Open Dialogue IX
San Jose, California
Connecting the Dots
Jessica White and Cathy Silvern
Shirley Sneve, Veronica (bumblebee)
The group was not large enough nor did it have enough experience to answer these questions, but the questions need to be asked, in the hope that others with more experience/expertise could share their knowledge and/or research undertaken.
Questions and issues:
- How do we make connections with and among participants in this conference?
- Receive roster of participants (ideally, in advance of the conference), including name of participant, organization, brief description of artistic mission/organizational purpose, Web site, if any, and all contact information (phone, address, e-mail, etc.)
- Individuals take responsibility for making connections to those organizations of interest for networking purposes, professional development, etc.
- TAAC serves as a clearinghouse/central database for gathering this kind of information so that participants can find each other easily through common interest, i.e. through TAAC.
- Who is centrally affecting arts policy—what is working and why? What resources does it take to successfully influent arts policy? What models exist that can be replicated and/or adapted from community to community? How can we best share this information with each other?
- Why put energies into formulating national or even state-wide/regional policy if the individual cannot control that policy? What happens in the community or on the local, grass roots level, can be affected by the local participants, but can national (state/regional) policy really be affected, influenced, changed by those of us here on the ground? Is there a cost analysis of any kind showing the relationship between the amount of energy input vs reward/solutions that can be felt at the local level?
- Being a voice for under-represented communities/people of color is one reason to participate beyond the local level
- Sometimes, the successes at the local level can influence what happens in the region/state wide/national level
- Community cultural planning can be a source of a model for success...if a group of interested citizens can come together with city leadership, funders, etc. to discuss as a community what the goals/needs/direction can and should be—it can work and does work. One of the difficulties is that when city leadership changes (i.e. election of new city officials), the priorities change and may not necessarily be in line with the planning process that has transpired.
- Policy makers at the state/national level need to do a better job of studying, being more aware of how policies they implement will affect people on the local level before approving/implementing those policies.
- Historically, cultural policy-makers have not addressed issues related to human resource management in the arts—this is a leadership/management issue that needs to be addressed at all levels. Employee recruitment and retention is critical but rarely recognized as being important or economical. What connections can be made to help arts organizations increase the effectiveness of employees and reward them for jobs well done and how do we make this a priority? Is it a policy that the arts are/must remain a poverty industry (i.e. low wages, benefits)? Why does this model continue?
- How can we connect studies of non-profits in general with studies of arts/cultural organizations in specific, on issues of who our leaders are (ethnically speaking), who makes up our staff, what salaries are being paid for what levels of work, is there gender equity in arts management salaries, is there a glass ceiling in arts management (i.e. larger budget organizations/ institutions are generally led by white males, staffed by mostly white females at the middle/lower management levels)? And, based on the study results, can new cultural policies be developed at the national/state/ regional/local levels to improve problem areas?