Over the past two decades, the arts in America have experienced an unprecedented building boom, with more than sixteen billion dollars directed to the building, expansion, and renovation of museums, theaters, symphony halls, opera houses, and centers for the visual and performing arts. Among the projects that emerged from the boom were many brilliant successes. Others, like the striking addition of the Quadracci Pavilion to the Milwaukee Art Museum, brought international renown but also tens of millions of dollars of off-budget debt while offering scarce additional benefit to the arts and embodying the cultural sector’s worst fears that the arts themselves were being displaced by the big, status-driven architecture projects built to contain them.
With Building for the Arts, Peter Frumkin and Ana Kolendo explore how artistic vision, funding partnerships, and institutional culture work together—or fail to—throughout the process of major cultural construction projects. Drawing on detailed case studies and in-depth interviews at museums and other cultural institutions varying in size and funding arrangements, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Atlanta Opera, and AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Frumkin and Kolendo analyze the decision-making considerations and challenges and identify four factors whose alignment characterizes the most successful and sustainable of the projects discussed: institutional requirements, capacity of the institution to manage the project while maintaining ongoing operations, community interest and support, and sufficient sources of funding. How and whether these factors are strategically aligned in the design and execution of a building initiative, the authors argue, can lead an organization to either thrive or fail. The book closes with an analysis of specific tactics that can enhance the chances of a project’s success.
A practical guide grounded in the latest scholarship on nonprofit strategy and governance, Building for the Arts will be an invaluable resource for professional arts staff and management, trustees of arts organizations, development professionals, and donors, as well as those who study and seek to understand them.