Is This Organization Big Enough For The Two Of Us?

I don’t recall what originally brought it to my attention or caused me to read it more closely, but the Executive Director job search announcement for Forecast Public Art struck me as interesting.

Forecast is looking for a new executive director because the founding executive director is stepping down after 38 years to become the Director of Community Services. At first, I thought this might be part of a leadership succession plan where the former executive director would be around as a resource as he transitioned into retirement.

However, after reading the press release on the matter, the narrative I was making up in my head about the situation changed. Based on the statement that Forecast has “seen an increase in the demand for its public art community services,” I started to think that executive director Jack Becker decided that community services work was where his passions really lay versus the other efforts Forecast pursues.

The truth may be a combination of both or something else altogether. If anyone has any additional information, I would love to know.

Regardless of the real reasons, how arts organizations handle leadership issues is an area of interest for me so I would like to see how things turn out. It may require a fair bit of discipline on the part of many people to look (or direct others) to someone else for leadership decisions after 38 years of one person holding the executive position.

Just two months ago, I wrote a piece for ArtsHacker that dealt with conducting searches for non-profit executives. In that post I included a link to an excellent Nonprofit Executive Succession-Planning Toolkit put together by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

While useful in every succession situation, it may be particularly applicable in the case of Forecast because it contains a self-reflection questionnaire designed for the departing executive. One of the things it asks is what the departing executive envisions their relationship with the organization to be in the future, a question which covers everything from a complete split to emeritus status to a continued daily role such as the one at Forecast.

There are also tools and advice in both the toolkit and other resources I link to in the post to help guide the board of directors through various different scenarios that sees the executive depart.

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/)

I am currently the 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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