There was a moment during dinner when one of the executives started singing.
It often happens, sharing great food and wine together, that we ask our Executive Summit attendees to describe one of the most meaningful (or hilariously bad) arts experiences of their lives. We ask the question because, after a day of data-driven conversation about success metrics, leadership, and management—it’s important to remember why we all got into this business.
We don’t sell widgets. The art is The Why.
The dinner stories always transform the room. As a child, watching a prisoner of war play piano songs on an outdoor porch piano for his captors. As a teenager in South Africa, watching impromptu dance parties in your father’s hardware store. A few weeks ago, seeing Yo-Yo Ma play Bach’s Cello Suites completely from memory at the Hollywood Bowl.
Midway through the conversation at the Broadmoor resort last October, one executive started telling the story of seeing a musical for the first time as a teenager, in a club in New York, before it became famous. “The one that really got me was the song that goes like this,” she said, and sang a line or two. When no one broke the silence, she continued, singing every word by heart. When her song was over, her peers cheered what would become one of the more powerful moments in Executive Summit lore.
When you gather with 12 executive leaders, all leading the world’s premier arts organizations, you get a world of business insight. But you also get 12 lifetimes of powerful arts experiences. Both of these things should shape how you lead.
As you enter 2018, TRG invites you to be excellent in your work. Lead your teams well. Hold them accountable. And remember that, what they need from you perhaps more than anything, is to remind them that the reason we get up in the morning is singular: we love the art.
TRG Executive Summit invitations are curated by Jill Robinson, President and CEO. If you are the senior executive at a large or mid-size arts organization, you can request an invitation to a 2018 TRG Executive Summit in Colorado, London or Paris by emailing