A Tool for Arts Administrators Building a Culture of EDI&A

March 20, 2022—One of our greatest challenges as arts administrators is to keep our eyes on the present while also preparing for the future. This requires that we invest in the training of up-and-coming arts leaders—the Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operations Officers, Executive Directors, Executive Producers, Artistic Directors, Marketing Directors, Stage Managers, as well as artists.

An essential part of that training will be to ensure that they fully understand the responsibilities they are undertaking, which I believe includes building a culture of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access (EDI&A) at every level within their institutions and arts practices.

I am pleased to share with the readers of Arts & Culture Connections that there’s a new book coming out this fall that is an essential primer and guide for this endeavor, and it was compiled by the newest member of my EDI&A team at Walker International Communications Group, Tobie Stein, Ph.D. Tobie’s focus is allyship and moral leadership. She also has been a regular lecturer for the classes I teach at New York University, Columbia University and Bank Street Graduate School of Education.

Tobie is a two-time Fulbright Specialist, an educator, researcher. and keynote speaker. She has dedicated her efforts to challenging systemic racism and guiding cultural institutions to become anti-racist organizations. Tobie was chosen as one of my 2020 Champion of the Arts for putting a stake in the ground as a white ally, determined to transform herself and society, by increasing access, diversity, equity and inclusion within the cultural workforce.

The book is titled Performing Arts Management: A Handbook of Professional Practices. This is the second edition, which Tobie co-authored with Jessica Bathurst and Renee Lasher. The book is full of insights for both entry-level, as well as seasoned arts administrators, and it features the collective wisdom and expertise of more than 150 performing arts management professionals.

About the book, Tobie says: “When I entered the field of performing arts management higher education more than twenty years ago, I was one of a handful of women directing MFA programs in performing arts management. I believed it was essential that I write a book for both college students and practitioners that would elevate the roles for women in performing arts management. It took my former student, Jessica Bathurst, and I four years to research and write the first edition.

For the second edition, I asked my longtime friend and colleague, Donna Walker-Kuhne, to join the party. Donna contributes a brilliant beginning to the second edition of the book that is dedicated to an inclusive, equitable, and transformational field.”

The book features in-depth interviews with leaders in producing and presenting organizations, both commercial and nonprofit, throughout the United States. Most notably, it offers hundreds of practical methods for addressing a broad array of issues—from determining core values and setting fundraising goals, to addressing legal concerns and understanding board governance.

The performing arts remain one of our few, collective opportunities to share an experience that potentially expands perspectives, opens hearts, and shifts attitudes. Having endured nearly two years of limited access to the arts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we also realize that they are an essential component of our lives. That makes the role of arts administrators, performers, and artists more important than ever.

Performing Arts Management: A Handbook of Professional Practices will be beneficial for people just beginning their arts administration education journey or seasoned professionals seeking to learn how colleagues have tackled similar challenges. I believe it is an instructive, insightful, and encouraging guide for the present moment, as well a wonderful roadmap for preparing us for the future.

As always, I would like to know what you think. I invite you to share your comments below.

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