Blog Posts for emerging leaders network

Sharing Is Caring: If I Truly Care, I Will Practice Shared Decision Making Structures

Posted by Chris Appleton, Mar 15, 2016 1 comment

“Every artist was first an amateur” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When invited to write a blog response to the Hewlett Foundation report on arts leadership, I jumped at the opportunity. Along with my professional and civic interest in advancing leadership models that work across various lines of social difference, it is a topic around which I have feelings and thoughts.

As a 33-year-old executive director of an organization I co-founded while in college, who has no academic training in arts administration and has only held one job as an adult, I read the Moving Arts Leadership Forward report as timely for my career and interests. I can say with candor and hope that it is my desire to remain as the leader of WonderRoot for decades to come—but I would only dream of this so long as my leadership continues to advance the mission of the organization and the people it seeks to serve.

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Moving Arts Leadership Forward, Response by Mara Walker, Chief Operating Officer, Americans for the Arts

Posted by Mara Walker, Mar 15, 2016 1 comment

It’s not breaking news that America is in the midst of major change due to an aging and diversifying population. And it’s not unusual to be in conversations about how those changes are impacting the leadership of our nation’s nonprofit arts organizations. As the new William and Flora Hewlett Foundation report indicates, economic pressures and shifting demographics have led to cross-generational workplaces that require new strategies for building deeper appreciation for the range of voices and experience that exist within our organizations.

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Preparing the Arts Field for a Future Rushing Towards Us

Posted by Roberta Uno, Mar 15, 2016 8 comments

In the new Hewlett Foundation report, Moving Arts Leadership Forward: A Changing Landscape, John McGuirk, Hewlett’s Program Director for Performing Arts, urges the arts field to reimagine leadership. The report summarizes Hewlett-supported research and previews their new goal to broaden the Foundation’s arts support to embrace cross-generational leadership and advance shared values of diversity and innovation. The findings and recommendations are strategically intended to prepare the field “for a future that is rushing toward us.”

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Distributing & Cultivating Leadership

Posted by Mr. Jeffrey Golde, Mar 14, 2016 1 comment

As the latest report from the Hewlett Foundation points out, “The nonprofit arts sector is at a critical inflection point…” While there is risk in every path we choose to move forward, I believe great opportunity lies in collaboration between an older generation that worked tirelessly to build the current set of organizations and a new, hungry and highly skilled generation of arts administrators, ready to tackle today’s new challenges.

Ultimately we must solve the problem of how a field limited by funds and vertical job mobility, harness and retain talent? The findings suggest a need for a national discussion about redefining the role and meaning of leadership and how it affects the structure of our organizations. Distributed leadership is proposed as one solution to our current risk of losing emerging talent. I would also add cultivating the learnable skills leaders use. With both these ideas at work, I believe we can unlock value buried in the untapped human capital in our field.

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Diversity in Arts Administration is Not Inevitable

Posted by Brea Heidelberg, Mar 14, 2016 2 comments

This report treats diversity as an inevitability. This is true when it comes to demographics–we are all familiar with the statistics about how the country is becoming more racially diverse. However, true diversity (including age, gender, physical ability, and race) is not inevitable when it comes to working and advancing in our field. Numbers do not change power structures–marginalized people often outnumber those in power. It is the assumption that diversity will magically happen that permits some leaders within the field to sit idly by while the sector disenfranchises and loses quality talent. Change is not a passive process.

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Emergent Leadership Practices

Posted by Marian A. Godfrey, Mar 14, 2016 0 comments

What do we expect of the next generations of arts leaders? Do we want them to “fix” the ailing nonprofit operating model, or do we want them to blow it up and invent new modes of creating and delivering arts experiences? The answer is yes. 

The existing nonprofit arts system, with all its limitations and inequities, is capable of creating transcendent aesthetic experiences. Visionary leaders in some organizations have been applying diligence and innovation to expand the reach and public value of their programs. At the same time, as has always been the case, artists and arts entrepreneurs entering the field are pulling inspiration from the wider environment and making up new versions of arts experiences and organizational structures.

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