Indispensability

BecomeIndispensable

I recently had a conversation with a friend in which I used that phrase, “making the arts indispensable.” While he agreed with my intent, he was concerned that one view of it would be to reinforce a sense of entitlement that some in the industry feel today. “Yes, the arts are special and since they are, we should be supported to continue doing what we are doing.” Clearly that was not my intent so I thought it might be useful to pursue it a little … [Read more...]

The Relevance Test

WillWorkForRelevance

I am currently working on "how to" processes for a book about establishing community engagement as a core function in arts organizations. Certainly, one of the first and most important steps is developing a cadre of engagement advocates. The arguments for engagement are many. However, I'm starting to believe that  the best place to begin may be with what I'm calling "the relevance test." Here is how I'm articulating it right now: The following … [Read more...]

The “Pandering” Straw Man

StrawMan

This post is not part of a series, so it may seem a bit out of context. I've addressed the issues of quality and community on numerous occasions previously. (The Pursuit of Excellence, Quality and Community, Quality and Community-2) However, the issue comes up so often in Q&A sessions, it's probably good to share this as I write it in the context of a larger project. Critics (and uncomfortable observers) of community engagement in the arts … [Read more...]

And

Ampersand

Last fall, Francesca McKenzie of ArtsFwd posted about a pair of improvisational comedy schools/clubs (The New Movement) in Austin, TX and New Orleans: "Yes, and." Ms. McKenzie begins with an acknowledgment of a fundamental truth about the competition faced by the arts today: In order to sustain meaningful audience engagement, many arts organizations aim to market themselves as uniquely different, providing a service or experience that movies, … [Read more...]

UX Design

DosMacLogin

I recently learned a new concept: User Experience Design. (Thanks Devon Smith and Barry Hessenius–Barry's Blog Interview with Devon Smith.) Once again I find that a product development/management concept from the information technology world resonates with community engagement work. (I mentioned the idea of "community manager" in How to Engage.) The essence of UX Design is fairly self-explanatory. How can the experience of the end user of the … [Read more...]

Tapping FOMO

FOMO

Last summer I read a NY Times article about MoMA's  "Rain Room" installation. (Steamy Wait Before a Walk in a Museum’s Rain) The installation itself sounded interesting, a room that "rains" but knows where people are and doesn't rain on them. In other words, no one gets wet. Fascinating technology and an intriguing experience. However, what really struck me was the new concept I learned reading the article: FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. One … [Read more...]

73,000 of My Closest Friends

PanthersStadium

In December, as a ritual family celebration, I accompanied various of our children and significant others to Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium to watch the Panthers play the Saints in what turned out to be (for pro football this year) an important game. So much so that the place was packed with over 73,000 people . . . in what became a torrential rain. This was not a pilgrimage of desire for football on my part. Quite the contrary. It was a … [Read more...]

Dark Future?

TunnelOpening

In a recent post, Elizabeth Merritt, the founder of the American Association of Museum's Center for the Future of Museums, gave a good synopsis of impending threats to nonprofit status that the arts may well be facing in the near (or immediate) future. (Dark Futures: Nonprofit Fragmentation) The essence of the argument is that in a time of budgetary despair for government, there is great pressure to examine the legitimacy of the tax benefits … [Read more...]

Go to the Gemba

Gemba

Show of hands. Who knows what the title of this post means? As I've mentioned before, my son is a higher ed IT management consultant. From him I learn many fascinating things about what's going on in the world of management theory and practice. Recently he told me that one of his favorite approaches–Lean, derived from Toyota's management style in the 1980's (which was the heart of Japan's conquering the automobile industry)–incorporates the … [Read more...]

Painful Insight

This is a post I did not want to write, about a thought I *really* do not want to have. I love Shakespeare. After a rocky beginning with what to me was then an incomprehensible text (Julius Caesar) in tenth grade English, my life was changed by performing in Macbeth my senior year. Yes, a high school production of "the Scottish play." Our drama instructor was a "sin boldly" kind of guy. I doubled as Banquo and the Doctor and got into stage … [Read more...]