Desperately Seeking Arts Managers had a link to a story on ArtSeek about the difficulty arts organizations in the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth area were having finding arts managers. A good many positions are going unfilled. The article also cites the example of the NY Philharmonic being turned down by six candidates before finally hiring an Australian.

Now I know some of this is due to the level at which a manager must operate for some organizations. From recent conversations with colleagues, I know that some places have had close to 200 applicants for their director positions. I suspect there may be some applicants for the jobs linked to in the ArtSeek piece but they didn’t approach the minimum criteria for consideration.

But I am reminded of the Building Movement report and Ready to Lead reports I wrote on in 2008, and the Daring to Lead follow up report that came out this past summer.

All three addressed the problems perceived with the lack of mentoring and succession planning in non-profit organizations as well as the reluctance young emerging leaders felt toward assuming executive director positions.

Daring to Lead noted that while executive turnover was a concern, the rate was less than had been expected. Based on that, I assumed the recognition of the problem would be delayed a little while. Perhaps leadership turn over at arts organization has occurred at a greater rate than non-profits as a whole or Texas just has an atypical cluster of vacancies.

Regardless, the ArtSeek story points to the necessity to start to really examine whether the arts industry is sufficiently cultivating the next generation of leaders it needs to sustain its organizations.

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 ( 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. (

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.


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