Respondent: Every Arts Leader Needs a Posse
We invited several media arts leaders who were interviewed for Leading Creatively to weigh in on the blog salon focus questions.
When I started out in the field as an arts manager, I had no awareness of my peer group. I was the youngest person working in the office, and many of my colleagues on staff simply did not see me as one of their peers. Back in the late ‘90s, there were no networking opportunities for emerging arts professionals. I did my best to network with others in the field, but my initial job positions simply did not lead to many opportunities for connecting. I felt isolated and adrift in my own profession.
In 2001, things started to change for me after I attended NAMAC’s Leadership Institute. I encountered a group of brilliant individuals, who were in my age group and/or working in entry-to-mid-level positions in the arts. Over the course of our time together at this retreat, we developed supportive peer relationships. I am blessed to say that many of these relationships last to this day.
Looking back on my professional evolution, this is the time in my life when I became aware that I had a posse – a cohort of individuals with a common interest and willingness to provide support for one another. In 2004, my posse expanded exponentially as I became involved with Americans for the Arts’ Emerging Leader Network. Suddenly, I was corresponding and meeting with emerging arts professionals from across the nation, who were encountering growing pains similar to mine. We sought advice from one another, shared resources, debated solutions for challenges facing the field, celebrated our victories, consoled each other in trying times, and much more. These people had (and continue to have) my back.
If I didn’t have my posse to support and challenge me over the past decade, I honestly do not believe that I would be working in the arts today. My posse inspires me to do more, to be more. My posse empowers me to lead when I am able and to follow when I am not. To riff off of Ghandi, my posse has shown me that together we can be the change we wish to see in the field and in the world. For all of this and more, I will be forever grateful.