STIMULATING ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESS (S.O.S.) ::
Must Reads for Arts Managers — Part 2
Arts managers throughout Seattle were asked for their choice of must-read books and here are their recommendations. Have certain books or web sites really helped you become a better organization?
Dan Petersen, Executive Director, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras
- The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power, Norman Lebrecht
Music critic/provocateur Norman Lebrecht exposes the foibles and failings (musical and otherwise) of the great conductors of the last century. Why are there so few really outstanding conductors, and so many surface-skimming mediocrities? How did the conductor go from a mere time-beater to a powerful, immensely well-paid figure who jets from continent to continent and from podium to podium, hobnobbing with presidents and tycoons instead of with other musicians? Lebrecht explores all these factors, along with the history of conducting, and in the process dishes a few good anecdotes.
- Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Michael Lewis
How did one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland Athletics, win so many games? Lewis, one of the top nonfiction writers of his era, makes Moneyball an appealing reading experience for business people and sports fans alike. The Oakland Athletics have a secret: a winning baseball team is made, not bought. This books shows that the traditional yardsticks of success for players and teams are fatally flawed.
Andrew C. McMasters, Producer / Artistic Director, Wing-It Productions - Jet City Improv®/ Twisted Flicks™
- The Tipping Point
"Everyone - arts administrators and actors and producers should read The Tipping Point. It is not new information, but it is plainly stated for understanding about how to take your event / show / item and turn it into a success."
John Bradshaw, Managing Director, Seattle Shakespeare Company
- Standing Room Only, Philip Kotler and Joanne Scheff
" . . . thorough and insightful." Joanne Scheff's background in arts management and Philip Kotler's extensive marketing background provide useful and practical information for professionals in the arts. This book should be on every arts marketer's bookshelf. Kotler and Scheff stress the need for organizations to define their mission and think strategically. They apply basic marketing concepts like product, pricing, and positioning to the arts but they also consider the unique aspects of audiences and the "performing arts market."
- Don't Just Applaud-Send Money!: The Most Successful Strategies for Funding and Marketing the Arts, Alvin H. Reiss
" . . .fun and creative." Drawing on sources throughout the arts community, Reiss has collected more than 100 new ideas proven successful in actual practice. Each case history is clearly presented in a unique CPR format (Challenge, Plan, Result), and many are illustrated with a reproduction of the flyer, brochure, poster or letter used in the fundraising or marketing campaign. The result is a handbook of concepts which can be adapted for immediate use. . . . and which may inspire hundreds of other effective ideas.
- How to Run a Theater: A Witty, Practical, and Fun Guide to Arts Management, Jim Volz
" . . . practical from author's personal experience." The definitive arts management guide, this book is written with tremendous insight and humor and packed with dozens of lists, such as "22 Wonderful Ways to Improve Your Life in the Theater" and "20 Distractions that Erode Productivity." It provides information on improving an organization by building audiences, bolstering fundraising, and tightening finances. Also covered are tips for solidifying relationships with boards, volunteers, communities, and colleagues. It's all here, from managing one's own life, working with a board of trustees, and managing a team to negotiating, fundraising, marketing, and financial management. This resource will appeal to all those who work in arts management-from novices to veteran middle managers and executive directors.
John Gilbreath, Executive Director, Earshot Jazz
- Art & Fear, David Bayles and Ted Orland
"Because arts administrators should never abandon their own art making, or be out of direct touch with the creative process of artists with whom they work." An artist's survival guide, written by and for working artists. The authors explore the way art gets made, the reasons it doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way.
Rob West, Artistic Director, Theater Schmeater
D. David Brown, Executive Director. Pacific Northwest Ballet
- Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time, Susan Scott
"An easy read that helps managers confront the difficult conversations we often put off with subordinates and peers." Fierce Conversations is a way of conducting business. An attitude. A way of life. Susan Scott has spent sixteen years training clients in the art of fierce conversations, empowering them to achieve exceptional results through successful communication. Fierce Conversations illuminates the path to a new degree of authenticity, a new way of expressing who you are and what you believe, as a person and a leader. In it, Scott explains the keys to regularly engaging in frontier conversations with yourself, colleagues, customers, friends, family, and the unknown future emerging around you. Having mastered the principles and practice of courageous, transformative dialogue, you will begin to change your life-one conversation at a time.
- Boards That Make a Difference, John Carver
"Although generally a fairly radical approach to board of trustee management, it nonetheless has numerous nuggets applicable to any board." John Carver's groundbreaking Policy Governance model has influenced the way public and nonprofit boards operate around the world. Now, as widespread experience with the model accumulates, Carver enriches his definitive exposition with updated policy samples, a new chapter on the process of policy development, and additional resources for various types of boards. Carver debunks the entrenched beliefs about board roles and functions that hamper dedicated board members. With creative insight and commonsense practicality, he presents a bold new approach to board job design, board-staff relationships, the chief executive role, performance monitoring, and virtually every aspect of the board-management relationship. In their stead, he offers a board model designed to produce policies that make a difference, missions that are clearly articulated, standards that are ethical and prudent, meetings, officers, and committees that work, and leadership that supports the fulfillment of long-term goals.
- Retreats That Work: Designing and Conducting Effective Offsites for Groups and Organizations, Sheila Campbell and Merianne Liteman
"This is a very comprehensive 'how to' book that divides retreats and similar activities into several types and helps organize such meetings into successful events."
Whether you're an executive who wants to hold a retreat or a facilitator who will design and lead it, Retreats That Work is a comprehensive handbook for creating off-sites that get results and rave reviews from participants. You'll learn how to design and facilitate retreats that will keep participants energized and on-task. Campbell and Liteman know what can go wrong at a retreat and what to do about it. They know how to turn difficult situations around and how to deal effectively with conflict, difficult participants, and resistance to change.
- Mission-Based Management: Leading Your Not-for-profit in the 21st Century, Peter C. Brinckerhoff
"A great soup to nuts description of many areas of management that require attention including many tips for achieving success." This book is a practical, no-nonsense guide to running a not-for-profit organization. It is straight forward, practical, and filled with answers to some of the more complex questions in running a not-for-profit. The book discusses the responsibility of the not-for-profit to make money, outlining the fiscal responsibility of the director and board. It touches on the issue of setting up a profit making arm of a non-profit, and the important, yet complex relationship between the not-for-profit and government.
- Robert's Rules in Plain English, Doris Zimmerman
"Although most of us think we know the rules, you would be surprised at what the rules really are!"
An easy-to-use guide to running meetings. Explains parliamentary procedures in simple English. Using summaries, charts and forms, provides everything you need to know to run a meeting successfully and keep it on track. It also includes sample dialogues so you can see exactly how those rules work in practice.
Dwight Gee, Vice President of Community Affairs, ArtsFund
- Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards, Richard P. Chait, William P. Ryan, Barbara E. Taylor
"I find this book to be quite valuable." A new framework for helping nonprofit organizations maximize the effectiveness of their boards. In contrast to conventional advice that unwittingly urges trustees to think and govern like managers, the authors' new approach invites boards to think and govern like leaders.
Written by noted researchers and consultants, Governance as Leadership introduces a fresh way to think about governance with sensible guidance to turn these ideas into concrete actions.
Seattle Youth Symphony.
Photo: Colleen Boyce.