The Greater DC Diversity Pilot Initiative, #1: Doubling Down on Small Steps as Meaningful Progress

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Nov 14, 2014

Clay Lord Clay Lord

The pursuit of forward progress in issues of diversity, access, and equity in the arts in America is a difficult and frustrating business. A conversation that starts with, say, a lack of racial diversity on an organization's staff can quickly move from hiring practices to a perceived lack of qualified candidates of color in the pool, to a discussion of the systemic devaluation of the arts as a career option in certain populations, which may or may not stem from systemic inequalities in the American education system surrounding arts education, which in turn is representative of a society built from bottom to top on the creation of privileged class predominantly defined by the unequal distribution of wealth and access to opportunity across hundreds of years and dozens of generations. And suddenly you aren't talking about a problem you can do anything about, and you feel either overwhelmed or off the hook. What can I do about that, anyway?

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A Tending

Posted by Aracelis Girmay, Nov 18, 2014

Aracelis Girmay Aracelis Girmay

I begin with that which is languageless. Gesture, wordless calls of grief or joy, exclamation, a dancer’s body moving in time. What John Edgar Wideman calls, in his essay “In Praise of Silence,” “the entire body’s expressive repertoire, subversive, liberating, freighted with laughter, song and sigh, burdened and energized by opposition.” Which means: not words alone, but every mark we make in the landscape, in the air. I begin here because when I think about the art and resistance work I am most enlivened and taught by this moment, I think about the Turf Feinz and Yak Films.

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Welcome to the “Moving Arts Leadership Forward” Blog Salon

Posted by Abe Flores, Mar 14, 2016

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s new report, Moving Arts Leadership Forward, describes a changing arts leadership and workforce. Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the Hewlett Foundation, has asked a diverse group of arts leaders to respond to the report’s findings and the recommendations it makes for the field. In the next couple of days we will be hearing their responses and hope we will be hearing from you in the comment section.

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Emergent Leadership Practices

Posted by Marian A. Godfrey, Mar 14, 2016

What do we expect of the next generations of arts leaders? Do we want them to “fix” the ailing nonprofit operating model, or do we want them to blow it up and invent new modes of creating and delivering arts experiences? The answer is yes. 

The existing nonprofit arts system, with all its limitations and inequities, is capable of creating transcendent aesthetic experiences. Visionary leaders in some organizations have been applying diligence and innovation to expand the reach and public value of their programs. At the same time, as has always been the case, artists and arts entrepreneurs entering the field are pulling inspiration from the wider environment and making up new versions of arts experiences and organizational structures.

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Distributing & Cultivating Leadership

Posted by Mr. Jeffrey Golde, Mar 14, 2016

As the latest report from the Hewlett Foundation points out, “The nonprofit arts sector is at a critical inflection point…” While there is risk in every path we choose to move forward, I believe great opportunity lies in collaboration between an older generation that worked tirelessly to build the current set of organizations and a new, hungry and highly skilled generation of arts administrators, ready to tackle today’s new challenges.

Ultimately we must solve the problem of how a field limited by funds and vertical job mobility, harness and retain talent? The findings suggest a need for a national discussion about redefining the role and meaning of leadership and how it affects the structure of our organizations. Distributed leadership is proposed as one solution to our current risk of losing emerging talent. I would also add cultivating the learnable skills leaders use. With both these ideas at work, I believe we can unlock value buried in the untapped human capital in our field.

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