Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

What to do with less funds?


Some European countries are facing major difficulties to overcome the economical crisis of the last years. Right after Greece, Portugal´s government declared bankruptcy and since then the country has been following the economical austerity measures imposed by troika – the team formed by the EU +IMF+European Central Bank.

Since the crisis (really) started in 2009 I was expecting that a lot of arts organization would struggle so hard that would eventually disappear. And unfortunately there are some cases. However, I have been realising that less government support has enhanced  high levels of creativity and problem solving skills in portuguese culture(s). Please note that I still do not understand how some organisations are expected to survive but the fact is….most of them are. Portuguese have been showing the rest of Europe that even “without money” there are plenty of things that we are doing well even though on the way we lost the Ministry of Culture.

The national dance company had to join forces with the national theatre and orchestra to form an artistic coalition and their program has been very consistent so far. Other organizations had to come together as well and find solutions to overcome the consequences of the financial cuts. Furthermore, it is interesting to see how much Portugal is investing in hybrid art festivals not only as a strategy to attract tourism but also to take advantage of the collective aspect of this activity.

We have been talking about “multi-modal” attendance tendencies in the arts as a result of many factors like education, technology, life style and income.   I hope portuguese art organisations can follow the success of some of our creative industries and turn into positive case studies of arts organisations in the future. It is ambitious but who knows?

These and these are the “stories” behind this very nationalistic blog post.


photo of Lisbon taken by me


2 comments on “What to do with less funds?

  1. lcrowley2014
    September 19, 2014

    While the eurozone issues and various crises are nothing to cheer about, I appreciate the survival mentality of arts organizations that becomes evident during tough times. Certainly not all organizations are able to weather every storm, but because arts organizations have creative solutions and flexibility built into the very foundation of their operations, they seems to find ways to continue on through thick and thin.
    This reminds me of the cost and value scales on Andrew’s cultural enterprise evaluation slide. Of course every business whether for profit or non-profit has to continually examine their cost and value scales, but as we learned in class, the arts have a number of unique ways to cut costs (volunteers not hired labor) and ways to add value (individual or government donor) that for profit business can’t tap even in times of crisis.
    I think your self proclaimed “nationalistic blog post” is the very example of why the arts can and are sometimes more resilient in tough economic times…national pride seeps to the surface and the mindset of the people responds through the collective thinking of “we are still valuable” with art as that value.

  2. awellfare89
    September 19, 2014

    Lucy is right, the arts have more creative ways to deal with lower funding and I am reminded of an article posted earlier about nonprofit leaders strategizing with those of corporate and governmental entities to avoid selling the museum collection in order to rectify Detroit’s debt. It is beneficial to think like a nonprofit. The economic situation is certainly awful, but it is exciting that new creative talent is able to thrive in the market. Portugal’s creative renaissance is giving the opportunity for budding talent otherwise squashed in larger markets to become successful and create jobs. I don’t think your thought is ambitious, there’s already proof of success!

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