Professional Development in the Arts
May 02, 2014
I read a timely blog posting that should be on the agenda of the Board of any arts organization. The thrust is that a greater focus is needed on developing the professional skillsof arts managers/leaders. It is well accepted in the corporate world that an organization’s success is tied with a continuous focus on growing the abilities and skills of today and tomorrow’s leaders. This is equally applicable to arts and culture.
Professional Development Training
Critical to the success of any business are the skills of management. Professional development training should be part of running any business entity. Arts organizations are small, and in some situations, large businesses. One of the roles a board can play is to help identify for the organization’s managers, what professional development may be most appropriate for the arts organization, what is affordable and where to source the training. This illustrates the value of a board member with human resources skills or professional development experience.
We recognize that training has a cost attached to it, and resources are always limited. It is, an investment that can lead to a more efficiently run organization, an organization that retains/develops staff ( impacting productivity ), and one adapts to changing business/economic realities. There is a whole range of skills required to run a healthy organization. If there are opportunities to improve personal and professional skills, the more the arts organization will be positioned to meet the most complex problems. Learning is an ongoing process, both at the creative and management level. Professional development should not be a ‘nice to have’.
The blog recommends that two things need to happen – the arts sector culture should recognize that continuing skills training is critical to survival and should be accessible throughout the organization. This should translate into a line item in the arts organizations’ budget – for board, staff and perhaps even volunteers. The budget line has to align with organization resources, but this is an investment I believe, most funders will understand, and support.
Like any business, the arts sector is experiencing the start of a transition from the current generation of arts managers to the next. Providing professional skills training is critical – be it business management, leadership skills to managing in a new economy and a changing technology environment. Sharing institutional knowledge and life experience is part of that mix.
I found the blog post compelling and a quick read – I encourage you to read it, share it with your Board and incorporate professional development as part of your organizations’ financial plan.
(Barry's Blog is a service of the Western States Arts Federation, WESTAF).