Arts Fuel Auto Industry

Photo by Mayhem Chaos — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

It’s time for business to learn something from the arts — about business.

So often arts leaders hear from critics and cynics that their institutions should be run more like businesses. Now we know that there is a business that would do a lot better if only it were run like the arts.

The auto industry recently wrapped up its annual Frankfurt Motor Show. Talk about an industry in search of an audience. After all, it’s about the audience, right?

Look at today’s General Motors. The company has received $50 billion in subsidies. The German government has given the company’s European based Opel/Vauxhall another $6.5 billion. That’s a lot of money for a company to figure out how to become an audience favorite.

How exciting, then, that they have a brand new, can’t miss, strategy. “Business as usual is over at GM,” President and CEO Fritz Henderson declared. What’s their new approach? Their novel idea? “We have reorganized our entire organization around the customer.”

OMG, what an idea! They are putting “the customer first”. Wow! How many meetings were taken? How much did they spend on market research? How ever did they arrive at such a radical shift in their business model? Forget about what they used to do. Now, they put the customer first.

Here’s the problem, though. Putting the customer first is exactly what the US auto industry has been doing for a long time. For years, the industry has been giving customers what they want: gas guzzling grotesqueries that culminated in GM’s own Hummer.

Instead of following their customer’s fantasies, which ignore the realities of oil, the environment, and civility, perhaps they should have considered leading their customers.

Isn’t it ironic? In the arts, critics attack institutions for taking government money and not producing work that the audience wants. Yet, the arts know that the way to build an institution, and a lasting heritage, is by leading an audience.

Arts lead. Business follows.

Now, imagine what the arts industry could do with a $50 billion subsidy.

- Bill Reichblum

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One Response to “Arts Fuel Auto Industry”

  1. KadmusArts - where culture speaks » Blog Archive » Arts Fuel Auto … | Michigan Not Mexico
    October 5th, 2009 17:38
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    [...] Follow this link: KadmusArts - where culture speaks » Blog Archive » Arts Fuel Auto … [...]

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