When I launched out of college, the working world was a very different place. Since then there have been amazing transformations in our day-to-day lives (corded telephones vs. smartphones!) In the arts, just like the broader world, there has also been considerable change. In fact, the field of arts and culture is constantly evolving and as the leader of an arts organization, particularly one rooted in education, I want to not only adeptly respond to the shifts, but also cultivate the ability to engage in it with creativity and bravery.
Much to my good fortune, I am part of the inaugural cohort of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Leadership Fellows Program, a diverse group of todays’ arts leaders – experienced, dedicated and passionate about their work – who want and need innovative personal and professional development opportunities that embrace the radically changing environment. The group is positioned for long-term impact for both the members and the field, with a 20-month program arc, which just launched with a five-day intensive at the University of Southern California.
The week was aptly described as “intensive” – our days started early and ended late, we shared living spaces, meals, and even soap! More importantly, we shared knowledge, frustration, insights, and a core belief that art is essential. Understandably, there is no way I can capture even a small portion of what it was in a brief blog post, but I can share a few nuggets that are currently at the top of the pile:
- Complicate it. Frame the work & the issues as complex as they really are instead of always simplifying them. Art matters, for many reasons, not just because of how it contributes to the economy. (Thank you Carmen Morgan, founder of artEquity.)
- Read Liz Lerman’s book Hiking the Horizontal. Find more reasons to share space with her, listen to her stories, be guided by her creative imprint and output (I am sure her thinking grid method for sparking intersections between ideas is the key to many locked doors.)
- The future is always upon us. A lot of brain power and creative energy is used to make things of varying social impact/good in the evolving on-demand economy. In this age of makers and micro-workers, how are the arts, and artists, valued and involved? (Thanks David Evan Harris, from The Institute for the Future, for taking us down the rabbit hole of how the future is being made, today.)
- Who is asking questions that inspire me? How do I tap into a local community of thought partners? How does the work of UtahPresents and the students and faculty in the College of Fine Arts generate culture? Who do I want to bring to the party? (When you are asked these questions by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Artist and Chief of Program and Pedagogy at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, you better dig up your A list of people. I suspect his parties are the kind you never want to end.)
Two weeks later, I am still percolating (as one cohort member so aptly described her way of thinking) about all of it. If you’re interested in knowing more, or joining me as a thought partner, use one of the many “new” modes of communication to contact me: email or text me, or even go the old-fashioned route – pick up the phone and dial me up!
Executive Director, UtahPresents
Assistant Dean for Art & Creative Engagement, College of Fine Arts