Joe Patti, senior contributor

Focus Areas

Marketing, Legal Issues, Operations (backstage and front of house), Arts Presenting and Producing, Business Models, Outdoor Festivals Presenting Contemporary Indigenous Artists, Arts and Technology, Leadership in the Arts, Collaboration (between organizations, communities, artists-all permutations), Professional Development and Training, Organizational Culture, Volunteers, University Arts Environments


I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice. I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. ( My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA. Among the things I am most proud include leveraging the architecture of The Grand to provide safe programming during Covid, producing a devised work to explore ways to address blight that didn’t involve bulldozing, producing an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii’s snow goddess Poli’ahu.

I have been trying to think of subjects to address on ArtsHacker, but my goal is to create entries that are relatively evergreen and with Covid, I feel like so much is being rewritten in terms of process and expectation. I think the addition of Eric Rubio is awesome. He is preaching to the choir when he talks about keeping your books up to date as you rather than scrambling at the end of the year or during an audit.

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Article Archive

Preparing For Outdoor Festivals and Performances

Ah Spring! The time when young arts organizations thoughts turn to …outdoor festivals. With the upcoming warm weather, it seems the time to offer some general tips about preparing and planning for outdoor festivals. More specifically, with crises that may arise. Even if you have been running a festival for awhile, these bear noting. I worked for a well organized outdoor arts and music festival that had been running for 12 years…

How Ready Is Your Long And Short Term Crisis Planning?

In a crisis, arts organizations face challenges that other business entities don’t. After Hurricane Katrina, SouthArts created a program called ArtsReady that serves as a resource for arts organizations providing information on common concerns as well as those specific to arts organizations. The ArtsReady site provides links to a number of good planning resources. Not long ago, someone posted on a LinkedIn forum asking if any arts organization had created an active…

Board Service. All About the Gs.

The Old Gs I was recently very encouraged to read the idea “that [non-profit] boards must be packed with influential connectors” is becoming increasingly obsolete. Learning this was a relief to me, and probably a lot of people, who have worked in arts organizations where board membership was often defined by the narrow philosophy of “get, give or get off” – essentially, solicit donations, make a donation or get off the board….

What Department Gets Assigned Community Engagement?

Who Is In Charge of Engagement? Someone comes up to you and says they really enjoyed the program they attended and want to spread the word to their friends and get them involved, to whom do you refer them? Is there someone who will offer to collect the contact info of the person and their friends and perhaps follow up with them later to see if they need more information? In short,…

Send Us Your Selfies

A Place For Selfies Just because you don’t want people taking selfies during a performance doesn’t mean selfies can’t serve a constructive purpose. It is just a matter of channeling the impulse people have to prove they were present somewhere and participating toward a specific goal. In fact, if people are taking selfies in connection with your events, it is likely they aren’t going far enough to suit your needs. A pose…

I Dont Always Volunteer

The Value of A Volunteer

It can be quite difficult to determine what sort of value you should place on a volunteer’s time. Yet, it can be very important because grantors often look for in-kind community support of arts organizations. The Independent Sector has calculated this number to be a national average of $22.55 and breakdown the value specifically state by state. Washington D.C. took top prize in 2013 with $38.69. Calculating this number is not only…

Altering And Amending Contracts

Since you may be used to the “take it or leave it” conditions in the End User License Agreements (EULA) on every piece of software, social media platform and online service you come across in your daily life, you may be under the impression that you have to meet every condition in a performing artist’s contract. This is generally not the case and unlike any EULA  you may come across, you can…

Don’t Surrender To Tax Treaties

Presenting artists from other countries is very exciting. It allows you to provide your audiences an experience they can not get anywhere else in the country. Since the governments of other countries frequently subsidize tours by their resident artists, presenting these performances can be quite affordable. What may not seem so exciting or affordable is resolving the issue of the 30% withholding tax that is assessed against foreign artists, especially when you…