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A New Generation of Leaders

Maybe it’s just where I’m sitting but I am struck by the unambiguous reality of the “leadership transition” that has been talked about and fretted over for years: it’s finally happening!  The number of energetic, thoughtful, articulate leaders who are (or appear to be) under 40 at the Americans for the Arts’ 50th anniversary convention in Baltimore in June was truly impressive.  This should not be surprising given how much effort AFTA has put into cultivating this new generation of leaders. Note, for example, AFTA’s Emerging Leaders Network, which provides intensive networking opportunities and scholarships for professional development, among other programs.

What is more interesting than the simple emergence of these leaders is their focus and perspective.  You could hear it at many of the panel sessions: attention to and comfort with innovation, openness to new ways of conducting business, an awareness of the need to not only do more with less but to “do less better.”  I was particularly impressed with the new publication of the National Alliance for Media Art and Culture called “Leading Creatively: A Closer Look 2010,” which is available for a short time as a PDF download (~24MB) before publication. Also, the concept of “omni-directional mentorship” described by Edward Clapp, whose “20under40″ will be published this month, is well worth a look.  These are fabulous antidotes to the rut we can get into about the hard times our sector faces – yes, no doubt these are hard times, but the talent that’s out there is encouraging. Help is on the way.



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