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Introducing Delta Airlines Innovation Class

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Introducing Delta Airlines Innovation Class, a mentoring program at 35,000 feet! Delta is using its time up in the air to connect an innovator of today in the fields of business, art and technology with a leader of tomorrow. Could YOU be next to sit beside a great mind and mentor?

 

"We have customers flying with us who are big thinkers and innovators and are changing the world," Mauricio Parise, Delta's director of worldwide marketing communications, told CNBC. "We want to bring the ones succeeding in their field together with people who aspire to follow them."

 

Check out the video below for full details.

 

 

For further information on Delta Innovation Class, visit DeltaInnovationClass.com.

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What Improv Can Teach Your Team About Creativity And Collaboration

Posted by Ken and Scott Blanchard
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We knew any presentation by actors from The Second City, Chicago's world-famous improvisation troupe, would be funny. But who knew we would walk away with key insights into creating a collaborative work environment?

 

Yet that's exactly what happened after we participated in an exercise led by Second City actors Colleen Murray and Mark Sutton at our recent Client Summit. Murray and Sutton asked us and the 200 other participants to break into groups of three for an exercise that taught us a valuable lesson about the power of positive reinforcement in fostering creativity and innovation.

 

The exercise started off with an imagined scenario: plan a memorable company party. One person in each group was designated as the party planner. Their task? Come up with some creative party ideas. The other two members were instructed to listen to each new idea, but then reject it and explain why. The negative responses had a chilling effect on the person pitching new ideas. Even the most creative types gave up after four or five ideas. They lost their ability to come up with anything in the face of all that negativity.

 

Next, Murray and Sutton instructed the three-person groups to rotate roles. Now a new person pitched ideas while the other two listened. But this time, instead of rejecting the ideas outright, the listeners were instructed to use a more subtle “yes, but…” response and share why the idea wouldn't work. Again, it was a frustrating experience for the idea givers, who quit after trying a few times and getting nowhere.

 

Finally, the groups were instructed to rotate roles again. This time the two listeners were to use the phrase “yes, and…” to acknowledge, affirm, and build on the idea. The “yes, and…” response made all the difference. Ideas flowed. The groups generated innovative, creative approaches that none of the individuals would have come up with on their own. The increase in energy and collaboration was palpable as the room buzzed with animated conversations, laughing, high fives, and every other behavior you would expect to see when people are genuinely engaged with each other.

 

Could Your Team Use a Little Improv Training?

 

What's the response to new ideas in your department? Do people feel compelled to say “no” and explain why an idea won't work? Or are they more subtle, using a “yes, but…” approach? Or are you fortunate to work in a department that uses the most affirming “yes, and…” response? What's the impact on creativity and innovation within your team as a result?

 

If you want to use the techniques of improv to improve your team's creativity and collaboration, apply our three key takeaways from the Second City session.

 

1. Put your own ego needs aside

Focus on making your team members look good. What's right about their idea? How could it work? People with big egos aren't very good at improvisation because they constantly want to look better than the other person rather than work with the team to bring out the group's best. As Murray and Sutton explained, new team members often try hard to come up with funny lines and insert them into that night's show. Even when the new team member is successful in wedging in a punch line, it rarely gets the kind of laugh the newbie had hoped for. Usually, something completely unexpected and spontaneous gets the biggest laugh. But that only happens, Murray and Sutton explained, when the actors focus on making their fellow cast members look good, instead of trying to steal the spotlight for themselves.

 

2. Listen, instead of evaluating or waiting for your turn to talk

Another exercise we participated in was listening carefully to what our improv partners were saying--especially to their last word. That's because we had to start our sentences with that word after they finished. We were amazed we could put aside our concerns about what we'd say next as we really focused on what our partners were saying. This exercise drove home how working together to keep the conversation going creates a profound communication partnership that's rarely experienced at work.

 

3. Appreciate the contributions of others and say “thank you”

Listening, affirming, and collaborating requires time and attention. It can be hard work. Too often, people aren't communicating as much as they are taking turns having separate conversations. That's not good for improv and it's not good for collaboration in the workplace either. By saying “thank you,” or “I understand,” or “tell me more,” you bring out the best in people--which brings out the best in your group.

 

The funniest moments in improv occur when cast members focus on others and create space for something new and unexpected to happen. That's when one plus one equals more than two. When we focus on others and encourage their best, we set the stage for the magic of creativity, innovation, and collaboration.

 

(This post is one in a weekly series highlighting the pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!) - See more at: http://blog.artsusa.org/2013/12/05/what-improv-can-teach-your-team-about-creativity-and-collaboration/#more-22662

(This post, originally posted on FastCompany.com, is one in a weekly series highlighting the pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

(This post is one in a weekly series highlighting the pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!) - See more at: http://blog.artsusa.org/2013/12/05/what-improv-can-teach-your-team-about-creativity-and-collaboration/#more-22662
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What Jazz Can Teach Business About Innovation

Posted by Greg Satell
0 Comments

In a recent episode of Boardwalk Empire, Chalky White’s wife was angry because he took his son to play with Jazz musicians at his nightclub.  She feared that it would upset the order of his classical training.

 

Traditionally, business executives have felt the same way. They would bring in bright young prospects and make them “organization men”—and later women as well—who would work their way up through the system and then indoctrinate the next generation.

Yet the past few decades have altered things considerably.  The LBO craze in the 80’s, the PC revolution in the 90’s and the digital disruptions of the 21st century have radically changed how we need to approach business problems. Strategic planning has become less tenable and we need to adopt more adaptive approach. Jazz holds important answers.

 

A Struggling Artist In New York

 

Coming from a meager background, Carl Størmer was determined not to be a starving artist, but after graduating with two graduate degrees—a Masters degree in Music and another in Arts Administration—that’s just what he was becoming. He spent most of his time playing in clubs and improving the mastery of his craft, but making very little money.

So he started learning computer code, got a job as a database consultant at a Wall Street law firm and then started a career at IBM.  Later, he founded a startup and became Marketing Director at a Norwegian airline. Størmer had, in every conventional sense, become a successful business executive.

 

Yet he still continued to play and the more he did, the more he became dissatisfied with corporate life. As he thought about it, he realized that business organizations operated a lot like classical music, with structure dictating action rather than the other way around.

The thoughts turned to writing, the writing turned to consulting and even led to a Harvard Case Study. Today, his organization, Jazzcode, works with executives at some of the world’s largest corporations, such as IBM, Siemens and Novartis.

 

Unravelling Complex Interactions

 

The funny thing about complexity is that it starts out simple.  Infants learn phonemes—the basic units as language—as almost incomprehensible sounds. As they develop, they learn to string those sounds into words and the words into sentences until, before you know it ,they are a senior business executives giving conference presentations.

We’ve taught computers to learn the same way. We now have machines that can do legal discovery, perform medical diagnoses and even create and evaluate artistic works. They do this not by rote procedures, but by first learning simple patterns and then learning how to combine them into complex patterns.

 

Ironically, while our machines can now do this almost flawlessly, our organizations cannot. They are still largely set up around command and control, designed to perform simple operations over and over again with amazing efficiency, but have difficulty combining the patterns of those operations into something wholly new and different.

As Størmer puts it, “control is for beginners.” We need to upgrade the software of our organizations.

 

Unlocking The Jazz Code

 

Jazz is, in many ways, polar opposite to the corporate world.  Improvisation is prized, rather than discouraged and there is a minimum of hierarchy. Yet when it’s done well, it seems as if it is obeying a higher order, with the performers feeding off each other as well as the audience.  “Good art,” Carl Størmer notes, “is obvious but unexpected.”

So for organizations that want to transform themselves into more adaptive enterprises, Jazz can be an effective guide:

 

Preparation vs Planning: Jazz musicians prepare for years to achieve technical mastery and then continually practice even after they attain it. They are constantly building new skills, but perhaps more importantly, they remain focused on fundamentals and strive to improve every note they play.

 

It is this high degree of skill that allows them the eschew planning and adapt proficiently.  “Planning is making decisions early and preparing develops the ability to make decisions as late as possible,” Størmer notes.

 

Reduce Emphasis on Status: While Jazz ensembles do have leaders, status and hierarchy are devalued while listening and awareness are prized. This helps take fear out of the equation and promotes creativity.  If one team member misses a note, the others react to it not as a mistake, but as an opportunity to create something new.

 

Connecting S Curves: In the corporate world success can often breed failure because a successful model becomes treated as holy gospel. This can lead to strategic rigidity and eventually a failure to adapt to market developments.  Often, everybody jumps onto a popular trend just as growth is beginning to taper.

 

In Jazz, the focus on awareness rather than status and planning allows musicians to build off of past successes rather than become imprisoned by them. A bored audience becomes an innovation trigger rather than a performance killer.

 

The Mission Driven Organization

 

While Jazz is improvisational, it is not a free-for-all. As Jackie Modeste, whose consulting firm trains corporate executives using insights from music, points out, “The difference between an average Jazz director and a great Jazz director is that a great one brings a clear, inclusive vision to the table.”

 

And that, in fact, might be Jazz’s greatest insight. In order to improvise and adapt, the mission must be clear so that team members can act with passion and purpose rather than mere obedience to authority.

 

One thing is clear. Strategy is evolving and leadership must do so as well. A manager’s role is no longer to plan and supervise actions, but to develop and instill values.  If the objectives are clear and the team is prepared, skillful and aware, improvisation and adaptation become not only possible, but inevitable.

 

(This post, originally published on Digital Tonto, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

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Theatre Arts Education Programs Create Innovative Thinkers and Workers

Posted by Bruce Whitacre
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A little over a year ago, National Corporate Theatre Fund (NCTF) announced the launch of Impact Creativity, a three-year, $5 million effort to secure the funding of education programs at our 19 theatres. Together, these theatres serve over 500,000 K-12 children and youth, with the large number of students experiencing the student matinée programs. We were very grateful to Ernst and Young for their contribution in 2012 that got the ball rolling.

 

Now, we are focusing our efforts on the world of innovation and creativity going on at our theatres. Seattle Rep Theatre is helping teachers better utilize arts techniques to enliven the classroom. Actors Theatre of Louisville is engaging students in classrooms through a Living Newspaper playwriting program. The Goodman Theatre is teaching STEM skills through a study of theatre magic found in their production of A Christmas Carol. Altogether, we identified 19 innovative projects and began asking our funding partners to help theatres sustain this creative burst through what we call our Impact Creativity Innovation Program.

 

These include programs designed for an array of children with different and sometimes challenging circumstances: Trinity Rep Active Imagination Network (TRAIN) in Providence engages children in the autism spectrum; Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia engages kids with plays that address diversity, civil rights and bullying, among other subjects; and American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and Manhattan Theatre Club in New York are working with youth caught up in the criminal justice and school discipline systems. For a complete list of the programs, click here.

 

Happily, by the close of our fiscal year in June, several individuals, foundations and companies were as impressed with these programs as we were. Individual donors and family foundations joined us in sustaining these innovation programs. And the Hearst Foundations, one of the few national foundations active in the arts, provided a $100,000 grant for these programs. We have not met the full cost – total budgets for these projects in 2013-14 are nearly $1 million – but we are on our way.

 

As we continue to pursue support for these programs, a few things are becoming more and more clear. First, arts education supporters face unprecedented challenges. We have been around a long time and the field is very competitive. Years of advocacy can create a kind of fatigue around the issue. Schools and families, especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods, are more challenged than ever to engage. And that is not just for financial reasons. Rapidly changing school leadership, family instability and the challenge of sustaining the service to those who would most benefit from it affect arts education as they do all subjects. More problematic, research in the field is needed to document what is virtually universally known on an anecdotal basis: theatre education changes lives.

 

Finally, while companies are rallying around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), they have yet to fully grasp where the arts contribute to educating the workforce we truly need: creative, collaborative, compassionate, aware, AS WELL AS technically proficient. They seem more interested in a robotic, short-term tech worker than they are in the Steve Jobs or Sean Parker social visionary who can make our products truly improve lives and our companies worth working for. This is critical because as we see in other social change issues, such as gay marriage, corporate leadership is critical if this complex, multi-party field is to achieve true change. If companies don’t really step into this field as they have in STEM, we simply will not see the focused investment needed to secure a future engaged, creative America.

 

The Impact Creativity Innovation Program is about creating better lives for our kids today and for our country in the future. Theatres, like so many cultural institutions, are providing more than entertainment or community bragging rights. As we see with these programs, they are fostering improvements, making connections, providing services that will pay back in tangible and intangible ways for generations. How lucky we are to even witness this vitality and engagement. Even more fortunately, our partners understand the importance of this work and are rolling up their sleeves to help all across the country.

 

(This post, originally published on HuffingtonPost.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

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Fulbright Scholar and Professor of Management "Performs" Change

Posted by Jordan Lohf
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Associate Professor of Management at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dr. Steven Taylor, has received a Fulbright Award to contribute his expertise in what he has coined as “organizational aesthetics,” by helping Massey University in New Zealand use organizational theatre to better connect with the local business community and impact the community at large.

 

Since July 10 and extending through the 13th of August, Taylor is helping Massey University develop collaborative and interdisciplinary activities that will touch on topics of authentic leadership, ethical practice, and art and craft of organizational design, which all fall into Taylor’s larger topic of organizational aesthetics. 

 

According to Organizational Aesthetics, the online, open-source journal, of which Taylor is editor-in-chief, “Organizational Aesthetics is about how the five senses and artistry inform business, non-profit, and government organizations...Examples are the use of arts-based methods in organizations, theoretical accounts of aesthetic phenomena in organizations such as beautiful (or grotesque) leadership, and the art about/in/behind organizations.”

 

Taylor will hold a performance of his play “The Invisible Foot,” which combines themes of art and market economy for members of the Auckland business community and the University community to engage a dialogue on the use of theatre within organizations. 

In addition to the performance, Dr. Taylor will also aid in the development of a new play based on a Massey doctoral student’s PhD research data about bullying in an organization, as well as hold theatre-based workshops based on status and what the implications of playing status are for leaders.

 

Visit Organizational Aesthetics to read more about the fascinating work of Dr. Steven Taylor. To learn how you can join individuals like Dr. Taylor and organizations across the country, making the case for arts-based training and creating new and innovative programs to work with businesses, download our tool-kit "Bringing the Arts into the Workplace."

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Boards Risk the Future of the Arts When They Ignore Young Professionals

Posted by Terrie Temkin
0 Comments

I’m an arts buff. I love the theater, live music, dance, and the visual arts. You will often find me attending two or three plays in a weekend, or going to a museum and then on to a performance of jazz or modern dance. The more I dive into the arts, the happier I am personally, but the more fearful I am for the future of the arts. Why? I’m in my 60s, and I’m usually one of the youngest people in attendance, regardless of the genre. (Okay, so I’m not going to the rap concerts, but still….) I constantly worry about the future. Who will occupy the seats in another 20 years, especially in our classical venues?


Yes, there will always be a few young people who love Mozart or Swan Lake. In my own family I have a nephew and niece that are classical musicians. However, while young people will continue to make art, as people have done since the beginning of time, I worry whether there will be anyone who will support their art, who will buy tickets and attend the performances, allowing them to work at what they love.


This is an issue that too few boards seriously grapple with. Yes, you see organizations that create young professionals groups, open up their space after work for networking and wine and cheese, and experiment with “hip” programming, but is that going to convert generations of younger people into dedicated audiences for the future? I think not. After all, it hasn’t yet. And if I’m right, what will?


Clearly, there are no easy answers. If there were, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. But I think our boards can take a more proactive role in trying to find solutions. Here are two specific approaches they can take to mitigate the loss of the arts as we know them.


Spend Time Wrestling with Generative Questions


Generative questions deal not with the “how,” but the “why.” Instead of asking, “How do we attract Millennials?” arts boards need to first understand the underlying nature of the problem. They need to ask, “Why aren’t they coming?” Is it, for instance, a lack of money to buy tickets? A lack of exposure to what is currently being offered – after all, very few people of any age are willing to spend money on an unknown? A dislike of what is being offered? A “coolness” (or lack of “coolness”) factor? An issue of not having the right clothes? A discomfort with being surrounded by people their grandparents’ age?


The board also needs to pay attention to the cues it is relying on to come to its conclusion. Is it assuming, perhaps, that young people don’t have the right clothes to wear because, on the rare occasions they do come to the theater, they always come in jeans? Or, did the board focus on the fact that less time is spent teaching the classics in school, and therefore the issue must be lack of previous exposure? To get it right, directors have to challenge their colleagues and ask questions like, “Are we focusing on the on the most logical explanations? Why do we think that? What else aren’t we considering?” They might even reframe the issue by asking questions such as, “What has our experience as parents/teachers/bosses taught us?”


The more information you have as a board, the more likely your decisions will be on target. Spend a significant part of each board meeting asking questions, delving into the “why” behind the “what” before attempting to answer “how.”


Include Young Professionals on Arts Boards


If we want to attract the younger generations to the arts, we have to hear their voices. The best way to do that is put young professionals on our boards. Of course, “young” is a relative term. In Florida, for instance, “young” is often defined as under 60! But I’m advocating for the 20’s – 30’s crowd. These people are our future. They are the ones you want to attract as audience members. And, nobody knows better than they what is important to them.


Be sure to bring enough young people on the board to ensure a cohort. Nobody wants to be the only one “under 30” on a board. Typically recruiting three of anything – 20-somethings, Latinos or people with a dance background – ensures a comfort level for the directors, leading to better input and, ultimately, the best decisions for the organization.


These two approaches take work and neither is a magic bullet. However, invest the effort in experimenting with both and you will see a definite change for the better. Doesn’t your arts organization deserve the chance to enrich and extend its life?


(This post, originally published on www.ArtsBizMiami.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

 

*This article was posted on ARTSblog.
 

I’m an arts buff. I love the theater, live music, dance, and the visual arts. You will often find me attending two or three plays in a weekend, or going to a museum and then on to a performance of jazz or modern dance. The more I dive into the arts, the happier I am personally, but the more fearful I am for the future of the arts. Why? I’m in my 60s, and I’m usually one of the youngest people in attendance, regardless of the genre. (Okay, so I’m not going to the rap concerts, but still….) I constantly worry about the future. Who will occupy the seats in another 20 years, especially in our classical venues?
Yes, there will always be a few young people who love Mozart or Swan Lake. In my own family I have a nephew and niece that are classical musicians. However, while young people will continue to make art, as people have done since the beginning of time, I worry whether there will be anyone who will support their art, who will buy tickets and attend the performances, allowing them to work at what they love.
This is an issue that too few boards seriously grapple with. Yes, you see organizations that create young professionals groups, open up their space after work for networking and wine and cheese, and experiment with “hip” programming, but is that going to convert generations of younger people into dedicated audiences for the future? I think not. After all, it hasn’t yet. And if I’m right, what will?
Clearly, there are no easy answers. If there were, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. But I think our boards can take a more proactive role in trying to find solutions. Here are two specific approaches they can take to mitigate the loss of the arts as we know them.
Spend Time Wrestling with Generative Questions
Generative questions deal not with the “how,” but the “why.” Instead of asking, “How do we attract Millennials?” arts boards need to first understand the underlying nature of the problem. They need to ask, “Why aren’t they coming?” Is it, for instance, a lack of money to buy tickets? A lack of exposure to what is currently being offered – after all, very few people of any age are willing to spend money on an unknown? A dislike of what is being offered? A “coolness” (or lack of “coolness”) factor? An issue of not having the right clothes? A discomfort with being surrounded by people their grandparents’ age?
The board also needs to pay attention to the cues it is relying on to come to its conclusion. Is it assuming, perhaps, that young people don’t have the right clothes to wear because, on the rare occasions they do come to the theater, they always come in jeans? Or, did the board focus on the fact that less time is spent teaching the classics in school, and therefore the issue must be lack of previous exposure? To get it right, directors have to challenge their colleagues and ask questions like, “Are we focusing on the on the most logical explanations? Why do we think that? What else aren’t we considering?” They might even reframe the issue by asking questions such as, “What has our experience as parents/teachers/bosses taught us?”
The more information you have as a board, the more likely your decisions will be on target. Spend a significant part of each board meeting asking questions, delving into the “why” behind the “what” before attempting to answer “how.”
Include Young Professionals on Arts Boards
If we want to attract the younger generations to the arts, we have to hear their voices. The best way to do that is put young professionals on our boards. Of course, “young” is a relative term. In Florida, for instance, “young” is often defined as under 60! But I’m advocating for the 20’s – 30’s crowd. These people are our future. They are the ones you want to attract as audience members. And, nobody knows better than they what is important to them.
Be sure to bring enough young people on the board to ensure a cohort. Nobody wants to be the only one “under 30” on a board. Typically recruiting three of anything – 20-somethings, Latinos or people with a dance background – ensures a comfort level for the directors, leading to better input and, ultimately, the best decisions for the organization.
These two approaches take work and neither is a magic bullet. However, invest the effort in experimenting with both and you will see a definite change for the better. Doesn’t your arts organization deserve the chance to enrich and extend its life?
(This post, originally published on www.ArtsBizMiami.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)
- See more at: http://blog.artsusa.org/2013/07/25/boards-risk-the-future-of-the-arts-when-they-ignore-young-professionals-from-the-partnership-movement/#sthash.YHPZw7ZP.dpuf
I’m an arts buff. I love the theater, live music, dance, and the visual arts. You will often find me attending two or three plays in a weekend, or going to a museum and then on to a performance of jazz or modern dance. The more I dive into the arts, the happier I am personally, but the more fearful I am for the future of the arts. Why? I’m in my 60s, and I’m usually one of the youngest people in attendance, regardless of the genre. (Okay, so I’m not going to the rap concerts, but still….) I constantly worry about the future. Who will occupy the seats in another 20 years, especially in our classical venues?

Yes, there will always be a few young people who love Mozart or Swan Lake. In my own family I have a nephew and niece that are classical musicians. However, while young people will continue to make art, as people have done since the beginning of time, I worry whether there will be anyone who will support their art, who will buy tickets and attend the performances, allowing them to work at what they love.

This is an issue that too few boards seriously grapple with. Yes, you see organizations that create young professionals groups, open up their space after work for networking and wine and cheese, and experiment with “hip” programming, but is that going to convert generations of younger people into dedicated audiences for the future? I think not. After all, it hasn’t yet. And if I’m right, what will?

Clearly, there are no easy answers. If there were, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. But I think our boards can take a more proactive role in trying to find solutions. Here are two specific approaches they can take to mitigate the loss of the arts as we know them.

Spend Time Wrestling with Generative Questions

Generative questions deal not with the “how,” but the “why.” Instead of asking, “How do we attract Millennials?” arts boards need to first understand the underlying nature of the problem. They need to ask, “Why aren’t they coming?” Is it, for instance, a lack of money to buy tickets? A lack of exposure to what is currently being offered – after all, very few people of any age are willing to spend money on an unknown? A dislike of what is being offered? A “coolness” (or lack of “coolness”) factor? An issue of not having the right clothes? A discomfort with being surrounded by people their grandparents’ age?

The board also needs to pay attention to the cues it is relying on to come to its conclusion. Is it assuming, perhaps, that young people don’t have the right clothes to wear because, on the rare occasions they do come to the theater, they always come in jeans? Or, did the board focus on the fact that less time is spent teaching the classics in school, and therefore the issue must be lack of previous exposure? To get it right, directors have to challenge their colleagues and ask questions like, “Are we focusing on the on the most logical explanations? Why do we think that? What else aren’t we considering?” They might even reframe the issue by asking questions such as, “What has our experience as parents/teachers/bosses taught us?”

The more information you have as a board, the more likely your decisions will be on target. Spend a significant part of each board meeting asking questions, delving into the “why” behind the “what” before attempting to answer “how.”

Include Young Professionals on Arts Boards

If we want to attract the younger generations to the arts, we have to hear their voices. The best way to do that is put young professionals on our boards. Of course, “young” is a relative term. In Florida, for instance, “young” is often defined as under 60! But I’m advocating for the 20’s – 30’s crowd. These people are our future. They are the ones you want to attract as audience members. And, nobody knows better than they what is important to them.

Be sure to bring enough young people on the board to ensure a cohort. Nobody wants to be the only one “under 30” on a board. Typically recruiting three of anything – 20-somethings, Latinos or people with a dance background – ensures a comfort level for the directors, leading to better input and, ultimately, the best decisions for the organization.

These two approaches take work and neither is a magic bullet. However, invest the effort in experimenting with both and you will see a definite change for the better. Doesn’t your arts organization deserve the chance to enrich and extend its life?

(This post, originally published on www.ArtsBizMiami.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

- See more at: http://blog.artsusa.org/2013/07/25/boards-risk-the-future-of-the-arts-when-they-ignore-young-professionals-from-the-partnership-movement/#sthash.YHPZw7ZP.dpuf

I’m an arts buff. I love the theater, live music, dance, and the visual arts. You will often find me attending two or three plays in a weekend, or going to a museum and then on to a performance of jazz or modern dance. The more I dive into the arts, the happier I am personally, but the more fearful I am for the future of the arts. Why? I’m in my 60s, and I’m usually one of the youngest people in attendance, regardless of the genre. (Okay, so I’m not going to the rap concerts, but still….) I constantly worry about the future. Who will occupy the seats in another 20 years, especially in our classical venues?

Yes, there will always be a few young people who love Mozart or Swan Lake. In my own family I have a nephew and niece that are classical musicians. However, while young people will continue to make art, as people have done since the beginning of time, I worry whether there will be anyone who will support their art, who will buy tickets and attend the performances, allowing them to work at what they love.

This is an issue that too few boards seriously grapple with. Yes, you see organizations that create young professionals groups, open up their space after work for networking and wine and cheese, and experiment with “hip” programming, but is that going to convert generations of younger people into dedicated audiences for the future? I think not. After all, it hasn’t yet. And if I’m right, what will?

Clearly, there are no easy answers. If there were, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. But I think our boards can take a more proactive role in trying to find solutions. Here are two specific approaches they can take to mitigate the loss of the arts as we know them.

Spend Time Wrestling with Generative Questions

Generative questions deal not with the “how,” but the “why.” Instead of asking, “How do we attract Millennials?” arts boards need to first understand the underlying nature of the problem. They need to ask, “Why aren’t they coming?” Is it, for instance, a lack of money to buy tickets? A lack of exposure to what is currently being offered – after all, very few people of any age are willing to spend money on an unknown? A dislike of what is being offered? A “coolness” (or lack of “coolness”) factor? An issue of not having the right clothes? A discomfort with being surrounded by people their grandparents’ age?

The board also needs to pay attention to the cues it is relying on to come to its conclusion. Is it assuming, perhaps, that young people don’t have the right clothes to wear because, on the rare occasions they do come to the theater, they always come in jeans? Or, did the board focus on the fact that less time is spent teaching the classics in school, and therefore the issue must be lack of previous exposure? To get it right, directors have to challenge their colleagues and ask questions like, “Are we focusing on the on the most logical explanations? Why do we think that? What else aren’t we considering?” They might even reframe the issue by asking questions such as, “What has our experience as parents/teachers/bosses taught us?”

The more information you have as a board, the more likely your decisions will be on target. Spend a significant part of each board meeting asking questions, delving into the “why” behind the “what” before attempting to answer “how.”

Include Young Professionals on Arts Boards

If we want to attract the younger generations to the arts, we have to hear their voices. The best way to do that is put young professionals on our boards. Of course, “young” is a relative term. In Florida, for instance, “young” is often defined as under 60! But I’m advocating for the 20’s – 30’s crowd. These people are our future. They are the ones you want to attract as audience members. And, nobody knows better than they what is important to them.

Be sure to bring enough young people on the board to ensure a cohort. Nobody wants to be the only one “under 30” on a board. Typically recruiting three of anything – 20-somethings, Latinos or people with a dance background – ensures a comfort level for the directors, leading to better input and, ultimately, the best decisions for the organization.

These two approaches take work and neither is a magic bullet. However, invest the effort in experimenting with both and you will see a definite change for the better. Doesn’t your arts organization deserve the chance to enrich and extend its life?

(This post, originally published on www.ArtsBizMiami.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

- See more at: http://blog.artsusa.org/2013/07/25/boards-risk-the-future-of-the-arts-when-they-ignore-young-professionals-from-the-partnership-movement/#sthash.YHPZw7ZP.dpuf

 

I’m an arts buff. I love the theater, live music, dance, and the visual arts. You will often find me attending two or three plays in a weekend, or going to a museum and then on to a performance of jazz or modern dance. The more I dive into the arts, the happier I am personally, but the more fearful I am for the future of the arts. Why? I’m in my 60s, and I’m usually one of the youngest people in attendance, regardless of the genre. (Okay, so I’m not going to the rap concerts, but still….) I constantly worry about the future. Who will occupy the seats in another 20 years, especially in our classical venues?

Yes, there will always be a few young people who love Mozart or Swan Lake. In my own family I have a nephew and niece that are classical musicians. However, while young people will continue to make art, as people have done since the beginning of time, I worry whether there will be anyone who will support their art, who will buy tickets and attend the performances, allowing them to work at what they love.

This is an issue that too few boards seriously grapple with. Yes, you see organizations that create young professionals groups, open up their space after work for networking and wine and cheese, and experiment with “hip” programming, but is that going to convert generations of younger people into dedicated audiences for the future? I think not. After all, it hasn’t yet. And if I’m right, what will?

Clearly, there are no easy answers. If there were, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. But I think our boards can take a more proactive role in trying to find solutions. Here are two specific approaches they can take to mitigate the loss of the arts as we know them.

Spend Time Wrestling with Generative Questions

Generative questions deal not with the “how,” but the “why.” Instead of asking, “How do we attract Millennials?” arts boards need to first understand the underlying nature of the problem. They need to ask, “Why aren’t they coming?” Is it, for instance, a lack of money to buy tickets? A lack of exposure to what is currently being offered – after all, very few people of any age are willing to spend money on an unknown? A dislike of what is being offered? A “coolness” (or lack of “coolness”) factor? An issue of not having the right clothes? A discomfort with being surrounded by people their grandparents’ age?

The board also needs to pay attention to the cues it is relying on to come to its conclusion. Is it assuming, perhaps, that young people don’t have the right clothes to wear because, on the rare occasions they do come to the theater, they always come in jeans? Or, did the board focus on the fact that less time is spent teaching the classics in school, and therefore the issue must be lack of previous exposure? To get it right, directors have to challenge their colleagues and ask questions like, “Are we focusing on the on the most logical explanations? Why do we think that? What else aren’t we considering?” They might even reframe the issue by asking questions such as, “What has our experience as parents/teachers/bosses taught us?”

The more information you have as a board, the more likely your decisions will be on target. Spend a significant part of each board meeting asking questions, delving into the “why” behind the “what” before attempting to answer “how.”

Include Young Professionals on Arts Boards

If we want to attract the younger generations to the arts, we have to hear their voices. The best way to do that is put young professionals on our boards. Of course, “young” is a relative term. In Florida, for instance, “young” is often defined as under 60! But I’m advocating for the 20’s – 30’s crowd. These people are our future. They are the ones you want to attract as audience members. And, nobody knows better than they what is important to them.

Be sure to bring enough young people on the board to ensure a cohort. Nobody wants to be the only one “under 30” on a board. Typically recruiting three of anything – 20-somethings, Latinos or people with a dance background – ensures a comfort level for the directors, leading to better input and, ultimately, the best decisions for the organization.

These two approaches take work and neither is a magic bullet. However, invest the effort in experimenting with both and you will see a definite change for the better. Doesn’t your arts organization deserve the chance to enrich and extend its life?

(This post, originally published on www.ArtsBizMiami.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

- See more at: http://blog.artsusa.org/2013/07/25/boards-risk-the-future-of-the-arts-when-they-ignore-young-professionals-from-the-partnership-movement/#sthash.YHPZw7ZP.dpuf
Related

Charlotte Cultivates its Next Cultural Leaders

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
0 Comments

How do you identify emerging leaders and help them develop into productive volunteers and board candidates for cultural organizations in your community? For The Arts & Science Council of Charlotte, the answer lies in the organization’s Cultural Leadership Training Program (CLT). (Photo credit: Arts & Science Council of Charlotte.)

 

Launched in 2005, CLT was built out of concern from cultural organizations for finding the next generation of volunteers to serve on boards. “People were starting to recycle through arts organizations, with the same faces popping up all the time in board roles,” said Katherine Mooring, vice president for culture & community investment at the Arts & Science Council. “We were missing an opportunity to engage some new fresh talent.”

 

With meetings held at rotating cultural organizations for three-and-a-half hours, once a month, future board leaders are taught the history and dynamics of the region’s cultural community. Each class focuses on an aspect of board service and a particular arts discipline, with topics ranging from legal responsibilities, governance and board-staff relations to finance, fundraising and advocacy.

 

Because each meeting is held at a different cultural organization, class members are given an opportunity to be immersed in new arts and cultural activities—visual arts, performing arts, music, theatre and dance. Students have played Suzuki violin, performed scenes from Shakespeare plays, and created a line drawing of a dance movement, then performed it.

 

“It was alike getting a backstage pass to all the cultural arts programs in town,” comments Sheila Mullen, chief empowerment officer at Continuous Motion Consulting, who joined the board of the McColl Center for Visual Art when she completed the program in 2008 and is about to begin a term as board chair. “I was well-prepared to be a board member, and knew what my roles and responsibilities were.”

 

Taylor Barden, an associate vice president at Morgan Stanley, a board member at the Charlotte Symphony and chair of the committee of alumni of the program who select each new class, says the program helps class members see “how arts organizations can work together” for the benefit of the community.

 

Strong board leadership is an essential part of building arts and business partnerships that benefit the entire community. Read more about The Arts & Science Council of Charlotte’s Cultural Leadership Training Program, and be sure to download our “Working with Volunteers” tool-kit to learn about how you can create pro bono skills-based volunteer opportunities with arts organizations in your area.

Related

Dance Troupe Markets Creativity

Posted by Emily Peck
0 Comments
Dance Troupe Markets Creativity

 

Most dance companies make money by selling tickets to their performances. Boise-based troupe Trey McIntyre Project has a more expansive business model: "We've decided that we have a real asset, which is the creative process itself. We're selling that," says John Michael Schert, the company's co-founder and executive director.

 

Some corporate giants are interested in the pitch. The University of Chicago Booth Business School recently brought Schert in for advice on getting inspired, and several Boise businesses have teamed up with the dance company.

 

"Artists live the whole process of inspiration. We decided to refine it as a tool," says Schert, a former dancer himself. "We want companies to understand what they are creating, whether it is a marketing strategy or a healthcare policy, and get them to think about where they get hung up, and how to find ways around those stopping points to come up with new ideas."

 

At Aetna, the dance troupe's work is intended to be more hands-on -- literally. The health insurance company's philanthropic foundation is in discussions with TMP about training thousands of the company's doctors and nurses on improving their patient interactions. The goal, says Schert, would be to help them learn to ready body language and reduce their patients' stress.

 

The troupe's creativity about its own business model has certainly helped its bottom line: The group is aiming to have its corporate business account for a third of TMP's $2.25 million annual budget.

 

Schert is bullish about how the business-and-art synergy can pay off for both sides.

"We're changing the role of the artist," he says. "We can help with how ideas are generated and harnessed. It helps companies, and it helps artists state their value."

 

Read the entire article at CNN Money.

 

*Photo courtesy of Trey McIntyre Project.

Related

The BCA 10: Nominate Your Favorite Business with Outstanding Arts Partnerships Today!

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
0 Comments
The BCA 10: Nominate Your Favorite Business with Outstanding Arts Partnerships Today!

Nominations for the BCA 10: Best Companies Supporting Arts in America close Friday, February 15.

 

The BCA 10 recognizes businesses of all sizes for their exceptional involvement with the arts that enrich the workplace, education, and the community.  Know of a business with exemplary support of the arts in your local community?  Work for one?  Nominate them now for The BCA 10: Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America

 

Past winners include Alltech, a leading animal health care company who partnered with the University of Kentucky’s Opera Theatre department to create the largest vocal scholarship competition in the world, First Community Bank who developed the annual South Texas Photo Contest and commissioned artwork for their local branches, and Earl Swensson Associates, Inc., an architectural firm who provided pro-bono design services within their community and sponsored a mentorship program for low-income and at-risk middle and high school students.  For more outstanding examples and to nominate, visit www.americansforthearts.org/go/BCA10.

 

Winning businesses will be honored at the BCA 10 Gala in New York City on October 3, 2013

 

For more information, visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/go/BCA10 or contact Patrick O’Herron at poherron@artsusa.org.

Related

Local Business Woman Makes Dreams Come True

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
0 Comments

Debbie Blais, founder, owner and operator of Debbie Blais Real Estate and Blais Builders, is giving the gift of the arts to a few lucky students.  Inspired by one of her favorite Henry David Thoreau quotes, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined,” she has created The Dream Scholarship, offering local arts students $1,000 annually in scholarship funds. 

 

After visiting the Burt Wood School of the Performing Arts for a craft fair, Blais reached out to school owner Lorna Brunelle, pledging $1,000 in scholarship funds to help children experience the joy of the arts.  Brunelle accepted letters of interest from families in the Middleboro area who felt that their artistic dreams had been halted due to lack of access to arts funding.  Two local children were hand selected for the 2013 award—Alannah Henault of Berkley, Mass. and Emily Travers of Taunton, Mass.  Both students used their scholarship winnings to support a class at The Burt Wood School inspired by the hit television show Glee.    

 

Blais, a Middleboro, Mass. mogul, maintains a successful empire in real estate, development and construction.  A lifelong resident of Middleboro and a business woman for over 25 years, Ms. Blais has been active in many community projects and events.  As a local business leader, she continues to play an important role in the artistic evolution and education of today’s youth. 

 

“The Debbie Blais Dream Scholarship is earmarked for students, who because of financial limitations, would not be able to attend,” states Blais.  “I believe in pursuing your dream, regardless of the obstacles; in this case it is money to pay for the courses. As a business woman, I believe that art has a profound effect on the quality of our lives; how we view and interact in the world around us.”

 

For more information on The Dream Scholarship, visit www.debbieblais.com.

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