“And the beat goes on……………………………………..”
As I have said before, this is, I believe, important because these people largely determine how the debates in our sector are framed and what the agendas will be. They are the people who control much, if not most of the money, and decide where the funding goes (at least in broad swatches), what issues should be on the front burner, and what we talk about when we meet. They influence our goals and objectives, our priorities and the positions we take – and even the way we do things. They can ‘green light’ new programs and projects and are chiefly responsible for prioritizing which challenges we address. In large part, they are our most experienced and knowledgeable people – our best thinkers, and established power brokers. I think it of value to know who we think these people are. Like every other field or profession, there are those in the nonprofit arts who are powerful and influential. To pretend that any world (ours included) is not stratified, tiered, territorial and subject to politics and disproportionately controlled by an oligarchy at the top is naïve. I believe the people who work in our field are passionate and motivated and seek the higher good, but I also recognize that they are human beings, and that our field isn’t some separate and perfect world – and that power and influence are tangible currency – sometimes spent wisely, other times needlessly squandered.
Each nominee was expected to have the capacity to exert influence in, and on, our field (either as a whole or on some distinct section therein) – how we arrive at policy, what agendas are set, who is considered an expert or not, what research is important, where money is spent, how we fundraise and market, etc. etc. etc. Some nominees may be universally highly respected, others may have more than their share of detractors – the criterion is power and influence – not popularity – or even necessarily accomplishment (though I think all of these people have considerable accomplishments to their credit). Inclusion on the list isn’t to imply these leaders have smooth sailing even within their spheres of influence. This really wasn’t a beauty contest. Nominators might strongly disagree with someone on issues and even dislike them, but still recognize that the person is powerful and influential.
Leaders come and go, move from one post to another and their fortunes and the fortunes of the organizations they lead change from year to year, as do both the circumstances in which they operate and their own level of activity and involvement. Thus some leaders included on this list one year, may not be on the radar screen of my nominators the next year. Some move up in the rankings, while others fall down or off the list. Admittedly this is but a subjective exercise, and this ranking is but a limited snapshot in time. As such this list is, of course, incomplete and flawed. It is just an attempt to identify those perceived as being powerful and influential within our small world. Doubtless a different group of nominators may have come up with a different list – though I believe this grouping is likely as representative as you can get. No insult is meant to anyone whose name is not on the list, and I am sure there are many people whose names should be on the list. While I personally agree with most of the final selections, as in prior years there are some I find very surprising. I am also confused by the omission of others that I would have thought would have been consensus inclusions. And while there are many repeats from previous lists, there are also many new names this year.
Donna Collins - Ohio Citizens for the Arts