for their performances, and be invited to attend regional events hosted by the participating regional theatres, where they can take part in workshops aimed at inspiring ideas for use in their productions. The eight participating regional theatres will then host performances, and the initiative will culminate in a national showcase at the RSC's home in Stratford-upon-Avon, to coincide with the Cultural Olympiad's World Shakespeare Festival in 2012.  There are more than 5,000 amateur theatre groups in the UK, with over a million people taking part each year.  RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd said of the project: "We have achieved such a change in our relationship with schools, with an extraordinary increase in the quantity and quality of collaborative work on Shakespeare with young people over the last 20 years. It's time to make the same offer of collaboration to all those adults who share our obsession with live theatre." 


Debate: Should theatre be on television?

Posted on, November 30, 2010

The relationship between stage and screen has always been fraught with antagonism and suspicion.  One working in two dimensions, the other in three, they don't speak the same visual language.  But recent events have helped to eat away at the status quo. On the one hand, theatre has grown increasingly intrigued by the design properties of film.  Meanwhile, theatre and opera have been encouraging those who, for reasons of distance or price, can't make it to the show itself to catch it on a cinema screen instead.   Other companies are trying to bring theatre into the living room [or] harnessed the internet to offer downloadable play performances.  In this conversation, the producer John Wyver discusses the marriage of theatre and television with the director Harry Burton. 


You Should Be On Broadway video


Video: "You should be on Broadway" 

Posted on, November 22, 2010

FROM TC: For your amusement....This 2 1/2-minute video has been making the rounds online for about a week, but I only just discovered it.  Watch these animated bears discuss how tough it is being an actor.


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