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.