For Arts Professionals in the Know
You've made a decision, and perhaps a leap of faith, to go to graduate school. You do your research, visit some schools, talk to faculty and current students, apply, and get accepted into your dream program. Voila.
You are now a student in an arts management program (in my case, at American University in Washington, D.C.)!
There is no perfect recipe for success that works for everyone, but here are a few tips (more to come next week) and advice from some brilliant and passionate arts professionals as well as from my personal (well, professional) experience:
1. START WITH YOUR ACADEMIC PROGRAM
You are likely to meet people from various and very interesting professional backgrounds in your graduate program. Start with this inner circle.
For example, my classmates include a database manager for a nonprofit, a development associate at a museum, an orchestra manager, a stage manager, a music teacher, and an actor/director of a theatre group.Read More
Sometimes when talking myself up I like to say I'm the "Database Manager" as it sounds slightly more important. A couple months ago, my management was questioned when on a development call with the board chair the following bomb was casually dropped, "It's time for a new database."
I sat on the other end of the phone in horror. Sure, our database currently has lots of problems, but that's not because of the program, it's because of the data.
We have data imported from Sales Force, Sphere, Excel, Access, Oasis, Giftworks...the list is never ending.
The worst part of all: all this data was input, coded, and organized in different ways by different people. I am the Database Coordinator for a database to which at least seven different individuals currently access over 20 years of data. I spend a majority of my time cleaning up bad data, reorganizing and coding current data, and being contacted by upset staff who don't understand why their 19 slightly different codes were combined into a single one.
Bad data = bad database! Importing it into a new one isn't going to make it any better.Read More
For 25 years of the Congressional Arts Caucus¹ 30-year history, arts advocates have convened for one day on Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Hill to flood the halls of Congress to share their views regarding arts initiatives.
On this day, such active engagement by the arts community provides our representative government with a first-hand account of the state of the arts in our country. The opportunity to meet with our constituents and businesses with a personal connection to the arts helps to put a face (and a talent) to the idea of supporting the arts at a federal level.
Arts Advocacy Day (AAD) is a day to celebrate the vibrancy of the arts and the wide array of talents here in the United States of America. There is no better place to embrace the great diversity of our country’s artistic identity than in the nation’s capital.
For the thousands of you who have participated in AAD, chances are you have met with a congressional staffer or two (or 435). As the staff members that manage the Congressional Arts Caucus on behalf of its Co-Chairs, believe us when we say these meetings have a tremendous effect on gaining the attention of your Representatives and help to keep the arts community in the Members’ thoughts throughout the year.
Because of this, arts staffers are your greatest allies in making positive change for the arts with federal investments.Read More
Being an executive director or board member for a local arts organization is tough work.
For the board leader it is often difficult for them to know enough about the organization’s work to have informed opinions, yet feel comfortable offering opinions.
Executive directors often deal with board members who don’t know enough about the organization’s work to have informed opinions yet feel free to offer opinions anyway.
In the eyes of many arts administrators, board members many not know much about day-to-day operations or often “get in the way” of the work the organization is trying to accomplish.
Executive directors often pay lip service to the importance of the board, but in practice they do everything they can to keep the board marginalized and out of the way.
This relationship is often described as a partnership in a carefully-choreographed dance, a marriage, and like that of an orchestra and conductor.
Let’s face it-this relationship is complicated. That’s why I wanted to pass on a very good set of guidelines written by my friend Rick Moyers of the Meyer Foundation. I think these are terrific and applicable for our local arts organizations...Read More