Chapter 2

The Epoch Model: An Arts Organization with an Expiration Date

By David J. McGraw

ABSTRACT: We have designed our arts organizations to last forever without any option for graceful exits. But what if an arts organization could be designed with a predetermined end-date? How would such an approach change the way we measure organizational success in the arts? Companies that adopt the Epoch Model—an organizational structure that plans for the limited-lifecycle of an arts group—benefit not just their artists and audiences, but also revitalize their local communities and the broader arts sector.

David, This idea is really exciting. I can see why people would shy away from it, but at the same time, it does give opportunity for the staff to commit to their project and also help focus the mission and the work being done. It definitely forces the organization to be focused and take some some calculated risks. Any plans to start an Epoch Model in the near future? :-) Sue

Sue 11.24.10 / 12pm

Here is the Clyde Fitch Report’s coverage of this chapter:


Leonard J. 1.16.11 / 5pm

See Merce Cunningham’s legacy plan for the closure of it’s organizational operations. It wasn’t an organization originally formed with an expiration date in mind but it does contain numerous useful elements for the Epoch Model.

Anonymous 2.18.11 / 1am

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