|Organization:||Business for Culture and the Arts|
|Keynote Speaker, Kendall Clawson, Director of Executive Appointments/Senior Arts & Culture Policy Director, Office of Governor Kitzhaber at BCA Arts Connector 2013. (Photo courtesy Wayne Bund Photography).|
Diversity and the Next Generation of Arts Leaders
Diversity is a constant area of focus at Americans for the Arts, so when I saw a notice about the Business for Culture & the Arts (BCA) Arts Connector, I was intrigued. Arts Connector is the product of BCA’s commitment to engage young professionals and increase diversity in arts leadership in the Portland, Oregon region. This dynamic networking event was designed to introduce both “newbie’s” and arts enthusiast business professionals, particularly those of color, to new ways to get involved with the arts.
But what was totally cool about this event was that a lot of the anxiety about attending networking events was eliminated.
First, businesses were allowed to sign up teams, so you could attend with colleagues. Catalyst Teams from Wells Fargo, The Zidell Companies, The Nines, Gerding Edlen, The Standard, NW Natural, Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, Latino Arts Leadership Cohort, The Oregonian, Oregon Women Lawyers, Metropolitan Group and Ernst and Young added great energy to the event.
BCA deputized six "arts geniuses" to provide guidance as guests looked for cool opportunities to engage.
Kendall Clawson, from the Governor's Office provided an inspiring keynote speech about community leadership.
Civic volunteers Jude Lieberman, Rene Gonzalez and Elizabeth Kurtz talked about their work in the arts and culture world. And The Oregonian newspaper art critics Ryan White and Marty Hughley convened discussions about trends and issues in Greater Portland's theatre and music scenes.
But even better, BCA provided a custom networking card for each attendee based on information provided at registration about the kind of arts that excites them and the skills and opportunities they're looking for. Attendees were able to use their networking card as a guide to connect with board members and leaders of arts organizations that met their interests in a very efficient way. Both the attendees and the arts organizations were assured of talking directly to people sharing their interests.
"Arts organizations are working to better reflect the community around them," says Deborah Edward, BCA's Executive Director. "BCA has the unique opportunity to leverage our relationships within the business community, to connect people from internal employee groups that focus on diversity with the arts organizations that are seeking to engage with a broader, more diverse group of people ready to become more active in civic leadership."
This event quickly sold out. 154 business professionals, including 12 business teams, participated and 41 arts organizations were represented. The percentage of attendees that self-identified as people of color was 38% and those in the 45 and under age range was 70%. Wells Fargo and The Zidell Companies sponsored the event with a local hotel, The Nines, who sponsored the event by providing the space, food and a cash bar.
Arts Connector is currently an annual event although participants have already expressed a wish for it to be a bi-annual or even a quarterly event. It is a huge undertaking in terms of staff time, but very rewarding. If local arts agencies across the country were able to replicate this event, it could really move the dial in terms of diversifying and enriching the arts administration field.
|Organization Contact:||Susan Myers|