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Leading Creatively - #NAMAC12 Conference Program

Leading Creatively - #NAMAC12 Conference Program

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Published by Belinda Rawlins

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Belinda Rawlins on Aug 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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267910162026283035WelcomeCreditsOfficial Proclamation LetterGeneral InformationAwardsPlenary SessionsLocally Sourced EventsExpoSchedule at a GlanceDocumentary Screening ProgramSchedule in Detail
In2010, NAMAC tookon issues of devel-oping leadershipand building orga-nizational capac-ity across the me-dia arts field in ourpublication
Lead-ing Creatively.
Now,with our NationalConference,
Lead-ing Creatively,
we’rebringing this workup to date and ex-tending it for today’s challenges. More than a decadeof leadership work has taught us that artists increas-ingly lead our member organizations. Recognizing thatmany of the original founders of media arts organiza-tions were artists as well, we wanted to explore thisreemergence. And where better to do it than at ournational conference?More and more, artists have stepped into organiza-tional leadership — in policymaking, programming, andadministrative roles. This is true for many of our mem-ber organizations, as well as for NAMAC itself. We’veseen throughout the creative sector how artists havebecome a driving force in fieldwide planning, organi-zational development, public policy input and the cre-ation of political action agendas. Related to this, theentrepreneurial creativity, skills, and experience thatprofessional artists apply to their own small business-es often translate well into creative sector leadershippositions. While many artists are bringing their busi-ness expertise to organizational boards and staffs, asa whole we rarely take the time to consider the impactof artist-leaders on our sector.
Leading Creatively 
al-lows us to pause and examine how artists are leading,innovating, and changing the way our organizationsthrive in these challenging times.National arts policy has increasingly focused over thelast decade on “creative placemaking.” Tracing its ori-gins to Richard Florida’s controversial book
The Riseof thew Creative Class
, this subject has led to a tug-of-war among various discourses. On one side is thevoice of economic development, which seeks to usecultural organizations as anchors of economic revi-talization for economically underperforming or de-pressed areas, both urban and rural. On the otherside is bottom-up placemaking, in which communi-ties work collaboratively to ensure the heterogeneityof neighborhoodseconomical, cultural and residen-tialwhile working through the arts to achieve social justice ends like workforce development or telecom-munications equity. Between these poles exist manyvariations and examples that integrate both modes.The Twin Cities have long been at the forefront of cre-ative placemaking. Through municipal and regionalplanning, philanthropic initiatives, and public–privatepartnerships, Minneapolis and St. Paul serve as re-gional models for community building, integrating thearts into community life. We look to the way the TwinCities’ cultural landscape continues to be shaped bypolicies that support artists’ live-work neighborhoods;private and corporate foundations funding both artistsand innovative community projects; and waves of im-migrants who bring vital energy and ideas to the cul-tural environment. The recent voter-approved Minne-sota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund legislates newtax revenues for clean water, parks and recreationfacilities, as well as arts and cultural heritage, en-suring capital for statewide creative placemaking overthe next 25 years. These initiatives hold great promise,inspiring all of us in our separate communities to fos-ter creative, cultural change that stays rooted in ourhumanity.We last convened as a field in 2009, a year into a newadministration in Washington. Hopes then were highthat finally our input would be heard on telecommu-nications policy, federal funding, and the role of thearts in America, contributing to a more just Fed-eral government. We reconvene noting how little haschanged. Funding remains scarce, policies continue tobe shaped by private industry interests, and the artsare frequently caught in the political crosshairs (wit-ness, for example, the Smithsonian’s removal of Da-vid Wojnarowicz’s
A Fire in My Belly 
after conservativeCongressional pressure was brought to bear). But let’sremember that we have victories to celebrate. Perhapsmost notable this year was the elimination of duallyrestrictive bills in Congress—the Stop Online PiracyAct (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IntellectualProperty Act (PIPA) in the Senate.Recognizing the importance of policy work in oursector,
Leading Creatively 
sprinkles policy speakersacross various panels. Our hope is to remind you of theinterdependency of government policy and the work wedo in our ever-evolving digital environmentand howthis may touch your organizations in ways you have notyet considered. This conference offers us the oppor-tunity to explore these broad themesas well as thetime to drill down on the consequences rippling outfrom them.
We wish to inspire, illuminate, and activateyou so that you can return to your communities rein-vigorated.
As a network, we flourish on the exchangeof ideas and on collaboration. Use this time to engage,envision and thrive!
These issues are all the more resonant for the artists,producers, and makers among us who find themselvesin leadership positions, with their creative vision putto the test by the mundane realities of organizationaland project management. One’s high-flying hopes forinnovative programming and transformative initiativescan all too quickly be brought to ground level by bud-get limits, organizational capacity, and whether one’sboard, staff, and volunteers want to play along.Yet it is at that moment of landfall, so to speak, thatcreativity comes more fully into play not becauseit’s fun or interesting, but because one has no choice.Faced with limited resources or intractable circum-stances, what’s the workaround, the lateral strategy?How does one cut the Gordian Knot?The term “leading creatively” is neither a zen koan noran oxymoron, but it can certainly lead to speculation:What do you mean by that? How does it work, and whatdo you get for it?You’re here to tell us exactly that you and all yourpeers. Thank you for speaking and sharing, thank youfor listening and learning and welcome to
Leading Creatively,
the NAMAC 2012 national confer-ence, has emerged as a remarkable expression of thesector-wide leadership of a diverse, engaged, and ac-complished community.That community is you the NAMAC membership. Youare makers, advocates, strategists, resource manag-ers, academics, educators, philanthropists. You arefrom established institutions and DIY collaboratives.You are working on your own independently and inpartnerships both proximal and virtual.Whoever and wherever you are you are leading cre-atively, and defining the cutting edge of the media andvisual-arts fields, by taking innovative risks, exploringnew opportunities, and excelling in your practice at atime of historic change from the local to the global.You are building new networks based on peer relation-ships rather than hierarchies. You are exploring newmethods for teaching and learning. You are reconfig-uring your staff structure and business operations inthe face of economic decline and technological ad-vances. You are uprooting your organization and put-ting money down on new types of community-based,partnership-driven placemaking projects. Your entireproduction studio now fits on a smartphone. Your tra-ditional audiences for Friday night screenings andperformances are diminishing; instead, you’ve noticeda spike in people downloading YouTube videos andshowing up for lunch-hour art events during the workweek. You raised more money from an experimentalcrowdfunding project than from your spring individu-al-donor campaign. Your interns proposed an alterna-tive social-media campaign that had higher impactsthan your previous six weeks of Facebook status up-dates combined.You are surfing the wave, taking the risks, consultingwith peers at every level of your work and life, and ap-plying this experience and knowledge to your strategicand tactical responses to widespread change. You are
leading creatively.
In an era of decentralizing media technologies,“crowdsourcing” has become a persistent, compel-ling buzzword. Yet “the crowd” is too often seen asan agglomeration of latent resources ripe for ex-ploitation something to use for fundraising, or topropagate your message virally rather than as astakeholder community brimming with innovationand leadership. Perhaps part of “leading creatively”is cultivating one’s own alertness to innovation andopportunity wherever it’s happening and then doingsomething to support it.

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