Cross-Generational Leadership: The Future of Effective Arts Leadership

Posted by Aja Roberts, Mar 16, 2016

It’s safe to say the arts leadership landscape is changing. Given the external societal changes such as late-career professionals postponing retirement, highly-educated millennials entering the workforce poised to make meaningful contributions, and a more culturally diverse group of emerging leaders, arts organizations must recognize the urgency of these challenges and determine what structural changes or model implementations they will make to reconcile these forces impacting leadership in the arts sector.

In Moving Arts Leadership Forward, it is important for organizations not to remain stagnant. They must understand the state of the arts sector and realize that change is both imminent and inevitable. Working in stagnation will stunt the growth of the arts administration ecosystem, particularly if early- and mid-career leaders are underutilized and arts organizations are left unable to serve their constituents to their full capacity. How will these emerging leaders be able to have real impact within their organizations with limited influence in the workplace?

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Charting the Future: Why we need new Visionary Ideas, Values, and Models to Propel Communities forward through the Arts

Posted by Abe Flores, Apr 14, 2014

Abe Flores Abe Flores

Change is the only constant in life and in art. Demographic shifts, technological leaps, economic cycles, and cultural trends require creative, knowledgeable, and skilled leaders to ensure the relevance and resilience of all art forms. When old ideas, values, and models become obsolete, it takes leaders to chart the future to accommodate the changing reality. Experimentation, risk and failure are inherent in the charting of the future. No one knows if something will really work until they implement it. That is why I am a fan of the term “pilot program” - it tells the world that we are trying something new and it may not work. Younger leaders often take on the role of charting the future and piloting programs because we are the future: demographically diverse, technologically savvy, and more inclusive in our values.

The Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Council, a body of fifteen incredibly smart, visionary and engaged young arts professionals, acts as a brain trust informing and advising Americans for the Arts (AFTA) on trends, new ideas, latest models, and the direction of the field in order to assist in developing new programs and resources to promote professional development and networking opportunities for young professionals nationwide. Part of my role at AFTA is liaising with the council and working with them to present and implement their best ideas and strategies. In the couple of months I have been working with them it has become clear that there is much great work yet to be done. I am very excited to see what develops and very thankful to be part of the process. My brain is divided between my immediate daily tasks (blog salon, convention, digital classrooms etc.) and contemplating how we can best serve and advance the field.

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On Shifting Systems and Equity

Posted by Ms. Katherin Canton, Mar 17, 2016

In 2011, I came across a professional development program that was centered on connection, peer learning and “real talk,” Emerging Arts Professionals San Francisco/Bay Area (EAP/SFBA) was a new home for me as I entered the full time arts admin workforce. I was drawn in by the brilliant and compassionate people who represented experiences along the career spectrum, were not afraid to hold space for each other to have tough conversations about work, life, and the field. I share this because the Arts Leadership Forward report reflects EAP/SFBA conversations and I see the connection between Hewlett’s recommendations and successful pilot projects around the region.

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Reading between the Lines: Crossing the Generational Barriers of Ethnic and Cultural Audience Development

Posted by Elena Muslar, Apr 14, 2014

Elena Muslar Elena Muslar

“We have got to diversify our audiences!” How many times can you recall hearing this phrase in meeting after meeting? And yes, of course, the mantra still rings true. But, what are the ways in which target marketing campaigns reach out to those diverse audiences?

“It’s Black History Month! Let’s offer a special on tickets to ‘A Raisin in the Sun’! The Latin show is coming to town; let’s advertise our banners along the streets of East LA.” I could go on, but now is not the time to dwell on past mechanisms of “outreach” done with fairly good intentions. This is the time to go beyond talking about these kinds of basic ideals of promotion and start changing our values towards active relations. It’s the time to chart the future and put models into play that not only shift, but flip, the paradigms set in place that don’t currently reflect expanding communities meant to be served by arts organizations.

As a young woman of mixed race, being half-Black/half-Belizean, I am a product of a community that was just “out of reach”; that desperately needed the “out-reaching”. When more criminals cross the threshold of your apartment complex than high school graduates, you learn early on that you have to be strong enough to stretch your reach further when that reach from the other side doesn't make it far enough. As a “Next Gen” arts leader, this has been a huge inspiration for me to have a voice that extends beyond my community and into those buildings laden with white walls. I see myself as a bridge between worlds and am committed to paving roads that provide better access to communities resembling mine.

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Creating Dangerously: My Week at VONA

Posted by Eric Nguyen, Jul 09, 2014

Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

On June 22nd I visited Berkeley to attend the Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA) Writers’ Workshop. This workshop is a week-long conference for writers of color with workshops led by award-winning writers in a variety of genres, including fiction writer M. Evelina Galang, poet Patricia Smith, memorist Andrew X. Pham, and novelist Junot Diaz, among many others.

The organization was founded in 1999 by Junot Díaz, Elmaz Abinader, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones. Each envisioned an arts organization that could change the landscape for writers of color by supporting individual writer growth, creating a platform for community engagement, and providing a workshop and mentor focus to expand writing opportunities. Fifteen years after its founding, it has become one of the most esteemed writers’ conferences in the US.

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Five Minutes, Five Questions: Marlene Ibsen of the Travelers Foundation

Posted by Marlene Ibsen, Patrick O'Herron, Jul 17, 2014

Past BCA 10 honoree Travelers has been a long-time advocate of the arts. In 2013 alone, 17 percent of Travelers’ overall corporate giving went to arts and culture organizations. The company’s belief in the power of arts is also held by its employees.

Marlene Ibsen, President and CEO of the Travelers Foundation and Vice President of Community Relations at Travelers, recently talked to Americans for the Arts about the Travelers Arts & Diversity Committee, a group of Travelers employees who are out in the community and use the arts to encourage diversity.

Patrick O’Herron, Business Committee for the Arts Coordinator, Americans for the Arts: Can you start by giving me a quick overview of the Arts & Diversity Committee?

Marlene Ibsen: The Travelers Arts & Diversity Committee is comprised of employees in our St. Paul, Minnesota office who are looking to provide first-hand support to the region’s arts scene. They allocate funds to various arts organizations that are committed to supporting diversity.

Though funding is a substantial portion of what they do, their work doesn’t end there. Some committee members have prior experience in the arts, and they use that background to occasionally help produce local live performances. Their passion for both the arts and their neighborhoods’ appeal makes this group a strong–and highly visible–component of our involvement in our communities.

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