Commentary: It's time for a new kind of nonprofit leader

Nell Edgington, Social Velocity blog, 3/11/13

Last week I spoke to a group of nonprofit leaders about 5 Nonprofits Trends to Watch in 2013 and a woman stood up and said "These trends are all well and good, but we need to talk about the fact that the money just isn't there anymore. We are having to compete with more organizations for much less available funding. We need solutions to that." Agreed. But it's not going to change anytime soon. So it is up to nonprofit leaders to embrace and adapt to that new reality. Instead of beating our heads against the wall of change, let's adapt to meet it. In fact, it is time for a new kind of nonprofit leader, one who has the confidence, ability, foresight, energy, and strength of will to really lead the nonprofit sector forward. This new nonprofit leader...

Moves to Impact. She realizes that it is no longer enough to just "do good work." Nonprofits must create a theory of change and then find a way to measure and articulate the outcomes and impact they hope they are achieving.

Finances the Work. He works toward completely integrating money into the mission his nonprofit is trying to achieve, understanding that big plans are not enough, he also must finance them. And beyond just recognizing his lack of infrastructure, he puts together a plan for raising capacity capital and convinces donors to start investing in a stronger, more effective organization behind the work.

Refuses to Play Nice.  She overcomes the nonprofit norm of politeness at all costs and gets real with funders, board members, or staff who are standing in the way of the mission and impact of the organization.

Looks Outside. He understands that a nonprofit can no longer exist in a vacuum. He and his board and staff must constantly monitor the external marketplace of changing client needs, demographic and economic trends, funder interests in order make sure their nonprofit continues to create community value.

Gets Social. She embraces the idea of a networked nonprofit and is willing and able to open her organization and let the world in as fully engaged partners in the work her nonprofit is doing.

Asks Hard Questions. He constantly forces himself, and his high-performing team of board, staff, funders and volunteers to ask hard questions (like these and these) in order to make sure they are pushing themselves harder, making the best use of resources and delivering more results.

 

UK program that offers apprenticeships to new theater producers is expanding

Alistair Smith, The Stage, 3/18/13

Stage One, the charity offering support to commercial theatre producers, has launched a new regional apprenticeship scheme. The initiative, which is funded with 30,000 from the Eranda Foundation, will allow Stage One to extend its West End-based apprenticeship scheme to include two regional host organisations, offering 12 months training for two new producers. Joseph Smith, chief executive of Stage One, said: "We are very keen to promote the opportunity regionally, across the UK with the aim of identifying new young producers who will work in theatre production nationwide. This funding allows Stage One to further its reach in supporting the next generation of commercial theatre producers in the UK." The Stage One Apprentice Scheme for New Producers has run since 2007, but has been focussed on the commercial West End. Last year, the scheme extended to encompass the subsidised theatre sector, thanks to support from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, and this year it will extend beyond London. In addition to the funding from Eranda, Stage One will earmark a further 1,000 per apprentice to cover the cost of travel to the capital throughout the year so that they can take part in London-based workshops.

 

Related: Funding opportunity for emerging arts leaders in California

University of California Institute for Research in the Arts website, 3/12/13

The Center for Cultural Innovation, in partnership with the James Irvine and William and Flora Hewlett foundations have announced the next round of the NextGen Arts Initiative. The program is offering professional development grants to individual emerging arts leaders and arts organizations to support their emerging arts leadership.  NextGen grants provide up to $1,000 to emerging leaders throughout California to enroll in workshops, attend conferences locally and nationally, or to work with consultants and coaches to build the administrative skills needed to lead the nonprofit arts sector of tomorrow. Arts administrators, artists and board members between the ages of 18 and 35 are encouraged to take the NextGen Survey, which is providing valuable data to arts funders and program providers about the needs of California's emerging arts leaders. Completion of the survey fulfills one of the eligibility requirements to apply for the grant.

 

Commentary: Are women's self-doubts keeping them from the top arts jobs?

Vanessa Thorpe, The Guardian [UK], 3/24/13

Across Britain the great majority of powerful artistic and cultural jobs are still being done by men. We may have a female culture secretary in Maria Miller, but there are only a handful of women running leading theatres, funding bodies, institutes, galleries and museums. For Baroness Bakewell, 79, who began her career as a TV presenter in the 60s, the fact little has changed is shocking. "It is a conspicuous problem.... Asked to apply for a leading role, a woman will tend to wonder if she can do it, no matter how distinguished she is. Perhaps we have got to wait for women to feel entitled and go out there and seize the day," she said. "It is very difficult to change things if the world is nearly always telling you that men basically are running the world. In novels, plays and in conventional histories, the image of power is constantly represented as male," said Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre in London. "Women can be fantastic, of course, but our expectations and choices are shaped by inevitable role models. Even women themselves make assumptions about their own ability and about others because of this. So we have got to work hard to break through this."

 

Commentary: Do you need a graduate degree to be a strong arts leader?

Todd Eric Hawkins, Americans for the Arts blog, 3/20/13

I have had numerous conversations with arts leaders of all ages regarding the question of getting a Masters Degree. When I graduated three years ago, I would have told you that [it] is absolutely necessary. I would never have the opportunities I now have without my graduate program. However, I have discovered an additional inescapable path to leadership: the road. A year and a half into graduate school I was moved from my job [at] the New York City School Construction Authority to being a Project Manager for Public Art for Public Schools. It was a blessing, I had an arts job, but I had no experience as a Project Manager, or with public art. I had hit the road. I jumped in with both feet and fell directly onto my face. Not immediately, slowly...very slowly. I made mistakes, of varying degrees of severity, but I learned. I learned that sometimes you have to push and be aggressive, even it that isn't in your character, just to get things done. I learned that grants get awarded late and funds will be held up, but the timeline won't change and you still have to get it all done and you have to do it without an attitude, because it just has to get done. But mostly, I have learned that sometimes you have to be the grown-up in the room, and that often sucks, but it is all part of leadership. And only life can prepare you for that. In order to thrive as an industry, our field needs leaders who are trained in formal programs, as well as those that have developed their leadership through experience in and out of the arts. We need road-savvy leaders who can provide a smooth road, as well as those formally trained leaders to help us navigate. Then we can harness our disparate backgrounds and views to form a team working toward a common goal, access to quality arts for all.

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