The Case for Cultural Fluency

WDET Cultural Fluency

In this excerpt from "The Case for Cultural Fluency," Mikel Ellcessor introduces the concept of Cultural Fluency as it can be applied by arts and culture leaders. You can read and download his full white paper here.  It’s déjà vu all over again. Picture this: you are in a meeting and you have been in this meeting many times. After another detailed mapping of the problem, someone takes a stab at a solution and says it: “We have to move beyond the current audience and into new audiences and communities.” This feels like success, right? … [Read more...]

Relinquishing Control

photo: Keith Winsten

Editor’s note: As part of our blog event for The Summit at Sundance, we have invited participants in The Chief Executive Program to frame each of our problems to solve. Here, Keith Winsten takes on the problem: Engage users/customers/stakeholders as true collaborators in shaping an institution's agenda. Across many types of experiences, from retail to food to leisure, consumers are demanding more and more customization.  And the rise of smart phones and other handheld digital media devices have made this customization available in real time. … [Read more...]

Committing to Engagement

Engagement Ring

Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, we’ll feature posts around the final convening of our Chief Executive Program, The Summit at Sundance. We invite you to participate in an online discussion of four major issues facing the cultural field. In this post, Theresa Remick introduces the third problem statement. Problem to solve: Engage users/customers/stakeholders as true collaborators in shaping an institution’s agenda. Customers are shifting from passive consumers to active collaborators, and many desire experiences designed for and … [Read more...]

Creating the 21st Century Board


Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, we’ll feature posts around the final convening of our Chief Executive Program, The Summit at Sundance. We invite you to participate in an online discussion of four major issues facing the cultural field. In this post, Alorie Clark introduces the second problem statement. Governance is a certainly a hot topic for the nonprofit sector. Many organizations are finding that the traditional governance model isn’t working so well, sometimes leading to more stress than success. When considering all that … [Read more...]

Collaboration is key in D.C.


This post appears as part of the ARTSblog Emerging Leaders Blog Salon, in which emerging leaders from around the country were asked, “What would make where you live a better place or bring it to the next level?” I moved to Washington D.C. four years ago, after living in a village of 600, and I absolutely love where I live. I enjoy trying new restaurants, seeing world premiere plays, watching drummers and acro-yogis perform in my favorite public park and the proximity of it all. Although I cannot deny the benefits of living near national … [Read more...]

Defining Our Value


The recent flurry of articles around the “failure” of the creative class to save our cities—as Richard Florida’s writings have been characterized as promising—and the challenges of measuring the value of “creative placemaking” has me wondering if we are nearing the end of the road for all of the instrumental arguments we have been making for the nonprofit arts over the past 30 years.  Or perhaps we ran out of road a while back but just didn’t notice. One of our most beloved arguments for support of the arts has been the idea that they … [Read more...]

An Unlikely Partnership: Reinventing Swan Lake

photo: Cecil Sanders

Developing audiences, deepening engagement and expanding creative horizons are some of the biggest concerns of the leaders we work with at National Arts Strategies. With increasing entertainment options and access to technology, organizations feel the need to make their work more innovative and appealing to modern consumers, but many struggle in figuring out how to do so. For some, exploring new forms of collaboration can be the answer to remaining relevant and competitive in today’s environment. Earlier this year, Ballet Memphis Founding … [Read more...]

Partnerships: From Good to Great

capp header

One of the most important responsibilities for any nonprofit is to understand how you can best leverage organizational assets to serve your mission and your constituents. But often, our assets alone aren’t plentiful enough to let us deliver on our mission with the level of impact we’d like. Partnerships are one way to do more without the requirement of additional internal resources, but it’s important to enter into a partnership for the right reasons. Regardless of shared vision or a great rapport, making the most out of collaborations requires … [Read more...]

Stories from the Field: Boston Children’s Chorus

Boston Children's Chorus

Frederick Douglas once said “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” That quote has resonated with me since the day I discovered it, and I would imagine Hubie Jones had a similar mantra in mind when he founded the Boston Children’s Chorus nine years ago. The potent mental and emotional memory of Boston’s racial past attributes to the city’s current racial tension and siloed communities. By investing in the city’s youth, Boston Children’s Chorus is working to dispel the past, and progress toward an integrated future. By … [Read more...]

What does it mean to be a cultural leader?

Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders

The experience of being in a place for five days with an amazingly diverse and talented group of individuals through the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders has left me completely changed. I have to admit that all the conversations that took place floated and tumbled around my head when I was there, and I kept struggling with what this meant for me in my day-to-day reality. As an arts administrator working with education and community partnerships, and specifically advocating for engagement with the most at-risk, I tried to flesh … [Read more...]