We Look Weird in This Outfit

Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire in The Navigator

A few months ago, my ArtsPool colleague Sarah Maxfield and I were invited to give a presentation about ArtsPool at the All-Ireland Performing Arts Conference, after which we also gave a brief demo of a free online tool we were building to help New York arts organizations cut through the mental clutter created by the various compliance tasks required of nonprofits. We confidently zipped through the demo, but when we clicked the submit button and the computer dutifully produced a to-do list of 40+ compliance tasks, the room erupted in laughter. A month later we gave a nearly identical presentation to the A.R.T./New York Board of Directors, and the same thing happened. In fact, the single biggest laugh line of this very unfunnily-named Compliance Toolkit is the sheer number of tasks it spits out.

After a year working on the ArtsPool project and several months focused on building this tool, Sarah, Guy, David, and I can assure you that there is nothing fun or funny about compliance. There is also nothing easy about getting a laugh, so when a computer makes a room of 200 people laugh, the first thing the former clown in me wants to know — even before “why are you programming a computer?” or “why are you thinking about nonprofit compliance?” — is why is that so funny? Read More…