by Jini Stolk
I recently wrote about Kevin Daum, a business entrepreneur who thinks arts training is better than business school at fostering leadership skills including “managing people effectively.”
In the arts, this is sometimes referred to as the ability to herd cats, and this little piece that I’ve loved for many years gives an overview of the types of personalities artistic directors and arts managers need to deal with (hopefully without resorting to drink.)
Just to say, that if you can handle an artistic team under production deadline you can probably take on the world.
That world most definitely includes the people on your board. Successfully managing the relationship between staff and board is not a “nice to have” for managing and artistic directors: it’s one of the essential arts leadership skills and it can be developed, thank god. The company manager and creative producer at La Mama in Melbourne, Australia, says that on the job training and intense exposure to the arts is the best way to learn how to juggle the various needs of artists, the organization and all the many stakeholders.
This doesn’t mean you have to grow old in this quest. Where Are the Senior Arts Managers? in the Huffington Post, makes the very good point that young, talented, passionate arts leaders, whose work history is with small companies, may very well have all the skills required to manage a much larger organization: as long as they can successfully sustain and build an organization, create and implement a smart plan, create visibility, build revenue, and work effectively with artists, board members and staff.
So let’s raise a glass to those all important people skills…