My 2012 Professional Resolutions

As I contemplate the new year, 2012, these are my professional resolutions.

I will:

1. Get involved politically, making donations as I can to the political candidates I support. Too often I’ve promised to do this, but haven’t. This year, as it appears to me more important than ever to the arts and culture sector, I will.
2. Strongly advise my friends and clients who run, or who participate in running arts and culture organizations that the amount and nature of contributed revenue is changed forever (or at least for the next 7-10 years); and that they need to reimagine and reconstruct their business models. Yes, this have been known and advised for a while now, but there’s not much evidence to support any systemic change taking place, hence the emphasis.
3. Find substantive ways to support arts education in the public schools. I’ve carped about this one long enough (my whole professional career?), and it’s way past time I did something real about it (other than carping). The link between the vitality of arts education in the public schools and the vibrancy of professional arts activity is a given. Without one, the other noticeably suffers.
4. Work to provide more academic substance to the burgeoning field of arts entrepreneurship (the field where I’m most active). The term arts entrepreneurship is being used to mean so many different things that I feel responsible to assist in giving it a clear definition.
5. An old saw: — spend more time in other arts areas. In an earlier professional life, when in Minnesota, whenever I was confronted or challenged by a particularly difficult-to-solve problem, I visited the Walker Art Center, and somehow, magically, new solutions, new ideas emerged. I need to find a way to do this in Philadelphia and Ithaca.
6. Further support Alt-Classical performers and ensembles. I’m on the board of Alarm Will Sound, a remarkable group of adventuresome and likeable young musicians, but this is not enough.
7. Stay close to mission. The arts are about conveying thoughts, feelings, and emotions, about communicating complex intellectual constructions. That the arts contribute to economic and community development is great, but I must not forget that the elevation of the human spirit and the transformation of society are our central goals.

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.

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