FROM TC: I was humbled and honored to be included in this list of 50 influential leaders in the arts, compiled by Barry Hessenius on the WESTAF blog. If I have any influence on the field, it is due to you and other subscribers to You've Cott Mail, who have taken the time to read and reflect on the news and commentary I curate here on a regular basis. I find it encouraging that so many people are engaged in addressing the issues which concern the arts industry. At the top of my list is the issue of leadership and the arts; here are some recent items on the topic that you may find of interest:


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Commentary: Broadway's "under 40" producers -- are there any?

Ken Davenport, The Producer's Perspective blog, 8/23/12

We've all known that we've been losing writers to Hollywood for years. And actors, well duh. Every Broadway actor I know fights tooth and toe-nail for a TV/Film out in their Broadway contracts. Yep, land the big gig and then look for a way to leave. Can't blame them, but it sucks for us nonetheless. But what about producers? As the costs and risks increase, and as it becomes more and more challenging to make shows happen, will we have enough producers tomorrow to make sure that Broadway remains as "healthy" as it is today? As someone who, just today actually, finally tip-toed over into his fourth decade, I'm concerned that we don't have enough folks under 40 doing shows now, which could jeopardize how full our theaters are in 20 years or so. So, I decided to analyze the age demographics of the Broadway League. I looked at all the members who classified themselves as producers and using my own knowledge of who's-who plus a little help from Google, I figured out a rough percentage of those producers working today who are under forty years of age (with a margin of error of course, but I think it's close enough).The answer? About 8% Eek. Now, granted, a lot of folks come into producing for the theater later in life, when they have more disposable income, know more people with disposable income, etc. But still. While I lack the data of how many Under 40s there were a decade ago, I have a hunch we're losing ground. And that means we need to take some serious steps to train new young producers, and welcome them to the business with open arms. Vendors and agents and [theater] owners and unions and all of us should remember...the theater industry is a long term game. We should do our best to make sure we are encouraging young people to take risks in our industry, so that we can all see the rewards.


Commentary: "True leaders" in today's nonprofit arts

Debbie Shapiro, Thinking Dance, 8/14/12

It's been over a month since I attended the Dance/USA conference in San Francisco, and with some space and time for reflection, I still contemplate some of the biggest questions that came up. Now more than ever it seems the big ballet companies, the experimental independent artists, emerging leaders, and everyone in between feel the pains of struggling to sustain. Simon Sinek's keynote speech posed some tough questions:

"Why does your company exist? Do we really need another one? Why should anyone care? We're living in leaderless times. Leadership is: 'I have no clue how to get there, I just know where there is.' True leaders exist 'above' their job duties, and I'm hard pressed for a name of a young choreographer who lives above their job today."

Yikes! (I think to myself.) Do I agree that there aren't any dance leaders today? Absolutely not. In fact I think Philadelphia is home to a village of them, many of whom I've met somewhere along the way through the fabulous Lois Welk, head of DanceUSA/Philadelphia. And many, through their magical spirit and light have kept my devotion to the craft unwavered, despite the sad ratio of wages earned to monthly loan payments that I, like many of my peers, are on the hook for. Upon leaving the conference, pleased with the new relationships I'd gained, I felt inspired to stay connected to the field and those that care about dance by way of social media. One session I skipped, called Dance: A Field In Danger, was generously reflected on here by Lauren Warnecke, a dance blogger, whom I heard speak at the Blogosphere session. She asks, "How do we create and/or reinterpret successful and sustainable jobs in dance-related professions that make dance a viable career choice?"


Online resources about leadership and nonprofit arts

Americans for the Arts website

If you are an emerging leader or established arts administrator, the resources below will connect you with new ideas, research, and information relevant to leadership and the arts in your community.

  • 2009 Emerging Leaders Survey Results: In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Emerging Leaders Network, Americans for the Arts and the Emerging Leaders Council surveyed the field of emerging arts leaders to determine current professional development needs and trends. The survey was distributed between October 2009-January 2010 and completed by 554 individuals. Executive Summary, Full Report and Analysis, Raw Survey Data
    Part 1 [PDF, 592KB] | Part 2 [PDF, 707KB]  
  • Webinars: Committed to expanding your professional skills and knowledge, but can't always travel to meetings and presentations? Check out pre-recorded webinars in our Leadership Development On Demand Series and the recently broadcast Starting and Sustaining an Emerging Leaders Network. You must be a member to receive free access to all webinars and many other exclusive benefits.
  • Starting an Emerging Leaders Network: The most challenging aspect of launching or maintaining an Emerging Leaders Network in your community can be deciding what model works best for your community. Do you need a staff person to oversee the organization or will a group of volunteers work? Do you need a fiscal sponsor? How large of an area will you serve? Access the resources about starting an Emerging Leaders Network in your community [or] find an Emerging Leaders Network near you.
  • Arts Management Programs: Considering getting an advanced degree in Arts Administration or Management? Then this is the resource for you.  This is not an endorsement of any programs but rather a jumping off place for you to begin your search for the right program for you. List of U.S. Arts Administration/Managment Programs [PDF, 899KB]

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Commentary: Every leader is an artist

Michael O'Malley, Harvard Business Review blog, 8/24/12  The connection between leadership and art has been made many times over, usually as a way to single out certain properties of the arts that carry over to leadership, such as a jazz musician's ability to create through improvisation. These analogies can be compelling, but my point is more ambitious: leadership is an actual art, not metaphorically an art. The same attributes that distinguish great from mediocre artists distinguish exceptional leaders from their ordinary counterparts. The best leaders and artists give us perspective on our social condition (good or bad) and greater appreciation of our world, ourselves, and our choices. Moreover, they challenge, excite, comfort, and motivate. They bring us closer together by providing a forum for shared experiences and by forging a sense of community. Leadership and art both animate social encounters. They can change our lives in ways that are as invigorating and real as being hit by a wave. While people may disagree about the quality of a given work of art, we generally know how to communicate our experience of what we've seen or heard. And the same criteria that govern how people respond to particular artworks apply to this other art form, leadership. Evaluative terms serve as the bases for some consensus about what constitutes greatness. Corporate managers will always worry about results -- and especially short-term results. What is important is that we do not demote the concept of good leadership to the simple question of their attainment. The market doesn't care how leaders get results as long as they are achieved legally. Meanwhile, making money doesn't require the same skills as leadership does. It is possible to be a successful businessperson, excellent financier, and marvelous deal-maker without being a very good leader. The connection often made between leadership and bottom-line results is too facile. Making money is not an art. Leading an organization is. 

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