Skip to content

Nurturing California’s Next Generation of Arts and Cultural Leaders

Ann Markusen, Center for Cultural Innovation

Leaders in the nonprofit arts world, many of them founders and builders of their organizations for decades, will be retiring in unprecedented numbers in the coming years. Organizations could become weaker and destabilized during this transition, a prospect that should be addressed with some urgency. Younger professionals should be able to take on these leadership roles and chart a new course in stressful and changing times. Yet an operational divide between the workplace needs and values of Next Geners and those currently in charge threatens this transition. It does not help that the nonprofit arts field suffers from a paucity of training and professional degree-granting programs, low pay, long work hours, and inadequate career advancement opportunities. The generation that sparked a powerful nonprofit arts movement more than thirty years ago now wonders about their successors: Are they motivated? Prepared? How can we recruit, train, nurture, and retain them?

This report, commissioned by the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) and written by research economist Ann Markusen, reveals new data about the employment characteristics, career aspirations and needs, and other factors that may prevent emerging arts leaders from staying in California’s nonprofit arts field. More than 1,300 arts administrators in California between the ages of 18 and 35 were surveyed for the report, which is part of a larger initiative supported by The James Irvine Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (and administered by CCI) to better prepare and retain emerging arts professionals for future leadership positions in the arts.