The Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Network works to identify and cultivate the next generation of arts leaders in America. It is an ideal way for new leaders to share their interests with others as they continue to develop their skills and their commitment to the arts. The Emerging Leader Network targets professionals who are either new to the field, with up to five years of experience, or are 35 years of age or younger. Visit AmericansForTheArts.org for more information on the Emerging Leader Network.
In a recent edition of Thomas Cott’s “You’ve Cott Mail,” readers encountered a series of blogs and articles exploring the utility—and, in one case, the aftermath—of embracing a term like “emerging” in its application to artists.
It was earlier this year when Barry Hessenius, too, addressed in his blog the importance of identifying emerging leaders. “I wonder whether or not we are isolating these people by relegating them to their own niche as ‘emerging,’ and whether or not by confining them to their own ‘silo’, we might be doing them, and ourselves – at least in part – a disservice,” he wrote.
By identifying emerging leaders, the early impulse was to provide support and resources. But it was the majority group who defined this difference. The term does not apply to them, only to a separate group. A discrete category. Others.
Or, to put it another way, by creating “emerging leaders,” the term separated the field into two groups: “emerging leaders” and “leaders.”
Before continuing, three illustrations:
1. The term “hipster,” like its predecessor “yuppie” in the 1980s, has become inextricably linked to this cultural moment. Yet, who is a hipster? Read the rest of this entry »
“Fill a space in a beautiful way.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe.
I’ve always loved this quote and this artist. I’ve always admired her use of gorgeous colors and these powerful words. I am the proud Associate Director of Education at Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute. [cue reflective music here]
In 1968, the Garden State Arts Center (now the PNC Bank Arts Center) opened in Holmdel, NJ—a beautiful venue consistently ranked in the top five amphitheaters in the country and top two outdoor arenas within the New York Metropolitan area and, more importantly, a place that will forever be magical in my memory.
Judy Garland performed here weeks after it opened. Symphonies and ballet companies from around the world have graced its stage and portions of Jackson Browne‘s landmark 1977 live album, Running on Empty, were recorded here. Trust me, it is a special place.
I was blessed with parents who took my brother, sister and I here often and I always left thinking how amazing it must be to work there. And now, several years later (you do the math—my date and artist references have given me away, I’m afraid) I have the privilege of working at a performing arts center—in the education department, no less. It is a gift.
I learned early on in my career that I needed more than a job, I needed to feel that I was making a difference and was fortunate to have been led to the nonprofit sector. I served for several years as a director for a worldwide, fundraising organization and following that worked with my local school system developing volunteer initiatives and community relations programs. My background, essentially, is in the “traditional” nonprofit field—volunteer management, fundraising, public relations. Read the rest of this entry »
Arts administrators, emerging philanthropists, cultural patrons, and arts practitioners converged at the Atwater Village Theater on October 20 for Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles‘ full-day Creative Conversation, asking again, what is “creative placemaking”? Or, in the long-form title, to explore “Sparking Inclusive Dialogue Through Creative Placemaking.”
Dan Kwong, project leader for Great Leap’s COLLABORATORY, may have put it best when he compared broaching the question to the ambivalence and trepidation felt when one is asked to measure the impact of arts on social building.
With disciplines as divergent as Anne Bray’s work in media arts, Dan Kwong in performance, and Brian Janeczko in architecture and industrial design/fabrication, one unifying outlook voiced by the panelists was that creative placemaking must happen organically with a collaborative conscientiousness responsive to a specific community.
Keynote speaker John Malpede framed the particularity of elements needed to come together by sharing his own experience at the Los Angeles Poverty Department, which he founded almost serendipitously.
The performance artist volunteered with a group of lawyers offering their services pro-bono to the residents of L.A.’s Skid Row until he became a de facto paralegal, who so galvanized the community that those same clients involved themselves into launching self-produced dramatic performances.
With no permanent headquarters, their activities attracted the attention of screenwriters from other parts of the city and instigating conversations with numerous neighborhood organizations, such as LAMP and the Skid Row Players’ drummers, materializing improvement amenities such as the “funky trash cans” provided by OG Man that would not be readily perceived as an urgent need to those outside in what they termed Normalville. Read the rest of this entry »
I enrolled in an arts management graduate program with plans of pursuing a leadership position within a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to enhancing community engagement in contemporary art and craft.
Community-based art centers had made a powerful impact on my own artistic and personal development, and I wanted to contribute to that field in a way that would impact others.
In just a few short months, my graduate coursework opened my eyes to the national arena of arts policy and advocacy. I realized that supporting community arts engagement was layered and complex. My professional interests began to shift towards the major challenges and strategies influencing the advancement of local arts development across the United States.
It was around this time that I heard about the Local Arts Classroom, a web-based leadership development series offered by Americans for the Arts through a combination of interactive webinars and conference calls.
The opportunity was open to professionals with less than 10 years of experience in the arts sector and graduate students. The curriculum was focused around key topics, including:
- Community Arts Development
- Creative Placemaking
- Stewardship & Resource Development
- Cultural Planning
- Arts Advocacy
- Board & Staff Development
Some of these topics were new to me, but many resonated with my current graduate coursework and research interests. I remember thinking—I wonder what I could learn from discussing these issues with a whole new group of people? What new connections would I draw between my academic studies and professional practice? Who would I meet? What new material would I be exposed to in a setting outside the university environment? Read the rest of this entry »
After you cast your vote for the next President, we wanted to remind Americans for the Arts members to be sure to vote in this year’s Advisory Council Elections.
Our councils advise staff on programs and services that will build a deeper connection to the field and to our networks, giving them the opportunity to be seen as national leaders and providing an opportunity to “give back to the field” by connecting the national work of Americans for the Arts to the local level.
As members of our organization, this is your opportunity to elect the nominees you want to lead your network(s)! We have been collecting nominations from the field for the past month, and thanks to our members we have outstanding nominees across the board.
Voting for Council Elections will officially close on November 21, but why not add a second chance vote to your day today?
To view our current nominees and cast your vote, please click on any and/or all of the following council voting pages:
You will need to enter your Member ID to view the nominees and proceed with voting, so if you are unsure of your Member ID, please log into your account here and click “my account information.”
If you have any questions please email email@example.com or call 202.371.2830.
In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month and the annual Americans for the Arts tradition of Creative Conversations, my colleague Ally Yusuf (Founder & Moderator of #ArtsMgtChat) and I are co-hosting the first national Creative Conversation on Twitter!
The Creative Workforce in the Post-Recession Economy is open to everyone and takes place today (October 17) for one hour starting at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT using #NatCC12 as the hashtag.
Come share in 140 characters or less, your thoughts, resources and stories about your view on this fascinating topic. We all either know someone or are someone who has been professionally affected by the recession. Whether you are a staffer, freelancer, consultant, employer or recruiter—you probably have something to add to the dialogue.
(Editor’s Note: For a quick primer on how Twitter chats work, check out this ARTSblog post by Kristen Engebretsen.)
As an arts leadership and professional development researcher and advocate, I’ve been profoundly concerned about the effects of the recession on our nonprofit arts workforce. In response, I established the Art Career Cafe which has both a website with job listings and resources as well as a Facebook page to provide an interactive community.
Since its launch in late July, we have over 200 Facebook group members. Many members are young arts professionals with degrees in arts management looking for full time work; others are freelancers who have chosen a less traditional but equally viable path to a creative career. Read the rest of this entry »
We are often so busy with our organization’s day-to-day programming, administration, fundraising, advocacy, and the need to establish some sense of work life balance, we forget or just don’t think about what we have to offer and learn with our peers.
Serving on one of the Americans for the Arts Advisory Councils is both a blessing and a curse (or a challenge or opportunity in biz speak).
There are 5,000 local arts agencies in the Americans for the Arts universe, or as Bob Lynch refers to them/us—arts enabling organizations. I never really thought about being an arts enabler but we are just that. Our job as administrators is to help the field grow and prosper, in our communities, our state, and our country.
And as we help the field, we also help ourselves by learning and sharing from the grassroots to the grass tops. Stop for just a minute and reflect on how you learn and how you have put that into practice.
What did you pick up at the Annual Convention, National Arts Marketing Project Conference, or a statewide or regional arts meeting? What came out of a one or two hour session in a breakout or at the bar or restaurant? Pretty valuable, eh?
Now just think what if that one or two hour session turned into a day and a half or longer and not just once a year but almost every month. And now what if those conversations were not scattered among 50 plus colleagues, but among a smaller group of 12-15.
Then there is time for to you share best practices—yours and others, address those tough personnel (hey we all have them don’t kid yourself) issues, political issues, fundraising tips, and even talk about real arts and culture policy development. Wow, when was the last time that happened!
Do yourself and your organization and your community a favor and serve on an advisory council. It’s worth every minute and every dollar you spend. But do it for the other 4,999 organizations and colleagues as well as for you.
Nominations close October 17. Nominate yourself or a colleague. You won’t ever regret it—personally and professionally.
About 18 months ago, my boss informed me that they had decided to shut down the New York City branch of my division and, as the saying goes, “my position was being eliminated.”
I saw this as my big chance to do something different. Just exactly what that was I had no idea; I just felt very strongly that I was meant to use this opportunity to make a career change. I had spent fifteen years working in finance, and there were things about it I liked, but I never LOVED it.
I didn’t have to think too hard to recognize that I love music. So my first logical thought (because I am a very logical person) was to look for a finance job at a music company, like Universal Music or Steinway pianos. Unfortunately, even though almost every company has a finance function of some sort, I didn’t find a plethora of finance jobs at music companies that fit my background.
But I still had this strong pull toward music, and was determined to “think outside of the box.” I must have been going on about all this to my piano teacher one day, when she said to me, “I have a friend that works at Carnegie Hall, do you want to meet with him?” Are you kidding me?? CARNEGIE HALL? As in, the Mecca of Music? YES PLEASE!!
So I met with this young man, who was very nice, and asked him on a very basic level, “what would someone with a background like mine do at a place like Carnegie Hall?” He thought development would probably be a good fit. Read the rest of this entry »
When the call for applicants went out for the first ever Local Arts Classroom (LAC) program with Americans for the Arts I didn’t hesitate to apply.
I had attended the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in 2011 and returned to work thinking, “I need more.”
I felt the need to stay connected to what’s happening on a national level, but had a desire to learn more about what I should be doing as a Program Director of a local arts agency. I read blogs, followed @Americans4Arts on Twitter, and was connected on a surface level, but missed the sense of camaraderie the convention facilitated.
Enter the LAC and a chance to learn about cultural planning, making space for art, advocacy, board and staff development, fundraising, and making the case for the arts; a chance to learn with arts administrators from all over the country; a chance to absorb different perspectives and experiences of those who know what it’s like to be an arts administrator.
I say “absorb” because that was how I approached the class: to be a sponge, and absorb every concept, idea, and piece of advice I could possibly take in.
One concept that I’ve applied frequently since I graduated from LAC is one about fundraising, planning, and community:
When planning for an event or fundraiser, organizations typically take this approach:
- Name the activity/goal/event
- Ask: What is a success for the organization?
- Ask: Was it a success for the community? Read the rest of this entry »
For decades, the arts industry has chased new audiences, especially younger audiences. Today, that chase is directed at the largest population under 30 years old in human history. It’s little wonder that Gen Y (born 1981–2001) is a hot topic for arts marketers.
As a data-informed member of Gen Y, here’s a take on my generation of arts consumers.
We curate our lives. For as long as we’ve been consumers, we have always had access to Google and Amazon. Search is our way of finding out anything and everything we want to know. We are the generation of the long-tail. This means we have had access to more variety of art, music, performances, and consumer products than any other generation in history.
Because we have access to virtually everything, we take pleasure in exploring the original and local and not just mass-market products and experiences. The data backs this up; an Edelman Digital study found that 40% of Gen Y participants preferred buying local, even if it meant paying more than a mass-market product.
Beyond buying local, the exploration of everything available in the marketplace has led to a culture where we curate our lives. The rise of personal curation—selection of exactly what we want from all that’s available—is evident in the recent popularity of Pinterest.
We spend on what we value. Gen Y is often characterized as cheap. There’s good reason for our cost-consciousness. Gen Y paid much more for college than previous generations and now has record levels of student debt. We face an unprecedented labor market that has offered us more unemployment and underemployment than under-30s of nearly any previous generation.
In light of our generation’s thriftiness, the Edelman study’s spending metric suggest that a cheap price is not our only motivation to buy. Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” Price and value are connected for Gen Y. Read the rest of this entry »
I used to believe that my role, and that of my teaching colleagues, was to ensure that we gave to our art majors our full measure of knowledge, skills, and understanding. I like to think that we took every opportunity to sharpen their critical eyes and guide them to more enriched sensibilities as they aspired to be artists, art teachers, and art historians.
That was what college was all about, and I thought that if they worked hard and gave it their “all,” then we’d applaud them at commencement and wish them well (while, among ourselves, we knew full well that many, perhaps most would not “make it”).
While I don’t think I ever said it straight out, I do believe that my message to graduates at every commencement was, “We’ve done our part; now it is up to you.” I now am embarrassed to say that implicit in this thinking was the notion that we in higher education need not assume any responsibility for what happens later, after our students leave. After all, we gave 100 percent to all of our students—so we thought—who were with us for those four, five, or six years. What they did after graduation was unquestionably up to them.
The national discourse about the value (or lack of value) of higher education is making it quite clear that there is a greater (or new) expectation that we in higher education now provide a bit more—perhaps a lot more—than a “discover yourself” curriculum that results in nearly half of arts graduates dropping out of the field before the second anniversary of their commencement (see Strategic National Arts Alumni Project that has been tracking the lives and careers of arts graduates in America). This, of course, is not a desirable result; therefore, we must change the way we’re doing things or we will continue to get the same result in years to come.
What has become obvious to me is that artists are entrepreneurs too. Artists have to network, have to market themselves as well as their work, they have to take risks and have to profit from failure not unlike those we recognize as the most successful entrepreneurs. Whether a designer or painter or sculptor or even art historian and art educator, there is a benefit to being additionally prepared with the tools to manage one’s career and apply one’s creativity to ensuring success. Read the rest of this entry »
At her 1985 retirement, after 20 years as founding director of the Arts & Business Council (ABC), Sybil Simon chose as her legacy a program which helped diversify the nonprofit arts sector. This program took the form of The Multicultural Arts Management Internship Program. It became an overwhelming annual success, attracting hundreds of applicants from across the United States, thanks to ABC’s partnership with Con Edison.
This summer, 11 interns were selected to work in areas such as fundraising, marketing, programming, audience development, and finance for ten weeks. Based upon their personal interests, the interns are paired with theater and dance companies, arts service organizations, music festivals, museums, etc. Organizations chosen to participate entrust the Arts & Business Council of New York (ABC/NY) to interview all intern candidates and conduct the placement.
Supervisors at the arts organizations provide support in terms of creating an interns project (examples: assigning them to spearhead a marketing initiative for a festival or research prospective donors for a new capital campaign) and providing professional guidance for the eager students. Con Edison’s generous support lavishes interns with a $2,500 stipend (a rarity in the arts sector!).
The internship is not only unique because it promotes cultural diversity while empowering interns to take a significant role in their organizations, but also because business mentors are granted to the interns. Con Edison doesn’t just bestow financial support to our organization—they are personally involved by assigning staff as mentors. The mentors collectively represent alternative involvement in the arts, should the interns choose to work in business—they are patrons, donors, and board members—all excellent examples of our sector’s desired audience.
The business mentors attend events, take interns to coffee, visit their organizations, invite interns to their office, and attend site visits (where students lead a tour of their organization and present the results of their summer project). Con Edison also hosts the entire program for an opening breakfast and closing dinner ceremony, where the host supervisors, business mentors, interns, and Arts & Business Council staff come together to celebrate the program and reflect upon the summer.
Here’s a video of some of the interns and mentors in action: Read the rest of this entry »
The old saying goes, “The only thing constant in life is change.” And with the current pace of change in the workplace, there is a demand for businesses to be ready for anything and everything. In order for business leaders to thrive in today’s market, they must be receptive, responsive, and adaptive. But how can business leaders prepare themselves for the unexpected?
Frank J. Barrett, professor of management and global public policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, suggests that business leaders take a cue from jazz musicians and practice improvisation.
In his article featured in Fast Company, Barrett explains how the skills jazz musicians develop while improvising can also be helpful working in the office. Through improvisation, one nurtures spontaneity, cultivates creativity, encourages experimentation, and facilitates dynamic synchronization—all traits that are becoming increasingly necessary to succeed in business. By harnessing these qualities, businesses will be better equipped to tackle challenges that come their way.
Barrett proposes the following practices to help business leaders replicate the environment of a jazz band jam session:
Treat each task as an experiment
Every time a jazz musician improvises with a band, he/she tries different combinations of notes and rhythms over the chord changes of a song. As the musician performs, he or she is aware of his or her actions, listens to what works musically, and is receptive to others’ responses. Each spontaneous composition, therefore, becomes a learning process.
By adopting this experimental approach for the office, Barrett believes you will obtain a mindset focused on discovery. Because you are constantly proposing new ideas and testing new hypotheses, you are more receptive to different ways of thinking and encourage breaking the routine. By consistently approaching projects through this process of trial and error, you become more aware of yourself and your own experiences, and you consequently learn more. Read the rest of this entry »
My summer internship with Americans for the Arts has regrettably come to an end. If I knew an inch about marriage, I’d say this feels a lot like the ride back from the honeymoon. Which I mention only to suggest how uneasy I feel saying farewell to ten weeks worth of swimming through everything art. With people who love it so tremendously, they fight for it each day.
It’s times like this when every instruction kneaded into my writing toolbox knocks on my door and offers itself to me—mostly to make sure each emotional simile this blog post doesn’t need can be prevented, like overlooked leaks beneath the kitchen sink (they persist, nonetheless).
At any rate, the advice knocking today is this: “Kiss the beginning.” And I think it’s only right to revisit the very first question I posed this summer (presented to you in the title), to see what many experiences I’m able to offer at its side.
As I mull everything over now, though, I’ll present just a couple. These two ideas, I hope, should suffice.
So to begin with a lesson I’ve learned on this journey, which is less about art and more about being human: I am small. This is not a commentary on my physical stature, but more on my existence and each of our lives. We are unfathomably small.
It’s hard for me to grapple with this truth, because since conception we’ve been taught and treated otherwise. The idea of our singular importance persists by way of talent shows, academic ceremonies, sporting and artistic competitions, promotions, and so on. And it’s not my wish to attack the way our societies reward this measure of our own greatness. If anything, with the Olympics as a perfect example, a single person’s achievements help to heal and unite an entire nation. Read the rest of this entry »