Interesting Article: The Education of Tony Marx ]

New York Times writer Jacob Bernstein provides a glimpse inside the leadership of the NY Public library. Acknowledges the challenge of fundraising to the rich (local celebrities! sexy architecture!) while prioritizing the needs and values of artists (access to research books), and alludes to how this dichotomy and inevitable choices influence staff attitudes.

Maker Months: July/August Update

My pregnancy-induced nesting binge has brought home the fact that I have not been much of a “maker” in recent years. Planner, editor and organizer? Yes. It takes a lot of work to run a cultural center, buy a home, and get married and all those things happened in the last two years. But actual, real-world assembly of parts and materials? Not so much.

So, in July and August I took time to re-learn some basic skills. I signed up for a few sewing classes at Workshop SF, checked out some how-to books at the San Francisco Public Library, began collecting online tutorials, ordered a sewing machine, and jumped in. So far, I’ve made three baby bibs and washcloths, a dog coat for Riggins, a baby snuggler, a blanket and some bloomers. I also hemmed our curtains and made some tablecloths for Feast of Words, SOMArts’ literary potluck.

People get crafty for all kinds of reasons and the main provocation in my case is to 1) save money, 2) have nicer things than I could otherwise afford. Not surprisingly, saving money and reaching above one’s financial means are two things I also think about daily in my work at SOMArts. At work, I like to call this “fighting above our weight.” It’s not about cutting back, it’s about doing more: how can we support more artists, reach a bigger audience, give them deeper experiences and make those experiences truly excellent? CONTINUE READING ]

YBCA Director Ken Foster reflects on MOCA LA dispute. ]

I’ve been following Ken Foster’s blog for a while now, it’s great to see someone in an influential position who is not part of the media reflect on what’s happening at MOCA LA.

If you are interested in hearing MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch speak, he’ll be in conversation with Lawrence Rinder at the Berkeley Art Mueseum on September 21.

Survival Instincts: June Update

June getaway in Mendocino + morning coffee=bliss.

I love this reflective post by Nina Simon about her first year as Executive Director at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. Even more, I love hearing from so many friends who run organizations that since the 2011-12 season came to a close on June 30, we can safely say it was a good year. Not a perfect year (by any means!) but a year where many artists, organizations and groups—particularly those who are passionately creating/presenting work of, by and for communities—are feeling more stable, confident and prosperous.

June was filled with art for me and included two new exhibitions at SOMArts, The Lab’s art auction, and a Mother’s Day performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit starring the incomparable Rhodessa Jones (here’s a pic of me on stage as a rabbit). After the performance, I came home and there was a free music show at Mollusk Surf Shop featuring Yesway, who performed at SOMArts during the exhibition Frontrunners. I stopped by and it was full of familiar faces of all ages who I see walking around my neighborhood. The music was great, it was the kind of thing I dreamed of 10 years ago—living right next door to the ocean and a small local shop with good art and music.

Later in June Dan and I escaped to Mendocino and Fort Bragg, where we tried to visit Lost Coast Culture Machine (it was closed). I went on a summer reading binge which included four books in four weeks: The Botany of Desire, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, The American Heiress and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. June closed with the performance festival This Is What I Want and a weekend of game development workshops in the gallery to prepare for the Nov/Dec Commons Curatorial Residency by Come Out And Play.

My personal “June gloom” was talking with yet another friend who works in the arts who is moving out of San Francisco because she wants to put down roots and can’t afford to buy here. She was the fourth person I’ve spoken to in two weeks who loves the city but is moving out because once you are in your mid-30s you start feeling like paying the highest rent in the country is maybe a bad financial decision. As much as I love San Francisco, the thought of so many smart and interesting arts workers leaving depresses the hell out of me even though I know it is a smart thing to do for survival.

 

Why Every Nonprofit Has a New Job: Publisher ]

Nonprofit Quarterly’s Joe Waters talks about staying in the mix as the number of nonprofits and fiscally-sponsored organizations and individual artist fundraisers grows and grows. Reason 3? “You can’t just do good work anymore.” Discouraging, but also true in my experience. In the arts, organizations who look good on paper, and—increasingly—good online are the ones getting resources.

Birthdaytimes

Dan and I take a break from wedding festivities in Piedmont Park, Atlanta.

Words With Care: Leadership & Communication Challenges

The other day I was scrolling through Harvard Business Review podcasts when an interview with Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola came on. He was talking about doubling the size of his company, but what amazed me was his double-speak: soda became a “full calorie beverage.” The nation’s obesity problem became an opportunity for philanthropists to promote “energy balance.” The content of the interview was normally something I’d skip, but I found myself transfixed by Kent’s style in answering the tough questions he was being asked about water supply, the environment, obesity and his first years as CEO. It reminded me of the story of how Steve Jobs lured John Sculley from Pepsi, saying ”Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?” What can those of us who want to change the world for the better learn from a CEO of Coca-Cola? CONTINUE READING ]