Sustaining and Growing Leadership Development

Posted by Stephanie Hanson, Apr 05, 2010 0 comments

Stephanie Evans

In June 2009, at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Seattle, I met Marc Vogl from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the first time.  Marc gave me a copy of a study commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation, titled Focus Group on Next Generation Leadership.  I came back to DC after convention, and spent a few hours on my back porch at home reading the study cover to cover.  The study, which is actually the second part of a 2-Phase Hewlett initiative, was conducted through the use of eight focus groups – six composed of Millenials and Gen Xers, and two composed of Boomers.

The conclusions of the study shed light on the wide ranging generational attitudes towards issues of work in the nonprofit arts sector.  It demonstrated a lack of understanding one another on the sides of both emerging and seasoned leaders.  The end of the study includes a list of recommendations for individual organizations and funders on how to manage the “generational divide” taking place in our sector.

This study conducted by Hewlett was a great help to me as the liaison to the Emerging Leaders Council and Network.   Americans for the Arts and the Emerging Leaders Council was getting ready to launch a national survey of our own – targeted towards Emerging Leaders across the country, their Networks, and what they needed for professional and personal growth.  While the study results have yet to be fully released, I can say that we had a very strong response to the survey.  49.37% of respondents who indicated that they were a part of a local Emerging Leader Network said that they needed funding from their local community in order to grow or sustain their network.

That result yields some pertinent questions and thoughts for consideration – Most Emerging Leader Networks have operated with little to no money, relying on volunteer planning groups to put together professional development and networking opportunities for young arts administrators in their organizations.  Some may have the capacity to apply for funding, but many are not at that place yet.  If you, as an Emerging Leader Network, were approached by a funder inviting you to submit a project proposal, what would you apply for funding for?  Networks tend to find free space for their events, and rely on their contacts to get food and/or drink donated to an event.  Do you need a dedicated staff person to manage your network? Or money for regional meetings that could take place in your state or region?  Do you wish you could bring in a nationally or internationally known speaker to speak to young leaders in your community?

These are the kinds of questions that are being asked right now in California, after the announcement of an Irvine and Hewlett partnership to provide funding to Emerging Leader Networks and organizations providing professional development opportunities in the state of California.  The announcement of this partnership was the inspiration for this Blog Salon.  This week on ARTSblog, Americans for the Arts and the Emerging Leaders Council will harness the voices of the Program Officers behind the initiatives at Irvine and Hewlett, other funders, members of Emerging Leader Networks who are grappling with many of the questions I outline above, and grantees of the Irvine/Hewlett program.

What are you dealing with in your community?  Do you think it’s important for funders to consider leadership development for the arts as a part of their funding portfolio?  How are other foundations and funders addressing the generational shift?  What skill sets to Emerging Leaders need to develop and what is needed to sustain leadership development in our field?

Please check this blog salon every day for new posts, and leave your comments along the way!

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