"And the beat goes on……………."
Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 3: If you would like to comment, please go to the site blog.westaf.org and click on the comment icon at the end of the blog.
What are the major challenges to, and opportunities for, advancing Entrepreneurship in the arts? What are the differences for artists v. Arts administrators? How do we foster and promote organizational entrepreneurship?
Andrew Taylor: Paul DiMaggio once characterized American cultural policy as favoring stability, ''encouraging small organizations to become larger and large organizations to seek immortality.'' Over the past fifty years, that strategy has fostered extraordinary growth in cultural activity and opportunity across the United States (and around the world). But it has also institutionalized a set of biases.
Most of the systems we've constructed to feed that system also favor stability and growth. Funders prefer nonprofits with multiple years of activity before they'll consider a significant grant. The 501c3 status requirement of most nonprofit granting agencies -- public and private -- also suggests that only established entities are allowed to play. Educational efforts for managers and artists tend to prepare students to work in established organizations and artistic disciplines.
That stability bias leaves the new, the innovative, the temporary, the impulsive, the cross-boundary, the small endeavor in the arts at a disadvantage -- not only for independent artists and small organizations, but for the "intrapreneurship" and innovation within established organizations.
If major funders want to encourage entrepreneurship in all its forms, they'll need to unbundle their bias in giving and measuring what they give. They'll need to allow more hybrid, for-profit, or fiscally sponsored initiatives. They'll need to let go of reliable impact as an outcome goal, and embrace a portfolio approach to their giving and impact strategies.
And we'll all have to let go of our own bias surrounding 'big' and 'permanent' as requirements for greatness in the arts. Artists and audiences are already doing this, despite our current policies and practices. So, if we can't learn our way out of it, we'll grow our way out as a next generation takes our jobs and forgets our ways.
To overcome obstacles and advance arts entrepreneurship, I think we need to ask: What would it mean for us to encourage and support innovation across our organizational processes? How might we bring innovative approaches to our strategic thinking? What criteria do we apply in deciding to stop doing something in our organization? Do we have an organized process for doing this? What structures can we put in place to ensure it happens regularly?