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AP131 - The State Were in (Feature 9 Oct 06)

AP131 - The State Were in (Feature 9 Oct 06)

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This is one of a series of features for Arts Professional in 2006/07. Fresh thinking about management structures in the arts is shaping business practice. Clare Cooper and Roanne Dods explain how MMM is supporting arts organisations attempting to change.
This is one of a series of features for Arts Professional in 2006/07. Fresh thinking about management structures in the arts is shaping business practice. Clare Cooper and Roanne Dods explain how MMM is supporting arts organisations attempting to change.

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Published by: Mission Models Money on May 17, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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9 October
overned by an 18th Century boardstructure borrowed from universities andzoological societies, guided by a 1950sconcept of corporate practice, and tugged by abroadening array of revenue streams andconstituents, arts administrators have made a craft of contortion, and have made contortion a craft.Alongside the creative and technical professionals,arts administrators have fostered an astoundingindustry by adapting tools that never quite fit the job, and leveraging resources that never quite fit theneed.” (Andrew Taylor, Director of the Bolz Centre forArts Administration.) The Mission, Models, Money(MMM) Programme emerged from a recognition of this reality. The programme’s core purpose resonatesstrongly with what Andrew Taylor goes on to say –that it is high time the sector stopped contortingitself “to fit the suit (and instead) change the suit tofit our needs”. Now in its third phase, MMM isactively exploring the scope for, and challenges of introducing new methods of operation for the arts:business models, infrastructure and ways of fundingthat are more relevant to our ever changingcontemporary environment and better suited todeveloping the connection between culture and thepublic we all want to see.
By challenging ingrained assumptions and traditionalmindsets, and exploring, developing and promotingnew approaches and new solutions, MMM aims todevelop greater financial and organisationalsustainability among arts and cultural organisationsacross the UK. There are seven principal issues forarts organisations to consider as a first step (listed in
126 and at www.missionmodelsmoney.org.uk).These are issues related to changes in the widerenvironment, public engagement, strategic alliances,governance, key competencies, financial capacity,and new operating and business models. It will bethe evidence-based answers to these questionswhich will form the basis of MMM’s proposedblueprint for a more sustainable arts and culturalecology, one which has the potential to deliver anever more healthy, vibrant cultural community.We are now beginning to map a range of practical barriers and systemic challenges that areblocking the development of organisationally andfinancially sustainable cultural organisations. Somesolutions lie within easy reach. For example, manyparticipants at our road shows have freely admittedthat, by and large, the sector is financially illiterate –particularly at a strategic level. There is a range of self-assessment and capacity-building tools andpathways that any organisation can take to enhanceits financial management, especially at trustee andsenior executive level, and the MMM website isbuilding up a set of new materials and links to someof the best of these. Other solutions, for examplethose tackling issues of governance and corporatestructure, need more work. While someorganisations are already actively addressinggovernance development, in general, governancebehaviours have not and are not changing to reflectnew operating contexts. The level of frustration withboards and the desire for new mindsets aroundgovernance appears significant. Given that theexistence of a volunteer, non-executive board is sostructurally fundamental to most arts organisations,this is sobering. Governance needs to be developedand improved in recognition that the challenges areof a different order to those in the past. These arenot just technical challenges, which can be solved byapplying managerial expertise and operatingprocedures more effectively: they are ‘adaptive’challenges, where the solution lies outside existingknowledge and which therefore requires newlearning
. A series of road shows is now addressingsome of the priorities in the contemporary operatingenvironment. The governance challenges faced byeach of MMM’s exemplar projects (see below) willhelp develop deeper understanding of the issuesfaced.
The next model
It is important to note however, that there are manywho are now questioning the appropriateness of theone-size-fits-all charity model for all artsorganisations. Indeed, in the USA there is a growingimpetus behind the suggestion that the not-for-profit model is preventing the development of theadaptive flexible behaviours demanded by thechanging world we operate in. Douglas McLennan,editor of ArtsJournal.com, has argued that nonprofitsare “suffering from a persistent low-grade flu in theform of eroding audiences, sharply rising expenses,and increased competition that may mask moreserious structural problems. It may be time towonder: Has the nonprofit business model... outlivedits usefulness?”
Charlie Leadbeater has also proposed in his essayfor ACE’s 21st Century Programme, that artsorganisations should be encouraged to re-considertheir corporate structures and “explore a wideningarray of models that mix being open and closed,collaborative and competitive, public and private,large and small”, and that funders should encouragethe development of this exploration by agreeing tofund different business models
. The developmentand implementation of new corporate structures is amajor issue with massive change implications andmore work needs to be done on both problemanalysis and solutions.
New skills
Another complex issue faced by arts and culturalorganisations is the development of themanagement talent pool. Recent research in theworkplace suggests that 60% of positions require arange of multiple intelligences that only 30% of thepopulation possess. Whilst a significant injection of energy and resource is going in to the developmentof the next generation of leaders, with initiativessuch as the Clore Leadership Programme, many of the barriers cultural organisations face in adapting tothe changing external environment lie at the top endof management and at trustee level where leadershipis trapped in old ways of thinking, rooted in the pastnot the future. All seven strands of MMM’sprogramme are directed at trustees and seniorexecutives in the arts and in funding organisations.But how are organisations on the front line of change tackling these and other challenges?Significant financial input from HM Treasury’s Invest
Clare Cooper
Roanne Dods
Co-Directors of Mission,Models, Money
Fresh thinking about management structures in the arts is shaping business practice.
Clare Cooper
Roanne Dods
explain how the Mission, Models, Money programme is supporting arts organisations attempting to change.
The state we’re in
Mission, Models, Money

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