Sunday, November 14, 2010

Internet Potpourri

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

Some Random Findings from Around the Web:
  • Real World Learning:  I get lots of emails touting professional development programs, classes, workshops, seminars and the like.  Invariably all of them focus on a very narrow course or class offering.  It would seem that there are only a handful of skills you need to be a fully qualified arts administrator - including not much more than marketing, fundraising, board development and strategic planning.  That is, of course, absurd.  There are scores of skills one needs to develop or hone that are essential to becoming a competent, let alone high level, business manager no matter what the field - from accommodation of different generations to how one creates an ecosystem for new ideas in the workplace; from how to negotiate to time management -  but the arts either don't recognize any of those other skills as important enough to offer classes designed to improve them, or we simply have virtually no resources that will allow us to offer anything more than the most basic of training opportunities.  Yes, of course, our people have to have the basic skills, and need to go back and improve on them from time to time, but is that all we can offer?  I ran across this site:  The School of Life - Ideas to Live By offering a course entitled "How to Have Better Conversations".  This is exactly the kind of thing I think we need to offer our leaders - courses in how they can actually become better people managers.
  • Univision to become the Number One Broadcast Network in 3 to 5 years:  That Reuters headline caught my eye.  A projected 45% increase in the new census to 50 million people and the capture by Univision of certain ratings wars - especially in the lucrative 18 to 34 market and experts see advertisers moving towards the market.  What might that mean for the arts?  And where is the focus on multicultural arts that should be growing in our sector?  I haven't seen it at the last five conferences I've attended. 
  • Rich Americans' Philanthropy Down - but not for the Arts:  That LA Times headline caught my attention too.  Bank of America and Merrill Lynch found that households with incomes of $200,000 or more, or net worths of at least $1 million (not counting a primary home's value) devoted 7.5 cents out of their charitable dollar to the arts during 2009, compared to a penny for the population at large.
    Good news for the arts, right?  Well, maybe.  The article doesn't give any indication where in the arts sector that money went.  Very likely, those rich patrons gave to the biggest cultural institutions.  That is just speculation on my part, because there was no comparison of where the rich gave money and where the average Joe gave money in our sector.  It is an indiction that the wealthy patronage system of arts support, even if still limited to a small sub-sector of our field - is alive and well, and that is good news I think - at least for those recipient organizations.  Would be nice to have the study extended.
  • Ten Mistakes for Entrepreneurs:  A Wall Street Journal article by Rosalind Resnick listed the Top Ten Mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting a company.  As we in the arts are largely entrepreneurs ourselves, even if we're involved in running organizations that have been around for a long time, her advice seemed particularly on point to me.  For example, she cautions against "spending too much time on product development , not enough on sales."  That advice might well apply to many arts organizations that emphasize creation to the exclusion of sales.  Check out her list.
  • The Class of 2014:   Finally the Beloit College Mindset List - released each August provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.  Born in 1992, the first time college students in the Class of 2014 are different from you and me - really different in their cultural points of reference.  For example, email has always been too slow for them.  They've always had 500 tv channels to choose from.  Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.  Most of them have never seen a carousel slide projector.  Czechoslovakia never existed.  Nirvana is played on the oldies stations. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.  And rock bands have always played at Presidential Inaugurals.  I wonder if we're approaching the time when what we now refer to as the "generational" differences -- in our workplace, with our audiences, and even in the artist community itself -- will not be generational, but change with the entering freshman class of every five years or so.  The whole as yet underdeveloped concept of generational marketing may get far more complex before we even get a handle on it.
Have a great week.

Don't Quit