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Check out this great article from Clayton Lord over at New Beans on questions of Next Gen leadership.  He’s tackling a really interesting set of ideas (I think his analysis of respect for the older generation versus naive ambition versus a real drive of wanting to do things better is especially eloquent), many that seem to be constantly present among the young arts leaders I talk to.

To give you an excerpt:

This isn’t just demure propriety on my part, either.  Yes, I absolutely have frustrations about my career in the arts—I took the survey, and I can see some of my comments made it in.  I’m frustrated at my salary, frustrated at a difficult organizational structure that ends up meaning I don’t have enough staff or time to do everything I’m supposed to do.  But I’m not so naïve as to think that simply by moving up in the hierarchy all that’s going to get solved—nor am I so parsimonious as to think that those higher up in my organization either don’t see those frustration points or don’t care.  They were all frustrated young professionals once, too.   Which isn’t to say that there’s not value in people of all ages and levels in the hierarchy seeing this report and thinking on what it means now and in the future.

Check out the whole thing here.


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  1. Sarah A.O. on September 18, 2011

    My response re-posted from New Beans:

    Hi Clayton, wonderful article! I want to thank you for being so articulate about the give-and-take divide between baby boomers and the next gen workforce. I want to especially point out your gracious navigation of the “whining” – it’s something that I and my young arts-professionals network comes back to time and again.

    Specifically, balancing feelings of large amounts of respect for the work that our mentors and leaders have accomplished with feelings of frustration and anger for much of the mismanagement, wasted time, and out of touch policy that happens right alongside it. While I think it IS important to praise all the work and leaders that have come before us, I do think it’s important (and not out of line) to also look at the situation we’re in realistically, and call attention to the areas of our system and economy that have perpetuated our unsustainable working conditions and ghettoization of the arts in America. So it’s always a question for us – how much of our outrage at how bad things are in the current system is due to our own naivete and lack of experience, and how much of our frustration is that we really do have innovative ideas and a more viable approach, and are not in positions where we can do anything about it.

    Much of what i encounter (my own path included) is a turning away from current systems and organizations to forge alternate paths or approaches, which contributes to the “impending leadership deficit”, at least within those already-structured institutions. I am interested to see how the transition plays out. I think (much like trends following the recent bubble-burst and depression) it may only look like a “depression” or period of instability to those who are invested in more traditional institutions. To young artists and arts administrators who are forging new paths (much like the freelancers, inventors, and new business ingenues of our current era), i suspect it might be a time of enormous growth and possibility.

    That being said, the trick is how to balance a respect for the work done before us, and a proper utilization of all the knowledge and resources that that generation has available with the drive, bullheadedness, and yes, naivete, ultimately necessary to forge a new era of sustainability in the arts.