James E. Canales
President and CEO
The New Year always brings with it an orientation toward the future, as we set new goals and start the year with a fresh perspective. In this context, I wanted to report on an exciting partnership we are engaged in with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation focused on cultivating the next generation of arts leaders in California.
Research commissioned by each of our foundations recently found that the arts sector faces a critical leadership transition during the next 10 to 15 years as the current “baby boom” generation of arts leaders enters retirement age. The good news is that there is no shortage of smart, engaged and dedicated midcareer professionals available to fill these roles. Many of them began their careers as practicing artists and have now been drawn into managerial roles. The challenge we found is that most arts organizations lack the resources for training and other kinds of professional development that will better prepare these promising young leaders to become effective nonprofit executives.
The recession has only made this problem worse. As organizations downsize, resources for professional development and travel are often among the first areas to be cut. Meanwhile, the need for training is only greater during an economic downturn, as employees are called upon to assume additional responsibilities and leadership is spread across the organization. These sacrifices might be manageable in the short term but they can hurt an organization’s long-term ability to retain and cultivate the talented young professionals who will lead them into the future.
It is for these reasons that the Irvine and Hewlett foundations are embarking on this effort to support the next generation of arts leaders in California. In December, our board approved $340,000 in grants to organizations in San Diego and the Bay Area, and we expect to focus on additional regions in the coming months. Our funding has two components:
- We are supporting informal professional networks that have recently cropped up among emerging arts leaders in different regions of the state. These grassroots ventures, such as genARTS Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area Emerging Arts Professionals, provide their members with seminars, workshops, networking opportunities and other forms of professional development.
- We have made a grant to expand the Center for Cultural Innovation’s Creative Capacity Fund, which offers arts professionals direct support for professional development. Our support will be designated specifically for emerging arts leaders and will be available to individuals across the state.
Together with our colleagues at the Hewlett Foundation, we view this as an opportunity to invest in the long-term health of the arts in California. The sector’s future depends in part on its ability to retain and cultivate talented young arts professionals so that they can more effectively move into leadership roles in the coming years. This will require a commitment not just on the part of funders such as Irvine, Hewlett and, hopefully, others, but also on the part of arts organizations themselves to make leadership development among their highest priorities.
We look forward to our work unfolding in the years ahead and to continuing to learn what types of support are most effective to foster the development of the next generation of leaders. As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.
Before closing, I would like to take note of some important transitions on Irvine’s Board of Directors. The end of 2009 marked the retirement of Gary Pruitt, the president, chairman and CEO of the McClatchy Company, who served on our board for 11 years, including the past four as board chair. Gary brought uncommon wisdom and gave generously of his time and talent. He was a valued partner to me, and we will miss him greatly.
As we enter 2010, we do so with both a new board chair and a new board member. The board has elected Peter J. Taylor, chief financial officer and executive vice president of the University of California, as its new chair. Peter, who has ably served on the Irvine board since 2001, brings to this leadership role a broad and impressive range of professional and community experiences. We are also pleased to welcome Virgil Roberts as a new board member. Virgil is a pioneering civil rights attorney and entertainment industry executive in Los Angeles, who has served in leadership roles with numerous civic organizations.
I greatly look forward to working with Peter, Virgil and the rest of the Irvine board as we continue our efforts to fulfill Irvine’s mission of service to the people of California.
James E. Canales
President and CEO
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