We’re keen to hear about what’s working in communities and the particular challenges they face. We’d like to work with you to connect you and your arts and cultural leaders to a global network of change makers and place your city firmly in the future.
The arts and cultural sector and the macro environment in which it operates has never been so complex and rapidly changing. NAS recently completed an extensive process of field conversations and testing with grantmakers, partners and alumni. This uncovered the more pressing current field pain points and trends and informed our national and international response to inspire and support leaders in the field as they navigate and lead in an uncertain and volatile future.
We’ve heard grantmakers questioning how they can maximize the likelihood of success of their investments in the people and organizations they fund, specifically:
- How might we diversify the existing leadership pipeline in our city?
- In what ways can we support first-time leaders who are challenging the status quo?
- What creative placemaking tools are needed to be part of broader community change efforts?
- What is our theory of change and the fulcrum points for change – if we define and invest wisely, how will the community benefit? How will we know if we are successful?
- How is knowledge being shared and grown in the sector – inside of our city/region and beyond?
- How might we build or strengthen a cohort of strategic-minded individuals who drive leadership investment in our region?
- How might we increase perspectives inside our communities – broaden the exchange of knowledge and information across the differences; within and across sectors, neighborhoods (local and global) and cultures?
Leaders face staggering complexity
Across the U.S. and internationally, it has been well documented that amidst this complexity, arts and cultural leaders are consumed by keeping the organizations they lead strong and connected as they deal with the exponential change around them. We’re all hearing that leaders are concurrently grappling with a range of issues.
Outside in Community
Bigger pond, bigger fish
A recent insights report by Deloitte Consulting observed that developing future leaders isn’t just about putting them through programs, but through exposure that provides leaders with an external perspective. “Exposure is what enables them to gather intelligence in the relevant business context: They learn with and from other industry leaders what works and what does not. Organizations that make the effort to offer opportunities for exposure as part of their leadership development double their ability to innovate and anticipate change over those that offer formal programs only.”
Change is growing exponentially.
It needs a change of thinking.
NAS has a plan to achieve this diverse, vibrant and connected future:
NAS works with a select group of city and regional based grantmakers and supporters in your area to identify a diverse group of leaders from small, midsized and large organizations, centers of color, and grassroots groups to provide nationally recognized executive professional development and training.
NAS will help you identify candidates based on potential, not status or previous opportunity. We level the playing field, by ensuring from small, midsized, and large organizations and centers of color get the same strategic edge.
Together, we helicopter leaders and change makers out from their discipline and geographic silos, to connect to new thinking, powerful networks and innovative models. We connect them to the world’s best business schools at top-tier universities including Harvard, Michigan and Pennsylvania for curated, strategic training.
This group then brings new collaborative mindsets back to their own organizations and community, working together as a node for change. Together, we support them with game-changing and ongoing career support – powerful coaching, tools, knowledge and networks, and ongoing exchange with dynamic, experienced faculty. NAS then connects the various nodes together for systems change.
What we're hearing
There are a number of efforts to address leadership capacity building, but they are usually not coordinated or collaborative, even in a city context.
NAS has deep experience in building local and national networks of knowledge. Our mission is to build and support a diverse community of cultural leaders who drive inspiring change for the future. We envision vibrant, supported networks connecting leaders to each other and to new knowledge. For more than 30 years, together with support from a range of grantmakers including Bush, Ford, Knight, Kresge and Mellon Foundations, we’ve invested over $30 million in providing market-leading education programs. Over this time, we’ve help network, advance and support over 700 in-person and over 13,000 online international, urban, rural leaders from all 50 US states and over 25 countries.
In order to maximize the limited resources available, NAS will help local grantmakers and stakeholders in diverse communities pull together the various efforts currently happening on a city or regional level.
No sector can solve the complex challenges that our communities face on its own, and no sector can create a thriving community alone.
Dealing with such overwhelming change and developing solutions for tomorrow will come from horizontal analytical and practical skills, strategic connections and rigorous, entrepreneurial thinking. It is likely this will occur increasingly outside the discipline and geographic silos that have served us in the past.
NAS Education programs such for cultural leaders of organizations of all sizes are designed to guide these leaders to look across and outside their communities and sector to test and expand their thinking.
Diversity is our strength. We need to learn from one another, evolve with one another, and work more strategically to ensure that the arts continue to thrive and enrich the lives of every American.
NAS is committed to leverage our positional advantage to shift the visibility and influence of racially and culturally diverse leaders.
As our alumni are actively addressing equity and diversity every day in their organizations and communities, NAS avidly supports their efforts with leading thinking, tools, methodologies and frameworks.
Amidst this complexity, arts and cultural leaders are consumed by keeping the organizations they lead strong, connected, and financially sustainable as they deal with this exponential change around them. Many leaders feel isolated, overwhelmed, overstretched, and under supported.
Investment in the skills and expertise of arts and cultural leadership is now a critical and often overlooked element to ensure the vibrancy and resilience of organizations and the health of the communities they serve. For 30 years our partners and NAS have invested many millions into organization stabilization, to executive education and to leadership support. We’ve seen how a strategic investment in leadership positively impacts morale, succession planning and organizational effectiveness, both immediately and in the long-term.
NAS will help address isolation and overwhelm in local leaders and change makers by helicoptering out from their discipline and geographic silos and connecting them to new thinking and global networks.
Keen observers of the field share a level of anxiousness that when the current economic boom cycle breaks, only larger organizations will weather the storm.
This is the time to surface opportunities and forge partnerships for collaboration, creating stronger support systems for small and mid-sized organizations and centers of color.
NAS brings leaders from smaller to larger organizations into our Education cohorts. We will use our alumni networks and learning design expertise to stand with other providers and grantmakers to more fully and strategically support the diverse ecosystem.
Grantmakers and stakeholders know what their community needs, which is why NAS listens first, then threads the connections, identify any gaps and propose a solution. We will bring our extensive skills and fresh perspective of systems change to ensure all parties are working together effectively.