Podcast Episode 18: Building Sustainable Arts: An Interview with Karen Gahl-Mills of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture

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If you care about the arts in your community, this is a must-listen podcast. We interviewed Karen Gahl-Mills, executive director and CEO of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, a Cleveland area organization that has funded more than 350 organizations in northeastern Ohio with approximately $158 million since its foudning. In this podcast, Karen explains how CAC enlisted the power of “earmarked taxes” to build a government agency that provides long-term stability to many nonprofits. She explains how a community like yours can develop the coalition necessary to pass a budget measure. She notes how other pioneering communities like St. Louis, Denver, and Salt Lake have been able to generate sustainable revenue sources to support zoos, botanical gardens, orchestras, and other important cultural activities. She also discusses the first steps arts leaders should take if they want to use this model in their home communities. Questions we discuss include the following:

Tell me about what Cuyahoga Arts & Culture does.

As I understand it, CAC has an interesting model for funding. Could you describe that model?

How did this come about? Take his back a few years and tell us what circumstances came about that made CAC a possibility.

Are there other communities that have organizations with funding models like CAC?

From CAC’s experience in coming into existence, what advice would you give someone who was trying to do something like CAC and some other jurisdiction?

During this interview, Karen mentions Deborah Jordy at Denver’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, Sheila Smith at Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and Jonathan Moscone at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, as well as CAC’s Report to the Community.

 

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