Update on accessibility

by Jini Stolk

The Air Canada Centre must be very sorry it didn’t accommodate a legally blind ticket buyer’s request for accessible seating at Stevie Wonder’s upcoming concert. The overwhelmingly bad PR for ACC and Ticketmaster highlighted just one of the reasons we want to stay well ahead of the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) requirements.

Matt Galloway, in his coverage of the media/social media storm, noted that some of Toronto’s smaller theatres have been making progress on accessibility. Music to my ears. I think it’s fair to say that Creative Trust and Picasso PRO‘s Performing Arts Access Program helped raise awareness of the importance of welcoming Blind/low vision and Deaf/hard of hearing audiences to our theatres.

We also made it easier by producing two handbooks for producers and presenters of Audio Described and American Sign Language interpreted performances.

As to real progress, there’s been more than a little going on since our Arts Access Program wrapped up in 2012.

The Accessing the Arts Symposium at Whitby’s new Abilities Centre in June, brought together some of the key artists and arts professionals incorporating inclusive thinking into their programming, creation,  and education initiatives. Selfconscious Theatre’s Book of Judith was the centre piece and co-producer of the symposium.

Other initiatives I’ve been keeping my eyes on include: Aluna Theatre’s Rutas Panamericanas which worked with two audio describers trained by Picasso PRO/Creative Trust to provide access for Deaf/hard of hearing attenders. Native Earth Performing Arts has been a leader in the area; its theatre space was designed to be fully accessible, and the company has been actively committed to hosting accessible performances. Native Earth even took part in Accessibility Ontario’s Train the Trainer workshop, because “We wanted to train the arts to understand accessibility beyond just administration,” according to Rae Powell, former Project Manager of the Accessibility Program at Native Earth. “Canada is behind the times in accessible performance and we wanted to do the right thing by bringing more of it to Toronto.”

Judith Thompson’s RARE at the Young Centre brought actors with disabilities onstage. Tribes, a Theatrefront Production at Canadian Stage and Theatre Aquarius, was not only about characters with disabilities; it mixed American Sign Language with English onstage. A False Face, presented last year by a new indigenous theatre company, Spiderbones Performing Arts, included ASL performances. The Kitchener-Waterloo Arab Canadian Theatre/KW-ACT provided ASL interpretation in a production in July. To a Flame, with Erin Shields writing in both sign and spoken language, has undergone an extraordinary development process involving Picasso PRO and the National Deaf Theatres of both Sweden and Finland.

Last but not least, the wonderful Picasso PRO with Andrea Donaldson and the SPiLL Collective (formed “to ignite an explosion of Deaf cultural presence within Canadian arts and culture”) have been developing a Deaf-led piece called Finding Alice, which will have its first showing later this month in Gatineau.

Even with all the above I’m not yet ready to declare a revolution, but it’s a serious moment in the cultural movement and a hopeful sign of more changes to come.

A leader in ASL theatre in our community recently posed a question conveying both the early commitment to accessibility and creative partnerships needed to move things forward. From Joanna Bennett: “What if some (co- or touring productions) integrated interpretation in their show from the get go, thereby spreading the opportunity for an accessible show to be seen in many cities/theatre houses throughout the tour. To take the load off the original company, the houses that bring them in (could) share the cost…creating a ripple effect…because the hosting towns would get a taste of what interpreted shows are like and may be interested to try it themselves!”

Right on, Jo.

Physical Accessibility

Following its emergence as a major theme at the Mayoral Arts Debate at TIFF this week, physical and built form accessibility is also a growing force. Remember that Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment are coming up soon.

Employment Opportunities

Some of us noticed that the new Mandate Letter for the Ontario  Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure included a directive around “Increasing the number of employment opportunities for Ontarians of all abilities by establishing new partnerships with business and persons with disabilities.”  How about with arts and other nonprofit organizations too?

Promoting Your Accessibility

From VisitEngland: “Developing and promoting your Access Statement is essential. An Access Statement is a detailed description of facilities and services that enables your customers to make an informed choice; it’s a great promotional opportunity to reach customers with access needs too.” Check out their free online tool for more.

Accessibility Ontario also has terrific resources for accessible communications and marketing.

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Network (and other) leadership for change

by Jini Stolk

I was delighted to be asked to do a 5×5 presentation for the recent Ontario Nonprofit Network conference , although summing up the qualities of successful Network Leadership in five minutes and five slides was a bit daunting.

Basically, I said (with many thanks to June Holley’s superb Network Weaver and Liz Rykert’s exceptional workshops on the topic) that:

  • networks – widespread collaborations usually organized to deal with big and complex issues – require not better leadership, but different leadership and leadership skills
  • network leaders encourage and draw out new voices and leaders; need to be flexible; encourage initiative; weave people together and make connections
  • they encourage people to take responsibility; are open and transparent; understand and identify breakthroughs; embrace innovation and constantly share
  • they feel the joy of working to achieve real change, and communicate it to others

All very true, and quite different from standard “business book” definitions of leadership.

But wait. “Nimble, vibrant organizations will need a special kind of leadership, comfortable with uncertainty and excited by unknowns. You’ll be good at what you love to do” we were reminded several years ago by Joanna Mackie in a workshop sponsored by Work in Culture.

She said that changing leadership requires the ability to enable the leadership of others; pull together strategies to engage others in making positive change; focus on what works; make links; prepare to adapt, be flexible; ensure your thinking and intentions are understood; focus on the goal and relationships.

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofit’s Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence makes many similar and important points in this great piece aimed at board, management and volunteer leaders.

I also like Jess Lee, CEO of the fashion website Polyvore, who says that she cleaves to three values in everything she does: delight the user; do a few things well; and make an impact. Great advice for all of us.

Maybe it’s the world that’s changing, not just the type of leadership we now value. I’m all in favour of new values and practices in the arts, nonprofit, and all other sectors as we continue on into the 2,000′s. What we’ve been doing up until now in this world of ours is just…messed up. (Sorry guys, but I’ve just finished reading today’s news!)

 

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Engaging your board – some great ideas

by Shana Hillman

General Manager of Kaeja d’Dance and Executive Producer of inDANCE, and former guru of programs at Creative Trust, Shana Hillman reports back on Maytree’s September 22nd Five Good Ideas session on Engaging your Board Effectively, led by Robin Cardozo in conversation with Jehad Aliweiwi, Earl Miller, and Jini Stolk. 

Jini has written extensively about boards and a huge part of our work at Creative Trust was around boards – good boards – bad boards. We hosted sessions, workshops, consulted and offered one on one facilitation in some of the roughest cases. Did I really need to attend a lunch and learn about boards put on by the Maytree Foundation?

Short answer – yes.

Something that has stuck with me since my time as the Program Manager at Creative Trust came from one of our own board members and a trailblazer in the Arts Management game, Mallory Gilbert. At some point I must have been bellyaching that a member had told me they didn’t need to come to one of our professional development sessions because “he already knew everything about Board Governance”. Mallory looked at me, eyebrow raised, and said “I’ve been doing this for 32 years and I can always learn something new.”

Now I know exactly how it goes – there is a grant report to write – a season brochure that’s late to the printer – toilet paper to buy for the office bathrooms (does the glamour never stop?) and about a hundred other day-to-day chores that you need to do as part of a small staff. Making time for 3 hours out of your day to travel to and sit through a lunch and learn is hard and it is so tempting to bail out at the last minute.

I’m so glad I made the time. I left last Monday’s session filled with new ideas, reminded of some best practices I’ve grown lazy around and energized for our next board meeting.

Props have to go to the excellent format of the Five Good Ideas series, now in it’s 5th year. I love that it is broken down into small manageable chunks – five great nuggets – perfect for our overloaded and stressed out brains with time for discussion with our peers, questions and answers and a free sandwich (I’m a sucker for a sandwich).

Five Good Ideas on Engaging your Board effectively

  1. Inspired Recruitment
  2. Thoughtful Orientation
  3. Managed Risk
  4. Meaningful Conversation
  5. Getting out and having fun!

The takeaways from this session were particularly applicable to my current work. We recently had two longtime members retire and three newbies join the team so the idea of a thoughtful orientation had special resonance for me. We’ve got the inspired recruitment covered – our entire board is made up of wonderfully passionate people who are so dedicated to our work – but I realize now that how we orientate new people to the company will set the tone of their entire board career with the organization.

It’s about more than a binder and can’t be done in a single coffee meeting. If you have one consider a facility tour, if you don’t perhaps invite them into the studio to watch part of a rehearsal. At one of my former companies during intensive creation periods every Friday afternoon the company would do a quick run through for staff and board members to see what they’d been up to all week. It was helpful for the marketing team of course but also gave board members a connection to what they desired most – access to the artists – and only deepened their commitment to the cause.

Also helpful to me as a fairly new GM was the idea of meaningful conversation. I found myself nodding along as Robin Cordozo talked about his early days at the United Way creating elaborate financial presentations for his board meetings. I just about killed myself preparing for my first GM’s report at Kaeja d’Dance. I think I used all the colour ink in the printer printing my rainbow spreadsheets and preparing my verbal report that rivaled a five year buiness plan. Nobody wants to be talked at for an hour and what a waste of six intelligent thoughtful people’s time. How much better served would I have been if I’d engaged the board in a bigger conversation of substance?

I did have to laugh at the last good idea – getting out and having fun! As arts organizations there never seems to be a shortage of fun – opening night parties, receptions, closing night parties. At the same time the idea of taking staff and board outside of their respective comfort zones for a retreat is something I’m considering – I’m already looking forward to our board retreat this January.

Big thanks to Maytree, Robin, Jini, Earl and Jehad for the wonderful session. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

 

About Five Good Ideas:

Five Good Ideas is a lunch-and-learn program where industry or issue experts discuss powerful yet practical ideas on key management issues facing non-profit organizations. The sessions are most useful for management staff and board members at small and mid-sized non-profits.

Each expert presents five practical ideas and explores with the audience how these ideas can be translated into action. During each session, participants organize into small groups and continue the discussion to generate the best and most relevant of all ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Questions

by Jini Stolk

If Leonard Cohen can take up smoking again, can I have wine and cheese for dinner three nights a week?

If Statistics Canada’s recent report on the relative economic impact of sports and culture shows that culture’s contribution to the GDP, share of the economy, and number of jobs is roughly 10 times that of sports, can we consider this competition well and truly won?

If Buddies in Bad Times is starting a customer rewards program where you earn discounts on tix to future shows with every ticket purchased, should we all stop using our Shoppers’ Optimum Cards and spend our cash on theatre tickets?

Will we all use these 10 incredibly easy, well-tested design tips to make our online donation forms easier to read and fill out, resulting in increased donations? I hope so.

**Canada’s Creative City Network, including Toronto, have banded together to sponsor regular Canadian Culture Satellite reports, based on up-to-date StatsCan findings; congratulations to them on such a useful collaboration.

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Crowdfunding: let the people decide

by Jini Stolk

Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts launched a crowdfunding campaign this summer for a new city-wide ARTS APP -  an easy-to-use, on-the-go way of finding out who, what, where and when performances are happening. Good on them – I hope it works.

Their initiative uses the Toronto Fringe’s fabulous Fund What You Can (FWYC), a national platform for Indie Artists that allows artists and producers to create and manage their own crowdfunding campaigns. Kudos to The Fringe and to the Metcalf Foundation for providing start-up funding for a new idea that could make a big difference.

l love the emergence (with a bang) of crowd fundraising. I love Hot Doc’s crowd campaigns for new documentaries. I love Centre for Social Innovation’s Catalyst partnership with HiveWire, a platform supporting new projects for a better world.

When crowdfunding works it’s an entirely new way to reach out, well beyond the usual suspects, for support. The growing number of Toronto-based, home-grown initiatives means it’s going to be easy for the folks running these initiatives to monitor, compare, contrast and get together to discuss what’s working best, to ensure that their users have a great shot at the success they’re looking for.

For anyone thinking about getting started in this field, HiveWire, a CSI tenant, and one of the leaders in Canadian online fundraising, does periodic seminars ranging from Crowdfunding 101 to advanced workshops. Upcoming sessions are posted here and are held at the various CSI locations in The Annex, Spadina and Queen, and Regent Park. There’s also a Meetup Group .

There’s an art to doing crowd fundraising well.  Andrew Taylor just wrote about As it turns out, language matters a recent study of successful and unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign language that analyzed 45,000 Kickstarter campaigns and found that language choice accounted for up to a 58 percent variance around success. Campaigns that reached their targets used language that put value for the donor front and centre, and conveyed a sense of unique excitement, a rare and fleeting opportunity, and a chance to get in on the ground floor of a guaranteed success. People are people, online or in person.

How profound a change is crowdfunding bringing to our sector? An interesting discussion in the Nonprofit Quarterly raises the question of whether the democratization of nonprofit funding will produce better or worse results than funding decisions left to experts in venture capital or grantmaking organizations! I bet you’ve never pondered questions like: how will the decisions differ? what will be the social results of those differences?” A fascinating paper, entitled “Wisdom or Madness? Comparing Crowds with Expert Evaluation in Funding the Arts,” (by Ethan Mollick of the Wharton School and Ramana Nanda of Harvard University) found that the crowd is more willing to take a chance on innovative arts projects, “meaning that the crowd expands the number, and potentially the type, of projects that have a chance of success.”

Meanwhile IndieGogo, one of the leading crowdfunding platforms to kickstart new initiatives/projects recently raised $40MM to fund its continual growth, so crowdfunding looks like it’s here to stay.

Is the crowd always right? Consider that an online fundraising campaign on the GoFundMe crowdfunding site on behalf of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson collected $234,910 from nearly six thousand people, for the man who shot and killed African American teenager Michael Brown. Many of these donations were accompanied by racially derogatory comments aimed at Brown, his parents, and the population of Ferguson.

As Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

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Engaging your board, effectively

by Jini Stolk

If you haven’t registered for Maytree’s September 22nd Five Good Ideas session on Engaging your Board Effectively - led by Robin Cardozo, Chief Operating Officer of SickKids Foundation, in conversation with Jehad Aliweiwi, Executive Director, Laidlaw Foundation; Earl Miller, Board President, West Neighbourhood House; and myself, as Chair of the Ontario Nonprofit Network – you should probably act quickly. I hear that seats are filling fast for this evergreen topic, a facet of the complex, challenging and essential skill of board management.

In my experience, the many challenges of knitting a group of diverse and well-meaning volunteers into a powerful force working on behalf of a nonprofit organization require a life-time of learning, questioning and openness to growth and change. I’m very much looking forward to hearing my colleagues’ experiences and advice on building their board members’ sense of engagement and commitment.

I wonder if some of what they’re planning to say might be negatively mirrored in this piece on 12 Reasons Why You Should Gracefully Resign from a Nonprofit Board which offers a comprehensive check list for anyone losing their drive or passion as a board member. Certainly if “Your conduct at board meetings is viewed by the majority of other board members as disruptive” and “You’re unable to work collaboratively with the other board members in a productive manner” – and you recognize that fact! – that’s a loud signal you should step down.

A larger number of board members would want to consider whether they’re missing a significant number of meetings and are unable to fully participate in board planning, deliberations, and actions; or are not contributing money, time, connections, or other valuable resources to the organization; or are not spending time thinking about how the organization could be more effective at advancing its mission, and helping it do so.

If anyone IS unhappily involved in a situation with a high level of internal strife, this piece about the resignation of the entire 20-member board of the Minnesota Dance Theatre is really a must-read. The MDT is described as “solvent and successful” but obviously rent by bitter disagreement about…vision? direction? leadership style? I’m not sure I want to know the details, but the point of the story is that this amount of board drama damages the organization and the individuals concerned. It talks about the need for careful and honest communication with stakeholders and the public to rebuild trust and reputation, and makes the point that recovery can be slow and painful. (A good case in point is Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer fundraising event, which is still struggling to bring in donations at the high level they enjoyed before their extremely controversial 2012 decision to defund Planned Parenthood.)

Much better to seek professional intervention and counsel before things reach that state, and if needed to take a look at Maytree’s recent Five Good Ideas about Successful Board – Executive Director Relationships with the Chair of the Board and President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Toronto. I missed hearing this one in person, although the online video shows a helpful dialogue about the importance of shared vision and values; defining and recruiting Board members around the diversity and skills you need to help achieve your vision; building trusting relationships; defining roles and responsibilities; and enabling Boards to focus on the big picture and the long view.

Of course, if you’re determined to do an outstanding job of fulfilling your leadership responsibilities as either staff or board you should also sign up for Engaging your Board Effectively. I’ve been reading some great and thought-provoking resources whose ideas I may share with our attendees on September 22nd, but rather than steal Robin’s and mine and the other panel members’ thunder, I’ll write more on these following our session!

 

 

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Relating to our relational fundraisers

by Jini Stolk

Hiring again?

An edition of Philanthropic Trends Quarterly which I’ve been rereading deals with retention and turnover of fundraising staff as an ongoing challenge for many nonprofit organizations. And don’t we know it.

It points to a national study of nonprofit fundraising in the U.S. by CompassPoint funded by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund which found that the routine “changing of the guard” in fundraising is an impediment to growth. “I think it behooves us to ask why this issue is so persistent”, says Marnie Spears, CEO of KCI about Canadian trends. “I worry that there may be a tendency to oversimplify and point fingers when looking to understand the issue and its causes. Junior level staff saying employers aren’t providing enough support. Senior level staff saying their boards’ expectations are too high and that they don’t understand fundraising. Board members saying there isn’t sufficient leadership skill and acumen in the fundraising talent pool. And therein lies the dilemma that we face – they’re all right.”

Very interesting, especially in a time where Relationship Fundraising, a donor-based approach to raising money, has convinced us all that developing and preserving the relationship between donors and organizations is essential. We are being called on to create meaningful one-on-one connections, and are told to be sure that “every communication is answered quickly, sincerely, and effectively, and every donation acknowledged.” Of course this is a minimum of good manners, let alone good fundraising, but it’s downright difficult when staff is coming and going.  

Important and new gifts should be asked for personally, in a face-to-face meeting that’s a conversation not a presentation.Your job is to graciously and enthusiastically convince the donor (or prospective donor) that it is your honor to meet with them. It is your pleasure. It’s fun. You like to be eyeball-to-eyeball. You have to want to do this. You have to be genuine.”

So now we know what kind of person we’re looking for when we hire a fundraiser.

Philanthropic Trends includes a People Pipeline which relates best practices in fundraising to the best ways to recruit and retain fundraising staff. I found it to be eye-opening: it’s really not all about paying the highest possible salaries.

The Globe and Mail tells us there are four strategies in achieving greater organizational success: select managers with natural talent for managing; select staff with the right talents for the specific role they’ll be filling; engage employees by creating a culture which cares about and finds ways to engage them; and focus on your staffs’ strengths.

It sounds well worth the effort of making a conscious decision to integrate these tactics into your hiring practices.

 

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In cod we trust

by Jini Stolk

Newfoundland is enchanting and otherworldly. When you’re there you feel instinctively that you’re at the farthest edge of the continent, far from Muskoka, the Rockies, the Prairies, Toronto.

You’re on an island, almost certainly on the sea – whose power and vast expanse is both appealing and unsettling. The weather is a force of nature bringing mist, drizzle, cloud, downpour, cold, heat and brilliant sunshine, all within the same 24 hours. The cliffs are higher, the drops more precipitous than you’re used to.

It is not a problem to eat cod every day, although it makes you sad and angry to know that greed and carelessness have destroyed the fishery.

The people are makers (how could they not be?), building, canning, sewing, knitting. Watch for my lovely hand-knitted hats that I plan to wear as soon as reasonably possible.

There’s music everywhere. People sing, play instruments, write songs, tell tales. They paint and create beautiful prints. The theatre artists we met are smart, funny, talented, courageous and charming. They’re well aware that their distinctive voices have added immeasurably to Canada’s culture – although I do understand that they are challenged by the same concerns about resources, sustainability, audiences and governance as any company in Toronto or elsewhere.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to go back?

Choose your puffin

Excellent puffin

 

Mari-Time, Oil on Plywood, Kurt Rostek (2014)

Mari-Time, Oil on Plywood Kurt Rostek (2014)

The one above is one we saw in the small harbour of Elliston, Root Cellar Capital of the World and a gathering place for hundreds of thousands of adorable puffins. The one below is from ARTBOMB, an art auction site I’m obsessed with, which brings up to three images to my mailbox (and 17,000 others) every day. I love looking at them, although people who know say that the Artsy and Saatchi Art newsletters are better designed and more visually appealing, and therefore provide a better user experience. If I were buying I’d subscribe to all three; if I were selling, I’d probably also try them all (although I’ve noticed that ARTBOMB sales, which they say are steady, tend to be of representational and recognizable pieces.) They’ve also done some interesting promo partnerships with the ROM, which I hope worked out well.

I wonder if a simple visual display of a few shows currently on stage, arriving every day, might help drive theatre and dance sales. What if Mooney on Theatre, for example, included a front-page production shot for each show it reviewed?

Vacation auto replies

Just a quick suggestion. Thank you for your email is unnecessary. If you simplify your automatic out of office response to one line only (I’ll be away between August 10 – 18. If you have an urgent question, please contact…) people will get the picture without having to click on your message to be sure you’re not on maternity leave, haven’t left your job, or recently retired! Thank you one and all.

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Art saves Detroit?

by Jini Stolk

Having just finished Toronto Arts Facts, which provides strong evidence of the value and benefits of the arts to our City, I was still stunned to discover the extent to which Detroit’s survival could be tied to its major arts institution.

The always insightful Rick Cohen describes in the Nonprofit Quarterly  how a coalition of corporate and private foundations have committed $366 million to Detroit’s underfunded and endangered municipal employee pension funds, in a “Grand Bargain” that will convert the Detroit Institute of Arts into an independent nonprofit, thereby saving its art from being sold to cover the City’s debts and protecting the collection for the public good, in perpetuity.

Detroit was, of course, a place where enormous wealth and masterpieces of art were accumulated thanks to the auto industry, but the list of foundation support for the Grand Bargain is still surprising and very impressive. “This is an absolutely unprecedented series of…commitments from the foundation community” we are told, “stretching the boundaries of what foundations might have ever considered doing anywhere.” No kidding.

Commentators have noted that this sort of social/arts/community building initiative could only have been constructed around an organization of the size and stature of Detroit’s famed Institute of the Arts, with its huge base of board wealth and influence. And I am hoping that the Grand Bargain will allow Detroit to honour its commitments to the many nonprofit agencies who were contracted in recent years to provide services including homeless programs, supportive housing, substance abuse treatment, domestic violence prevention, services for persons with disabilities, and employment training.

This type of benefit of the arts was not what we had in mind when compiling Toronto Arts Facts, but…I will add it to my list.

Note: The U.S. budget for FY 2014 was as hard to pass as one would expect. The budget resolutions put forward by the House of Representatives, in particular, proposed deep cuts to discretionary spending, major changes to tax reform that would dramatically lower marginal and corporate tax rates – and for the third year in a row took aim at federal cultural funding:

“Federal subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting can no longer be justified. The activities and content funded by these agencies go beyond the core mission of the federal government, and they are generally enjoyed by people of higher-income levels, making them a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier citizens.”

Or as I guess this would now have to be rephrased, sometimes these subsidies result in a wealth transfer from wealthier to poorer citizens, propelling some wealthy citizens to examine what they most value and its relation to the larger well-being of society and its citizens…

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Sprinting to catch up with sports

by Jini Stolk

The recent World Cup (remember?) made me think again about the huge emotional connection people have to sports events, compared to the more restrained connection they seem to have to the arts.

Public vs. private enjoyment, you might say. The power of the crowd vs. profound internal impact, you might add.

But Nina Simon at Museum 2.0 and the folks at Arts USA have been writing about things we can learn from the World Cup about building energy and audience for the arts, and about the kinds of experiences that create pathways to more arts participation.

Nina Simon says that the sport of soccer has been enormously effective at expanding participation in the US among youth, creating opportunities for kids at any level of talent to participate and feel connected socially. “…soccer is developing a constantly-refreshing audience by creating opportunities for kids as young as four to participate in AYSO youth leagues. AYSO goes out of its way to include kids with different abilities, with “everyone plays” as one of its chief tenets.”

And larger youth leagues become stronger, leading to stronger college teams and stronger Olympic and professional performance. And all of that leads to more audience – at all levels of the game.

She calls for the arts to develop mutual respect, coordination, and collaboration among organizations that work at different levels of expertise, budget, and scale; to focus on developing both practitioners and audiences; and to offer a wider diversity of opportunities to engage.

In essence, she challenges us to eliminate in our hearts, souls and practices all vestiges of  “elitism,” whereby we place certain types of professional arts on a pedestal above all other artistic experiences. This is not far off some of the things Alan Brown has been saying about the wide variety of engagement with the arts that bring people joy and satisfaction.

And remember, as I wrote following a recent Olympics season, sports may very well be beating us at the art of telling stories. That’s a competition that I think we should be able to train for and win.

 

 

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