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‘Investing in arts pays’

ONE of the leading arts managers in the world, President of the Washington-based Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, Michael Kaiser, told Zimbabwean arts managers in Harare on Monday that investing in the arts has been proven to bring substantial returns for countries and governments. He was also stated that success in the industry starts with good art, supported by smart marketing and long-term planning.

“Actually one place where government gets money back is in the arts where every dollar invested is multiplied by seven,” said Kaiser discussing a study of the industry as he facilitated a half day arts management seminar organised jointly by the National Arts Council and the US Embassy Public Affairs Section. The training attracted nearly 70 arts managers in music, theatre, dance, film and the visual arts from around Zimbabwe.


Kaiser has served as Executive Director for, among others, the Royal Opera House in London, and American Ballet Theatre and the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation in New York.  At each organisation, he erased multimillion dollar deficits, increased contributed and earned income, and built acclaimed education programmes.

The seminar discussed various aspects of art management including planning, marketing and resource mobilisation.

“One thing I find common in every country is that it is very difficult to be in the arts.  This applies to both running an arts organisation and being an artist,” said Kaiser who implored participants to prioritise long term planning and creativity.

“Not every project has to be expensive, but it does have to be creative. Good art creates the most success.  Interesting, surprising projects, which I term ‘transformational projects,’ change the way the world looks at you,” said Kaiser who has been president at the John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts since 2001.

As Founder of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Centre, Kaiser has given similar seminars to artists and arts managers in more than 70 countries and in all 50 US states.

“His visit to Zimbabwe is part of this vision –– to raise the abilities of arts managers worldwide, so they can better achieve their own unique vision of the arts in their countries,” said Hudson-Dean.

Several Zimbabwean arts leaders have participated in the Kennedy Centre’s Summer International Fellowship programme and other exchanges. These include Nikki Carter, dancer and choreographer for the National Ballet of Zimbabwe; Yvonne Yeukai Zinyoro, hip hop dancer with Jibilika Dance Trust; Llyod Nyikadzino, freelance actor and theater director; and Zane Lucas, director of theater for Theory X Media. –– Own Correspondent.


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