Sunday, July 26, 2015

Open Nominations for this Year's Top 50 Most Powerful and Influential

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

Every year, for the past seven years, I have posted a list of the Top 50 Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts.  This will be the 8th year.

As I note every year: This is a list of those with power and influence in our field.  It is NOT necessarily a list of the smartest or brightest people, nor a list of those who have the best vision of the future, nor even those who have had the greatest impact on our field - though the names on each year's list have had significant impact and that is (often, but not always) precisely why they have power and influence.   Those with power and influence, or at least those we perceive to have power and influence, impact decisions across the sector; they set agendas, control funding, help set our priorities and affect our strategies on multiple issues.  For that reason, among others, it is important to know who has that power and influence.  Click here for a more detailed explanation of the process and the rationale behind creating the list.

Over the past seven years, I have assembled a list of over 500 names from my group of anonymous nominators.  Some people on the list one year, because of retirement, sabbatical or inactivity, fall off the list the next year.  Some of those return in subsequent years.  Some names show up every year, but for the most part the list is very different from year to year.  Indeed, in the last two years, nearly half the names on the list were not on the previous year's list.  It is that churn in who we perceive to be powerful and influential that is, i think, a fair indication of the continuing changes in the sector's leadership.

Last year I opened up the process to the field to submit nominations of those who people thought ought to be on this list.  That proved to be valuable in identifying names of people that might not otherwise have been identified, so I am again asking all of you to help me by suggesting names of people you think have substantial power and influence in our field.  

This isn't a beauty or popularity contest.  The criteria is very limited.  It's a list of the people who wield substantial power and influence in our field.  Not necessarily the ones who are doing the greatest work, though arguably they are.  People may have power and influence because of the position they occupy, because of their reputations and renown, because they control budgets and money, because they set agendas, because they are recognized spokespeople, because they are great persuaders, because they are visionaries, because of their experience, because of what they have created, or written.  There are countless reasons people who are powerful and influential in our field are seen as such.  But it is their power and influence that the list attempts to profile - not any other quality, nor based on any other criteria.   And it is a sector wide list, so some people who have power and influence in a given discipline, or  area, or region, may not make the list because the focus of the list is national.

The list intentionally does not include artists; it is limited to the United States; and it is, as are all such lists, arbitrary and subjective.  It is only meant to be a broad stroke snapshot of where power and influence in a small universe might lie.   Every year, I can personally think of a dozen or more people who could easily be on the list (and in my opinion should be on the list), but don't make it.   I do my best to make sure the input and vetting process is as representative of our field as I can make it, but it is not a perfect system.

It also, not surprisingly, favors the people with the public face at an organization, rather than those unsung heroes who work behind the scenes to make things happen.  And, I note there are arts organizations that have a lot of power and influence apart from their leadership, and this list does not necessarily reflect those powerful institutions.

As some names on this list are, like Meryl Streep at Oscar time, a perennial nominee and designee, I have decided to retire some of them on the main body of the list.  Beginning next year I will designate a handful of those who are always on this list as virtual Top 50 Hall of Famers so that the list can continue to recognize them, but also include more of those whose power and influence are trending upward.  Most of them will still exercise considerable power and have major influence - at least as long as they are in their current positions.

So, please send me the name or names of those you think have real power and influence.  I need their names, organizational affiliation, and, if you have time, any other information that would help me realize a better and deeper picture of why that person is powerful and influential so I might vet those suggestions. All suggestions will remain confidential and anonymous.

I need those suggestions no later than August 17th.

Thank you very much.

Don't Quit