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  • Barry's Blog: "Setting" as a variable in the greater arts debates.
    the cost of being able to entertain bold new approaches will shrink so that everyone can play but maybe not and at best it will take some money to accomplish What that does right now is make for a continued uneven playing field and an inequity in which the large and wealthy organizations will continue to dominate the limited opportunities Equity in the access to built settings has been and continues to be an issue Third ACCESS itself is yet another issue that crops up in the debate on settings related to equity and changing technology As I have long thought and Alan observes in wondering why people will attend one venue but not another The reasons are complex often relating to cost mobility accessibility convenience cultural relevance and expected social norms How do such simple equations as the price of gasoline the number of miles away from a facility someone is and the hours in a day all play on fixed facilities located far from the shifting population in locations that may seem remote foreign and uncomfortable socially to shifting demographic audiences On a larger plane equity has to do with access to funds access to political power and access to public opinion both to build and to manage facilities Fourth SELF CURATION We have been talking for some time about the challenge of the public enabled by technology increasingly taking to curating their own arts experiences on their own timetables and terms Indeed the whole of the technological revolution has not only given people more choices as to everything but has established in their minds a sense of entitlement to having choices of what where when and under circumstances of their own dictation Nowhere is this sense of having it my way as a right more centered than in the younger generations What does that bode for the future for us Alan borrows the term audience sovereignty from Lynne Conner to characterize the authority that audiences want over their arts experiences Elements of that authority include audience choice in when to get up when to get a drink when to talk all of which are available in the theater of the home The question for us is as the home experience improves and as the benefits it offers in terms of an improved socialization environment and as audiences continue to at least subliminally prioritize the advantages of that experience what does that mean for the built environment of existing and future cultural facilities What are the various scenarios that might play out in the coming years and how can we cope with the possible outcomes A critical variable in the curation debate is the differences still existing in generational attitudes about setting Alan suggests the younger generation may feel that older established venues are your grandfather s experience preferences and are rejected because of that connection Clearly there are generational differences in attitudes towards settings But the same might have been said about Boomers rebellious in their youth rejecting of parental cultural norms who now arguably constitute the majority of those who patronize the built cultural facilities Are we not wise to be cautious in racing to embrace some new notion of what will be the norm in the future False assumptions may have gotten us to a precarious point whereby we spent treasure and more on a plan of action that now may turn out in the long term to have been a calculated mistake of judgement Perhaps we need to be a bit more cautious as we move forward It is the individual curator not the arts administration field nor even the artist who is likely to control how this all plays out Fifth Alan raises the issue of ARTISTS AS CURATORS OF SETTING suggesting What seems to be changing though is an increased desire among artists whatever their medium to control the settings in which their work is experienced and to afford audiences greater purview over their experiences Artists motivations to work in settings of their own design can be understood both in economic terms as a means of accessing more affordable spaces and on artistic terms as a means of bypassing cultural gatekeepers and gaining more creative control over the entirety of the arts experience if only to relinquish it back to the audience It would seem to me that Artists ought to have more to do with how we move forward on arts facilities and that to the extent we the gatekeepers act in that realm unilaterally taking the lead independently rather than being the follower that we are usurping the natural order of the way things might best be We might make better decisions and have fewer regrets after the fact if we were to take more time in these kinds of decisions and grant that those we theoretically serve are better qualified to head the pack What IS clear is that setting is a critical factor in audience access and support for the arts and that it deserves demands considerably more of a place in our consideration of what matters There is of course no way to predict the future You can t know what macro changes in circumstances in populations demographics economics technology or other areas will happen and it is the major changes over which we have no real control that render our best intentions to turn out to be brilliant risk taking or ill conceived arrogance Yet as administrators and policy people it is our job to try to calculate the best options and to not let our hopes and desires let alone our projections about what we want to see happen and what we want to believe cloud our judgment It is still too early to yet know whether or not the cultural facilities building boom of the past decade and a half was intuitively savvy or foolish folly What is real is that it happened and we will live with the result for awhile But it

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/08/setting-as-variable-in-greater-arts.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Shout Outs
    others because of shifting demographics will likely add to the debate about how we prove any of the propositions we are putting forth And the embedded argument to arguably reconsider the model structure that best suits the future of the arts will add to that debate Doug s book makes for a very good starting point for the debates that will undoubtedly ensue And while I am at it Congratulations to Diane Ragsdale Ian David Moss Adam Huttler and Michael Kaiser among others for sparking these internal debates on artists and organizations on proving our claims and on the necessity for consideration of new models respectively That there is dialogue and debate on these issues is good news for our field Congratulations to the San Francisco Arts Community s Town Hall 2012 a candidate forum scheduled for August 20th at 6 00 pm at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco Now in its third year of operation the SRO event is a chance for the arts community to inform candidates for office in the city about the impact of the arts and for those candidates to show a wide range of arts community members that they value the contributions made by the arts community The arts vote in the city is not unsubstantial and successful candidates appreciate that their platforms must include a relatively sophisticated understanding of and support for our field This kind of event should be organized in every city across the country Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 4 19 PM No comments Post a Comment Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Creative Vitality Suite Defined by the 59 SOC codes used in CVSuite Subscribe via email Enter your email address Delivered by FeedBurner Subscribe via Reader Subscribe in a reader Barry s Blog is a service of the Western States Arts Federation WESTAF The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of WESTAF Followers Buy Barry s Book HARDBALL LOBBYING FOR NONPROFITS Barry learned political advocacy the hard way convincing the California legislature to multiply many fold its investment in arts funding In his new book Barry extracts the lessons of his long experience into a readable and impassioned tutorial that has broad application throughout the nonprofit sector John Kriedler former President Community Initiative Fund This is a powerful provocative and daring look at the ups and downs of fighting for beliefs The book straightforwardly mixes together simple clear definitions strong opinions new ideas and in your face strategies all designed to help the good guys win Robert L Lynch President CEO Americans for the Arts Hardball Lobbying is an essential tool for every nonprofit leader who wants to see systems change and public dollars flow to the causes they care about Tim Wolfred Psy D Director of Leadership Services CompassPoint For those who want to begin a nonprofit I can think of no better guide and toolkit that

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/08/shout-outs.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Leverage
    on television and more for our message that we don t now have haven t really had yet If we were then ready all across the country with facts and data and bullet point sheets about all we bring to the table and spokespeople to do interviews and already written op ed pieces to hand out and if we were ready to pounce on the opportunity and exploit it to our advantage we might just make a small dent in all the negativity we now have to battle every day Would it forever change the paradigm of our struggle of course not But would it move us a tiny bit closer to where we want to be I think it would And that is how battles are won A tiny little step forward followed by another one Moreover it would teach us that we are capable of manufacturing moments that we can seize to our advantage Empowering The point is this really wouldn t be that hard to put together We re talking 225 separate acts of random culture A lot but do able Yes it would take some real organization and coordination to make such a collaborative effort come off but the random acts themselves are already happening and will likely happen with greater frequency at least while the idea is still novel and fresh and they are pretty much already paid for to boot All that would be necessary is some man hours to package them in a way that would leverage the power of each one of them as part of a larger temporary effort And some planning as to how to best capitalize on the anticipated media coverage objective I have seen a score of exercises far more complicated carried off successfully by our sector just this year One of the things I like about random acts of culture is that they help people to viscerally respond to the power of the arts One of our problems is that while the public can appreciate the arguments economic and otherwise that we have value for too many in their heart of hearts they just don t get it Not like we get it That has long been a problem for us in making our case and winning converts to our cause The random acts in a small way address that challenge They help people if just for a moment to get it and internally register how art makes them feel That in turn opens them up for change And that s what we need because if we can facilitate people actually getting it we will have succeeded in engaging them in the way I think all the programs projects and thinking about engagement envision Even if you don t like my thinking on how we might package our Random Acts of Art and Culture to better effect I strongly urge you to think about how we can better systemically and purposefully leverage the good things we are

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/07/leverage.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Time to Question our Decision Making Process
    most funder program officers have historically not been empowered to act quickly nor have they been accorded much discretionary authority Grants are vetted and approved up the ladder There is nothing inherently wrong with having to rigorously justify your position and fight for what you want to do but our managers shouldn t have to have every decision made up the ladder as it were That makes for slow organizations But for funders anyway I think things are changing As they move more from grant making exclusively to organizations and more towards expenditure of some funds that seek to impact the fundamentals of the field infrastructure leadership capacity and the like they are gaining discretionary decision making and are able to respond quicker than they ever have before Not all funders of course but some of the leaders anyway That sea change is a slow process but the door has been opened and will now thankfully be difficult to close again Will that practice trickle down as it were to the organizations within the field itself remains an open question As more arts funders gain increased decision making independence perhaps they will begin to look for the same grant of authority within the organizations they fund It would also be helpful if as a field we could provide some training and resources that would help organizations and senior leadership facilitate more decentralized decision making Can we make it more comfortable to delegate more decision making I hope so because I think the one risk that is worth taking is to invest more confidence in our people and their ability to make intelligent reasonable decisions Our people need I at least some of the time to be able to green light projects quickly and on their own authority What we will need to do to foster that trend is to insure that we provide all our managers with advanced skills training and options to learn more so they will become better decision makers To my thinking there is no doubt they need to have more authority to make decisions if we as a field are going to grapple with all the challenges we face in a timely manner and begin to move from where we are to where we will need to be The current system is simply too inefficient and antiquated and it wastes the talent and idea generation potential of our leadership as well as precious time Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 2 45 PM No comments Post a Comment Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Creative Vitality Suite Defined by the 59 SOC codes used in CVSuite Subscribe via email Enter your email address Delivered by FeedBurner Subscribe via Reader Subscribe in a reader Barry s Blog is a service of the Western States Arts Federation WESTAF The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of WESTAF Followers Buy Barry s Book HARDBALL LOBBYING FOR

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/07/time-to-question-our-decision-making.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Interview with the Knight Foundation's Dennis Scholl
    to this seismic drift in audiences Take a look at Sunil Iyengar s NEA study Participation 2 0 for some of the facts that make up this sobering reality I do see a grand awakening by arts organizations to these trends but I believe that we all need to make these audience engagement issues an urgent priority in our programmatic strategic and funding efforts We at Knight also feel particularly strongly about the digital revolution and what it means to our current and future consumption of culture As a foundation founded on quality journalism we have seen that industry decimated due to being slow to react to this profound change in the industry Frankly I see many parallels to this in the arts field Too many arts websites provide the user with only opening hours and location with no content that enhances the onsite programming or allows the user to learn about the programming prior to or after attending Arts groups need to have an integrated digital and mobile strategy for reaching their audience In this day and age it can t be an afterthought Your question regarding a national arts funder policy statement is an interesting one Each arts funder has its own mission and while a national dialogue among us is always necessary and the GIA and AFTA in particular do a wonderful job providing a platform for those discussions we at Knight tend to prefer an entrepreneurial risk capital approach which hopefully yields successful models that can then be replicated That being said there is one area that I believe we can all agree on and work toward that is the issue of a sustainability model for arts and culture in America I ve given a synopsis of a new project in this area in the response to question 5 below BARRY Along the lines of the above question what do you think the overall role of foundational arts funding is or should be Do you for example have any specific thoughts you might like to share with respect to supporting programs in arts and aging arts education arts and social justice or support for individual artists What role do you think the nation s arts foundation funders ought to take with respect to such issues as advocacy and public policy professional development for our arts administrators and managers or the issue of equity in funding DENNIS I m so glad you asked me to comment on policy issues I just finished a semester up in Cambridge as a 2012 Harvard University Advanced Leadership Fellow continuing to work on community engagement through culture One of the most exciting projects I ve encountered in the national arts policy area is called the Initiative for Sustainable Arts in America ISAA It is led by Jim Bildner out of the Hauser Center for Non Profits in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government ISAA is launching this year with the stated goal of creating a grassroots movement to establish a national arts policy It also asks communities to take increased responsibility for supporting their cultural assets The project will begin by assessing the cultural assets of six communities across America Boston Detroit Los Angeles Miami Minneapolis St Paul and Philadelphia along with initiating a community and national dialogue about the misalignment of community appreciation for cultural assets and the limited personal and philanthropic donor pool I m enthusiastic about the prospects for this project It s an idea whose time has come in America Stay tuned as Jim and I hope to present this project at the Grantmakers in the Arts National Convention in Miami this coming October BARRY A growing trend in arts funding is for various disparate parts of our sector s grant makers public and private to collaborate and work together How is Knight working to foster more joint efforts and partnerships How might the full range of arts funders collaboration be moved forward given the obstacles and barriers DENNIS For me the most exciting examples of public private collaboration out there right now have come from the willingness of the National Endowment for the Arts to reach out and work with so many private funders ArtPlace is the leading example of that ArtPlace was created by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman is led by Carol Coletta and housed at the NonProfit Financial Fund ArtPlace is a consortium of the dozen largest arts funders in America collaborating with five banks from the private sector and Cabinet level participants from HUD HHS Agriculture Education Domestic Policy and others The goal of ArtPlace is to encourage creative placemaking by searching for arts led vibrancy in communities and funding that momentum I am fortunate to serve as the founding chair of the executive committee and operating committee of ArtPlace Rocco and Carol s efforts have raised close to 40 million to date and so far over two rounds we ve given out 26 4 million to 83 projects You can see a list at artplaceamerica org The opportunity to work hand in hand with my colleagues at Ford Rockefeller Kresge Irvine and others along with the bankers and the federal agency has expanded how we all look at integrating the arts into the growth and development of our communities BARRY Engagement is the current hot topic buzz word in audience development What is your take on that dialogue and trend DENNIS Engagement is the raison d etre of the arts We must continue to try and find ways to reach audiences especially as they have so many choices Today s audiences want a multi media experience and want to participate in the artistic experience BARRY What kinds of research do you think the field needs to pay more attention to and why DENNIS We ve made an investment in the Cultural Data Project in St Paul That continues to show promise as being a long term solution to the existing data gap in our field The NEA under Sunil Iyengar s leadership

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/07/interview-with-knight-foundations.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: How Long Can This Go On
    Coal Mine the end line of which is the plaintive Lord how long can this go on How long indeed Have a great week Don t Quit Success is not final failure is not fatal It is the courage to continue that counts Barry Posted by Barry at 1 05 PM 2 comments apoorplayer July 9 2012 at 9 20 PM Barry Political action costs money lots of it I hear I would love to hear your ideas for how to raise the sums needed to fight the political fight from a sector that continues to shrink financially as it is Thanks Reply Delete Replies Barry July 10 2012 at 1 40 PM First it really takes far less money than people assume it takes to have clout and impact Lobbyists target key legislators e g committee chairs et al in their attempts to influence legislation or win allies to their causes It s a leverage game And 1000 political campaign contributions get you noticed and on the radar screens Most people assume you have to give millions of dollars to have real access and clout Not true Second the nonprofit arts sector needs to do what every other special interest group teachers prison guards the NRA et al that wants to exercise political clout does we need to tax ourselves as it were If there are at least 50 000 arts organizations in the country and if there are 20 people on average that are intimately involved in each one s operations as paid staff boards volunteers principal supporters etc that s one million people as your core base If 20 of that total were to pledge just 20 a year that s 4 000 000 a year a very substantial war chest I think the field might be larger and that doesn t count private sector for profit arts organizations or students majoring in arts in college nor does it count artists themselves Finally the arts have an option unavailable to most other special interest groups art itself If 20 of all the performing arts organizations in the country would do one benefit for arts advocacy every two or three years and donate the net proceeds from that performance to arts advocacy and that donation could possibly be a tax deduction for the artists themselves that would yield millions more in proceeds The arts most certainly have the potential to raise very large amounts of money and could amass significant political clout and power Delete Reply Add comment Load more Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Creative Vitality Suite Defined by the 59 SOC codes used in CVSuite Subscribe via email Enter your email address Delivered by FeedBurner Subscribe via Reader Subscribe in a reader Barry s Blog is a service of the Western States Arts Federation WESTAF The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of WESTAF Followers Buy Barry s Book HARDBALL LOBBYING FOR NONPROFITS Barry learned political advocacy the

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/07/how-long-can-this-go-on.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Going Outside the Box - Too Far?
    everything Some will argue that if you are going to create a new infrastructure management team and apparatus to do something from start to finish every time you are going to waste a lot of time and energy in a needless and costly repetitive cycle of reinventing what is already in existence But is that true Maybe what you would be doing is simply dismantling the existing separate infrastructures and mechanisms that are definitionally already needless repetitions of what is not needed in favor of a new system that would be far more efficient in the long run by centralizing and merging certain functions and applying them as needed to a given project be it a performance a service or something else Which would be ultimately better a thousand self contained organizations where all the functions are inefficiently under a thousand different roofs or a system of highly qualified teams to which much of any given project could be outsourced on a case by case basis And that is assuming that these teams are organic themselves and constantly evolving But what about brand and identity What about consistency and constancy What about them Why do they exist only if the organization is perpetual Ask instead how much more excited the public might be if creativity were really turned on its head What is brand if not the perception in the public s mind of value Is consistency really the holy grail Would it be outrageous to ask a grant applicant How long they perceive the organization intends to remain in business How long it can rationally argue that it will be viable Are those questions anyone asks of a grant applicant today Why not Should we not rethink what we ought to ask of applicants should we not ask them to think up front about the need for them to continue forever I am of course not suggesting we kill all the lawyers as it were and get rid of all the organizations but rather than we begin to insist that they evolve It seems apparent the organization is an essential framework for some maybe a lot of artistic endeavors Isn t it legitimate to just ask out loud whether or not we ought to continue in perpetuity to support the concept of the forever organization Is support loyalty to that construct perhaps myopic confining and in the long run just maybe not such a great idea Is the notion that organizations ought to every so often re organize the way they exist not legitimate Does not the commitment to the concept of the forever organization breed complacency and aren t our organizations becoming soft in a way too safe in some ways to continually consider when and how to change to stay at the forefront Should we focus only on how we can make any given organization better or ask instead whether supporting the organization itself is the right approach And maybe we ought to identify our best and brightest and support them wherever they happen to be follow them and not stay with the organization itself Shouldn t we begin to question the whole model if for no other reason than to more accurately pinpoint its flaws and weaknesses so we might deal with them We might just need to unlearn what we have done for so long and relearn a new approach take new risks and innovate again Or is such a notion way too radical for it to be seriously considered Too full of holes and too conceptual to begin to deal with Were I again a major funder I would want to start thinking more radically and consider ideas that are way outside the box at least for the longer term Tiptoeing just outside the walls of our box isn t likely to allow us to consider what might lie way beyond those walls for the times they are a changing If we say we want to think outside the box should we not be dong it ourselves How far out of the box are we willing to go I suggest we consider the proposition that funding individual projects rather than institutional organizations and the idea of funding specific proven leaders and follow them on their career paths might be at least in many cases a far better approach in determining the best use of funds given our stated objectives and the challenges attendant to all funding than continuing to fund all the organizations themselves just because we always have And I think we might want to deal with the proposition embrace or dismiss it sooner rather than later so that we control the dialogue rather than having it imposed on us Doubtless this will appear as heresy to anyone gainfully employed at an ongoing organization but I am not sure it ought to be viewed that way Sector wide systemic reorganization takes a long long time The change would be slow But over time it might just be a better way to protect one s job and make it more interesting and challenging and thus satisfying and it might yield better results in furtherance of original mission statements over that longer term Too far outside the box for our comfort level Even just as a topic to discuss seriously Have a great week Don t Quit Barry Posted by Barry at 1 52 PM 4 comments Anonymous July 2 2012 at 11 10 AM Couple of comments I very much agree with the idea of funding key people not organizations if your intent is to break new ground Venture capital firms look as much to the key people involved in the proposed project as to the validity of the business plan Second the innovative parts of the corporate world have largely shifted to project teams as the way to really get things done The notion is to have a pool of competent people and assemble teams with the specific skills and backgrounds for the

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/07/going-outside-box-too-far.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Barry's Blog: Advice Off the Internet
    reaching lines then you need to simplify your group s decision making process 2 You re a micromanager Yes you The ability of a group to execute effectively can be crushed by just one micromanager Can you see the micromanager in your group They re easy to spot Find them and make them stop But if you can t find one here s the thing It s probably you Micromanaging is so easy to see in others but is much harder to see in ourselves Here s a full proof test Pick out the single most productive person in your group Watch closely at how they get things done If it includes finding multiple innovative ways to bypass you then you re the problem 3 You re rushing the decision Remember when your business was small and life was simple Now life isn t that simple Your business has grown and now has many more moving parts And chances are that the growth in complexity happened iteratively over time and like the proverbial frog in slowly heated water you haven t noticed the effect on your decision making Here s the difference In the smaller simpler business you can make a decision fast and implement it quickly Now you have a larger more complex business making decisions fast actually slows down the implementation process sometimes crippling it entirely Why Because you made the decision so fast you didn t take into account all the variables people customers systems involved in your now more complex business Once a business has grown beyond infancy speedy and effective implementation depends on slower decision making Not slow you don t need to descend into to paralysis by analysis just slower Take a little longer to make the initial decision and watch the rate of implementation rise 4 You ve worn everyone out You re a passionate engaged leader You re intellectually curious innovative and not afraid of risk You re full of great ideas and keen to implement them Your people respect and admire you and they re exhausted Do your team members avoid you on Monday mornings Do they look apprehensive when you return from a two week vacation If so it s because they know weekends and holidays are dangerous times because that s when you come back to the office with five brilliant must do projects even though they haven t finished implementing last month s brilliant must do projects If you suspect this might be you then do yourself and your team a favor Keep a list of all current projects When you have a blinding flash of creativity which produces a new project instead of simply adding it to the list make a conscious explicit decision about which existing project to drop off the list in return You ll find that compared with your existing priorities many of those brilliant must do s just aren t that important and those that do make the list will stand much more

    Original URL path: http://blog.westaf.org/2012/06/advice-off-internet.html (2016-05-01)
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