Blog Posts for Leadership

A Lonely Place to Be

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders, Oct 22, 2009 3 comments

My name is Victoria Saunders and I’ve been following emerging leadership – what I call Next Generation Arts Leadership – issues for more than five years now. It started when I was at the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and talked our Executive Director into letting me plan and host a Creative Conversation. That led to the formation of an Emerging Leaders of Arts and Culture group that lasted for several years. There is a movement to regroup and strengthen the program, but I have moved on to other aspects of young arts leadership. Now an independent consultant, I am often asked to weigh in on various issues related to the next generation of arts leaders and I continue to explore this topic as a result.

A year ago I was hired to conduct statewide research around emerging arts leadership for The James Irvine Foundation, one of California’s largest philanthropic foundations and one that gives heavily and cares deeply about leadership and arts and culture. Without going into the details of the research or outcomes, I’d like to share a tidbit that resonated with my research partner Dewey Schott and me and continues to do so with me today.

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Generalizations Don't Help and a Little Personal Responsibility Does

Posted by Mary Sutton, Oct 22, 2009 6 comments

In response to this particular statement from your last post; “The problem is the field is not allowing room for these individuals to utilize their more complex mental structures. The result is that young leaders experience a disconnect between their mental complexity and their (in)ability to exercise their agency within the field.”  I have to be quite colloquial in my response to your post, Edward— quit already…with the black and white generalizations about my generational cohort.

Wow, that statement is a complete over-generalization and quite an insult to those of us who do give emerging leaders as much space as we can to help them create the viable, on-going, and administratively sound programming they envision. And might I add, through the structures that we created with our own use of our “complex mental structures” or more to the point our 60 hour weeks, agile minds, on-going burn-out and increasing frustration that we can’t do more to bring the exciting new ideas forward..

I have only hired young emerging leaders in the past ten years and have given them full reign to use their “complex mental structures.”  You’re personal experience is in no way how all “old farts,” to quote Eric Booth, approach their work. Furthermore, I have pushed them with my own ‘aged’ ‘complex mental structures’ and sprinkled the much needed dose of wisdom to help their visions become real from the ground up.  

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Incorporating the Arts in Community Planning (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Oct 21, 2009 1 comment

We spend a great deal of time working to make the case for the power and value of the arts to communities.  That is why it was great to learn that the American Planning Association (APA) is looking at the role of arts in planning. As part of a collaborative project with the RMC Corporation and with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, APA's Planning and Community Health Research Center is developing a series of briefing papers to illustrate how planners use arts and culture strategies to achieve economic, social, environmental, and community goals. The briefing papers will provide a comprehensive definition and overview of the arts, culture, and creativity field and explore four topic areas: community engagement and participation; community pride; economic development; and cultural values, heritage, and history.

This framework will help support the work of policymakers, planners, and economic development and community development professionals, as well as professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, arts, culture, and creativity in the creation and development of healthy communities.

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There's No Difference

Posted by Adam Thurman, Oct 21, 2009 6 comments

Greeting Emerging Leaders and the women (and men) that love them.

My name is Adam Thurman.  I'm 33.  Been working professionally in the arts since I was 26.  In that time I've been the Executive Director of a small theatre, the Marketing Director of a large theatre, a teacher, a consultant, a Board member, a grant panelist, etc.

During my career I've had good days, bad days and "want to punch somebody in the face" days, so I can relate to pretty much any emotion you are going through right now. It's in that spirit that I want to share the single most useful piece of advice I was ever given about a career in the arts:

Stop thinking about it as the arts.

I'll explain.

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Where Has the Loyalty Gone?

Posted by Ruby Lopez Harper, Oct 21, 2009 3 comments

John Elliot posted a response to my blog post “Ask me what I don’t bring.” He said, “What’s going to keep us from being set in our ways, and help us build and refine organizations to a point where the 'lack of loyalty' is a thing of the past?" Upon reflection, I find the answer is not as rose-colored as I would like it to be. I think that loyalty is a victim of economy. Unfortunately, we are for the foreseeable future in a decline, and until the economy rights itself, it will be difficult to reinvigorate a sense of loyalty. Emerging Leaders have watched our grandparents lose their pensions after 20-30+ years of service to an organization.  We have watched our parents get downsized. We have watched our friends hover in limbo unable to find jobs.  We have watched fresh faced students fighting with former Executive Directors vying for jobs at Barnes & Noble.  It is a sad state we are in… Now, how do we make a change?  Two big ideas that come to mind: 1. Better work/life balance – Offer better benefits. I don’t mean tangible benefits (not to downplay the importance of good health insurance and paid time off), but little things like paid lunch hours, flex time, telecommuting, onsite services, volunteer opportunities, which add value to the worker’s quality of life.  Maybe it’s a better time off policy for new fathers, maybe it is a innovative use of the 4/10 workweek model, maybe it is a communal hierarchy versus the standard business model of management, maybe it’s being able to bring your baby or dog to work. Just offer something - ANYTHING - that makes us feel like we aren’t going to be tossed aside like yesterday’s trash when the tough times squeeze the organizations we love and to which we want – truly WANT – to be devoted.

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