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Leadership Training in the Arts: When Will We Get It Right?

ISSUE 21 • November 2023

Blurred out board members

By Thomas Wolf, Dennie Palmer Wolf, Alan Brown, Antonio C. Cuyler, Annick Odom

It was less than fifty years ago that Garrison Keillor parodied the newly emerging field of arts administration in his April 30, 1979, New Yorker Article, “Jack Schmidt, Arts Administrator.” He described his hero’s occupation quite simply as “raising funds from federal and corporate sources for artists with weird projects.”

Today, there are countless training opportunities for arts administrators (including several degree-granting programs). Yet, many still enter the field with little or no relevant formal training, and education for board members is even more haphazard and sparse.  

In this issue, we look at several perspectives on training in the arts.

Graphic border from WolfBrown branded image

In This Issue

Person speaking into a mic.
BAI intern speaking at Arts Education Partnership Annual Conference 2022 Creativity + Conversation + Connection.
Arts4Learning Maryland

Never Too Early

by Dennie Palmer Wolf

If you think about the challenges of today’s complex arts environment why not begin much earlier to open up the field to the many young people who could lead arts organizations? 

People smiling in a sunny outdoor picture in Rockport, Maine
Luke Fatora Dr. Thomas Wolf, Stanford Thompson, Dennie Palmer Wolf, and Emily Masters with the retreat cohort.

Ten Take-Aways from a Leadership Retreat for Executive Directors

by Thomas Wolf

Thomas Wolf shares what he and the other faculty have learned in their fourth year of leading and designing intensive, four-day leadership retreats for executive directors.

Empty Table

Preparing Board Members for Their Stewardship Role: Whose Job Is It?

by Alan Brown

Alan Brown grapples with the challenge of involving nonprofit board members in crucial aspects of organizational leadership, including institutional strategy, programming policies, and equity considerations.

Image of Antonio Cuyler Interview

Unlearning for Equity: Rethinking Capacity Building for Boards

An Interview with Antonio C. Cuyler

by Alan Brown, Annick Odom

Antonio C. Cuyler and Alan Brown discuss capacity building for access, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI). They emphasize the importance of board-level engagement, recognizing diverse capital, and integrating ADEI into core operations rather than treating it as a separate initiative.