Because many elements involved in running an arts organization are similiar to running a small business, I saw a number of declarations included here that an arts administrator would do well do heed.
Among them are: “Independence from 80-hour work weeks”–Many arts administrators end up putting their body and soul into the job. (I know I and some of my friends have at least.) Most people do the job because they love it, but when you aren’t getting much sleep, you end up resenting your work rather than loving it.
“Independence from overly-powerful customers”–read this one as including patrons, donors, board members, etc. The author’s advice is mine as well–diversify your base so falling from grace with one person doesn’t put your programs in peril.
“Independence from overly-dependent employees. If your employees are not allowed, encouraged, or developed to make independent decisions, then you’re going to be constantly burdened by their dependence. Create a working environment that gives employees responsibility and authority, making certain that employees are also given the training and support to handle such authority. ”
That one says it all for me as does the next one…
“Independence from a sour work environment. You started your own business so you could enjoy going to work; you certainly don’t want petty office politics, personality spats, and malicious gossip to ruin your daily life. Treat your employees, customers, and vendors with respect, and they’re less likely to want to declare their independence from you!”
“Independence from constant insecurity”–Probably the one problem that faces the majority of arts organizations–financial insecurity. I am sure a lot of people would be a lot happier if it were much easier to build up cash reserves/endowments for a rainy day.
There are a few more “independence” points the author makes (from overhead, bureaucracy) that give you something to think about and makes the article worth reading. (It is also rather short and an easy read.)
I hope everyone in the US had a good independence day and will perhaps take this summer (which may be a lull period for some) to mull over how you might declare your indepedence from the forces that assail you.