Since i last wrote, we have completed two and a half days of work on Financial Strategy with Kent Chabotar. We looked at a number of case studies and analysed these to reveal strengths and weaknesses in top-down vs. participatory budgets; how to effectively implement a retrenchment process and how to think about the uses of and prepare different types of financial reports. We also went back in our groups and were given different questions that would need to be presented in the most effective ways possible.
A great variety of approaches came through during yesterday morning's presentations. Some included powerpoint graphs and charts WITH singing (there were four musical numbers, one based on Barry White, the other on Rogers and Hammerstein's "Sixteen Going on Seventeen", one musical based on a selection of segments of disco hits from the 70s and beyond... and another original interpretation of a Johny Cash hit... what musical talents reside in museum administrators!!!)
The exercise allowed us to think creatively about the wide variety of ways of presenting different types of financial information for different audiences. The first part of the afternoon was spent investigating the concept of strategic budgeting with a few key concepts/questions:
-Is the organization's mission consistent with its financial resources?
-Is the organization practicing intergenerational equity by balancing the needs of the present and the future?
-Are the sources and uses of funds appropriately matched?
-Is the organizations sustainable?
We also studied the concept of zero-based budgeting and the importance of studying/analysing 3-5 year cycles to assist in more realistic budgeting exercises. We discussed the concept of dashboards as effective tools for tracking budget trends and history. (it's great to know that Claire has already introduced this concept in our monthly presentations!)
A final case allowed us to look at the San Francisco Symphony, as a study in how to acknowledge and work with the importance of non-financial, mission-driven values in times of financial difficulty.
If all this sounds a bit dry, it wasn't. We were given an opportunity to look at a variety of approaches for both the presentation of information and the building of the fundamental aspects of budget work. Seeing that most of us are actively engaged in our institution's budget processes, it is good to expand the range of critical understanding of budget issues. I'm looking forward to discussing some options around our own budget work.
After work, a group of us went out for dinner at a mexican restaurant off of Santa Monica blvd. Good company and good conversation! Today and tomorrow: our first two consecutive days off since the program started. i'm going to see if i can make it to the LA MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and possibly the Museum of Jurassic Technology. I'd also like to visit LACE (L.A. Contemporary Exhibitions).