Arts Leadership Review

Arts Leadership Review

Arts Leadership Review is a print and digital magazine written with the arts and cultural chief executive in mind and is intended to connect arts leaders across continents and genres. Articles and related content come directly from our experience working with organizations from all over the world, and from guest contributors who have knowledge and expertise to share.

We look forward to from readers like you.

In this issue:

Welcome: "Data doesn't do. People do."
Jill Robinson, President & CEO

Getting Real About Your People
David Seals, Director of Client Development

Executive Interview: Invest in Your Staff & Get Caught in Richard Rose's Spiderweb
Eric Nelson, Client Engagement Officer

The Elements of Successful Leadership
Keri Mesropov, Vice President of Client Services

Reasons to be cheerful about GDPR
David Brownlee, Director of International Strategy

It's Not the Business Model That is Broken
Vincent VanVleet, Managing Director, Phoenix Theatre

Leadership Lessons from Singapore
Dan Bates, Chief Executive, Sheffield Theatres

What I’ve learned about leadership and my roadmap that transformed Phoenix Theatre
Vincent VanVleet, Managing Director, Phoenix Theatre


Receive our next issue: 


Welcome: “Data doesn’t do. People do.”

Jill Robinson
President & CEO 

I say that all of the time at TRG Arts. Internally, with our clients, or whenever it fits... and it fits a lot. I’ve learned this critical lesson over more than 20 years of consulting and running my own business.

People lead and motivate; they make organizational visions happen. They make artistic decisions and develop organizational strategy. People use CRM (or other data systems) and reason their way through the myriad of reports provided in them. They talk to your visitors, your ticket buyers, subscribers, and donors. They represent your business and your mission. They’re the ones helping to get results. Or not.

Do you ever wonder if your organization has the right people, organized and working in the right ways? Or if you’re leading them effectively…? I do. I think leaders must wrestle with these questions regularly. Our organizations aren’t static, neither are our people. As leaders we need to regularly re-adjust our frame of reference toward an ever-changing future of needs.

My observation is that in arts and culture we don’t spend enough time investing in and thinking about our people.

This Autumn issue of Arts Leadership Review is about people, and the lessons we’ve learned at TRG Arts about the role that they play in the sustainable management and growth of arts and cultural institutions.

Throughout this issue, you’ll find articles and experts describing variations on this “people” theme. Keri Mesropov, Vice President of Client Services, shares from our consulting practice The Elements of Successful Leadership. These elements will help you be reminded about the things we see as required for arts and cultural leaders today.

(I’d argue they’re required in any business; certainly, they apply to mine). Vincent VanVleet, the Managing Director at Phoenix Theatre, contributes his thoughts on this same theme but broadens it to the organizational level on It’s Not the Business Model that is Broken.

In April, I hosted the inaugural Arts Leadership Book Club with Gillian Tett’s book The Silo Effect with nearly 40 arts leaders from Australia, the UK, Canada, and the US. Reading the book reminded us how important it is to get people to work together beyond their silos. Rearrange the furniture, metaphorically or literally, so that people bump into each other and interact! Make sure to check out and register for our upcoming book club on November 8 featuring Fred Reichheld's The Ultimate Question 2.0 and six-part interview series with Reichheld: Loyalty as a Linchpin. Eric Nelson’s interview with Barter Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director Richard Rose goes in to more depth on silos. As TRG’s new Client Engagement Officer, Eric obsesses about growing loyalty and revenue for our clients. Rose is an iconic leader who believes strongly that silos are a killer. His organizational chart is completely matrix-ed (aptly named, The Spiderweb) and Rose believes it’s critical to the company’s success.

Finally, TRG Director of Client Development David Seals is Getting Real About Your People. He’ll share what we hear about your star performers and what keeps you up at night about those who should likely move on.

You and the people you surround yourself with do critically important work in your communities. Be sure you’re investing enough time in yourself and them. Like any other investment, you’ll be able to measure the return in performance, innovation, and more.

Remember: data doesn’t do, people do. Get in touch at  to find a time to have a conversation with me about your people.


Getting Real About Your People

David Seals
Director of Client Development

Every person on your team is growing daily in one of two directions: adding to or detracting from the work. As the chief executive, it’s illuminating to ask yourself two honest questions:

1. Visualize your star performer, the one you can count on when it matters. What characteristics define them? What affect do they have on the organization? On the people around them?

2. Visualize your lowest performing employee. What characteristics define them? What affect do they have on the organization? On the people around them?

Read More >> 


Executive Interview: Invest in Your Staff & Get Caught in Richard Rose's Spiderweb

Eric Nelson
Client Engagement Officer

“We invest in Barter and our employees. They grow as we grow. We plan for our staff to blossom.”
Richard Rose, Barter Theatre

Data and analytics are important, but they don’t make the work happen. It is the staff who implement plans, build relationships, and deliver results. All too often, our industry finds it difficult to invest in the personal and professional development of staff. This has led to the common wisdom that “to grow, I’ve got to go” in order to gain more responsibility and salary. This lack of corporate ladder has huge ramifications. Staff turnover is expensive.

Read More>>


The Elements of Successful Leadership

Keri Mesropov
Vice President of Client Services

For 23 years, TRG Arts has been in the business of helping the arts transform sustainability. We regularly evaluate the reasons why particular organizations achieve extraordinary results at an incredible pace. In every case, data has served as a lantern that has clearly illuminated where to focus and what to change to achieve superior results.

But the leaders of these organizations know exemplary results rely on their own stead fast attention in five core areas.

Read More>>


Reasons to be cheerful about GDPR

David Brownlee
Director of International Strategy 

The prospect of a further tightening of regulations regarding the use of customer data across the UK and EU could have seemed like a disaster to a data-driven consultancy like TRG Arts.

Some of the initial ill-informed panic and scare stories in the arts sector around the implications of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in May 2018, certainly caught our attention. It is also fair to say there remains a lack of clarity around some of the implications of how GDPR will play out.

Read More>>


It's Not the Business Model That is Broken

Vincent VanVleet
Managing Director, Phoenix Theatre

“There is much discussion recently of the non-profit arts business model being broken. Some even suggest it is dying. While many things about how organizations operate should be put to rest, I believe there is a growing insurrection to challenge the status quo of how our field can work.”

Read More>>

 

Leadership Lessons from Singapore

Dan Bates
Chief Executive, Sheffield Theatres

"Having the chance to have three months away from major work responsibilities is an exciting and daunting project.”

When I discussed this with my board at the theater more than a year ago, we talked about the purpose of the sabbatical, what I might learn, and what I would bring back to Sheffield Theatres. As the start of the sabbatical came closer and I began the real preparation for being away, I also became focused on preparing our staff team to thrive while I was gone.

Read More>> 


What I’ve learned about leadership and my roadmap that transformed Phoenix Theatre

Vincent VanVleet
Managing Director, Phoenix Theatre

Here’s what I’ve learned about leadership and my roadmap that transformed Phoenix Theatre:

1. Bite off a piece at a time. I can’t emphasize this enough, which is why I placed it at the top of this list. There will be intense pressure from many directions to try and solve everything at once. What I have found is great power in identifying the thing that will provide the biggest lift for your organization, and maintaining focus until it is achieved.

2. Put your audience ahead of everything else. Curate every aspect of their interactions and experiences from the first time they visit your website to the moment they enter the parking lot. Take control of all of it. Be intentional about those experiences that shape how patrons feel about your organization.

Read More>>

Admin Login