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How can the cultural sector survive the financial crisis?

January 2009

Helmut K. Anheier (Ph.D. Yale University, 1986) is Professor of Sociology at Heidelberg University and the academic Director of the Heidelberg Centre for Social Investment. He is also Professor and Director of the Center for Civil Society and the Center for Globalization and Policy Research at UCLA's School of Public Affairs. Anheier's work covers the civil society, the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, organisational studies, policy analysis and comparative methodology. In 2008, he published Cultures and Globalization: The Cultural Economy.

It is clear to everyone who follows daily reports about the cancellation of cultural events and the closure of opera houses and theatres, or learns about economic troubles at one cultural institution or another, that the global financial crisis is already having a significant impact on philanthropic giving and non-profit organisations. [1]

It is also clear that the crisis’ impact is going to get deeper and wider for some time to come. It is less clear how long the fallout will last; and it is especially unclear what the crisis ultimately means for policy-makers, leaders and managers in the cultural sector. This article examines how the arts and culture sector is responding to growing uncertainty in the global economy – and how the sector can weather the gathering storm.

How is the arts and culture sector responding to the crisis?

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Table of contents

  1. How can the cultural sector survive the financial crisis?
  2. How is the arts and culture sector responding to the crisis?
  3. How should non-profits rise to new challenges?
  4. Six tips for weathering the storm
  5. Preparing for the future

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[1] In Southern California, for example, the Orange County Opera Pacific cancelled its season and may shut down entirely. They said that a “limited number of donors who had funded the company no longer could come up with the necessary gifts in the wake of drastic hits to their investment portfolios” (Los Angeles Times, 6 November, 2008). Also caught in the budget crisis, the Orchestra of Pasadena cancelled two concerts and issued emergency fundraising appeals to save the remaining schedule.

[2] All images sourced from Flickr through a search for financial crisis and credit crunch.

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