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Succession: Arts Leadership for the 21st Century

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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Like the Canadian Policy Research Networks articles (reviewed in the January Arts Research Monitor) and the Cultural Human Resource Council’s report (reviewed above), this report expresses concern over how the arts sector can ensure adequate leadership, given the very competitive labour market conditions that are expected to prevail in coming years. The report uses survey results, focus groups and interviews to examine the succession of arts leaders in Chicago arts organizations, but the results are of interest to a much broader audience. The report hopes to spur “serious planning for future leadership” in the non-profit arts sector.

The quantitative and qualitative research reveals a possible generational shift between the arts leaders who entered the field in the ideals-driven 1970s and the leaders of tomorrow, who may not “be equally willing to assume demanding leadership posts without adequate compensation”. The research also reveals that the main sources of job satisfaction for current arts executives are the importance of the mission, the value of professional relationships, and the engagement with art. The sources of dissatisfaction include the strain of managing finances, fundraising, high stress and long hours. The report compares these responses to the sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction for future leaders. In addition to summaries of the quantitative and qualitative research, the report also contains “white papers” on arts leadership issues ranging from the role of boards in succession planning to the impact of technological change on arts leadership. The Illinois Arts Alliance Foundation plans to follow up with an arts succession planning toolkit, which should be available in the summer.

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