Notes from Symposium: Ben Cameron’s Keynote

Missed Symposium this weekend? Check out this quick recap of our closing keynote!

Ben Cameron delivering the Symposium closing keynote address!

Ben Cameron speaking with Symposium attendees

Article written by Andrew Collins, a 2nd year graduate student in the MAAA program at SPEA. During the academic year Andrew works as a graduate assistant with the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation, a teaching assistant for Professor Owens’ “Arts Administration & the Cultural Sector” course, and as a special project manager for SPEA’s Office of Undergraduate Programming. This past summer he interned with Bravo! Vail as their Artist Liaison. Connect with him on Twitter: @ABCollins0818

Some nuggets from our outstanding closing keynote by Ben Cameron from the Doris Duke Foundation:

– Not STEM, Not STEAM…but STEM to the power of (A)…the arts aren’t a part of comprehensive curriculum, they must be integrated within all parts of a curriculum (i.e. Science to the power of Arts, Technology to the power of Arts, etc.)

– The largest donors in arts organizations are the administrators, writers, actors, musicians who are under-compensated and living without health insurance.

– Don’t decrease supply, find ways to increase demand

– Arts organizations must find a way to pivot from ticket sales to community engagement

– Your budget is your moral narrative, it explains what you really care about

– Pricing is one strategy, find ways to not price your art outside the reach of your community

– Inclusivity over exclusivity…find ways to engage the audience through co-curatorial or co-creator practices. Surrendering control leads to increase in participation!

– Go to where your audience is, don’t make them come to you.

– Find ways to reverse the expectation of who cares about whom (demonstrate care for your community, and they will reciprocate…don’t just expect them to care about you or your art).

– Create ways for the audience to establish personal connections with your performers/artists

– Be a part of the civic agenda, not just the cultural agenda

– What if the problem is Americans not loving the arts, but Americans not loving “our” arts? (American interests in the arts and culture at historic highs…Americans are OBSESSED with the arts…everywhere you look we are consuming and participating in music, film, painting, drawing, writing, etc.)

– Engage the community through public will building and understand why the community cares and what they care about, activate their passion

– The way we talk about the arts is deeply alienating. Pivot the conversation to continuum to bridge the cultural chasm.

– Social bonding is a patrons largest concern…people come to the arts for a spiritual and social connection! Everyone wants connection, the arts do that best…it’s something we’re all looking for!

– The arts a platform that provides experiences which act as springboards for an audience to develop and deploy their creativity.

– Don’t give remedial instruction to employees…compensate for weaknesses and soar with their strengths.

– Change must be prepared (and there shouldn’t be too many at once), change provokes anxiety and that anxiety MUST be managed, people process change in different times. Change inherently provokes competition and not collaboration…find ways to encourage collaborative work through change.

– Change is translated as a loss, find ways to look at change through the lens of a gain.

– Core values are important for any organization. Values must be something that everyone in an organization can attach themselves to and there must be consciously rejected, but equally viable opposite choices, and you’ll know it’s a true value if you’ve chosen it, even if you’re punished for it.

– Burnout occurs when you become disconnected from your core values

– Making art together instantly builds community

– Problems become intractable when we look at issues as win or lose competitions, simplify complex issues to sound bites, and surround ourselves with self reinforcing feedback loops with old information, especially in light of new research

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