A Few Words from Jim

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May 2023

I strongly encourage you to read “Anyone can be successful, Just ask Nathan Miller” on page 16 of this months journal. 

Nathan built a $10,000,000 a year business with only 16 employees in Grants Pass, Oregon with only $140 and a lot of sweat equity and he believes any of us can do the same. It was fun to interview him and learn some secrets to his success. 

I’m really excited to see if the article impacts you as much as it does me. 

My partners in 1000Museums and Art Authority and I bought another company. Read about that on Page 26. Buying companies is an interesting process and I’ll spend time in the future documenting the process and tricks and tips I have learned over the years as I have acquired several small businesses. 

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is in trouble and so is Ashland. After losing its executive director earlier in the year, they have lost their creative director. (Page 6) You may not care, but you should. I’m working on a story called “OSF by the numbers” which I hope to publish soon. I’m going to leave all the politics, all the drama, all the COVID blaming out and focus on the numbers. OSF matters to more communities than just Ashland. They have been operating the last couple of years as a $40,000,000 theatre company. They employed over 600 people with living wage jobs. They were nationally recognized as one of the top 10 theaters in the country. I live in Ashland and I had no idea. I don’t go to plays. It’s not why I live here. But my quality of life is better because of it. There are interesting people that chose to live here even if only for a couple of years and there are world class restaurants here. Ashland is one of the Crown Jewels of Oregon. I’m assuming the festival’s  trouble isn’t related to one thing, but it suffers from many straws that broke it’s back or 1,000 cuts. I’m reading everything I can including old 990s. It’s about the numbers. 

A non-profit is a business.

Yes, even the ART non-profit with high highfalutin ideals is a business. It just has special privileges. It doesn’t pay taxes and the people and corporations that donate to it can write off the donation. The government can gift it money. This privilege comes with an expectation. The board is responsible for making fiduciary decisions that keep the organization on mission.

There is a way to get OSF back on track.

The board needs to roll up its sleeves and work with local business owners, the city, the state, the chamber of commerce and do what a world class theatre does.

  • Put on plays that entertain, excite and provoke us. 
  • Attract customers to come to our small town to spend a weekend or week here being entertained.
  • Attract actors and directors that want to work hard, fine tune their craft and deliver the best damn play possible.
  • Attract donors and sponsors to help fill the gaps.
  • Surprise and Delight the audience.
  • Be a partner in the community.

You know, just like any other non-profit or small business in Oregon. 

And for goodness sake, get back to an equal partnership between the person running the business and the creative genius. They are not the same person or skills.  They are equal partners. Fix that and the rest should follow. 

 Jim
Jim@SouthernOregonBusiness.com 

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