Createquity satisfaction survey

So, in case you missed it because you’re a skimmer (I know your type!), buried in the last post I announced a survey of Createquity readers. Some twenty-five people have filled it out already, and I am immensely grateful for their feedback. Would you do me a favor and join them? Feedburner tells me I have 636 subscribers as of today, so I’d like to get a minimum of 60 responses (and preferably more like 100) before the end of the week. I promise it won’t take you more than three minutes. (Okay, maybe five if you write a lot of comments.)

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Around the horn: Around the horn edition

Sorry about the light posting lately – I was traveling last week for work and “Around the horn” is about all I have time to write on weeks like that. Which brings me to a question for you all. About a year ago, when this blog had many fewer readers, I asked about whether the “Around the horn” format was working for you. I didn’t get an overwhelming response, but the feedback was positive enough that I decided to keep at it. The reason I asked in the first place was because Around the horn posts almost never attract significant reader traffic, a trend that has continued into this year. The case for discontinuing the series rests on that, plus the 2-4+ hours of time that they invariably take to pull together (arguably preventing me from developing more interesting content), plus the fact that I’m certainly not the only blogger out there to offer regular link roundups. On the other hand, they do ensure that I post on a regular schedule, and it’s helpful for my own self-discipline to ensure that I actually read or at least skim the dozens of interesting articles that come my way each week.

Last year, when I was unemployed/consulting and considered this blog part of my “work,” it made sense for me to push as much content out there as possible, so Around the horn stayed. Now, though, I have a full-time job and I need to be strategic about the time I devote to Createquity. So, how about it, readers? Given everything I’ve said above, should Around the horn continue or not?

Actually, it doesn’t have to be quite that black and white. In addition to keeping up the status quo and discontinuing the series entirely, I could also explore the following alternatives:

  • Move it to Twitter. This was my original suggestion, and currently my Twitter feed is rather underutilized. It’d certainly be more efficient, but you’d lose the commentary, and I know not everyone’s on Twitter (though I could loop it into a sidebar on the blog easily enough).
  • Crowdsource it. This may be the ideal scenario, but I’m not sure whether it would work in practice. Part of the reason why I made the Createquity Tipster form and spreadsheet was so that something like this, a weekly feature co-authored by several contributors, could be an option. But it’s going to require interested and committed web-scourers or else it will just end up going back to the status quo. Anyway, if you think you might be up for something like this, would you let me know?
  • Slice and dice it. Maybe I just need to be more selective about and/or split up what gets included in Around the horn. For example, since Createquity specializes in research, I could do an occasional (i.e., not weekly) research round-up. Or I could focus exclusively on news that affects the arts sector. I kind of liked the topical structure I experimented with in this post, did you?

So here’s your chance to tell me what you want. In fact, I’ll make it easy for you: just take this quick survey, and tell me your thoughts not just on this issue, but on how things are going in general. I can’t wait for your response!

Oh, and since it’s that time of the week again:

  • Following the news from last week about the possible elimination of the Georgia Council for the Arts, a protest from arts groups around the state led to a Georgia Senate committee restoring almost $900,000 to the council’s budget. While this is obviously an improvement and has been hailed as good news, let’s not lose sight of the fact that (a) this actually represents a likely upper bound on state arts funding, since the House version of the budget still doesn’t contain any money for the council, the Senate bill has yet to pass the full chamber, and the whole thing faces a Republican governor with a line-item veto at the end; (b) even if this passes, it’s still nearly a two-thirds cut from this year; and (c) Georgia is the ninth-most populous state in the union, meaning that the best possible outcome would take its level of state arts support to almost California-level patheticness.
  • Georgia wasn’t the only place where the jaws of life were employed recently: Bloomberg reports that the Harlem School of the Arts has received a $1 million infusion of foundation money that will allow it to stay open through the summer. The HSA also has a new board after all previous members stepped down this week. The donations and board changes were engineered by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin. We’ll see if this crew comes out with a better result than last time.
  • Holy moly: foundation grantmaking went down by 8.4% in 2009. Take out the Gates Foundation and the numbers look even worse.
  • I wish we saw more of this: a foundation CEO giving an insider’s account of its own Board-level strategy meetings. Meanwhile, the Kresge Foundation has announced a new strategy for its nationwide arts and culture program focusing on community revitalization through the arts, support services and institutional capitalization.
  • Get ready for another gigantic foundation on the horizon. Good news: this one will support the arts.
  • Sounds like the L3C supporters’ utopian vision of a red-tape-free legal form for social enterprise is about to be put to the test. Meanwhile, another hybrid organization type is on the loose in Maryland.
  • Some inside dish on the Grantsfire project and what it might mean for the future of grant reporting.
  • Your weekly Richard Florida (and Charlotta Mellander and Kevin Stolarick) publication is out. This one tackles music clusters in the United States.
  • A new report is being billed as “the most significant compilation of evidence-based dance research ever undertaken” in England. (h/t LabforCulture)
  • Tom Borrup on DIY Culture in Silicon Valley.
  • Nice personal recap of Arts Advocacy Day from TCG’s Alissa Moore.
  • RIP Alan Rich. And speaking of rich, the arts’ ultra-rich are now slightly less so.
  • I thought this video was pretty effective. People have chimed in to say that it’s not that big a deal, but still…lining up at 1am in the cold for an open-call audition? You gotta admit that’s a little nuts.
  • Congrats are in order to Createquity super-commenter Ann Sachs for being one of the honorees at the annual Ensemble Studio Theatre Gala, and to Isaac on the new look.

Live Place + Displaced webcast today

This afternoon from 2-4pm, I’ll be participating in the webcast of a conversation about community change in Long Island City as part of Fractured Atlas’s Place + Displaced program. Place + Displaced is a community cultural mapping and civic participation project that is engaging with several New York City neighborhoods in different stages of gentrification. You may recall that a couple of other events I’ve attended since I started writing this blog have tackled similar issues, and not coincidentally both had the Fractured Atlas name attached to them. This time, you can be (almost) there too, by following along with Fractured Atlas’s Ustream page. If you’re in NYC yourself, you can always stop by the actual in-person event (how last decade!), which is taking place at the Irish Center at 10-40 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.

UPDATE: Here’s the embedded stream.

Streaming .TV shows by Ustream

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Around the horn: Volcanic eruption edition

Whew! That’s a little better – things seem to be quieting down to normal after a frenetic first part of the week. I’m also happy to see that people are using the Createquity Tipster form now. Just a reminder – in case you haven’t been following for that long, I rarely write about actual arts events here (like concerts, plays, etc.), so if you submit press releases for them they probably will get deleted. I know, it sucks, but that’s not really what this blog is about so I have to draw the line somewhere.

Anyway, here’s some other stuff you might find interesting:

  • Judith Dobrzynski reports on a Nonprofit Finance Fund survey of, uh, nonprofits’ finances, and helpfully obtains the arts-specific numbers. A big theme? Nonprofits leaders want to engage their boards more fully and need help doing so.
  • The Art Works blog has an interview with the NEA’s new Design Director, Jason Schupbach.
  • Looks like the next big state arts funding battle will be fought in Georgia, where the House of Representatives has passed a budget that would eliminate the Georgia Council on the Arts.
  • The Vermont Supreme Court is investigating whether artist residency centers need to pay property tax. [h/t Jill Leininger]
  • This event looks pretty cool: a talk with Leslie Koch about Governor’s Island, “New York City’s New Playground for the Arts.”
  • Condescending headline aside, this article offers a good wrap-up of Arts Advocacy Day on the Hill.
  • Creative Roanoke? Meet Create Denver.
  • The second issue of an online magazine called The Arts Politic has been released. This issue’s theme is “Bias” and features an article by 20UNDER40′s Edward Clapp.
  • TechSoup Global and Guidestar International (not the US-based GuideStar, but related) to merge.
  • Marc van Bree writes on the future of arts marketing for Take a Friend to the Orchestra month.
  • Nice visualization of composers’ influences and teachers from the UK.
  • Lady Gaga continues to take over the world. [h/t Richard]

Am I going to have to do these twice a week now?

I really hope not, because otherwise this site will start to become very boring. But sweet Jesus, there is so much going on this week that if I wait until Sunday to blog it all out for you I fear it will be next Sunday before I’m done. Let’s hope things start to quiet down after this, for my own sanity at any rate!

First off, lots of musical chairs among the nonprofit arts sector’s power elite this week:

  • Perhaps the biggest news (though really, it’s all pretty big) is that the NEA has hired Jason Schupbach away from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development to be its new Design Director. Jason was the first person in history to hold a position in a statewide economic development office specifically oriented toward creative industries. Now, he’s going to be heading up the Mayor’s Institute on City Design grant program and the new Our Town initiative (assuming the latter gets approved by Congress), in addition to the NEA’s other design programming. Great for the NEA (though Judith Dobrzynski thinks this is a sign that the NEA is getting too “commercial”; I disagree), but one wonders what this means for the future of the position in Massachusetts. (If I were a real journalist, I would call and find out, but as it is you’ll have to be satisfied with idle speculation.)
  • The Knight Foundation is creating a new nationwide arts initiative, and has promoted Dennis Scholl from Miami Program Director to lead it as Vice President. Scholl is an art collector and former lawyer and winemaker.
  • Two high-profile grantmakers are actually leaving philanthropy to work at arts organizations. Claudine Brown, director of the arts and culture program for the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York City, will become the Smithsonian’s education director in June. And John Killacky, a familiar figure for years on the West Coast as arts program officer for the San Francisco Foundation and before that head of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is moving to (quite literally) a completely different environment to take the reins of the Flynn Performing Arts Center in Brrrrlington, Vermont.
  • This one’s not a person on the move, but an organization: Grantsfire, an innovative project that developed a protocol for the automatic, real-time publication of grants data, is becoming a project of the Foundation Center. This should greatly expand the potential reach of the technology, which previously had attracted only a handful of big foundations.

Second, cool projects, data, and visualizations to geek out on:

  • FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, who is pretty much my idol (seriously, it’s just not fair for someone to be that smart), has published the results of his data-based inquiry into New York’s most “livable” neighborhoods. Of course, people have seized upon the rankings, but if you actually play with the little widget they provide you’ll see that actually the top neighborhoods are separated by so little that one’s individual preferences can make quite a difference. Nate gives some additional insight on his blog. (See this post too.)
  • Theatre Bay Area’s Clay Lord spills the beans on a major, nearly half-million-dollar new research initiative evaluating the intrinsic/emotional impact of theatrical performances on audiences in six cities around the country during the 2010-11 season. The research, which will be conducted by WolfBrown, builds on Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak-Leonard’s groundbreaking study of major university performing arts centers from a couple of years ago.
  • Clay’s post was prompted by a new study out from across the pond that also looks at intrinsic impact on theatrical performances. This one uses pentagons to visualize data, and is therefore extra-awesome.
  • Kevin Bolduc reports on the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s new Donor Perception Reports, and the first community foundation to release its results publicly: the Napa Valley Community Foundation.
  • And we have another new paper from Richard Florida. Seriously, this is like one a week now. Doesn’t this guy have to teach and stuff?
  • Did you know estate taxes account for only about 1% of total tax revenue in this country? I didn’t.
  • A new book and slide presentation from Beth Kanter and Allison Fine.
  • Devon re-imagines the social media course curriculum.
  • Music royalties in various media, visualized.

Third, thought-provoking commentary as always:

  • Sean at Tactical Philanthropy has organized a blog team around the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference. Lots of great stuff, but two particularly good ones are these from Phil Buchanan and Clara Miller.
  • Gary Steuer’s fantastic wrap-up of Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill and his Mayor’s testimony before Congress. Gary also weighs in on retired Brigadier General Nolan Bivens’s testimony on the arts and national security. I love Gary’s writing; it’s so lucid and easy to follow without sacrificing any substance. Kudos!
  • Amelia Northrup on how you can be an arts advocate.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if Suzanne Lainson spent 10,000 hours writing this freakin’ post, but if you’re wondering where it’s all going, here: “The 10,000 hours concept, while useful in stressing the importance of hard work to success, seems most applicable in fields where achievements are already well-defined….But for future innovations, you might be better served by drawing upon a mixture of skills that you acquired from broad-based learning. You might invent something new because you pull together ideas and skills in unusual ways rather than practicing what is well-estab[l]ished.”
  • Arlene Goldbard on why community arts practitioners need to be identified as having “real” jobs in the jobs bill.
  • Michael Kaiser on Baumol and Bowen’s lessons for today. (B&B is next on the list for the Arts Policy Library treatment, FYI.)
  • Charles McNulty on having his committee’s recommendations overruled by the Pulitzer board.
  • Does the Mideast peace process need a three-state solution?
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The Future of Leadership

(cross-posted from ARTSBlog – my thanks to to Jean Cook of the Future of Music Coalition and Fractured Atlas‘s Adam Huttler for their contributions to this piece, and my apologies if you’re reading this multiple times.)

We hear a lot of talk about the coming leadership transition in the arts. Baby Boomers are nearing retirement age, and Gen X’ers and Millennials are itching to take on increased responsibility. It’s important both for the good of the arts as a whole and for the individuals involved to make sure that, when the time comes, the people getting behind the wheel will have had some experience riding shotgun first. Hence our conversations have frequently centered on professional development, training, networking, and mentorship as strategies to better prepare our young(er) drivers.

It’s important to recognize, though, that the conversation isn’t-or shouldn’t be, at any rate-solely about passing the keys from one generation to the next. That’s something that has been happening since time immemorial, and is part of the normal cycle of nature and humanity. What’s so newsworthy about that, really? Naturally, there are lessons about leadership to be handed down from the elders to the newbies – and the conversations on ArtsBlog on this issue have boasted some elders’ generous attempts to do just that. Every so-called “emerging leader” who knows what he or she is talking about acknowledges that there is much to learn from those who came before, and that we would be foolish to pretend that we already have the answers. After all, the calls for mentorship are coming more from the younger generations than it is from the elders.

But even as we honor and benefit from the contributions of the Boomer and Silent generations, we also must face the fact that there are some forms of wisdom that are not transferable from previous generations. Our world has changed dramatically just in the time that Generation Y has been alive, and the rate of change only keeps increasing. Certain ways of thinking, communicating, and organizing ourselves are proving to be a better fit with the past than they are with the future. So as we develop new strategies to support the next generation of arts leaders as they begin this leg of the journey, we need to keep in mind that simply talking about where we’ve been will provide an incomplete map of the road ahead.

So, what is this new normal that we face? What are the imperatives that anyone leading an arts organization in the 21st century, regardless of generation, must grapple with in order to lead effectively? Recognizing once again that we do not have all the answers, here is an attempt at identifying the most important factors.

  • Technological literacy. Nearly all of the sweeping changes in how we do business and live our lives that have taken place during the last 20 years can be traced to dramatic advances in communication and data storage technology. Twenty years ago, there was no World Wide Web, cell phones as we know them today did not exist, word processing software was still in its infancy, and a typical hard drive held 1/10,000th of the space boasted by a comparably-priced device today. Think about that for a second. In a single generation’s time, our collective capacity to store, process, and share information has exploded beyond all recognition. This one development has completely transformed our work and our relationships, and its impact on the arts and arts organizations is no exception. Future arts organization leaders will need to, at a minimum, be literate in current technologies, and ideally should be fluent in them. As for the leaders of our entire field, the service organizations and grantmakers among us should have the capacity to shape technological trends, not just keep up with them.
  • Transparency. Yes, all of those status updates on Facebook about what people had for dinner are annoying. And why would you broadcast details about your love life to everyone you know? It may seem nonsensical to those of us who grew up in a different environment. But in the digital age, secrets are increasingly a fiction. The proliferation of data, the ease of sharing it, and the slow demise of less easily tracked transactions (e.g., cash) all mean that unless you remove yourself from the grid (and thus miss out on all of its benefits), information about your activities is out there for people to find whether you like it or not. If this is the case for individuals, it’s doubly so for arts organizations, many of which are nonprofits and subject to various regulations governing the sharing of information with the public. Recognizing how thoroughly technology has changed the rules around information-sharing, the more forward-thinking leaders in the sector have begun taking a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach to transparency, recognizing that trust ultimately remains the true currency of effective operations. Proactively sharing data that previously would have been considered confidential and merging internal and external “faces” can enable the organization to speak authentically with one voice. But transparency need not be merely a defensive measure. What arts leaders are realizing is that transparency, widely adopted, can have benefits of its own, especially when taken to the next step:
  • Collaboration. The advent of numerous “crowdsourcing” platforms has shown us that sometimes, things get done better, faster, and more cheaply when we all chip in. While competition certainly has its virtues, the arts sector can only thrive in the 21st century if its individual actors remember that, in the end, we are all on the same team. The theater that opens up shop down the street from yours is not a threat – it’s an ally in your quest to make your street a place to see theater. The organization that starts a program similar to yours the next town over is not drawing foundation funds away – it’s a source of new capacity that can benefit your program even as you teach the lessons you learned from your own experience. As much as the private sector extols the virtues of competition, in every well-functioning workplace collaboration and division of labor is the norm. When we are working toward a common goal, that is as it should be. Thus, the arts leaders of the 21st century will need to be ready to embrace coordination of efforts, willing to occasionally divest their ego from a program for the good of the field, and enthusiastic about learning from and teaching their peers in a variety of contexts.
  • Openness. One could write an equation based on the previous two concepts to the effect of “Transparency + Collaboration = Openness.” Openness is the state of mind, the work philosophy that results from adopting both a collaboration orientation and a commitment to transparency. When fully absorbed by the arts field, openness will have far-reaching implications for how individual organizations go about fulfilling their missions. At its most fundamental level, openness translates to letting people into your line of sight who would normally stay underneath the surface. It means accepting and seeking out conversations with total strangers who nevertheless share your interests (now easier than ever before thanks to blogs, Twitter, and other social media). It means considering how the work you’re doing intersects or parallels the work people like you are doing in seemingly unrelated fields, like education, communications, international aid, or urban agriculture. It means changing hiring practices and internal organization management to reflect the fact that people are multidimensional and that good ideas sometimes come from the least expected places. And most of all, it means opening up the important conversations and decisions about our future to everyone, not just the select few who have always had those conversations and have always made those decisions. Generational transfer is all well and good, but if the only result is fewer gray hairs and balding heads among the power elites of our field, we will have completely missed the point of our moment in history.
  • Adaptability. Finally, the reason we find ourselves where we are today is because things changed so fast and so completely in a single generation. If those two decades are any guide, the pace of change is not about to let up anytime soon. Who had heard of blogs ten years ago? Who had heard of Facebook seven years ago? Who had heard of YouTube five years ago? The arts leaders of the 21st century, above all, will need to be prepared for a bumpy ride and many twists and turns as they make their way forward. Strategic planning, formative evaluation techniques, and data analysis will play increasingly important roles as arts organization leaders learn not just whether their decisions are effective, but how to make effective decisions in such an environment. Those who are most adept at adaptation will, just like Darwin predicted, be best positioned to survive and thrive.
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Around the horn: John Paul Stevens edition

Everybody’s talking about unpaid internships. Scott led things off railing against the injustice, Isaac follows up with posts here and here basically agreeing, 99 says interns should just suck it up, Adam Thurman warns against the dangers of getting addicted to free labor, Guy offers a perspective from internships in the software industry (where my career started as well), and Milena Thomas cheerleads for the status quo.

Here are my thoughts, in brief. I think there are two separate issues going on here. First, we should make a distinction between internships and “working for free.” There is a name for working for free; it’s called volunteering. Volunteering is done with the understanding that the volunteer is doing it for the good of the cause; the volunteer’s reward is the good he or she is doing for the community or the world through his or her work. An internship, on the other hand, is explicitly supposed to be an educational experience. In this context, whether or not the internship is paid is of secondary importance; what really matters is the nature of the internship, and whether it really is educational or is just an excuse for the hiring organization to unload some undesirable tasks on an unwitting subject. Hence the government’s six rules to define what an internship is. As such, the real issue is truth in advertising; if the internship is unpaid, it only codifies the fact that the experience had better be valuable to the intern in other ways in order for it to qualify for the title of internship.

The second issue is what Scott talks about, the pernicious effects of a system in which working for free is required to get ahead. This runs much deeper than unpaid internships and touches on other issues like artistic entrepreneurship, competition entry fees, the concentration of grant funds among high-profile institutions, and much more. Internships do play a major role in the dysfunction of this system, and it is certainly a good thing to call out that role. At the same time, we also need to recognize that there are some fundamental supply and demand factors going on that will make fixing the relevant class inequities an uphill battle. It doesn’t mean the battle isn’t worth fighting (not at all!), just that we shouldn’t expect immediate success or easy answers.

There does seem to be some disagreement about whether organizations that hire interns can afford to pay them or not. My belief is that most of them can, but we probably won’t really know until it’s tested somehow, perhaps through the enforcement of existing legislation. However, if it turns out that both (a) it is a financial hardship for organizations to pay interns and (b) we believe internships are important for educational and career development, then the logical policy solution is to subsidize nonprofits so that they can pay their interns a living wage.

Anyway, in case you’re tired of talking about that, here’s what else has been going on lately:

  • This Tuesday is National Arts Advocacy Day. To celebrate, some folks from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design are trying to get the hashtag “#arts” as a trending topic on Twitter. So if you tweet, show your support on Tuesday by including #arts in some of your messages.
  • Janet Brown on general operating support in the arts.
  • Michael Kaiser on emerging leaders.
  • Seth Godin on why labor-intensive products like handmade goods can be the new conspicuous consumption. (I think he’s on to something – at any rate, some level of that probably needs to happen if the arts are to continue to thrive.)
  • Math is fun and can help explain why things are the way they are: exhibit A (the Drunkard’s Walk); exhibit B (the Levy flight).
  • Andrew Taylor is a BLOGGER ON FIRE. Here he is on the rise of the API (key observation: it’s “more evidence that hoarding, controlling, or constraining essential access to your organization is a strategic blunder”), the specter of more creators than consumers, and details about the new federal student loan forgiveness programs for the nonprofit sector (and by extension the arts).
  • Barry Hessenius has a great wrap-up of the just-concluded grantmaker-themed Emerging Leader Salon on ARTSBlog. Barry’s been a huge champion on this issue and I’m glad that his report and the topics it addressed are really starting to get some widespread attention.
  • On the other hand, Sean Stannard-Stockton explains why following is sometimes even more important than leading.
  • Richard Florida has yet another new paper, this one looking at how the regional distribution of social, cognitive and physical skills relates to regional prosperity. He delivered the keynote at the Creative Cities Lexington conference last week, and his new book hits the stores in a couple of weeks. Florida remains a polarizing figure; you can add this gajillion-word essay to the list of critiques his work has attracted.
  • Rocco scores yet another long profile in the New York Times. Apparently Our Town will be unveiled on Tuesday.
  • The Baltimore Sun has an interesting article about cultural districts in Charm City. Apparently of two designated such districts, only one has really flourished as promised. It raises the question, once again, of to what extent these things can really be planned, and what factors make a cultural agglomeration successful.
  • PhilanTopic points us to an interview with Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian in which he talks about Andrew Carnegie’s legacy. Carnegie’s an interesting guy – a lot both to love and hate there – and his orientation toward philanthropy is worth examination even today.
  • Brain Pickings has a retrospective on the WPA of the 1930s and mentions the federal arts programs contained within.
  • My hometown of Boston is so strapped for cash that it’s now asking the nonprofits for help. Awesome.
  • NewMusicBox/Counterstream Radio has an audio Spotlight Session with Createquity friend Ted Hearne, which includes a clip from the wonderful Katrina Ballads.
  • A new startup makes crowdsourced fundraising into a game.
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New Blogs!

The new arts policy or arts-policy-relevant blogs keep coming at a brisk clip. Meanwhile, in recent months, some of the sites I’ve previously highlighted have subsequently either moved or ceased to be:

  • Barry’s Arts Blog and Update, the home of Barry Hessenius’s invaluable weekly rants, is now known simply as Barry’s Blog and has a new URL and feed.
  • New Music Strategies, originally an e-book of sorts, has died and come back to life several times and most recently transformed into…well, I’m not sure what exactly, but they are telling us to stay tuned.
  • Mark Robinson’s engaging Arts Counselling blog appears to be no more now that its author has left his post at Arts Council England (sounds like he was laid off as a result of a restructuring, poor guy). If you’d like to keep following his exploits, he will be writing a blog for his consulting shop, Thinking Practice.
  • When Grantmakers in the Arts redesigned its website this past winter, that meant the integration of Janet Brown’s and Tommer Peterson’s blogs and new URLs and feeds for both. Janet’s blog is still called Better Together and you can subscribe to it here. Tommer’s blog is now simply called GIA News and the link to subscribe is here.
  • The ever-nomadic Scott Walters has abandoned the >100k Project site in favor of the CRADLE Arts blog (better known as Rocking the Cradle), whose feed is here. The sidebar has been updated accordingly.
  • Thanks to the magic of Google Reader, I found the link for Deceptively Simple’s feed (this is how I found Rocking the Cradle’s as well). If you’ve come across a blog you want to subscribe to but don’t see a link, just click “Add Subscription” in Google Reader and search on the name. Likely as not you’ll find it.
  • As it’s now been over a year since Paul Brest last posted at the Huffington Post, I think it’s safe to assume that that blog is not coming back anytime soon. Similarly, PhilanthroMedia ceased to exist last summer. I’ve removed both from the link list.

OK, and now for the new crop!

Actually Giving and Pam Klainer’s Day
Previously discussed here on Createquity, these two blogs are full of reflections on personal giving and generosity. Brigid Slipka, a fellow Yale SOM alum, writes about her journey to find the right reasons for altruism, typified most recently in her 40 Days of Giving generosity experiment. Pam Klainer, my aunt, writes what is really a personal journal that nevertheless contains many nuggets of wisdom on philanthropy, class, and cultural anthropology driven by her experiences in Panama. Both blogs are well-written and well worth the time.

The Communications Network blog
The aforementioned PhilanthroMedia’s Susan Herr has joined forces with the formidable Bruce Trachtenburg at this philanthropy consulting practice’s blog. The most recent piece, which discusses the political ramifications of three foundations’ very active role in reshaping an economically devastated city of Detroit, is a good example of why the blog is worth reading.

The Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship Blog
The Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship looks to be a relatively new organization that provides fellowships and training to entrepreneurs around the world for their creative entreprises. The blog feels like it is still finding its voice (the bloggers appear to be unrelated to each other except by common interest), but given the subject matter it may well be one to watch. What I’d love to see is some blog posts from the entrepreneurs themselves, perhaps translated if necessary.

Scott Walters is really blogging around these days. The verbally promiscuous and acronym-loving professor now writes at Theatre Ideas, CRADLE Arts, and has recently begun a new venture with fellow theater prof Tom Loughlin called Theatre Arts Curriculum Transformation (or TACT). Dedicated “to the assessment and re-imagining of theatre training and education at the college and university level,” TACT has already featured some great posts, like these two on why the current system for theater education stacks the deck in favor of children of economic privilege.


Boss : Emerging Leader :: Funder : Grantee (A Bullet-Point Manifesto)

(Note: here is my second cross-post from this week’s ARTSBlog Emerging Leader Salon. The last time I guest-blogged for Americans for the Arts, my inaugural foray into the bullet-point manifesto format became the most-viewed post on Createquity ever. Anyway, the salon is now over, but you should still check out all of the great posts!)

A boss is to an emerging leader as a funder is to a grantee.

  • Think about this: there is an inherently unequal power relationship between a boss and an employee.
    • A boss gets paid more.
    • A boss has greater autonomy to make decisions about how she does her job.
    • A boss has greater autonomy to decide what her job even is.
    • A boss can make decisions that affect not just her own work, but everyone else’s work too.
    • A boss is identified with her organization and therefore has greater visibility.
      • Meaning better connections and more opportunities to lead.
    • And most importantly…
      • The employee is to no small degree dependent on the boss for her ability to pay the bills.
  • But bosses know, and employees know, that a reliable emerging leader can be really valuable to an organization.
    • She performs mission-critical tasks that the boss doesn’t have time to do and handles routine communications that free up the boss to focus on the important contacts.
    • When people talk about “capacity-building” in organizations? Well, she’s the capacity!
    • And if she leaves, the boss will find herself in the position of having to find someone who can do that job just as well or better in a short period of time.
      • It’s a double-whammy: the boss doesn’t have time either for the job search or to cover for her ex-employee in the latter’s absence.
    • In short, despite having less power, the marginal impact of that employee on the success of the organization is huge.
  • Where have we heard this before? Let’s see:
    • A funder has the money; a grant applicant doesn’t. (And the funder’s employees usually get paid more.)
    • A funder, being accountable only to its board, often has near-total autonomy to make decisions about how it accomplishes its program objectives.
    • For the same reasons, a funder has greater autonomy to decide what its program objectives even are.
    • A funder can and does make decisions about its programs and strategies that affect not just its own work, but everyone else’s work too.
    • A funder is identified with the arts field and therefore has greater visibility and more meaningful opportunities to demonstrate leadership in the sector.
    • And most importantly: a grantee is to no small degree dependent on the funder for its ability to pay the bills.
  • But similarly, a “gold star” grantee is extremely valuable to a funder.
    • After all, funders are 501(c)(3) organizations too – they have a mission just like everyone else.
      • And they cannot accomplish that mission without their grantees.
    • The funder’s role is basically to outsource that mission to a portfolio of nonprofit organizations.
    • The funder should care about the grantee’s success or failure, because it is the funder’s success or failure as well.
  • The emerging leader “movement,” such as it is, is about investment in the future leaders of our sector.
    • We call for inclusion in discussions about the future of the organization and the future of the sector.
    • We call for skill development so that employees are not defined solely by their jobs.
    • We call for networking opportunities so that our own relationships can sustain the field when it is time for us to lead.
  • Why do we do this? It’s because our success is the field’s success. And often times, it’s also our bosses’ success.
  • The balance of power may be unequal on paper. But in the case of both bosses/emerging leaders and funders/grantees, the best outcomes are to be achieved by treating it as equal in practice – and recognizing the relationship for what it truly is: a partnership toward a common future.
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This Is How You Do It: Leading Through Changing Incentives

(This week I’m guest blogging for an Americans for the Arts blog salon on “New Strategies to Support Emerging Leaders.” The discussion is prompted by the joint effort to support grassroots emerging leader networks by the Hewlett and Irvine Foundations and invites a consideration of what role funders have to play in the coming leadership transition. Here’s my first post on the topic, from Monday. Be sure to catch the rest of the conversation over at ARTSBlog.)

In October 2009, I attended a panel put together by the Hewlett Foundation’s Marc Vogl at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference on new models and emerging leaders in the arts. Afterwards, Marc offered to send me, like everyone else who attended the panel, a copy of the Focus Group on Next Generation Leadership report by Barry Hessenius. The report is wonderful (disclosure: I participated in one of said focus groups during my internship at Hewlett in summer 2008), but since I had already read it, my attention was drawn instead to something else Marc included in the package: an excerpt from the most recent application for funding from the Hewlett Foundation that specifically asks grantseekers to address emerging leader issues.

For context, everyone should understand that Hewlett is a major funder of the performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nearly every player in the region either receives grants from Hewlett or aspires to. So the Performing Arts Program team’s decision to put this in the application means that a lot of people will be filling it out. And just what questions will they be answering? Well, here’s a sample:

Have you provided formal feedback about job performance to all of your employees in the last 12 months (for example, through performance evaluations, a discussion on meeting job expectations, etc.)?

Which of the following work-related events do staff members OTHER THAN the executive director and top management participate in? [Choices include staff meetings, board meetings, strategic planning, and team volunteer activities]

In your annual budget, do you have a line item (or specific expense allocation) dedicated to professional development activities?

Another question asks about specific professional development opportunities provided to staff, making a distinction between top management and employees other than top management.

These are not difficult questions to answer. Most simply require a yes or a no, or perhaps checking a few boxes. If the person filling it out has any idea what his or her coworkers are up to, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete the survey. But by requiring this information, Hewlett sets expectations around what leadership development and staff support means in practice, and communicates that organizations may be judged on how they meet those expectations. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how a funder shows leadership.

And just to prove that this is not a one-sided conversation, the Hewlett application includes two additional, optional questions at the end. These are my favorites, because they ask grantseekers, openly and honestly, for advice on how Hewlett can use its resources to make accomplishing these goals easier. The first question is,

In what ways could the Hewlett Foundation and other grantmaking foundations support arts organizations’ efforts to encourage positive work dynamics?

And the second one reads,

What types of resources can be provided to your organization’s senior staff and leadership to improve communications, collaboration, and teamwork among people of different generations on your staff? (If you don’t perceive any need for improvement in this area please tell us why the intergenerational dynamics in your workplace are successful).

A central plank of the emerging leader platform, I think, is that good ideas can come from seemingly unexpected places. It’s great to see a funder tap grant applicants - not just grantees – for those ideas.

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