Have You Found Your Voice Today?

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On August - 24 - 2009

I’m writing this blog post immediately after reading Edward Clapp’s Open Letter to Young Arts Professionals, titled This is Our Emergency.  Edward is the editor and project director for 20UNDER40, “an anthology of critical discourse that aims to collect twenty essays about the future of the arts and arts education – each written by a young arts professional under the age of forty.”

While the 20UNDER40 project has received strong support and praise, there has also been an undercurrent of criticism (as Edward references in his letter).  However, what is more surprising – are the number of letters Edward has received from young arts professionals who have something to say and contribute – but do not feel they have the authority or courage to do so.  Is it possible that so many members of the Gen X and Gen Y generation are afraid to speak out?  What is it that we are worried about – Failure?  Criticism and judgment from our peers?  Losing our jobs?  Engaging in a debate?  Read the rest of this entry »

Gen Y Workers Disappoint? Really?

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On August - 21 - 2009

Lets face it:  Young leaders in the arts are not always considered valuable by senior managers at arts organizations.  Sound like a generalization?  Well, it is.  There are some opinions to help back that statement up, but not enough to make a wide assumption about a manager’s level of appreciation for his or her younger employees.

That’s why I (and many other Emerging Leaders) were surprised when we read this article published by The New York Enterprise Report – scroll down to the section Gen Y Workers Disappoint.  (Courtesy of Emily Peck, Program Manager – Business Committee for the Arts).  The article is reporting survey results of small business owners, and referencing in part the level of satisfaction that business owners have with their Generation Y employees.  In my opinion (and take this for what it’s worth), reports such as this are incredibly misleading and damaging.  Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Solutions in Challenging Times

Posted by Liz Bartolomeo On August - 18 - 2009

Marty Ronish, producer of the BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra broadcasts and blogger for Scanning the Dial, joined us in Seattle for the 2009 Annual Convention.

In this segment, Marty speaks with arts leaders on the topic of how the arts can provide creative solutions in challenging economic times. Interviewed participants include: Bill Ivey, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts and member of the Obama transition team; Bill O’Brien, Deputy Chairman for Grants and Awards at the National Endowment for the Arts; and Robert Lynch, President & CEO of Americans for the Arts.

To request a transcript of this interview, please contact Marty at mronish@flash.net.

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Voices from the 2009 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Seattle

Posted by Liz Bartolomeo On August - 12 - 2009

Marty Ronish, producer of the BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra broadcasts and blogger for Scanning the Dial, joined us in Seattle for the 2009 Annual Convention. In this segment, she speaks with attendees who are among the many voices representing the arts in America.

Just a number of the interviewed participants include: Randy Engstrom, founding director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in West Seattle and 2009 recipient of the Emerging Leader Award; Erin Hoppe, Director of Operations and Development at VSA Arts of Ohio; Laura Zucker, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Michael Killoren, Executive Director of the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs; and Terre Jones, President & CEO of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

To request a transcript of this interview, please contact Marty at mronish@flash.net. Browse our overview of the 2009 Annual Convention in Seattle.

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Senate Confirms NEA and NEH Chairs

Posted by Liz Bartolomeo On August - 7 - 2009

This afternoon, the U.S. Senate confirmed Broadway producer Rocco Landesman to serve as the next National Endowment for the Arts chair and former Congressman Jim Leach to serve as National Endowment for the Humanities chair. Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch issued the following statement:

“Today’s Senate confirmation of Rocco Landesman to serve as the next National Endowment for the Arts chair and Congressman Jim Leach to serve as National Endowment for the Humanities chair marks a moment of great opportunity for our nation’s cultural agencies. Landesman embarks as Chair of the nation’s arts agency with a robust agenda, an upward trajectory of funding, broad Congressional approval, and a White House committed to attracting national attention to the value of the arts and integrating them into broader domestic policies.

“Through his service in Congress, Jim Leach proved himself to be a strong leader and strategist on behalf of both the arts and the humanities. I am certain he will lead the NEH to support the innovative and critical work of the nation’s humanities groups.”

The New York Times has more.

Newcomers’ Orientation at Convention

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On July - 14 - 2009

Take a listen to an adapted version of Lex Leifheit’s recent speech from the Newcomers’ Orientation at the 2009 Seattle Convention.  She gives networking tips that relate to emerging, mid-level, and seasoned leaders.

Lex Leifheit is the Executive Director of SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco, and is Immediate Past Vice Chair of the Emerging Leader Council.

Imagined Motivation

Posted by Adam Thurman On July - 9 - 2009

Whenever I get tired or frustrated . . . or just need a reason to keep going . . . I close my eyes and imagine something: I see this person. She’s a bit younger then me, maybe 28 or 29. And she’s figuring it out.

She’s determined to find a way to make live performance relevant and viable (both economically and otherwise). She’s trying stuff.  She’s failing.  She’s modifying her approach and trying again.

Try. Fail. Modify. That’s how the breakthrough is always discovered right?

This person . . . she’s smart.  And, more importantly, she isn’t burdened by the same low grade cynicism we see in our field. She knows that theatre, dance, performance isn’t dead. In a world where all of us see the downward trends, she is quietly and diligently trying to find a path that flows upstream.

I imagine that one day, I’ll be reading some online magazine and see her smiling face. She found her path. She found a model that allowed her to create art that enriched the soul, thrilled the audience and caused a dollar or two to flow her way. Read the rest of this entry »

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An Open Letter to Arts Administrators

Posted by Adam Thurman On May - 27 - 2009

I’ve gotten your emails and your phone calls, expressing your frustrations and wondering why a life as an arts professional has to be so damn hard.

I’ve heard you talk about how the stress imposed upon you by a collective of self centered artists, lack of executive leadership and limited resources have hurt your health and impacted your relationships.

You have pulled me aside after workshops and presentations and whispered “I love your ideas, but my boss will never let me do it.”

I’ve seen your passion for the job get swallowed up in a swamp of rules that make no sense.

Here are some things I want you to consider:

1. It doesn’t have to be like that. I know you’ve probably convinced yourself that all the garbage you deal with is just the cost of being in the field.

It isn’t. If the group you work for is being run poorly it is because people are ACTIVELY making choices that allow that to happen. It isn’t just a matter of circumstance. It’s an outcome of choice.

You deserve better then that. You deserve to work at an organization that produces great art, treats people with respect and pays fairly. No matter how much people may tell you otherwise those three goals are NOT mutual exclusive. Read the rest of this entry »

Mitch Menchaca, Senior Director of Programs at the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and Chair of the Emerging Leader Council, and Teniqua Broughton, Program Director at Free Arts Arizona, and Vice-Chair of the Emerging Leader Council both discuss the past ten years of the Emerging Leader Council, their own personal career trajectories, and offer advice to Emerging Leaders navigating this tough economy.

Take a listen, and please comment!  What advice do you have for young arts leaders working in this economy?

People Problems

Posted by Adam Thurman On March - 9 - 2009

I spend of a lot of time thinking about the structural challenges arts organizations have, i.e. whether or not the traditional nonprofit model is the best way to present non-commercial art, whether having a Board of Directors is a good or bad thing . . . you get the idea.

The irony is that when I work with troubled arts organizations most of their problems have one of three causes: Read the rest of this entry »

ARTS North Carolina – Ambitious and Transformative

Posted by Shane Hudson On February - 3 - 2009

ARTS North Carolina, founded in 1974 as the North Carolina Association of Arts Councils, is an extraordinary statewide arts advocacy organization. ARTS NC’s ambitious mission includes fostering arts leadership, unifying and connecting the State’s arts communities and advocating for equal access to the arts for all NC residents. Read the rest of this entry »

Replacing the Pillar

Posted by Adam Thurman On January - 14 - 2009

Cross Posted to the Mission Paradox Blog:  missionparadox.typepad.com

I’ll tell you a secret . . .

The declining subscription numbers and aging audiences that are the status quo in the theatre world (and dance, opera, etc.) scares the hell out of a lot of people in the field.

What scares them is not the problem.  It’s a problem the more observant ones in the field predicted a decade ago.

What scares them is the solution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Want a bailout for the arts? Don't make the ask in an Armani suit

Posted by Chad Bauman On January - 12 - 2009

Cross posted to the Arts Marketing blog: http://www.arts-marketing.blogspot.com

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When the big three automotive CEOs flew separate private jets to Washington, DC to plead for public funds, I remember thinking to myself that I was thankful that I was a publicist and marketing director for a non-profit arts organization. The type of arrogance it takes to fly corporate jets to ask for billions of dollars in public aid surely could only be found in the private sector.

However, recently there has been a dust up about executive compensation in the non-profit arts sector, particularly because as the economy tightens, more and more arts organizations are pleading their case with stakeholders, some going as far as Mr. Kaiser in asking for a government bailout of the arts. Although I have tremendous respect for Mr. Kaiser, I am convinced that perhaps he isn’t the best emissary for the non-profit arts–how does it look for a non-profit arts administrator who makes more than $1 million a year in salary to be the champion of the suffering arts scene? Read the rest of this entry »

The Search For Good Stewards

Posted by Adam Thurman On January - 10 - 2009

Cross Posted To The Mission Paradox Blog:  missionparadox.typepad.com


One of my favorite words is stewardship.
Broadly defined, a steward is someone who is there to represent a relationship. So when you are a good steward, that means you have represented something well. The arts need more good stewards.

All too often when I listen to artists and arts admins talk about their field . . . they make it sound like we have the worst jobs in the world.

We talk about the challenges like we are the only field that has them.

We complain about the lack of funds or audience like we are entitled to both of them.

But how often do we consider that the reason we don’t get enough funds, or enough butts in seats is because of US? I remember a conversation I had with a very, very bright woman who wanted to start an arts organization. I suggested she consider making her group a nonprofit.  She flatly refused. I asked why. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts vs. The Economy

Posted by Kate Crowley On November - 16 - 2008

I begin this, my first post, with some good news: my organization, the Heard Museum is in great standing to survive and thrive in this down economy. Some of you reading may think, “Really?” or “You’re living in a dream world.” But the better question is “how?” Here briefly is what specifically my department is doing to make it through these tough times.

  • Concentrating on the “bonus” things we’ve always done well, events and lecture series
  • Giving incentives to become a member at these events (reward those who attend)
  • Allowing our leaders, our director and trustees, who have lived through times like these before to recommend the best course of action
  • Re-evaluating ads “we’ve always done” to see if we can get by with out them for this year/season
  • Finding solutions like Yelp.com for event promotions/getting the word out
  • Thanking and re-thanking our current members
  • Making PR for revenue generating events a priority
  • Partnering with likely and unlikely businesses

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