Never Mind “What Do We Do Next?” What Do We Do FIRST? And Who’s Going to Fund It?

Posted by Edward Clapp, Oct 23, 2009 1 comment

As this week-long web salon comes to a very successful close, I’m sure a lot of people are amped up about the potential we have to impact conceptual change in the field of the arts and arts education. One big question on folks’ minds may be “this is so exciting—what’s next?” I think this is the wrong question.

We’ve generated a lot of discussion, but exciting dialogue of this variety (perhaps, though, not in this quantity) has been generated before. Rather than ask what we do next, I want to know what we do first.  And by do I mean DO.  Actively do something that puts the gears of change in motion. Something we can see. Something tangible. Something that actually begins to change the purposes, procedures, and principles that influence leadership and practice in the arts.

20UNDER40 will bring the thoughts and ideas of rarely heard young voices into the field, and we feel this is a very big first step towards the future.  I’m am confident that when this anthology is released it will generate more discussion.  But how do we get beyond discussion? How do we activate the ideas expressed in this blog throughout the week, and in the pages of 20UNDER40 (as well as in all of the proposals that will sadly go unpublished)?

That’s not a rhetorical question. Let’s hear some answers folk! Let’s develop a strategy. Somebody come up with a concrete plan, please.

And while you’re thinking on that one—put some energy into figuring out where resources to support this cultural shift will come from. Change doesn’t happen on its own. If we’re going to be thoughtful and intentional about altering the face and function of the arts to better suit the future—time, money, and people need to be dedicated to this effort in earnest.

Field leaders (young and old) can be invested in young leaders, invested in the future of the arts, but until the decision makers who control our resources start putting up, those investments of mind will yield weak returns in practice.

There are many issues in the arts that capture our interest right now—21st Century arts learning, arts for social justice, neuroaesthetics research, advocating for increased federal spending in the arts, etc. All of these and more are worthy pursuits. However, I feel they all come secondary to a focus on re-inventing our field to mesh the wisdom of veteran leaders with the vision of young arts professionals for the purpose of developing a more relevant and impactful arts sector that is best suited to serve (and to sculpt) the 21st Century. Our old systems will only take us so far.  Once we redesign the system, then we can get back to work on the content—or even better, hopefully the two (system and content) will evolve and change together.

All that to say:

What do we do first?
How do we get beyond dialogue?
Where will the resources come from?
What’s the plan?
When do we get started?

1 responses for Never Mind “What Do We Do Next?” What Do We Do FIRST? And Who’s Going to Fund It?


Lindsey Turner says
October 23, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I think one of the great things about the 20Under40 project, and this blog specifically, is that it has brought out a lot of voices from many areas in the arts. Now, we need to look at each other and ask, "How can we work together?"

What is the mission of your organization?
What projects are you currently working on, both personally and professionally?
What challenges are you facing?
What solutions can you envision?
What do you need to make that solution possible?
Is there another voice you have "met" through this blog that might be able to help in some way?
How can we pool resource to COLLABORATE (across disciplines, organizations, generations, etc), rather than arguing over resources?

I think the first step is to share your voice--share your job, your career path thus far, your areas of expertise, your random hobbies, your secret dreams, your wacky ideas, etc...
Once every voice is out there, we need to start looking for connections, overlaps, common themes, etc, in order to POOL OUR RESOURCES (both knowledge and capital) to work for actual changes.

  • Please login to post comments.