Recently, the Democrat and Chronicle published my story: A peek behind the scenes at newcomers in Rochester’s arts The piece is essentially a round up of the men and women new to Rochester arts and cultural organizations, but I’d like to share a few other thoughts that didn’t make the final story.
Cultural organizations improve our quality of life and are important to our economic viability. Most arts and cultural leaders strive to ensure a unified organizational vision while facing many challenges: pressure to stay ahead of funding and technology trends, improve fiscal self-reliance, and overcome operational losses. Our arts and cultural leaders know that executing against such goals takes professionals who bring their unique talents to bear. However, it will be important to prevent staff and volunteer burnout from too many demands and pressures to constantly perform at top levels.
Leaders and board members will need to trust their people. Bringing in talented professionals is one thing; allowing them to come up with new ideas and try new things will also require faith in the process. Some initiatives will fail, but organizations can learn from these failures, share what they’ve learned and emerge stronger than before while remaining relevant to the community.
Over the years, I’ve observed nonprofit leadership trying to zig-zag the downturn instead of really looking into innovative ways to address issues head-on and galvanize their troops with honesty and transparency. Years ago I was very involved in the arts and cultural community. I covered the arts and theatre for DAKA – a Rochester arts and cultural magazine, volunteered for the the wildly popular (and often imitated) First Fridays at the MAG, eventually serving as chair of First Fridays, and then leading the MAG’s Averell Council as president. I loved and supported Rochester’s dynamic arts community. Over time, however, I saw volunteers and front line staff suffer from burnout because of too many unrealistic demands and pressures to constantly perform at top levels without proper support both from senior leaders and board members. Eventually, I, too, needed time off from volunteering.
As I moved from single life, to married with a family, my love for Rochester arts and culture never wavered. Many women and men I’ve spoken with have shared their experiences of visiting places like George Eastman Museum, going to exhibits such as Peering Into Infinity at the MAG, watching performances such as The Nutcracker performed by Rochester City Ballet with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Bach Children’s Chorus, and socializing at events like RMSC After Dark, plus many, many more.
Kudos to all of the talented professionals and volunteers who show up day after day to create unforgettable arts and cultural experiences for the rest of us.
What do you think?
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