Ten Work Items for 2011, Task #7

Who makes iconography decisions in your arts organization?  If you are the leader, it better be you.  I have recently advised a number of student research papers that examine alignment between mission, program and iconography, and I’m appalled by the lack of synchronization.  It makes be wonder, no suspect, that the iconography has a (false) life of its own; or that it’s the organizations’ wishes being expressed, not their actual operation.

What we have been finding is some of the usual embarrassments of tokenism and cultural misrepresentation.  In this latter group, when artists’ agents were asked why the misrepresentation, their answers were that this is what the public expects (!).  That there is still tokenism makes me wonder who is in charge.

What I found most surprising, however, wasn’t the lack of alignment or the tokenism and cultural misrepresentation, but the profound lack of imagination and artistry. 

Let’s in 2011 find a process within arts organizations that insures that iconography flows directly from the heart of each organization, and that in doing so it honors all citizens and produces artistic and fresh images.

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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