Don’t Let Anyone Else In On This

Wouldn’t it be grand to have a crystal ball to provide glimpses into the economic future for our respective communities? If so, we could get a leg up on where to cultivate future board members and better position ourselves for Boom and bust cycles. Alas, nothing like that exists but I can offer up the next best thing in the form of urban analysts and you’re in luck as one of the most intriguing minds within that field just happens to “get it” when it comes to the arts…

Aaron M. Renn has been authoring Urbanophile.com since 2006 and since then has produced a wealth of knowledge that every arts executive should be keeping an eye on. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Mr. Renn and we had an energizing conversation about the arts, nonprofit governance globalization, leadership networks, the economy, and how all of those things conspire to shape our operating environment.

Of particular note is Mr. Renn’s article from 7/12/2009 entitled Globalization and Civic Leadership Culture. It is a representative example of what I was referring to earlier in the opening paragraph as it provides clear insight on how the impact of something like regulatory change on nonprofit arts governance can occur over the period of years or decades. From the perspective of a consultant who works with nonprofit arts groups and their struggle to recruit and retain effective board members, I have to say that it is gratifying to see much of the counsel I deliver validated by professionals in other fields such as Renn.

Don’t let the current economy drag you down. Pop up for air every now and then and check in with what the Urbanophile is saying. Bookmark the URL, subscribe to the RSS feeds (posts and comments), and keep tabs via email. You’ll be glad you did.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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