Ten Work Items for 2011, Task #3

Let’s make a commitment to creating and nurturing cooperative ventures, not just within our inner circles, or our comfort zones, but those that stretch us artistically and those that make our entities more efficient.

Face it: we’re very, very conservative and unimaginative when it comes to artistic cooperative ventures.  Our first thoughts are to cooperate with those like us (I’m resisting a number of poignant examples).  These can be fun, but don’t stretch us artistically. But perhaps way more important, it doesn’t stretch us administratively.  My experience is that cooperative artistic ventures are generally moved forward, nurtured and executed by administrators.  They tend to resist complex ventures because they take time and extended skills in communications and organization.  Please let’s stretch ourselves artistically.  Not only are the possibilities exciting to imagine; but as a field, in general, we’re beginning to look ordinary and boring.

The potential for organizational cooperative ventures is overwhelming.  Yes, this thought has been beaten to death already, but beaten to death by those who don’t want to find efficiencies because they fear loss of control.  We’re an embarrassment organizationally when we compare ourselves with the commercial sector.  When profit is the driving force, enterprises look for any efficiency that will improve their bottom line.  Why doesn’t this same zeal drive our possibilities for cooperative efficiencies?  Let’s get out of our boxes and find these money-savers. 

Funders love cooperative ventures and have encouraged them, but they are beginning to suspect that the not-for-profit arts sector talks a good line, but doesn’t deliver.  2011 is the year to get serious about cooperative ventures: both those artistic and those organizational!



About the author

James Undercofler

Jim has been a Professor at Drexel University since May, 2009. His previous appointment - since August, 2007 - was as the President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jim was Dean of the Eastman School of Music from 1997 to 2007. He has played a prominent role in musical arts and music education throughout his career. Before joining Eastman in 1995 as associate director for academic affairs and professor of music education, he was an active, performing chamber musician as well as first horn in the New Haven Symphony. Jim serves as board president, American Music Center; advisory board member, Arts Education Policy Review; board member, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, New York State Association of College Music Programs and American Symphony Orchestra League, and is a founding member, NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools and Mercury Opera of Rochester.

Read James Undercofler's blog [l=http://web.esm.rochester.edu/poly/blog/author/junder/]here[/l].

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