Peer pressure, gung-ho leadership, and unrealistic financial projections got many arts organizations in over their heads on major construction and expansion projects during a cultural building boom in years before the economy crashed, The New York Times writes, citing a new University of Chicago study.
The report by the university’s Cultural Policy Center looked at the $16-billion wave of building and renovation by museums, performance venues, and theaters from 1994 to 2008 and cited case studies of ambitious projects that left organizations gasping financially.
Many organizations embarked on such projects in large part because other groups were doing the same, according to the study, which incorporated interviews with people at more than 500 arts groups and data from some 700 projects. Overambitious trustees and star architects pursuing their own agendas were also contributing factors.
“This issue between confusing a want with a need is enormous in the sector,” said Carroll Joynes, the founder of the policy center. “There are clear ways to avoid this. You can learn from what other people went through.”