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Report Examines Changing Landscape of Arts Leadership

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Mar 17, 2016

A new report from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, entitled “Moving Arts Leadership Forward: A Changing Landscape,” presents research on the shifting nature of arts leadership. According to John E. McGuirk, program director for performing arts, the findings show “how different generations experience their work in the arts sector, and highlight how the differences affect engagement, innovation, and other factors critical to the success of individual arts organizations and the health of the field as a whole.”

One of the report’s core findings is that “leadership” cannot be defined monolithically. Younger generations of arts professionals often see leadership as “the fostering of a culture of connectedness, collaboration, and change.” This is in stark contrast to the hierarchical, “pay your dues” mode of leadership that is embedded in many arts organizations.

The report recommends organizations recognize that:

  • Ignoring the shifting perspectives on leadership may lead to a loss of young, talented leaders in the arts.
  • The diversity of ideas and experiences embodied by their entire staff…can help them connect with new audiences and develop innovative approaches to achieving their mission.
  • In order for the arts to continue to thrive, late-career leaders need to be intentional about reaching out to the younger generation and inviting them to “share leadership.”

As an example of the new vision for leadership in the arts, the report profiles A Reason to Survive (ARTS), a Guild member organization based in National City, CA. Matt D’Arrigo, founder/CEO, argues that “leadership doesn’t have a title. Everyone is a leader and we depend on all staff to be leaders—leaders of themselves, their students, their projects, and their departments.”

Read the full report here.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.