Day 3:

Bolz Center students share their work

I started this morning with a session with our fellow arts management students at the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin.  The students involved, Joanna Simpson, Brian Hinrichs, Marcella Dover, Laura Blegen, Andrew Maxfield, and Danielle Boyke, presented this year’s edition of the Dawson Research Internship: Power Influence, and Performing Arts.  Bolz Center director Andrew Taylor moderated.  The research and presentation was designed to connect the dots between power and influence in policy-making and the arts.  Here is a brief summary of the two hour session:

  • Social Network Analysis – there are 4 steps to analyzing your network:
    1) Define the group
    2) Know your position in relation to the group
    3) Identify the connectors and bridges between you and a desired network connection
    4) Create a plan for how to change your position
    – Analyze your network to see the actual connections.  It is a great way to visualize what you need to do to further your connections and position (i.e. – get someone on the Rotary club so you can connect with a certain local businessperson).
  • Social Movement Theory –
    – How do they function?  The root idea is the base, then comes the mobilization of resources, then comes a cycle of cognition (recognizing smaller goals), coordination, and cooperation.
    – Arts fit in with social movements by providing communication, mobilization, solidarity, long-term impact, and emotional power.
  • Power in Politics – Economic power is the main source of power in the US (the 1% idea that has been brought forward from the “occupy” movements).  The “power elite” have a mix of social upper class, policy forming organizations, and corporate community.
    – How to make a change:  identify your “power elite” and find a way into the network.
  • Organizational behavior – the 6 source model from Influencer by Patterson, Grenny, et al.: shows different ways to affect change (this is a great companion book to Switch by the Heath brothers).

Ideas picked up from session participants and personal thoughts:

  •  Ticket buyers are an outcome, not a network.
  • An army of people camping on the steps of the capital is not as powerful as one person having a conversation with the chair of a congressional committee.
  • As far as advocacy, we arts people have such a large network, that the potential for huge clout is there; we just have to mobilize the network.
More info on the research can be found at bolzcenter.org/dawson

At 11:00, I attended the next plenary session, The Village Beat – Taking Action.  It was hosted by John Hearn, principal at SYPartners.

John Hearn

The towering consultant led the group in a discussion on connecting the organization to the community and its needs.  This doesn’t mean simply residing in a community and trying to lure its members in.  It means having a direct connection.  His four pillars of what constitutes a community’s situation are the individual, the community (group), change that is happening, and money.  The major questions to ask yourselves as an organization are:

  • How is the world changing for the community you serve?
  • What is the ideal that would answer your community’s most pressing needs?
  • How will you or your organization rise to this occasion?
  • What is the evidence that you can exercise this leadership?
  • How must you stretch in order to fully occupy your new role in the community?

Thoughts taken from this session:

  • Don’t think about your community in terms of art, because chances are it is not what they wake up thinking about.
  • Define your success as an organization based on the success of the community around you, not by looking at yourself in the mirror.

There was a lot of grand, eloquent thoughts and statements during this Village Beat session.  I can only hope that the arts leaders who made these statements will actually put these thoughts into action and not keep them on the shelf.

After a dinner at the famous Carnegie Deli, I headed over to the Broadway Comedy Club on 8th avenue to check out what Chicago City Limits had to offer.  It is a 6 member

Chicago City Limits

improvisation group that has 5 actors and 1 amazing improvisational accompanist.  I was not disappointed.  I know I said yesterday that 7 Fingers was my favorite….well, Chicago City Limits has now taken that position with a coup de force.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.  You know when you get to laughing so hard that they get high pitched and you start snorting……yep, that was me.  The troupe started with a song about a phrase that the audience came up with, which happened to be “Anything Goes.”  The lyrics were masterfully composed, and the actors really played off each other rhymes well. Then they performed a sketch about another crowd creation in multiple styles, which were also drawn from the crowd.  Another highlight was the “story time” sketch based off of a title that an audience member gave.  The actors passed the baton, so to speak, picking up the story and continuing to create it as the “director” pointed to each actor.  They also performed a long-form improv musical, and ended with a hilarious game in which one actor had to guess a regionalism phrase based on extremely vague clues given by the other actors.  I cannot even begin to do justice to the comical genius of the group in this blog.  I can only recommend that you look them up and plan to attend one of their shows.

Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

After that, I meandered down to 44th and 8th to the famous Birdland jazz club to listen to a set from the world renown and Grammy winning Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.  Each musician on the stage was a true master of his craft.  It was a delight to listen to such wonderful Latin jazz.  Once again, I recommend hunting them down and listening when you get the chance.

– Steven Dawson
“The world needs art, not so they can escape, but so they can embrace.”

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