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Publications: Articles

NAS Launches New ArtsJournal Blog

National Arts Strategies is excited to announce our newest initiative, Field Notes. Field Notes is an ArtsJournal-hosted blog, and is our way to share ideas from conversations with cultural leaders and innovative thinkers, and from our experience working in the sector. The entire NAS team will contribute our observations and insights, and we share a commitment to mining, distilling and contextualizing ideas; providing the morals of the stories we share as well as frameworks that anyone can use; and offering everyone in the field the opportunity to discuss the underlying issues behind some of today’s toughest management challenges.

Read more about our vision for Field Notes at »



Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S.

Doug Borwick of the popular ArtsJournal blog Engaging Matters has released a new book, Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. In Building Communities, Borwick posits that the future success of arts organizations is dependent upon establishing real, deep connections with their communities. The book features the essay “Changing Our Future” by NAS President CEO Russell Willis Taylor, as well as contributions from arts thinkers including NAS Chief Executive Program participants Sebastian Ruth and Dorothy Gunther Pugh with forewords by National Endowment of the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman and Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch.

Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. »



The New Nature of Money

Changes in the environment – economic, demographic and social – may challenge the health of an organization. How can a leader improve his or her organization’s financial strength so that it can nimbly adapt and adjust to these changes?   In “The New Nature of Money,” Peter Frumkin explores a framework for thinking about financial sustainability as linked to the business model and financial flexibility.  As the author discusses, there are a variety of ways in which sustainability can be threatened or enhanced through the management of revenues and expenses.  Sustainability and flexibility combined are the lynchpin of creating greater value for patrons and communities.

Read “The New Nature of Money” by Peter Frumkin »



Note on Technology as a Strategic Tool

How can organizations embrace new IT models to maximize workflow and productivity while reducing IT costs? NAS Vice President Jim Rosenberg discusses ways in which organizations can best analyze their needs and evaluate market offerings to identify an ideal IT infrastructure.

Read the article, “Note on Technology as a Strategic Tool”


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 »


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?


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”


Anatomy of a Leader

NAS President and CEO Russell Willis Taylor interviewed Peter Gelb for the Fall 2007 issue of Grantmakers in the Arts Reader. Mr. Gelb, the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, discussed his approach to leadership and his ambitions for the Met. Along the way, Mrs. Taylor, former managing director of the English National Opera in London, offers an inspiring glimpse into methods for changing an organization so it may thrive in the decades ahead.

Read the article, “Peter Gelb: Anatomy of a Leader


A Review of Endowment Giving Policy Options

Written by NAS President and CEO Russell Willis Taylor in 2006 for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, this paper discusses the tradition, benefits, and necessity of endowment funds in the arts. Mrs. Taylor provides a point of view about alternatives to endowment funding, and poses questions about how endowments help achieve mission. What is the impact of continued endowment giving? Read the paper to find out.

Read the article, ”
The Grasshopper or the Ant: a Review of Endowment Giving Policy Options