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

About

When I was a teenager if anyone had told me that I would be excited to share information about contract law, marketing, human resources, grant writing and the philosophy behind ticket pricing, I would have laughed…and laughed. But there is such a dearth of this information applicable to the needs of non-profit arts organizations that I do get excited when I see the opportunity to discuss these topics. I am currently the Director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State University. Across my career I have worked at University of Hawaii-Leeward Community College, University of Central Florida, Asolo Theater, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Appel Farm Arts and Music Center and numerous other places both defunct and funky.

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Joe Patti

Article Archive

More About Open Meeting Laws & Non-Profits

Three years ago, I wrote an entry about non-profits and open meeting laws. In the last year or so, people have been posting a lot of questions on that post about the laws governing different states. In the interest of helping people out, I have been trying to do research and provide answers. But as I note in pretty much every answer I give, I am basically just doing Google searches to…

Panels And Post Show Discussions

Conversations around performances and events really can enhance the experience for people, but making it an effective and enjoyable experience can take some preparation and discipline. One of my favorite pieces on the practice was written for HowlRound by Brant Russell reflecting on his experience leading the discussions at Steppenwolf Theatre. He presented 11-ish rules that were basically aimed at having the moderator employ the lightest touch while also keeping the discussion…

Briefly–Still Working At It After 400+ Years

Around 1600 Shakespeare wrote about brevity being the soul of wit in Hamlet. Roughly 400 years later,  phone text messaging and Twitter limited us to the number of characters one could post. The fact that Twitter has expanded their character limit and most phone messaging software either provide capacious limits or automatically parse messages across multiple texts it something of a testament to our inability to briefly encapsulate our meaning. Yet there…

Preparing For A Kiss Like An Eviscerating Slash – As Boringly As Possible

A recent development in theater, television and film performance, in terms of theory and practice, is the role of intimacy director. There was a video on The Atlantic which frames it as emerging out of a recognition that performance situations were being used to provide a veneer of legitimacy to sexual assault. I don’t think anyone questions that it is of paramount concern to safeguard the physical, emotional and mental well-being of…

You Need To Pay Taxes On Program Book Ads

ContentsNon-Profits Pay Taxes On Unrelated Business IncomeNot Everything In Your Program Book Is AdvertisingPermitted RecognitionWhat About Concessions and Merchandise? Non-Profits Pay Taxes On Unrelated Business Income Just because your organization is tax exempt doesn’t mean everything you do is exempt from taxes. There are a number of activities that result in what is known as Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI) which may be as much as 21%. While there are some subtle…

Valuing and Acknowledging Donations

I recently attended a webinar conducted by John Taylor of John H. Taylor Consulting providing updates on IRS rules on acknowledging charitable giving. Neither Taylor nor I are lawyers and there are a lot of subtleties and exceptions when it comes to tax law. There were a number of interesting things Taylor mentioned that are worth being aware of, if only to serve as a conversation starter with your accountants and attorneys….

What Is A DUNS Number And Why Do I Need It?

If you have ever applied for a grant, especially from an entity or program receiving funds from the federal government, you have likely been asked to provide your organization’s DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number. You may also wonder why you need to set one up. A DUNS number has the same number of digits as your employer ID number (EIN).  If your organization doesn’t have one, you may also wonder why…

Common Deal Structures For Touring Groups

When it comes to paying touring performers, there are all sorts of deal that can be made. The payment terms on those deals can get pretty confusing. There are a number of resources available online that explain these agreements. One of the best I have found is a blog post on the site Making It With Chris G. Chris Goyzueta addresses a number of common deal structures and creates a YouTube video…

New IRS Decision Could Keep Foreign Artists At Home

Due to budget and staffing issues, as of October 1, 2018, the IRS will no longer create Central Withholding Agreements (CWA) with artists making less than $10,000. Wait, wait, wait, wait..before you click away thinking this fine Arts Hacker post has nothing to do with you, it actually might if you typically host any type of creative artist from other countries. These new regulations will make it more difficult for some artist…

16 Is The Font Size Of Wisdom (For Web Design At Least)

The assertion that arts and cultural audiences are getting older and dying out probably reached trope status decades before the word trope entered popular usage. While this may be true and require programming and market positioning that will appeal to younger audiences, there are some very practical experiential considerations for serving older audiences to keep in mind.  One of them is web design. Entrepreneur magazine had a guest post by Brian Greenberg…

Your Contract May Not Provide Cover From Music Covers

Copyright and intellectual properties rights are important considerations in the arts and culture industry. The industry strives to expand the awareness and exposure of creatives, but often either intentionally or inadvertently fall short when it comes to properly compensating creators. Admittedly, knowing your responsibilities when it comes to intellectual property/copyright and contracts in general can be confusing which is why they are subject of a fair number of posts on ArtsHacker. One…

The Modern Day Mission Statement, Active and On The Go

BoardSource is partnering with organizations like the Knight Foundation and National Council of Non Profits on a  initiative to get non-profits to Stand For Your Mission. While the main thrust of the effort appears to be focused on mobilizing non-profits of all types to more actively  advocate for their causes, by necessity it pushes boards to actively engage with their missions rather than treat it as a passive statement of aspirations. In…

Leveraging The Growing Influence & Inclusion Of Giving Circles

I wrote about Giving Circles on my personal blog last June, noting that the number of Giving Circles in the U.S. is growing. The appeal of this form of philanthropy is that it that the structure, criteria, participation, mission, etc are adaptable to the needs of your particular group. Inside Philanthropy has noted that the composition of Giving Circles are also more diverse than institutional funding organizations. As giving circles grow, they…

Even More Useful Info On Copyright and Intellectual Property

Even More Useful Info On Copyright And Intellectual Property

Recently the Harvard Law School’s Technology and Intellectual Property Legal Clinic recently published a really helpful guide to copyright, trademark and intellectual property rights. Now if you are thinking, “Joe, didn’t you already publish a really helpful guide to copyright, trademark and intellectual properties rights on ArtsHacker?” Why yes, I did and thank you for remembering. However, copyright can be a confusing subject for people so its helpful to get your hands…

Constructive Considerate Executive Transitions – An Example

Constructive, Considerate Executive Transitions – An Example

The importance of transition planning is a common topic of discussion for non-profits given current and anticipated retirements. A few years ago we offered a set of guidelines for planning the transition which included a pretty impressive toolkit generated by the Federal Reserve of Kansas City. However it wasn’t until recently that I came across a specific example of an exemplary transition plan that had been been put into action. Barry Hessenius…

With Great Research Comes Great Responsibility

With Great Research Comes Great Responsibility

One of the more positive developments in the last decade or so has been the increased investment in research about factors that impact arts and cultural organizations.  Even better news, in the last few years those assembling that information have started organizing the data and formatting it so that it is much easier to read and understand. The 2017 iteration of the Culture Track study we recently wrote about is one example….

Board Chairs Blaze The Trail And Set The Pace

Board Chairs Blaze The Trail And Set The Pace

Since the board of directors is ultimately responsible for the governance and direction of a non-profit organization, the role of board chair is rather crucial. Recently Non-Profit Quarterly hosted a webinar titled, “The Pivotal Role of the Nonprofit Board Chair: Beyond Meeting Facilitation” which was based on the results of Board Source’s recent Leading With Intent study. As you might imagine, the leadership the board chair exhibited set the tone for the…

(Re-Examining) Co-Leadership As An Organizational Model

(Re-Examining) Co-Leadership As An Organizational Model

Given the concerning lack of transition planning for leadership, there is increasing discussion about how general non-profits should adopt a shared leadership model, in some cases citing the example of the performing arts. In the meantime, many performing arts organizations have been moving in the opposite direction consolidating artistic and business management roles into a single person in order to save money. The performing arts model, as well as some of those…

Trust Is More Important To A Box Office Than Ticket Stock

Trust Is More Important To A Box Office Than Ticket Stock

It is often stated that front of house operations are among the most important for a performing arts entity because it is the first point of contact the general public has with the organization.  Front of House staff generally encompasses the ticket office, ushers, concessions/merchandising and activities related to them (valet parking, for example). It isn’t just a matter of public relations. Some of the front of house staff are also responsible…

What Does Your 990 Say About You

What Does Your 990 Say About You?

If you are like most, you may view the 990 filing for your non-profit organization like you view filing your income taxes–an annoying, burdensome task best handled by an accountant. The difference is, you aren’t obligated to make your personal tax filing available for review by anyone who asks like you are with your organization’s 990. Given that the 990 filings are available online at sites like Guidestar, you aren’t even necessarily…

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