Monday, July 27, 2009

Economic Downturn Forces Groups to Get Creative

The NY Times reported arts groups, hit hard by the economic downturn, are seeking strength in numbers by forming alliances, pooling resources, networking and accommodating one another’s diminished circumstances.

The efforts, which sometimes bring together dissimilar groups, don’t always go smoothly. But by and large, the atmosphere is one of growing cooperation that works to artists’ benefit — and the public’s.

“There’s more of a willingness to work together because there’s a unique cause right now, and the cause is the fact there are economic issues,” said Stephen Sansone, president of the Untermyer Performing Arts Council in Yonkers and executive director of the Yonkers Downtown/Waterfront Business Improvement District.

Since May 1, four museums in Westchester County (the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, the Katonah Museum of Art and Purchase College’s Neuberger Museum of Art) and two in Fairfield County, Connecticut (the Bruce Museum in Greenwich and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield) have allowed any of their members to be admitted to all six. The same goes for visitors who buy a same-day pass.

The plan — advertised as an alliance — has been slow to catch on, with only a handful of museum visitors taking advantage of it in a typical week. Still, arts groups say it is the first pact of its kind in memory among museums in Connecticut and New York, and its very existence is evidence of greater cooperation.

“It’s symbolic of our efforts to be creative in a very tough time,” said Peter C. Sutton, executive director of the Bruce, who, noting that his museum’s endowment was down 20 percent over the past year and its corporate support depleted, hosted the meeting in March at which the plan was formulated.

“Almost all nonprofits have suffered some loss in their endowments and had to institute economizing efforts, as we have,” he said, “and this is a good way for people to make the most of their local museums.”

Another kind of joint effort — one enjoying greater participation this year, its sixth — is Art Along the Hudson, a cooperative media campaign to promote the visual and performing arts in seven cities lining the river. Read more here about this and other efforts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

More towns and villages consider merging services

The Times Herald-Record reported on the debate of savings versus services around consolidation in local government and associated entities. As the article relates:

Maybrook Village Clerk Tina Johnson gets lots of compliments. Residents walk into Village Hall just to say thanks for the snowplowing and street sweeping.

But at tax time, they're not so congenial.

"It is a common refrain we hear all the time. 'We hate our taxes, but we love our services,'" said Scott Sittig, a senior research associate with the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester.

Sittig spends his days crunching numbers on proposed government consolidations in New York. With more than 10,000 local taxing agencies, this state also has the nation's second-highest tax burden, according to The Tax Foundation, and a mind-boggling system of overlapping special districts and governments.

In Orange County, there are 302 local governments with taxing power, including municipalities, school districts and special districts that tax for water and sewer.

In Montgomery alone, there are four fire districts, 22 elected board members, 100 full- and part-time police officers in four departments, and a town and three village governments whose 2009 budgets add up to almost $29 million.

It's just the type of place where consolidation could equal lower taxes and higher efficiency.
"Where there is clear overlap of governments, it makes a lot of sense to look at eliminating layers," Sittig said.

Easier said than done
In the last two years, more than 20 mid-Hudson localities have talked merger and efficiency, although none have acted. Read more here about the barriers and a new law Gov. Paterson has signed that should make consolidations easier.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

NYCON launches Interim Executive Leadership Program

The Interim Executive Director Leadership Program

Are You Looking for an Exciting Opportunity to Lead a Nonprofit Organization?
Consider becoming an Interim Executive Director!

What is the Interim Executive Director Leadership (IEL) Program? The Interim Executive Director Leadership (IEL) Program is designed to help meet the needs of nonprofit agencies as significant numbers of nonprofit executives are expected to retire over the next 5 years. The Interim Executive Director Leadership (IEL) Program is a comprehensive training, placement and support initiative designed for qualified, experienced nonprofit professionals in transitional nonprofit Executive Director/CEO positions in New York State. Interim Executive Directors trained through our program will provide effective transitional leadership to nonprofits in order to strengthen organizational health and effectiveness during a time of transition.

Consider Becoming an Interim Executive Director if you are a:
Current and/or former executive director with successful experience in nonprofit executive management;
Nonprofit professional who is currently or have already served as an Interim Executive Leader who would like to be involved with this initiative and receive specialized training to augment and build upon their current skills;
Nonprofit Professional or consultant who clearly demonstrates executive leadership knowledge, abilities, maturity and effectiveness.

Program Dates & Locations: Please note that space in the training sessions listed below is limited. Registrants must complete an application process that includes submission of a writing sample and at least one reference. Candidates who successfully complete the training and secondary evaluation process may be placed into Interim Executive Director positions through this program.

August 18th, 2009 - Albany, NY NYCON Main Office, 272 Broadway, Albany, NY
Time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Cost: $150, Training Materials & Lunch Provided

August 20th, 2009 - Rochester, NY United Way of Greater Rochester, 75 College Avenue, Rochester, NY Time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Cost: $150, Training Materials & Lunch Provided

For more information click here or please contact: Jennifer Lockwood, Program Director 454-5062 x. 102

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bloomberg Announces Package of Media Initiatives for Economic Development

New York Future Initiative (NYFI) related the following announcement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg about a package of initiatives designed to strengthen New York's media sector, part of a broader push to diversify the city's economy and trigger some economic gains to make up for what's been lost on Wall Street.

The initiatives include a research center for media companies and universities, a tax-exempt bond program to help companies purchase new facilities, a media and tech fellowship, and a city affiliated co-working space for freelancers. Read the full details here.