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We partner with universities and faculty engaged in some of the world's leading research in organizational management and leadership. But there are questions that are critical to our sector that aren't always addressed directly in this research. With the support of national funders – and with your participation – we undertake research projects, interviews, convenings, and other activities to fill in the gaps, and share our findings here.


A response to the 10-point Action Plan in the UK

On December 8th, Arts Council England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced a 10-point Action Plan to boost philanthropy across the cultural sector in the UK. This has come on the heels of widespread cuts in government funding for arts and culture organizations. The plan is generally seen as encouragement for arts and culture organizations to adopt philanthropic strategies similar to US arts organizations as a means for making up for cuts in government-provided funding; however the tax system is not being adjusted to incentivize philanthropy in the same way. In the Spring issue of Philanthropy UK Quarterly, key players in the sector were asked to share their reactions and comments about the proposed plan, among them, NAS President and CEO (and former Executive Director of the English National Opera), Russell Willis Taylor.

Read her thoughts here »

Arts Management in Uneasy Times

NAS Vice President, Jim Rosenberg, was recently interviewed by Patricia Pasqual, Director of the Foundation Center-Washington, DC, for their Philanthropy Chat podcast series. In this interview, Mr. Rosenberg discusses challenges facing arts organizations, recommends resources for keeping up with the field, shares insights about strategic and tactical questions organizations can use to develop a customer-focused business model, and gives suggestions for engaging boards and community.

Listen to the Philanthropy Chat podcast, Arts Management in Uneasy Times

The Challenges of Cultural Leadership

This is a time of great reinvention for cultural enterprise, as we examine the value we provide to audiences and how we can reshape institutions to do this better. In this keynote address delivered at the Bolz Center Collegium, NAS President and CEO, Russell Willis Taylor explores the unique leadership demands of cultural enterprise.

Read the text of the speech, “The Challenges of Cultural Leadership

What’s a Children’s Chorus Leader to Do?

What’s an Executive Director to do when caught between an Artistic Director envisioning significant growth and board leadership that is resistant to change? That’s the question being explored by this case study developed by Chorus America for inclusion in the Summer 2010 issue of The Voice. The case study is accompanied by responses from current chorus leaders and governance experts, including NAS Vice President, Gail Crider. What’s your response – what would you do if you were the Executive Director?

Read What’s a Children’s Chorus Leader to Do?

There Are No Crises, Only Tough Decisions

There are no crises in the arts – there are crises in arts organizations as they are currently constructed. Audiences are not shrinking, they are growing, but they are not necessarily interested in consuming all the art our member organizations produce. Between 1970 and 2010, the number of arts organizations grew from 2,700 to 27,000 but the number of people funding them, and attending their events, did not grow at all. In this keynote address delivered at the joint annual conferences of Chorus America and The League of American Orchestras, Russell Willis Taylor, President and CEO of National Arts Strategies, explores the extraordinary opportunities that arts organizations have today.

Read the text of the speech, “There Are No Crises, Only Tough Decisions”

The Performing Arts in Lean Times: Opportunities for Reinvention

What questions should performing arts leaders be asking themselves right now? Economic shifts, global and individual reach in technologies, the pursuit of strong and delineated national identities and the appetite for a voice from younger people are all changing how the performing arts are viewed, created and consumed. Fifty performing arts leaders from around the world gathered in February 2010 for a Salzburg Global Seminar focused on opportunities for reinventing the performing arts at a time when many factors are contributing towards a large-scale disruption of the arts. This report, written by the co-chairs of the event, NAS President and CEO Russell Willis Taylor and Adrian Ellis, Executive Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, summarizes the discussions that took place.

Read the report, “The Performing Arts in Lean Times: Opportunities for Reinvention

The Smart Marketplace: Bridging the Gaps in Arts Leadership Training

Many discussions about the field’s leadership gap focus on two general impressions: there are not enough prospective leaders or there aren’t enough professional development opportunities – but is it that simple? In this GIA Reader article, Russell Willis Taylor, NAS President and CEO, and Andrew Taylor, Director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration in the Wisconsin School of Business, argue that there are numerous prospective leaders and professional development opportunities, but that there are informational discontinuities which prevent them from adequately filling the field’s leadership needs. This article identifies opportunities for the field – including funders, professional development providers and current leaders – to tackle the systemic challenges currently preventing our prospective leaders from finding and taking advantage of opportunities to develop the skills they need to take on leadership roles.

Read the article, “The Smart Marketplace

The Normal Approach

How do we sustain relevance and drive participation for the traditional not-for-profit arts in our communities? This is a recurring challenge for the arts and culture field. In his article for the October 27, 2009 issue of Gig Magazine, NAS Vice President, Jim Rosenberg, suggests that reaching a desired audience requires leaders to focus on the desired customer and work backward to the right artistic work, venue, timing, pricing, etc. This customer-centered approach can serve the core mission of an arts organization if its leaders are willing to challenge the assumptions of the field.

Read the article, “The Normal Approach”

Future Leadership Survey Results

The question of who will lead our cultural institutions in the future is being widely discussed in our field. NAS has launched an experimental, collaborative design program to provide future leaders with the skills and opportunities for growth that they need. NAS engaged current and future leaders on-line and in-person for conversations about the needs of future leaders from January through August 2008, leading up to a survey of the field. The survey produced a small but informative sample, the results of which are available here.

Read the report, “The Future Leadership Program Survey Results”

Dancing into the Future: A White Paper from Ballet Memphis

Ballet Memphis, a nationally acclaimed regional dance company, is facing all of the challenges endemic to the not-for-profit arts: rising costs, decreasing audiences, more competition for philanthropic dollars, and how to create work of real value to audiences in locally and beyond. The leadership of Ballet Memphis chose to stop and take a candid look at how the changing environment and the market for dance indicated that the current financial challenges are not simply a down-turn by-product, but are indicators of a systemic change that demands a new strategy if dance companies are to survive and add value to the communities they serve. With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “Dancing into the Future: A White Paper from Ballet Memphis” was jointly authored by Dorothy Gunther Pugh, Founder and CEO of Ballet Memphis and Russell Willis Taylor, President and CEO of National Arts Strategies. It outlines the learning from the first phase of Ballet Memphis’ reinvention.

    Read the paper, “Dancing into the Future: A White Paper from Ballet Memphis”