Power Case Studies

You inherited a few million bucks. How do you make a splash in the arts community?

1. Hit the events.

Network at the openings and the parties — and keep your checkbook handy — but remember not to be a pompous ass. So use the parties as an opportunity to ask questions and get to know the people you may be deeply involved with for years.

2. Know thyself.

Do you want to be a board member who gamely collaborates with the staff or just an anonymous writer of checks? Consider taking the Business on Board program at the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, which trains people to be better arts board members.

3. Do the legwork.

Bylaws often limit the size of arts boards, so you’ll need to find one with an opening. The New England Foundation for the Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council can help, or you can seek out former BRA executive director Harry Collings, an insider who knows everyone in the city.

4. Make contact.

Have your people call the institution’s development people, and take the executive director out to lunch. Most organizations want to know if your goals mesh with their core missions, and how you would work with them — Malcolm Rogers may not be impressed with your dream of a wing devoted to puppies playing poker.

5. Stay connected.

Generosity comes with negotiations, which means coming to an agreement on how your money is used: Will it buy sexy things like naming rights on a gallery or a violinist chair, or just-as-vital basics as the endowment and capital improvements? And, instead of committing to a one-time cash dump, donate money strategically over a number of years, which will earn you a broader legacy. (We know that’s what you’re really after). — Matthew Reed Baker



  • Franco

    I realize that this article is satire but there are many Bostonians who will take this seriously. And if they do let me state, for the record, that getting your child into preschool at Spruce Street not only will probably not get you into Harvard…it will not get you into a highly sought after private school in Boston. Check in with Spruce and ask how many of their preschoolers have no elementary school to attend next year? If you can’t get a student into BB&N, it is awfully tricky to get them into Harvard.

  • Sarah

    I have never been so horrified by a publication suggesting how to get your kids into Harvard. First of all, one needs to acknowledge the money that Doyle is assuming we all have. If you already have that kind of money, I’m sure you’re Harvard legacy anyway, so you skipped all of the steps. Furthermore, Slade needs to learn a thing or two about the private schools in Boston. First of all, Roxbury Latin does very well, but there are a handful of boys schools who get kids into Harvard each year. There are also various co-ed schools, public and private, that get their kids into great colleges. I’d also like to chastise her for her discussion of Dana Hall. While it is a well-known girls school, Dana Hall is, by no means, the most successful or most challenging of the girls schools. I think what’s being seriously disregarded here is the money that goes into these kind of choices. If your kid is smart, send him to a good school. Harvard will get you far, but Boston College will get you just as far. It’s all about what you do with your education, so start teaching your kids that…