I Just Invented the Wheel! Whadda You Mean You Did Too?

My thanks to David Dombrowsky of the Center for Arts Management and Technology at Carnegie Mellon who commented on a recent entry. In response to my entry on how well things were developing for the Emerging Leadership Institute, he suggested that instead of independently inventing the wheel arts organizations like APAP, Americans for the Arts and the Southern Arts Federation which all have leadership programs combine their efforts to offer greater opportunities for learning and conversation.

He isn’t the first to express this sentiment. Andrew Taylor said the same thing two years ago when I did an entry on Southern Arts Federation’s National Arts Leadership Institute. As Andrew noted, there are many such programs throughout the country. I listed a sampling here.

Someone in my Emerging Leaders meeting at APAP suggested that it might be logical and beneficial to open a channel of communication with the American for the Arts Emerging Leaders program alumni.

I had a brief email exchange with David about causes and solutions. We generally both agreed a little bit of ego and territoriality came into play. As Andrew Taylor noted in his comment, we are often enjoined to partner and collaborate by these service organizations but they may not be providing a good example for their constituents.

One thing I mentioned to David was that change in outlook might have to come at the grassroots level and technology made such things possible where it hadn’t been before. I will make no promises or idealistic statements about success at this juncture, but I am going to talk to some people and do some research and see what develops. Given that I don’t know exactly what success will look like other than people engaging in effective communication and exchange of ideas, I can’t be more committal about what my plans are. If people have any suggestions about who to speak with or want to get involved in organizing an effort, as nebulous as it might be at this point, drop me an email.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


2 thoughts on “I Just Invented the Wheel! Whadda You Mean You Did Too?”

  1. I don’t remember when exactly, but Andrew Taylor coined an excellent quote regarding the troubles you mentioned (forgive me in advance for paraphrasing) “Let’s all work together so long as it’s under my direction.” Turf wars and control over funding $ has killed many good ideas before they ever saw the light of day.

  2. I agree with so much of what you wrote but, as the Americans for the Arts staff liaison to the Emerging Leader Council, I would like to add that we work really hard to overcome some of these territrial boundaries. For example, we have been “mentoring” the American Association of Museum (AAM) Emerging Museum Professionals initiative – a team of AAM came to our Annual Convention Vegas to meet with the ELC. Furthermore, Stanlyn Breve is a new member of the Council and an active participant in APAP’s emerging leader program. I see broad cross-fertilization of these initiatives and, when we all work in service of young professionals, we all benefit. So, wanna play together?


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