On a conference call with the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. last year I asked if it would be appropriate to install the soundtrack for Of All The People In All The World in their venue. Their response was that “The President isn’t keen on recorded music in the building’s public spaces”. For a moment I thought ‘that’s quite a hands-on approach for the Leader of the Free World’, then I caught up and realised they were talking about Michael Kaiser.
Michael Kaiser, as well as being President of the Kennedy Center, is the man who walked into the carnage of The Royal Opera House’s rebuild and helped sort things out. He did that, in part, by raising an enormous amount of cash and today he was in Birmingham sharing his philosophy for Fundrasing. Beforehand there was some feeling that he had probably been hauled over the Atlantic by Arts Council England to explain to us how, by applying models from an alien culture, we should be able to shrug off cuts in public subsidy. How wrong that notion was. Speaking to him in the interval he explained to me that, on hearing about the Arts Cuts in the UK he had approached the Arts Council suggesting he come over and run a series of seminars around the country – and he got it all paid for by private donations from the States! The session was fantastic, he was/is fantastic – inspirational. He listened as well as spoke. He answered questions clearly and directly. He provided sensible practical suggestions. He was realistic and aspirational. He was dapper and charming and told great gags.
By the time he had finished I understood exactly why so many people are prepared to give him money to help make great art happen. I was also thinking about Stan’s Cafe and its relationship with its ‘family’ – which includes you I’m afraid – in a much clearer and more focused way. So, hold onto your WALLETS!
None of this is secret, Mr. Kaiser is generous with his knowledge and experience, lots of which can be found here. Tomorrow’s presentation in Bristol will be videoed and available on-line via Arts Council England.