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...]

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...]

Core Business

AppleCore

I continue to be thinking about basic issues for arts institutions. Here are some thoughts about core business. There is a story–that I have always assumed to be apocryphal–of the dance company manager, newly hired in November, who observed that his troupe sold thousands of ticket and made tens of thousands of dollars with their production of The Nutcracker. His conclusion was that his audience loved lavish ballets by Tchaikovsky. The next … [Read more...]

Want-Need: “Them”?

Them(Ant)

Two of my favorite bloggers, Nina Simon and Diane Ragsdale, have recently weighed in on the want vs. need argument. Since this is a topic I have addressed a couple of times before, I wanted to expand upon the discussion a bit from my perspective. It is reasonable to assume we know some things the general public does not about how the arts can address their needs. For instance, if there is a need to address issues surrounding race relations, … [Read more...]

Enrich @#!*$@

EnrichNo

Rant du jour: the word "enrich" in mission statements. Yes, it is important to enrich people's lives–make them more enjoyable, more fulfilling, more meaningful. However, so often when the word is used in mission or vision statements, that's the only reference to interacting with the public. It is, of course, better than focusing on the art to the exclusion of the community, but stopping at "enrich" sells the arts short. If the arts are only … [Read more...]

Inside/Outside

MondaviWinery

This is yet another example of how it's nearly impossible for me to get away from things that tie in to the content of this blog. In September, during my trip to California to work with James Irvine Foundation grantees, I took some time to "play" in Napa Valley. One stop was at the Robert Mondavi Winery. We took an official tour led by one of Mondavi's wine chemists. This was a man whose passion and life work is great wine. He knows his stuff and … [Read more...]

Irrigate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oePXcW6axk Springboard for the Arts has been developing buzz in the creative placemaking world of late. I've heard presentations about their work at several conferences this year. At the Americans for the Arts conference in Pittsburgh in June I got to meet Laura Zabel, Springboard's extremely energetic ED. Springboard began life as a resource center for individual artists. It has expanded its work to find … [Read more...]

Why We Do It

JimmyEllisAtAndys-Seated

I love Chicago. I love jazz. I love jazz clubs in Chicago; and one of my favorites is Andy's, a place my wife and I discovered because it has a show that begins before my bedtime. (Being a jazz lover and not being a night owl creates some real challenges for me.) We were recently in the Windy City and had the pleasure of hearing saxophonist Jimmy Ellis's quartet. (Click here for an article about him.) Mr. Ellis is in his 80's and is a legend in … [Read more...]

Listening to Serve

In AftA Thoughts (2013): II, I suggested a question that can aid the transition to a community-oriented approach to the work of the arts: "How can we help?" In the aftermath of the June's Americans for the Arts conference in Pittsburgh and the One State Together conference in Moline, another "way of thinking" phrase that has potential for guiding us toward greater relevance has been crystallizing in my mind. In my Mainstreaming Engagement … [Read more...]