Yesterday I met with a number of potential applicants for the Taproot Foundation’s Service Grant program, which connects business professionals with nonprofits to deliver pro bono consulting projects in marketing, strategy, and human resources. I was there to continue my research into some of the more universal pain points in building strong infrastructures for performing arts organizations.
As we sat there I heard an executive director mention that “in six years we’ve never sat down and planned for or talked about the future.” They were, he explained; too busy focusing on developing and producing art.
I hesitated for a moment trying to decide the right response and the conversation turned away from his comment. But it stayed with me—I’ve heard this before.
The “now” culture within arts organizations, the focus on getting up the next show, the ever present feeling that if you’re not producing you’re somehow failing, means that conversations about how to strategically plan for the future are often an organization’s last priority.
But I hesitated yesterday because I’m not convinced; I’ve seen and worked with too many artists who are driven rather than stymied by how their vision fits into the larger national landscape. So what is it then—what is the roadblock that keeps arts organization from talking about the future?
My answer—resources; the scarcity of resources for arts organizations means most artists have adopted a head-down approach to their work. Read the rest of this entry »