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Essays

These are articles, essays and blog posts written by members of the NAS team and alumni of our programs.

Building Communities, Building the Field

Perhaps, like me, you have a mental model of how community development or creative placemaking works or doesn’t work. Let’s talk about these.

Creative Placemaking: A Conversation

Yes, in many ways creative placemaking has become an often-cited cultural sector panacea. And yes,…

The Young and the Restless: Taking the Right Career Path

As an emerging leader, the road to professional success seems long and confusing. We experience the daily tension of being where we are with where we want to be. Particularly in a recovering economy, more young leaders are in jobs where they feel over-qualified and underpaid. It can be frustrating, but are we really as far off as we feel?

Skunk Works: A Place for Innovation

Does your organization have a Skunk Works®? It should.

On the Value of the Arts

Why do the arts matter at all?  For some, the special characteristic of the arts…

Bringing People Together to Improve the Place They Love

The arts are not accessed through a box office or the doors of a symphony hall in Togo, but rather are encountered in the business of everyday life.

Arts as an Engine of Unrest Or, How the Arts Ruined a Perfectly Good Childhood

For many, the power of arts lies in its ability to bring people joy. For me, art matters because of its ability to do just the opposite.

Everything I Know about Why Art Matters I Learned from My 5-year-old

Why do the arts matter? I think everyone already has the answer to this question inside him- or herself. If the answer does not feel immediately obvious, then perhaps it is just time to reconnect with art.

Why the Arts Matter

In honor of Arts Advocacy Day, we at NAS wanted to pull back the curtain…

The Case for Cultural Fluency

Mikel Ellcessor introduces the concept of Cultural Fluency as a means for establishing genuine community connections.

The Under-Resourced Nonprofit Sector – Crisis or Chimera?

What we do truly mean when we say that we are under-resourced?

Are You a Board Member or a Bored Member?

We frequently hear from executives about managing board relationships. In this post, Alorie Clark shares a board member’s perspective how to stay engaged.

Resolve to Take Back Your Time

My life changed when I decided to stop thinking about my schedule as filled with commitments the universe has shackled me to, but rather as choices I’ve consciously made about how I spend my time.

Making the Argument for Leadership Development

Linda Wood, Senior Director of the Haas Leadership Initiative at the Evelyn and Walter Haas,…

Change Leadership Lessons in the Gettysburg Address

Nancy Koehn (Harvard Business School professor and faculty for the NAS Chief Executive Program) speaks about leadership lessons in the iconic speech.

Getting Unstuck: Developing Skills to Climb the Leadership Ladder

My advice to early-career arts managers is not to get stuck waiting around for someone to pass you an opportunity, but to go right out and ask for it

Media Logic

I’ve been doing some extra reading on social media, online marketing, and online experiences as…

Cleaning Out Our Closets

Recently I was cleaning my closet and came across several  items that no longer fit…

The Possibilities of a Children’s Art Museum

Last weekend my daughter and I spent the morning at the National Zoo. She turns…

Saying What We Mean

Last January, at NAS’ Chief Executive Program convening The New Nature of Relevance, I listened…

Becoming Indispensable

Editor’s note:  As part of our online discussion around The Summit at Sundance, we have invited…

A Framework for Meaningful Engagement

Editor’s note: As part of our blog event for The Summit at Sundance, we have…

Relinquishing Control

Editor’s note: As part of our blog event for The Summit at Sundance, we have…

Governance in the 21st Century

Editor’s note: As part of our blog event for The Summit at Sundance, we have…

Building Cultures of Innovation, Embracing Change and Becoming More Foxy

Editor’s note:  As part of our online discussion around The Summit at Sundance, we have invited…

Raising the Tide of Value

This post was originally part of a weeklong exploration of four major issues facing the…

Committing to Engagement

Are we asking our customers what they want simply to inform programming decisions that will put butts in seats, or so our organizations can become more representative of the communities we serve?

Creating the 21st Century Board

Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, we’ll feature posts around the final convening of…

Developing Transformative Employees and Systems

Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, we’ll feature posts around the final convening of…

Collaboration is key in D.C.

This post appears as part of the ARTSblog Emerging Leaders Blog Salon, in which emerging leaders…

Defining Our Value

The recent flurry of articles around the “failure” of the creative class to save our…

Board Membership: Finding the Right Fit

As an emerging leader, it can be difficult finding a nonprofit board to join. I…

Avoiding Brain Freeze: Wellness in the Workplace

CC image by kroszk@ Working in the arts can be extremely stressful. Coordinating exhibits, performances…

A Single Customer Promise?

There is a question we get all the time in our Strategic Marketing seminar: should…

What’s your mandate?

What would the pundits say about your organization? What is your mandate?

Change at Work: The NAS Wellness Challenge

No alcohol for 30 days! Daily workouts! Low carb from now on! It’s a new…

Salzburg Global Forum: Some Final Thoughts

We introduced Field Notes as a means of amplifying meaningful conversation. Over the last couple…

Arts Organizations and Their Community

The changing nature of communication in the world has impacted the way people speak to each other and search for information.  New technologies have made interacting easier and more immediate than ever before.

What is the role of arts organizations in society & their place in the community?

Whether introducing an international form of movement to the dance scene, putting a modern spin on Mozart or Bach, or providing a visual interpretation of the effects of war, the arts can provide thought-provoking commentary and innovative perspectives on a vast array of global ideas.

What arts organizations can learn about community work from a diesel-driven platform

Arts organizations around the world often struggle to build meaningful, sustainable relations with their community. Work with the community, rather than simply for them. Such organizations can learn a thing or two from the Mali multifunctional platform.

On remaking the world

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of posts from guest bloggers discussing topics…

Global, local, and the visitor we can’t see.

We create interpretive experiences in multiple languages, for any number of age groups or visitor-types. We are desperate to discover and identify our visitor and their needs. Why are we still failing?

Finance au naturel

A wise person* once observed that it isn’t until that the tide goes out that…

Why the Arts Matter Now

NAS President and CEO Russell Willis Taylor recently delivered the keynote address to attendees of…

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,…

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…

The Challenges of Cultural Leadership

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.