Investing in Leadership Development
Having worked with arts organizations both large and small, I have learned that it is the leaders at the grassroots level who actually represent and reflect the diverse communities that their programs and organizations aim to serve. Meanwhile, the larger institutions—such as museums, operas and symphonies—are facilitating conversations around the need for greater diversity in arts leadership, but most have not yet overhauled their own practices for cultivating diverse leaders. The arts field needs to invest in developing the necessary leadership skills of emerging professionals whose marginalization is keeping them out of the running for leadership positions at larger arts institutions.
Justice-Seeking Super Robot Takes on Arts Education; or, How I switched from a deficit mindset to
Instead of entering a community as a teacher and bringing a prescribed text or curriculum, I would enter as a learner. I needed to value the community and learn from them. I needed to connect with my students—to see their stories and experiences as equal to my own. To see my students for more than their perceived needs. I needed a new approach to arts education. So, I scanned the literature, and I found an approach that works with, and values, oppressed groups. It’s called an asset-based arts education, and it works in solidarity with the community. It is mutually beneficial and builds social capital.
Asking for a raise is awkward. But it doesn't have to be.
As an emerging leader in the arts, have you ever felt stagnant in your job? Are you struggling with feeling undercompensated? Love what you do and where you work, but don’t feel able to ask for the raise that you deserve? These are common challenges facing many emerging leaders in the arts. They lead to burnout, young professionals leaving the arts altogether, or perpetuate the high turnover rates that many small and mid-sized arts organizations experience. Even though asking for a raise is uncomfortable and intimidating, it’s an important and necessary communication skill to cultivate.
Are Internships Building the Leaders We Need?
Today’s emerging leaders will need to be proficient, savvy, self-aware, and boundlessly resilient in order to meet tomorrow’s challenges; and yet, the long-term value of the short-term internship model appears to vary by organization and pupil. What makes an internship meaningful and worthwhile for both parties? Does a traditional internship model facilitate learning that extends beyond specialized proficiency to include strategic thinking, a value for cultural equity, and adaptive processes?
Playing the Long Game: Developing our Future Board Members
After years of playoff failures, Sam Hinkie, the Philadelphia 76ers general manager, decided to stop focusing on winning now. In fact, sometimes he made an active choice to start losing. Why? The worst teams in the NBA get the highest probability of top draft picks, and he was going to build a dream team, one player at a time. Hinkie and the 76ers were playing the long game.
Arts organizations can have a similar problem. Some organizations in our sector struggle to make balanced budgets, and while we’re producing thought-provoking, life-changing art for our communities, our financial situation can be squarely mediocre. So I, too, am playing the long game. Fortunately, it doesn’t involve losing at all.
The leadership pipeline: A core responsibility
It is obviously unfortunate when talent, out of necessity or frustration, leave the field for higher paying jobs with more responsibility and/or agency. The brain drain on the field, as with any field, is problematic as it not only makes the next generation of leaders more elusive, but takes away the change agents that could help create a better environment. There are steps we can take now—as in today—within our organization to make the situation better. We can make a better arts field.
Community Leadership from the Inside Out
Berkshire County in western Massachusetts is an incredibly rich place for the arts. It contains such a critical mass of artists, arts institutions, and arts resources that in 2016 the county was named the 12th most arts vibrant small- to mid-sized community in the nation by the National Center for Arts Research. With this abundance of creative activity comes a necessity for arts leadership, although here, these positions aren’t reserved for executive directors and upper management of large institutions. A new generation of community arts leaders in North Adams is surfacing as junior employees and other non-executive workers are beginning to cultivate leadership roles outside of work.
Under 18 = Emerging Leaders
Our society has created a narrative that says we must either keep young people safe from themselves (censorship), or we must keep others safe from young people (a group a young folks sitting under a park gazebo must be up to no good). These thoughts create a deficit model approach. Why is this the default when the assets young people possess are plenty? To truly engage young people from the beginning, they must be at the table when the outlines are created. Their full bodies and selves need to be a part of planning and development spaces.
We Resolve to Create a Better Arts Field
Throughout this year, our Emerging Leaders Council will be developing an Emerging Leader Vision for the Field, using vision statements that encapsulate shared hopes for our field as a starting point in conversation with emerging arts leaders and Americans for the Arts’s Emerging Leader Networks through a variety of in-person and online platforms. This blog salon is the formal start of that year-long dialogue.
Skill-Based Volunteers Serving the Arts
Louisville Arts Link features a continuous feed of every imaginable local arts event. Previously only available in a physical format, the Arts Card allows users to support Fund for the Arts directly and receive special offers like discounts and first opportunity to purchase tickets for events. There are endless possibilities for the future of the app and with the help of our skill-based volunteers and committed partners like Humana Inc., we’ll be able to achieve those goals.
On the Value of Arts in Healthcare: A Letter from the National Organization for Arts in Health
Decades ago, one thought arts and medicine mixed like water and vinegar. Today, more people recognize the power of the arts. Patients have claimed that doctors heal them through medicine, but the arts heal their souls. NOAH aims to honor the history and mission of former arts and health alliances: “To promote the incorporation of the arts as an appropriate, integral component of health care by 1) demonstrating the valuable role of the arts in enhancing the healing process, 2) integrating the arts in the planning, design, and operation of health care facilities, and 3) developing and managing arts programming for health care populations.”