Veteran Leaders – You were once just as we are now: in the early stages of your career, eager to make a difference, and to build our professional standing while improving the landscape of the American arts. You may have been afraid to say “no” to mounting tasks and projects, but persevered till each and every project was accomplished. You learned on the job by doing your job, and you were inspired by supervisors who were often older than you. You were motivated to prove yourself.
We too are now in those early, exciting years of the professional realm which becomes a substantial and meaningful part of our lives. The discussion of age-bias in the field is not an argument in a “young vs. old” or “entry level vs. experienced”. As a young administrator in the arts, I do not feel that the topic is necessarily a recent issue, but rather one that you yourselves dealt with as well. I believe the Emerging Leaders Network , 20UNDER40, and other, similar forums strive to openly discuss the challenges we face as rising arts administrators so that even younger generations may more easily navigate their entry into and relationships within the field of arts administration, and we as their future supervisors do not perpetuate age bias, which seems to be a recurring issue.
Novice leaders have heard that some administrators of older generations are offended by groups such as Emerging Arts Leaders and 20UNDER40. Edward Clapp of 20UNDER40 says he has received complaints from experienced leaders citing the project “ageist,” ” exclusionary,” and “dangerous.” (See Clapp’s earlier blog post) Dangerous? Why is it dangerous to have a discussion of current issues facing the arts sector and their leaders today? I do not believe the issue of age is a dangerous topic with the potential to destroy all that has been achieved. Read the rest of this entry »