Leading Creatively Blog Salon
The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture would like to thank all of our readers and bloggers who participated in the Leading Creatively Blog Salon. 12 leaders from different sectors of the media arts community contributed close to 30 posts in just one week, which was a great way to jump start conversations about arts leadership throughout our membership organizations and across our social networks.
The last time I had a staff of more than one or two, it was 2001 in Los Angeles in an organization focused on education reform in and through the arts. I was all of 30 and had a staff of six plus two long-term consultants. In addition to this positional leadership, I was also frequently visited for conversation, advice, support, etc. from folks in other departments who, according to the supervisorial chart, reported to my peers. This role of informal leadership became just as important and powerful in my own learning and I think that of my colleagues as my formal position.
Responding to “Things that Make Me Feel Old”: Pondering the plight of First Time Executive Directors
How many ways can I say that I loved Marc Vogl’s post “Things That Make Me Feel Old”? First off, he is the first to tell me about Mark Zuckerberg being the new Time Person of the Year. Wow. What an accomplishment. I’d be fascinated to know how he feels about that. And I do know who Tony Hsieh is. Zappos.com is a brilliant idea and Tony hangs on to his mission mightily to keep customer service at the forefront of his corporate model; despite his investors wanting him to change his model. But I digress…I too have pondered this notion that arts and culture organizations look past young potential executive directors in favor of older more experienced ones. I’ve heard older leaders and managers say that they don’t care if a candidate has a graduate degree in arts administration; they want to know the person has experience. I’ve even had this conversation with Marc while gathering data for my latest attempt at becoming the next arts entrepreneur with a great idea – the first time executive directors program.
I’ve been struggling a little bit with how exactly to connect the skills and approaches that I picked up and developed in acting, writing, directing and producing sketch comedy shows to a blog post about being leading creatively.
It’s tempting to be glib and say that much like a good comedy show an ability to occasionally suspend disbelief and indulge in total delusion is a good modus operandi for running a nonprofit arts organization, because so often what one sets out to do (as compared to the resources one has to do it) is a daunting, irrational and sometimes impossible endeavor. And yet, people working in the arts do the impossible every day.
For the past five years Steve Seidel, a professor of arts education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has kept an informal list of “habits of mind” that he believes are helpful practices for anyone engaged in the work of arts education. I believe these “intellectual moves” are not only useful to those in arts education, but those in leadership positions across the arts sector as well.
Thanks to Doug Blandy for highlighting the importance of advocating for net neutrality as a leadership issue at the heart of our democracy. I was pleased to see NAMAC’s action alert about net neutrality, including the link to the campaign: http://www.savetheinternet.com/ (Everybody has signed on, right?)
I was struck by Victoria Saunders's post advising an aspiring thought leader on how to build a reputation.
You wouldn’t know it since I didn’t tell you but I was called a thought leader this summer. Ok, so it’s not written in print anywhere. Does email count? Maybe writing for NAMAC qualifies me?
We invited several media arts leaders who were interviewed for Leading Creatively to weigh in on the blog salon focus questions.
When I started out in the field as an arts manager, I had no awareness of my peer group. I was the youngest person working in the office, and many of my colleagues on staff simply did not see me as one of their peers. Back in the late ‘90s, there were no networking opportunities for emerging arts professionals. I did my best to network with others in the field, but my initial job positions simply did not lead to many opportunities for connecting. I felt isolated and adrift in my own profession.
Last week while in Washington D.C., I visited the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition featuring painting, drawing, photography, installation, and media images of Lesbian and Gay identity. Missing was David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly video excerpt which museum director Martin Sullivan had pulled when assailed by William Donohue of the Catholic League and conservative Republican Representatives John Boehner and Eric Cantor. They deemed it inappropriate for a federal institution, although none had seen the show.
While leadership is exercised within organizations and among constituent groups it also requires participation with the larger socio-political context associated with the arts and culture.