Run It Like a Business

Strategies for Arts Organizations to Increase Audiences, Remain Relevant, and Multiply Money--Without Losing the Art

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Pub Date Feb 06 2024 | Archive Date Feb 27 2024

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Featured on Publishers Weekly 2024 Announcement Issue

TEDx speaker Aubrey Bergauer—“the Steve Jobs of classical music”—reveals how to run a successful arts business in the post-pandemic era, adapting for-profit methods for not-for-profit goals.

In the US alone, the arts are a $763 billion sector whose 100,000+ organizations serve almost every community in the nation. There’s no reason arts organizations should struggle to make ends meet. And now, with arts-tested strategies from Aubrey Bergauer, they won’t. This foolproof guide shows how to reach new levels of engagement—while always putting art first.

Running your arts organization like a business is your path forward to:
  • Grow audiences and keep them coming back again
  • Make our organizations more inclusive
  • Get younger attendees in the seats and on the donor rolls
  • Generate millions more dollars in revenue
  • Continue to create the art we love—without the stress of figuring out how to afford it

Just because arts organizations are non-profits doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make money; it means the money they make goes back to fund the mission—whether that’s music, visual arts, theatre, dance, or one of many other mediums that enrich our lives.

The for-profit world knows how to achieve success across customer engagement, user experience, company culture, the subscription economy, technology and media, new revenue streams, and brand relevance. Run It Like a Business provides a powerful, proven framework to help all arts organizations revitalize their economic engines and ultimately serve the arts and its patrons.
Featured on Publishers Weekly 2024 Announcement Issue

TEDx speaker Aubrey Bergauer—“the Steve Jobs of classical music”—reveals how to run a successful arts business in the post-pandemic era, adapting...

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Featured Reviews

Let me start this review by sharing my credentials: I am the author of “Arts Management: Uniting Arts and Audiences in the 21st Century,” which is used as a textbook in colleges throughout the US, Canada and Asia. I retired in 2019 as Professor Emeritus of Arts Management at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where I directed and taught an arts management program for 20 years. I’ve worked at organizations with budgets ranging from $10,000 to $16 million, and have consulted with many more.

So it’s with this knowledge I can say with confidence that every word in this book is truth. It should be read by every staff and board member affiliated with an arts organization in the United States and elsewhere, and should be used in arts management classrooms at all levels.

I picked this book hoping I could recommend it to colleagues, but I immediately recognized how important it was when I read the introduction. Each sentence increased my excitement- this woman doesn’t just get it, she knows how to tell people what they need to hear in a way that will make them eager to revolutionize their outlook. One of the most important concepts: the art isn’t the problem. We’ve been dumbing down our product in an effort to make it more accessible, when what we should have been doing is revising our customer interface, improving our corporate culture, taking examples from the commercial world in ways that support the art and artists but allow greater access, a more positive experience and increased participation and loyalty.

What is so exciting about this book is that Bergauer doesn’t shy away from saying that money is good - after all, it’s what allows us to fulfill our mission - but getting money doesn’t have to mean manipulative or unethical practices. So many of us in the industry, while hoping for more season ticket holders or larger grants, still think that “nonprofit” needs to mean “poor,” and scraping by each year is somehow noble. It’s not. What’s noble is bring good art to more people and helping ensure that they find as much enjoyment from it as so many of us in the industry have.

I’m so glad that Aubrey Bergauer has written this book. I heartily recommend it. Many thanks to BenBella Books and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to review this ARC.

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