The Arts from the Bottom Up


The Arts from the Bottom Up is a collection of articles, letters, essays, and notes written between 1978 and 2017. The first of the three mini-books in this volume, Power Play, starts at the bottom, with the day-to-day aspects of life in the artistic workplace, with emphasis on unions and labor relations. The second, In Service to the Art, rises a little higher and sees the arts from a broader perspective, addressing issues of organizational structure, administration, finance, and governance. The third, Peregrinations of a Pensive Artist, stands on the top of the hill and deals with the nature and meaning of the underlying art that ties artists, organizations, and audiences together and is, or should be, the wellspring and outcome of everyone’s endeavors.



The world is a confused place these days. My world – the world of the arts, non-profit organizations, philanthropy, and public service – seems especially troubled. People and organizations who are all trying to do good find themselves working at cross-purposes, pulling and pushing in different directions, and often failing to achieve what they thought were common objectives. This book is my attempt to identify the causes of this discord and point the way to resolution, and to recognize the wounds we inflict on each other and find paths to healing.

Praise for The Arts from the Bottom Up

“Candid and direct, the book offers a potential takeaway for every artistic pro. This three-book exploration of the arts enlightens newcomers and informs experts in a compilation of articles, essays, letters, and eclectic musings. Practical, financial, andartistic angles establish a broad perspective useful to gifted people instructed in the humanities, now seeking greater edification. This trilogy of mini-textbooks on the arts is an educational trove.”
The BookLife Prize

“I have been reading a few chapters a night of your amazing book.I have never read anything so comprehensive or searingly insightful about our art/profession. It is truly amazing. … I had planned to write to you when I finished the entire book. But I just read your “Playing behind the Beat” essay and wanted to yell HURRAY!!!You have expressed it with such clarity and wisdom and sense that I am making a copy to travel with, so that I can quote it when another person asks me about that. Thank you for a much needed, revelatory and astonishing book.
– JoAnn Falletta, Music Director, Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony, Artistic Advisor, Hawaii Symphony

“Marsha, you have an uncommon wealth of experience and this very comprehensive book reflects the perspectives of those experiences. Congratulations on creating an intelligent, stimulating, and enlightening way to see our universe.”
– Steven Monder, Manager (1971-1976) and President (1976-2008) Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

“I received your book yesterday. It is amazing. You are so thorough and yet make reading it so enjoyable and memorable.I thank you for this marvelous enterprise. May this book and your wisdom help musicians throughout the world as they endeavor to maintain their pride, authority, and power.”
– Florence Nelson, former Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Musiciansof the United States and Canada

“You are superbly brilliant!!! I’m so much enjoying your book. Your insights, rebuttals, explanations, and similes have probably taken a lifetime of jottings and musings. It is my fervent hope that your insights and realities of the music business will prepare thousands of talented and hard-working young musicians for their lives ahead. Again, congratulations from the bottom of my heart.”
– Dr. Angela Kay Kepler, biologist, clarinetist,and author

“Thanks so much for sending your book. I have read some passages and love it. Humor, practical advice,and radical politics all in one! Can’t wait to read the whole thing. Congrats!”
– Kim Klein, nonprofit fundraising and management consultant, Klein & Roth Consulting

“I have known Marsha for over twenty years, as a local union officer, player conference officer, labor writer, and delegate to AFM conventions and conferences. She writes from vast experience in the arts, and has gained the respect of all who have worked with her, allies and adversaries alike. This book will help us understand the dynamics of the musical workplace and make our working lives better.”
– Raymond Hair, International President, American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada

“Your book excerpts concerning nonprofit finance and funding provide very interesting analogies and perspective on capital in nonprofits. It is easy to read, in layman’s terms, and a wake-up call to nonprofits to value investment capital!”
– Catha Combs CPA, Wikoff Combs & Co. LLC

Additional information

Book Type

E-Book, Paperback


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “The Arts from the Bottom Up”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *