Sunday, August 26, 2012

2012 Fifty Most Powerful and Influential People in the Nonprofit Arts

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on..............................."


NOTE:  CORRECTION
I incorrectly list Sarah Cunningham as still the Director of Arts Education for the National Endowment.   Sarah has moved on to the post of Executive Director of Research at Virginia Commonwealth University.  She is currently co-chairing the California State Superintendent's task force CA. Create:  Blueprint for Creative Schools, as well as involved in international cultural projects in Qatar and Europe.  While this list is assembled over a period of months, and I try to fact check on the information, this is really inexcusable on my part and I am embarrassed.  I apologize to Sarah, and I also apologize to the new Director of Arts Education at the Endowment, Ayanna Hudson (who comes from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission). To both,  I am very sorry for the error.


This is the fifth annual Barry’s Blog listing of the Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts.  It has become far and away the most popular of my postings (last year it attracted 5,000 page hits in addition to the subscriber base circulation).

Each year I ask leaders from all parts of our sector and all parts of the country to send me their nominations for the most powerful and influential leaders in our field.  The process is anonymous and none of the nominators know the identity of any of the other nominators.   At least 50% of the nominators in a given year are different from the previous year.  All were free to nominate anyone they thought qualified, including themselves - the only caveat being that this was about arts administration and organizational leadership, and so I asked that we leave artists off this list (that’s a whole other listing).

Neither I, nor any employee at WESTAF, (which distributes this blog, but in no way has any part whatsoever as the author or originator of this list) was eligible for inclusion on the list.

This year there are a couple of changes in the format.  First, this year’s list includes 50 people.  And rather than do a rigid ranking (in past years the list has been a ranking of 1 - 25 -- including -- in the past couple of years -- multiple people under some of the numbers - thus including more than 25 people on the list), this year I group those on the list in broad categories - (e.g., National Leaders, Foundation Leaders, Policy Wonks, Arts Education, Bloggers, Researchers etc.), but no longer numerically rank those on the list.  As an experiment this year, I do single out one person in each category whose name came up more often than others, and I have invited individual leaders in the field who are familiar with that person to write a brief, personal, homage citing some of the reasons that person may have power and influence.  (I would like to thank each of those who contributed a thumbnail piece on the featured leader in each category).  The descriptions of everyone else were cobbled together based on comments and insights from nominators and others around the sector, with editorial license.

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 drive our discussions of policy, and they are the people who control much, if not most of the money, and decide where the funding goes (at least in broad swatches).  They influence what issues should be on the front burner, and what we talk about when we meet. They define 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. Some of them represent specific segments within our larger community; others have at-large platforms. They have varied, substantial, and sometimes eclectic resumes and experience.  Some have served in the field for a long time; others are newer to our ranks.

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 na├»ve.  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.

Power is defined as “the capability of doing or accomplishing something; the possession of control or command over others; authority.”  Influence is defined as “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others”.  Thus this list does not purport to measure impact, creativity, accomplishment or lasting effect – but rather who has the ability and capacity to get things done and move others to get things done – and in this case on a large stage -  or (perhaps even more importantly) who is perceived as having that ability, for the perception itself confers a degree of power and influence.  It isn’t meant to be a popularity contest.  Indeed, some of those on the list are perhaps not universally loved - but they do have power and / or exercise influence.  Neither does this list attempt to measure or evaluate anyone’s job performance or skill sets.

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 leaders are active one year, quiet the next.  Admittedly this is but a subjective exercise and the selections are arbitrary. As such this list is, of course, incomplete and flawed.   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 surprising. I am also confused by the omission of others that I would have thought would have been consensus inclusions. Particularly surprising (and puzzling) to me this year is the absence of any advocacy leaders on the list.  Some may argue that the categories included are incomplete; that some categories should include more people, others fewer.  People may agree with the names on this list or disagree.  It is merely a “snapshot’ in time of our leadership.


There are, of course, countless unsung, brilliant leaders in our field – whose exemplary accomplishments and contributions are known to but a small circle and whose reputations are thus not yet widely established.  That they did not make this list in no way diminishes their contributions; rather it is more likely an indication that they are not yet, for whatever reason, perceived as having as much power and influence as others in our field.  Doubtless the profile of many of these leaders will rise over time.  Others may move on.  This list includes principally individuals who operate on a national stage, and most have long term tenures in the field and years of experience.  But even though only five years old, the list has changed over time, and will, I suspect, continue to morph in the future.

NOTE: #1:  I am abandoning the practice of years past when I took the liberty to acknowledge some people not on the list that I, personally, thought might have been included, as that seems a little presumptive on my part.  There are more people every year who I think do such wonderful work that they ought to be somehow acknowledged - too many now for me to include.

NOTE #2:  Last year I mentioned that I was working on a companion project -- a mechanism to recognize those individuals who are gaining increasing respect from their peers in the field and who are thought to be the future of the nonprofit arts, but who may not yet have achieved the requisite status as powerful or influential this list purports to embody   It’s not another list, but a way, I think, to give this upcoming cohort a platform and some recognition.  I meant to announce it last winter, but you know how the best of intentions often go awry.  I will announce it next month.

For all those on the list, congratulations.  You deserve the recognition.  I wish this came with a trophy, or a cash prize or some dinner in a big city to publicly laud your achievements, but I am, alas, just a poor portfolio boy without the means or platform to enact such luxuries.

And finally:   Don’t shoot me.  I’m just the messenger.

Don’t Quit.
Barry

HERE THEN IS THE 2012 LIST:

NATIONAL LEADERS:

Rocco Landesman - Chair, National Endowment for the Arts
“Rocco Landesman has changed the game. Previously, the field wrung their hands about whether the NEA budget allocation went up or down by $5 million, despite the fact that that sum, while symbolic, was not material to funding the arts in America. Rocco decided to stop worrying about how big a slice of that existing pie the NEA received and decided to bake a much larger pie!  His work creating artplace, aligning other federal agencies with the arts, and creating OurTown has revitalized the NEA.  He has reframed the arts as an economic contributor with his Artworks programs.”
Dennis Scholl
Vice President/Arts, Knight Foundation

Bob Lynch - President and CEO, Americans for the Arts
The Endowment may be the one organization in our field that qualifies as “Too big to fail.” Americans for the Arts is literally “Too important to fail.”  Lynch has built an extraordinary empire that has its tentacles into every corner of the sector, and which serves the field well.  If there were no AFTA, a score of new organizations would have to be invented just to do some of what they do.  He is the field’s tireless, perpetual (and gifted) public spokesman.  If there were a Nonprofit Arts Hall of Fame he would be elected to the inaugural class on the first ballot.  Named to this year's Nonprofit Times Power and Influence Top 50 list (first, and only arts person included).

Janet Brown - Executive Director, Grantmakers in the Arts
Janet has reinvented the arts foundation collective paradigm, and is leading the philanthropic community into heretofore uncharted leadership, collaboration and risk taking in the arts.  Smart, savvy, visionary -- with her head in the clouds and her feet planted firmly on the ground -- she has made GIA one of the most important institutions in the field in just three years.

Joan Shikegawa - Senior Deputy Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
There are few people in the nonprofit arts field with more experience than Joan.  Formerly with the Rockefeller and Nathan Cummings Foundations and Board Member of GIA, she worked with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Council on Foundations.  In reality she has been a partner with Rocco in the Endowment’s most impressive initiative launches, and she is the one who implements ideas and makes them reality.  Her no nonsense approach and command of both the big picture and the details have helped her to be one the behind the scenes real movers and shakers in the industry.

Adam Huttler - Executive Director, Fractured Atlas
Adam continues to redefine service to the arts and artists as Fractured Atlas continues its growth and expansion.  The unexcelled champion of new approaches and questioning what isn’t working, he has legions of fans and supporters - from long time establishment types to millennials new to their jobs.

Mario Garcia Durham - Executive Director, Association of Performing Arts Presenters
Mario has brought new stability to the organization and begun to fashion new collaborative efforts and a more powerful collective voice to the presenting sub-sector of the nonprofit arts universe.

NATIONAL MULTICULTURAL LEADERS:

Aaron Dworkin - Founder / President,  SPHINK Organization
“How do you convey the energy, passion, drive, talent and staying power of an arts leader like Aaron Dworkin?   Violinist, poet, social entrepreneur, community builder, global cultural warrior – he’s is the founder, President of and inspiration behind the Sphinx Organization.  Aaron Dworkin lives and breathes the Sphinx mission – to transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts.   It all began 16 years ago when Aaron, whose love of and devotion to classical music began at a very young age, took up the challenge of addressing the lack of diversity in the audiences and on the stages where classical music was performed.  15 Sphinx competitions, a successful international youth education and touring program and many accolades later, this MacArthur Genius Award winner continues to knock down barriers, advocate the embrace of change and blaze a path for young people to reach their potential.   His inspired and visionary approach has transformed thinking about and shaped the future for the arts and young people everywhere.”
Sandra Gibson,
 Independent Consultant
Cora Mirikitani - Executive Director, Center for Cultural Innovation
Former program director at the Irvine Foundation, she has been at the forefront of providing direct services for artists for years now, and nobody knows more about the issues in that arena than she does.  Very smart and effective ombudsman for the interests of working artists, who knows how to make things happen without a lot of fanfare.

Maria Lopez De Leon - Executive Director, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture
Long time head of NALAC, with community grassroots organizing experience, and nominated this year by President Obama to a seat on the National Arts Council overseeing the NEA.  Her influence will continue to rise as the demographics of the country and the sector change.

STATE LEADERS:

Arni Fishbaugh - Executive Director, Montana Arts Council
“Executive director of the Montana Arts Council, Arlynn Fishbaugh has a "someone's doing it, why not us?" attitude that drives innovative programming for Montana.  Arni's leadership exemplifies the passion she has for the people of her home state with their beautiful western culture and the savvy of a respected arts leader who understands how national opportunities and trends can benefit her constituents. She successfully combines strategic thinking with natural collaborative instincts. Arni does this all with grace and charm, gently bringing legislators, governors, artists, council members and the general public along for a successful ride. She is currently chair of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and serves on the Grantmakers in the Arts board of directors.  She was a past board member of the Association of Arts Presenters and WESTAF.”
Janet Brown
Executive Director, Grantmakers in the Arts

Anita Walker - Executive Director, Massachusetts Cultural Council
Initiatives like the Cultural Facilities Fund and a re-tooled program to partner with local arts organizations, plus arts education programs like the Creative Minds Initiative and the joint Bank of America Big Yellow School Bus program have helped to solidify her influence in the northeast.


CITY LEADERS:

Scott Provancher - President, Arts and Science Council - Charlotte, NC
“Scott Provancher is a path maker and front-runner.  In 2009 when Scott arrived in Charlotte, arts giving patterns had already started to shift away from united appeals.  Then came the economic downturn... Undaunted, Scott focused energy on creating innovative giving systems that would lure back previous donors and attract new ones.  He has challenged the cultural sector to think differently about sustainability while also ensuring offerings remain accessible to the community.  Power2Give (an online giving platform already adopted by other cities and states) and a new 100+million recapitalization fund are just two examples – among many – of Provancher/ASC  ingenuity that are making Charlotte one of the growing arts and culture cities in America.  Scott thrives on finding the innovative, long-term solution, AND he is a wonderful combination of brilliant, hard-driving, and kind.”
Diane Matarazza
 Independent Consultant 
Laura Zucker - Executive Director, Los Angeles County Arts Commission
The penultimate local arts agency leader - tough, smart, able to juggle complex multiple tasks (from her Claremont College Arts Administration program to one of the country’s largest local arts agencies, to her continued work with the Los Angeles schools) and she handles it all with consummate professionalism.  She simply knows how to make things work and she’s makes it all look easy.  Widely respected for running a model agency.

Gary Steuer - Chief Cultural Officer, City of Philadelphia
He has successfully managed more game changing initiatives over the past few years (Business and the Arts pre-AFTA take-over, and the national Arts Marketing Project to name but two) than most organization leaders can claim as lifetime accomplishments.  A thinking man’s arts leader with ideas that work.  Big player on the powerful Philadelphia arts scene, with an ever widening national network.

Michelle Boone - Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
Stepping into the shoes vacated by the legendary Lois Weisberg is no easy task, but using her skills as a collaborator she is moving to re-establish the city as a leader in the arts. With a huge network of contacts and fans from her days at the Joyce Foundation, she is bringing new energy and vitality to Chicago by facing foursquare the job of making the alignment between the departments of cultural affairs and the former Mayor’s special events wings work. Named to Chicago Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful list this month.

Roberto Bedoya - Executive Director, Tucson Pima Arts Council
Despite the Herculean challenges of running a mid-sized city agency in cash-strapped Arizona, Bedoya continues to manage to thrive.  Oft sought out as a Latino leader with a national audience and a well earned reputation as a no-nonsense advocate for equity in the arts, he continues to be in demand as a speaker, panelist, advocate and advisor.

Kate Levin - Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs New York City
Harvard and Berkeley educated, former academician, she is the widely respected face of arts in New York.  She combines elan, grace under fire and a command of the intricacies of the arts (and politics) in Manhattan to navigate the oft times treacherous minefield that the Big Apple can be - and she does it very, very effectively.

RESEARCHERS:

Alan Brown -   Principal, Wolf, Brown
“Alan Brown is one of the leading arts consultants in the United States.   He works on significant projects in the performing arts on behalf of foundations, service organizations and major performing arts organizations ranging from symphony orchestras to presenters to dance companies here and internationally.  Alan and his research cohorts at Wolf Brown specialize in the quantitative assessment realm and through that have made a spectacular contribution to the field.  But beyond this specialization, Alan has carved out a niche that requires much more than an MBA and a good set of quantitative tools.  Alan's frameworks and typologies show a deep understanding of the cultural sector and audiences, that is unmatched.  In our work together on the typologies of arts donors the Wolf Brown team created characterizations of arts donors and participants that are nuanced and insightful, and have resonated with countless arts leaders.
At times Alan's research is ahead of the field.  Arts organizations might not want to hear how much the participant wants to be the center of the performance.  And Alan knows both sides of this quandary, and can also ask the questions about virtuosity.  He has been there.  Alan was at one time a vocal performer and a presenter.  He contributes greatly to our field through his ardent pursuit of marketing trends and data.  Most of all Alan pushes our analysis one step further at each turn.  A consummate professional he is a pleasure to call a colleague.”
Marcy Hinand 
 Principal, Helicon Collaborative
Randy Cohen - Vice-President, Research and Policy, Americans for the Arts
The king of economic raw data collection - increasingly on the road with an ever widening sphere of influence and network of friends and supporters.  Tireless and compelling speaker and defender of the arts.  He is increasingly recognized for his ability to see where things are headed and what opportunities are opening up for the field.  If case making has a point man, he's it.

Sunil Iyengar - Director, Office of Research and Analysis, National Endowment for the Arts
Since his arrival at the NEA in 2006, he has re-defined and invigorated the agency’s research efforts.  A former reporter and editor, with an investigative journalist’s soul, the Endowment has produced over 20 research publications under his tenure, and, more importantly, begun to fund independent research done by credible third party institutions.  After years of predictable and limited focus on all the questions attendant to arts research, the nascent arts data collection and research industry is getting a big boost under his stewardship as he helps to fashion a new and expanded era in arts research and analysis.


CONSULTANTS:

Holly Sidford - Principal, Helicon Collaborative  Adam Huttler
“Holly Sidford’s impact on our field can hardly be overstated. Over the past three decades, she has directed the arts programs of several national and regional funders, created a major arts service initiative (LINC), and is today one of the most sought-after consultants in the sector. Last year, she produced “Fusing Art, Culture, and Social Change,” a groundbreaking study that confronted arts funders with evidence that their grantmaking was drastically out of step with larger patterns of cultural participation and demographic change. Few are as willing to speak truth to power, but Holly’s sometimes brutal honesty is matched by her keen intelligence and intimidating track record, making her impossible to ignore.”
Adam Huttler 
 Executive Director, Fractured Atlas
Russell Willis Taylor  - President and CEO, National Arts Strategies
Under Taylor’s leadership, NAS has developed and manages some of the most heralded and far reaching leadership initiatives in the industry.  Just when she seems to be winding down, NAS comes up with another exemplary and acclaimed project that vaults them back into the limelight.  NAS denies it is a consulting service, and only “works with funders to create custom leadership programs for states and large cities; with service organizations to create custom programs for their memberships; and with large cultural institutions to create custom programs for an institution.”   As such it one of the most highly successful consultants to the field.

DISCIPLINE ORGANIZATION LEADERS:

DANCE - Trey McIntyre / John Michael Schert - Artistic Director / Executive Director, Trey McIntyre Project
“John Michael is a gifted and talented principal ballet dancer, who also happens to be an extraordinary administrator in partnership with Trey McIntyre.  Together they have given example to how to build a strong, effective organization in a venue other than a major urban area, and in the process have redefined how to fundraise, market, develop a brand, and most importantly work with a local community.  That John Michael can juggle both the demands of being an artist and those of being an administrator is nothing short of amazing - and when and if he decides to pursue full bore the administrator role, he will be in great demand across the sector.  He has made the Trey McIntyre dance project the posterboy of successful community involvement.  Able to put the same focus into arts management as he does with dance, Schert is a very dedicated, driven and smart individual with a big future in the world of dance organizations and the wider arts field.”
Barry Hessenius 

MUSIC - Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras
Mr. Rosen has made the League one of the stand out national arts service provider organizations and fashioned it to be involved in all aspects of support for its members.  Not the easiest group in the sector to bring together on either theory or practice, his 2011national conference speech to the League was a brutally honest assessment that won him respect from even his detractors - and it also won him attention from beyond the orchestra sub-set.

MUSEUMS - Nina Simon - Executive Director, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
Nina is heralded across the country for her innovative museum management style and collaborative community outreach efforts. Author of The Participatory Museum, and her widely read and influential blog Museum 2.0, she has brought financial stability and public interest to the Santa Cruz Museum of Arts and History, and won high praise across the sector for her calculated risk taking to make the museum more responsive to and part of the local community, and for pioneering ways to make cultural institutions more relevant and essential.  One of the future leaders in the field to watch.

THEATER - Clay Lord - Director of Communications and Audience Development,  Theatre Bay Area.
Theatre Bay Area is a model service provider organization in the greater San Francisco area with comprehensive programs and a wide variety of services to its members.  Clay gained considerable attention this year with the release of his edited compilation work Counting New Beans - a report on two years of intrinsic impact research, including essays and interviews with a host of theatre practitioners - examining the ways theatre artists, administrators, patrons, and funders value and evaluate the art they make and consume. His blog New Beans is gaining audience and acclaim.

BLOGGERS:

Ian David Moss - Createquity
“Since 2007, Ian David Moss has applied a thorough and lively intelligence to arts blogging, not so much occupying a niche as creating one. Ian is thoughtful and unafraid to ask questions. He brings wide-ranging data to bear on critical questions facing artists and arts organizations, sharing insights from philanthropy, economics, and other realms often sequestered from the arts. Articulate, erudite, reflective—I could easily fill my word-quota with synonyms for "good" without ever resorting to hyperbole.
Ian and I often disagree. I challenge him for believing so deeply in the value of quantification, and he challenges me for undervaluing it. That never stops me from finding his work deeply interesting and useful. Congratulations, Ian! Long may you blog!”
Arlene Goldbard 
 Arlene’s Blog
Diane Ragsdale - Jumper
Former program staffer at the Andrew Mellon Foundation, current Ph.d candidate, her blog Jumper is one of the most widely read and respected blogs in the field. Championing the artist and the role of the arts organization to support the artist, she asks the tough questions and is not easily intimidated or turned off by those who pretend to know more, but really know far less about the issues than she does.  Smart and thoughtful, she makes people think.  Whether or not she is comfortable with the designation, she is influential and powerful.  Like others in the blogger category she is pushing the envelope in pursuit of national arts policies.

Arlene Goldbard - Arlene’s Blog
The conscience of the blogging field, Arlene wears her heart on her sleeve and that endears her to her legions of fans across the sector.  No one is more passionate, more informed and more willing to take on the windmills than she is.  A beautiful writer she is in great demand as a speaker and consultant.

James Undercofler - State of the Art
Professor of Arts Administration in the Arts and Entertainment Enterprise Department of Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design.  Former President and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Dean and Professor of Music Education at the Eastman School of Music, Executive and Founding Director of the Perpich Center for Arts Education (formerly known as the Minnesota Center for Arts Education) and Director of the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut (whew!  his resume alone is impressive).   Undercofler is the erudite, intelligent champion of the burgeoning field of entrepreneurism and the nonprofit arts.  His thoughts and analysis on arts administration are incredibly keen and insightful, and he has the ability to take complex issues and make them easily understandable.

Doug McClennan - Editor, Arts Journal
Arts Journal is simply THE most important compendium of arts related media coverage available anywhere in the field.  Doug is one of those universally liked and respected people whose only real axe to grind is that he wants Arts Journal to be the most it can be for the field.  It is no accident AJ is home to many of the most widely read blogs in the industry.  The go to website for arts coverage, and no one knows that field better than he does.

Thomas Cott -  You’ve Cott Mail
Director of Marketing at the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.  Like McClennan, Cott is a curator of arts coverage.  His forte is organizing current coverage on specific themes and his blog is widely read because of the convenience it provides in amassing various perspectives on important issues.  Cott does the work for us, and when he picks a topic people take note of, and focus on, what he has gathered.  More influential in determining people’s thinking than he might imagine.


ARTS EDUCATION:

Sandra  Ruppert - Director, Arts Education Partnership
“Since her appointment to the Director position at the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) in 2008, Sandra has overseen, among other things, a major organizational strategic planning process and the development and launch of ArtsEdSearch, the first research and policy clearinghouse focused entirely on student and educator outcomes associated with in-school and out-of-school arts education.  She brings a clear and practical eye to the organization’s mission to secure a high-quality arts education for every young person in America and has a knack for building partnerships across key sectors to address the overarching issues facing the provision of accessible and equitable arts education.  She does so with a sense of humor, a keen understanding of the field, and a steady hand.” 
Julie Fry
 Program Officer, Performing Arts Program, Hewlett Foundation
Arnie Aprill - Founding and Creative Director, Chicago Arts Partnership in Education.
Aprill comes from a background in professional theater as an award-winning director, producer and playwright. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia College, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Add Fulbright Scholar to the list.  Increasingly recognized as a creative force in the arts education field, and one of its truly effective public speakers and advocates.  On the rise.

Julie Fry - Program Officer, Performing Arts Program, Hewlett Foundation
While she oversees and directs a mixed portfolio of grant making at Hewlett, her focus is on Arts Education, and she has become one of the most knowledgable people in the sector on the issues attendant to all the challenges.  Sought out for her advice and counsel, she is a frequent co-host, collaborator, panelist, speaker and convener.  Highly respected for her insights and attention to detail.

Eric Booth - Actor, businessman, author, teacher, expert, speaker, consultant.
Simply one of the best thinkers in the entire field on arts education. When he talks, people listen.  His analysis carries weight with decision makers, public officials and the media. He is particularly influential in the Orchestra world.

Sir Ken Robinson - Author, lecturer
Widely known and familiar to the mainstream, he continues to be arts education’s most public champion.  His 2006 speech: “Why Schools Kill Creativity” is the most watched TED Talk of all time, and has been seen on the internet an estimated 30 million times.  A frequent speaker at conferences across the globe, he is often quoted and is as responsible as Richard Florida for valuing creativity for the future.

Sarah Cunningham
With a strong academic background, and by virtue of her status as the point person at the Endowment for Arts Education and Literature she is at the center of all the efforts across the country in the arts education arena.


FOUNDATIONS:

Regina Smith - Senior Program Officer, Arts and Culture, The Kresge Foundation
“Regina manages a national portfolio of arts and culture grantees, and she was influential in expanding Kresge Foundation’s funding strategies to focus on institutional capitalization, arts and community building, and artists’ skills and resources. In addition, she has served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Grantmakers in the Arts since 2010 where she has prioritized national conversations on capitalization and financial health, social justice and equity, arts education, and arts and aging. A thoughtful and experienced leader, Regina has worked in the arts field for more than two decades at a variety of arts organizations and funding agencies.” 
John McGuirk
 Program Director, Performing Arts Program, Hewlett Foundation
Dennis Scholl - Vice President Arts - The Knight Foundation
Collector, Philanthropist, Emmy winning documentarian, Harvard fellow, Scholl is responsible for some of the funding world’s best known and loved out-of-the-box projects including Random Acts of Culture.  He is comfortable with risk taking to a degree most are not and he understands the importance of moving towards new ways of addressing old problems.   His eight city core funding community gives him local clout and national perspective, and his close working ties with Rocco at the Endowment have increased his visibility beyond the arts.

Ben Cameron - Program Director, Arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundations
To call Ben articulate and well spoken is to understate considerably his oratory skills.  Somewhere there is a law that says if you want to get the best keynoter for your conference or the best writer for the introduction to your book - call Cameron.  But his public speaking talents often overshadow his considerable skills in the design of innovative and effective programs to move the field forward, and his real contributions lie in his recognition and support for some extraordinary programs - from the Emc Arts Innovation Lab, to his work in supporting jazz, dance, theater and multidisciplinary projects.

John McGuirk - Program Director, Performing Arts Program, Hewlett Foundation
The Hewlett program is now his and his imprint is all over their revamped goals, objectives, strategies and direction.  He is simply the most powerful funder not just in California, but on the west coast.  His GIA Board seat is but one of the means for his expanding influence across the sector.

Olive Mosier  - Director, Arts and Culture, William Penn Foundation
Active with GIA, involved in the design of the Pew Cultural Data Project, on Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s Cultural Advisory Council and with Penn for over a decade, she is one of the sector’s most senior leaders.  Though Penn theoretically eschews national arts funding projects, with a major increase in the foundation’s assets and a new strategy emphasizing marrying data with street smarts, the projects Penn funds have national application and impact and other funders look to what she is doing.

Justin Laing - Program Officer, Arts and Culture, The Heinz Endowments
Laing’s area of expertise is small to mid-sized arts organizations and in culturally responsive arts education, but where he is gaining influence and cachet is in carving out for himself expertise and ideas in the equity and social justice areas of arts funding and support. GIA Board member, with growing capital.

POLICY WONKS:

Steven Tepper - Associate Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy / Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University.
“The number of cultural policy experts in the United States has never been large, and over the years that field has drawn heavily on the academic world for leadership. Steven Tepper is one of our leading cultural policy experts from the world of academe. Steven, who holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University, has the formal education needed to underpin his work, and a strong track record of highly credible research. In a world flooded with research driven too much by advocacy and not enough by accuracy, Steven and his writing are influential because his work is both timely and excellent. In addition to his research and teaching, Steven has also served as a consultant to arts administration practitioners. That endeavor, combined with his exemplary research, make him a person of considerable influence in our field.”  
Anthony Radich
 Executive Director, WESTAF
Maria Rosario Jackson - Director of Culture, Creativity, and Communities Program, Urban Institute
One of the key thinkers in the area of arts and community and probably an unintentional and unheralded silent author of the concept and design of the whole arts placemaking theory.   She is smart and people know it.

Adrian Ellis  - Director of AEA Consulting.
Previously Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, foundation head, Oxford lecturer, and conference organizer, Ellis is one of the go-to policy wonks in the sector with a global perspective.  Highly respected and sought out.

Barbara Schaffer Bacon - Co-Director, Animating Democracy, Americans for the Arts
Prior to her stint at the Ford Foundation funded Animating Democracy project, she served as executive director of the Arts Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts (one of the original arts training programs in the field).  If the arts actually had its own Think Tank, she would be a charter member.

Ann Markusen  - Markusen Economic Research Services  /  Anne Gadwa  Metris Arts Consulting
Markusen’s resume is an astounding list of positions at some of the most prestigious universities in the country.  Expert in economic, planning and research. She is one of the most highly regarded academicians in the field.  Her list of publications is too long to begin to list.
Anne Gadwa Nicodemus - Markusen’s frequent collaborator - is a dancer / art administrator turned planner.  Together they are the architects of the Placemaking program of the Endowment; powerful and influential imagineers of the future and they are adroit at selling their visions.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Setting" as a variable in the greater arts debates.

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on....................."

On the heel of last month's release of Set In Stone / Buidling America's New Generation of Arts Facilities - a massive study from the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, comes a new report -  All the World's A Stage - Venues and Settings, and the Role they Play in Shaping Pattens of Arts Participation -  authored by Alan Brown - an excellent beginning analysis and discussion of the role of "setting" in attracting audiences and how artists work.

Set In Stone indirectly called into question the wisdom of the boom in cultural facilities building of the past decade ("The supply of cultural facilities may have exceeded the demand for them"), and alluded to issues of having directed so much funding into a significant uptake in building more facilities.

The underlying question is:   If you built it, will they (still) come?

And the answer is anything but simple, or even yet established.

Alan Brown's Abstract begins this serious discussion of "setting" (where art is staged, performed, seen and accessed) and the increase in the importance consumers are attaching to it.
"Among the subtlest but most important shifts in patterns of cultural participation is the increased importance and meaning that consumers attach to the settings in which they engage in creative activities. Future generations will not ascribe the same importance to permanent venues with fixed seating and fixed staging.  In order to remain relevant, arts presenters and producers must radically re-conceptualize the relationships between their programs and their spaces in order to reach younger and more diverse audiences."
Alan's report embodies several important themes that have been at the center of recent separate discussion threads going on elsewhere in our sector.  These issues are core to much of the decision making we will need to undergo in the near term on a whole host of issues :

First, DEMOCRATIZING CULTURE:   As Alan suggests:
"First-class, purpose-built arts venues tend to be found in larger cities and towns with a strong philanthropic base. As the American population continues to diversify both ethnically and geographically, an inevitable shift in policy towards “democratizing culture” will almost certainly result in a re-allocation of resources to organizations, programs, and venues outside of the major cultural center"
Thought provoking reports tend to raise as many questions as they answer.  And this is no exception.  One question then is to what extent those demographic changes and that reallocation of resources will change the facilities landscape - both that which exists and that which we might build for the future. Would an ethnic power shift result in favoring differing kinds of settings for the arts - ones less euro-centric?  What would be the impact of that kind of change on the existing urban / suburban facilities infrastructure in terms of demand and patronage?  What are the new kinds of "facilities" that might emerge as options in response to wholesale kinds of changes that such democratization might create?  How do we go about trying to envision what those options might look like?  What kinds of research would be informative in such an inquiry?

What about geographic movements in sub-populations and potential future migration patterns - both those brought about by opportunity (jobs, housing, education) and those dictated by circumstances beyond one's control (weather etc.)?  As population shifts respond to job and housing markets, income fluctuations, education opportunities, urban flight and embrace, and the vagaries of time, work and life demands and pressures - "setting" becomes a function of what works for various sub strata populations in practical terms (or more likely, what is even "possible").  In that sense, the arts as housed in fixed facilities, may become less, not more, accessible.  As Alan intimates, that may work against the fixed place facility.  Indeed, he postulates - correctly I think - that:
"The larger problem with the infrastructure of arts facilities is that it is fixed and slow to change, while culture is changing more and more rapidly."
As democratization of culture gathers momentum, there will be all kinds of consequences, including impacts to the infrastructure.  What will that mean for the future of those built facilities?

Second, EQUITY:  Within the above issue is the question of equity.  While considerable money and energy went into the cultural facilities building boom of the past fifteen years, it seemingly benefited larger arts organizations (with bigger budgets), and was concentrated in performing arts centers - more often than not located so as to appeal to a white, mainstream audiences interested in established cultural art forms.  Whatever the future of cultural facilities building in America, there will be increasing pressure to address the issue of a "level playing field" -- wherein all segments of the cultural community have at least some options available to them as to realizing their goals for facilities development (or, if you prefer, in a larger context - dissemination - by whatever means - of the art)..

Moreover, as the arts move increasingly to digitization of content and the myriad ways art can be disseminated and accessed, how will the sector deal with the current and ongoing inequity?  A case in point is the success of the Met in bringing opera to a wider audience by programming for movie theaters around the country.   As Alan states:
"In 2011, over 2 million people worldwide attended the Metropolitan Opera’s high-definition broadcasts in local movie theaters. The Met’s cinema patrons enjoy a good social dynamic – they applaud together and mingle – and often comment about the excellent visual experience.  
Digital experiences, as they gain in quality and selection, will be seen as an inexpensive and attractive alternative to live performance, especially when the setting affords more social benefits and creature comforts than are available in theaters and concert halls. In 20 or 30 years, it is quite possible that millions of people around the globe will be going to movie theaters to watch high quality digital broadcasts of the best opera, dance, classical music, stage plays, and musicals in the world, for a fraction of the price of a ticket to a live performance. While this would be a fantastic outcome in terms of increasing public participation in the arts, it could also divert demand away from live programs. The opposite may also be true – broadcasting arts programs into cinemas may, in fact, fuel demand for live programs. Regardless, arts groups have a limited window of time to integrate digital content into their programs and facilities, or risk foregoing significant opportunities to develop new What do communities need from their cultural facilities? Cultural audiences and regenerate interest in their art forms."
The fact is that while the Met and perhaps a few other large organizations can afford to mount such an effort in cooperation with the nation's movie theaters, by far the vast majority of arts organizations cannot.  Someday maybe the cost of being able to entertain bold new approaches will shrink so that everyone can play, but maybe not, and, at best, it will take some money to accomplish.  What that does right now is make for a continued uneven playing field and an inequity in which the large and wealthy organizations will continue to dominate the limited opportunities.

Equity in the access to built "settings" has been, and continues to be an issue.

Third, ACCESS itself is yet another issue that crops up in the debate on "settings" (related to equity and changing technology):  As I have long thought, and Alan observes in wondering why people will attend one venue but not another:
"The reasons are complex, often relating to cost, mobility, accessibility, convenience, cultural relevance, and expected social norms." 
How do such simple equations as the price of gasoline, the number of miles away from a facility someone is, and the hours in a day all play on fixed facilities located far from the shifting population - in locations that may seem remote, foreign and uncomfortable socially to shifting demographic audiences?

On a larger plane, equity has to do with access to funds, access to political power and access to public opinion - both to build and to manage facilities.  

Fourth, SELF-CURATION:  We have been talking for some time about the challenge of the public - enabled by technology - increasingly taking to curating their own arts experiences, on their own timetables and terms.  Indeed, the whole of the technological revolution has not only given people more choices as to everything - but has established in their minds a sense of entitlement to having choices - of what, where, when and under circumstances of their own dictation.  Nowhere is this sense of "having it my way" as a right, more centered than in the younger generations.  What does that bode for the future for us?

Alan borrows the term "audience sovereignty" from Lynne Conner to characterize the "authority that audiences want over their arts experiences.  Elements of that authority include audience choice in "when to get up, when to get a drink, when to talk - all of which are available in the theater of the home."  The question for us is:  as the "home" experience improves and as the benefits it offers in terms of an improved socialization environment, and as audiences continue to at least subliminally prioritize the advantages of that experience, what does that mean for the "built" environment of existing (and future?) cultural facilities?  What are the various scenarios that might play out in the coming years, and how can we cope with the possible outcomes?

A critical variable in the curation debate is the differences still existing in generational attitudes about "setting".  Alan suggests the younger generation may feel that older, established venues are "your grandfather's experience preferences" and are rejected because of that connection.  Clearly there are generational differences in attitudes towards settings.  But the same might have been said about "Boomers" - rebellious in their youth; rejecting of parental cultural norms - who now(arguably) constitute the majority of those who patronize the built cultural facilities.  Are we not wise to be cautious in racing to embrace some new notion of what will be the norm in the future?  False assumptions may have gotten us to a precarious point whereby we spent treasure and more on a plan of action that now may turn out in the long term to have been a calculated mistake of judgement.  Perhaps we need to be a bit more cautious as we move forward.

It is the individual "curator", not the arts administration field, nor even the artist, who is likely to control how this all plays out.

Fifth, Alan raises the issue of "ARTISTS AS CURATORS OF SETTING", suggesting:
"What seems to be changing, though, is an increased desire among artists (whatever their medium) to control the settings in which their work is experienced, and to afford audiences greater purview over their experiences. Artists’ motivations to work in settings of their own design can be understood both in economic terms, as a means of accessing more affordable spaces, and on artistic terms, as a means of bypassing cultural gatekeepers and gaining more creative control over the entirety of the arts experience, if only to relinquish it back to the audience."
It would seem to me that Artists ought to have more to do with how we move forward on arts facilities, and that to the extent we (the gatekeepers) act in that realm unilaterally, taking the lead independently,  rather than being the follower, that we are usurping the natural order of the way things might best be.  We might make better decisions and have fewer regrets after the fact if we were to take more time in these kinds of decisions and grant that those we theoretically serve are better qualified to head the pack.

What IS clear is that "setting" is a critical factor in audience access and support for the arts and that it deserves (demands) considerably more of a place in our consideration of what matters.

There is, of course, no way to predict the future.  You can't know what macro changes in circumstances in populations, demographics, economics, technology or other areas will happen, and it is the major changes over which we have no real control that render our best intentions to turn out to be brilliant risk taking, or ill-conceived arrogance.  Yet, as administrators and policy people it is our job to try to calculate the best options and to not let our hopes and desires, let alone our projections about what we want to see happen and what we want to believe, cloud our judgment.  It is still too early to yet know whether or not the cultural facilities building boom of the past decade and a half was intuitively savvy or foolish folly.  What is real is that it happened, and we will live with the result for awhile.  But it is not too early to now embrace a decision making approach that urges us not to assume that what is a model of behavior today will still be the same model tomorrow.  

And while the bigger issues of democratization, equity, access, technology, self-curation and artists and placemaking - are all contained within the "setting" debate - there is an even bigger issue involved:  And that is when, and on what basis, is it reasonable for us to make certain assumptions on which we can later justify our actions as well-conceived risk taking.  How much data and information, what processes and protocols (and what kinds) ought we to amass and consider before we jump to action on something that is likely to cost a lot of money, take a lot of time, and with which we will have to live for a long time -- no matter what the decision is about?  We have to disabuse ourselves of the notion that certain conclusions that seem attractive ought to be implemented even though they are unsubstantiated and unprovable.

I might argue that the past building boom was not always based on reasonable assumptions, and that it was often pursued for reasons other than sound and rational decision making.  And that the conclusion that "supply now exceeds the demand" is an understatement.  Future decision making ought to be more informed and aligned with better risk taking management.

As to the question of Setting, Alan's report helps us to see the issues as they are likely to unfold and he is doubtless right on at least two fronts:
1.  His acknowledgement that the problem of fixed arts facilities is:
"Exacerbated when new facilities are modeled on old ones, perpetuating a long line of derivative thinking by architects, theatre consultants, and their clients who seldom take the time to consider what future generations of artists and audiences will require. Once built, arts groups grow comfortable and efficient in their spaces, which can be a boon to artists and audiences alike. When keeping the lights on as often as possible becomes a financial imperative, however, there is little incentive to think about moving the art to alternative settings."
2.  And:
"Without a clearer perspective on the dynamics between audience, artist and setting, the arts sector will not develop the capacity it needs to engage the next generation of art lovers."
Nothing seems to be getting simpler.  Thanks to Alan for a very valuable contribution to what the field must address.  I urge everyone to read the full report - available via the link at the beginning to the Wolf Brown site.

Have a good week.

Don't Quit
Barry





Sunday, August 5, 2012

Shout Outs

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on...................."

Congratulations to Bob Lynch on being named one of the Nonprofit Times' Power and Influence Top 50 for 2012 - a list not unlike my own Most Powerful and Influential in the nonprofit arts sector list (the 2012 iteration of which will be posted later this month).  This is a singular honor for Bob, and a long overdue nod to our field as Bob's inclusion marks the list's first person so recognized who works in the nonprofit arts.  It is a heady (and fairly conservative) grouping, including some major foundation presidents and the leaders of dozens of familiar national nonprofit organizations.

Congratulations to Doug Borwick on publication of his book Building Communities, Not Audiences (Arts Engaged, Winston-Salem, 2012)  a bold, unapologetic, argument for moving the arts from its Euro-Centric base and towards more involvement (and relevance) to the changing demographic communities across the country by being more involved into responding to community needs.  Whether or not you agree with Doug's thesis that the only real way to save arts organizations is for them to address community needs as a primary part of their mission, there is a wealth of ideas and information from all those who contributed to this work - and the list is impressive - including Ben Cameron, Russell Willis Taylor, Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Pam Korza and Diane Ragsdale.  James Undercofler contributes a particularly informative brief synopsis of the various models arts organizations do, and might, consider using.  Bill Cleveland (the 'Don' of the Community Arts Movement) offers a valuable entry on Mapping the Terrain, and Margo Gard Ewell gives a useful historical perspective on the whole idea of Community Building and the Arts.

Doug takes the notion of the role the arts ought to play in building communities significantly further than the current dialogue centered around Creative Placemaking.  Starting from the proposition that "the number of established not-for-profit arts organizations that are actively engaged in on-going substantive partnerships with members of their communities outside of the arts is tiny", Doug suggests that the field needs to begin what will be a long process in embracing real community involvement by placing the arts foursquare at the center of addressing community problems and needs.  Doubtless this will be a hard sell to a large portion of our field, but there is movement in various quarters of our ecosystem to, at least, begin that engagement process.  The focus is on organizations, not artists, and likely adds to the current debate as to whether or not artists are too often lost in the mix of what we do.  The difficulty in "proving" a general thesis of the necessity of a dramatic shift away from a legacy of one cultural approach, in favor of others -- because of shifting demographics, will likely add to the debate about how we "prove" any of the propositions we are putting forth. And the embedded argument to arguably reconsider the model structure that best suits the future of the arts will add to that debate.  Doug's book makes for a very good starting point for the debates that will undoubtedly ensue.

And while I am at it - Congratulations to Diane Ragsdale, Ian David Moss, Adam Huttler and Michael Kaiser (among others) for sparking these internal debates on artists and organizations, on proving our claims, and on the necessity for consideration of new models, respectively.  That there is dialogue and debate on these issues is good news for our field.

Congratulations to the San Francisco Arts Community's Town Hall 2012 - a candidate forum scheduled for August 20th at 6:00 pm at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco.  Now in its third year of operation - the SRO event is a chance for the arts community to inform candidates for office in the city about the impact of the arts, and for those candidates to show a "wide range of arts community members that they value the contributions made by the arts community".  The arts vote in the city is not unsubstantial, and successful candidates appreciate that their platforms must include a relatively sophisticated understanding of, and support, for our field.   This kind of event should be organized in every city across the country.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit.
Barry