February 26, 2006

Granted an Americans for the Arts Fellowship

We are at a critical juncture in the field of arts management as Baby Boomers consider retirement and GenXers are now Mid-Career. The transference of leadership and knowledge are confused by a generation gap that highlights the differences in management styles, career expectations and grasp of new technology - regardless of our shared vision for sustaining the arts.

I have been selected as a Fellow for Americans for the Arts to research the Mid-Career Leader perspective on this transition. Over the next several months I will be conducting focus groups and one-on-one interviews with Mid-Career Leaders so that I can articulate a situation analysis based on their aspirations and leadership development needs. My final report will include recommendations for how AFTA can support this delicate leadership transition in terms of programs and services for Mid-Career Leaders. Additionally, I hope to publish a paper that advances this vital discussion across the field.

The most significant article on this topic, my inspiration, is Leverage Lost written by John Kreidler. It is an essential read for anyone in the field of nonprofit arts management.

Hee Haw Rodeo Houston

When in Rome do as the Romans. The same goes for Texas. Stephen and I ventured out to the Houston Rodeo Kickoff Parade in the rain and wind. We determined it would be political suicide for a politician not to show at the parade and either ride a horse or sit in a wagon. It was mostly officials on horseback and lots of marching bands.

Highlights included Texas Longhorns adorned with riders. Now we've seen it all. Well, until we saw the mini horses that are about knee high. Many of these folks came in caravans of wagons from hundreds of miles across Texas and Louisiana. They were real cowboys doing their trail rides.

You can actually see us in the parade photo. I've put a cirlce around me and Stephen in the lower right corner. I have on the cowboy hat - a gift from the Americans for the Arts Conference held last year in Austin.

Unfortunately the rain kept us from attending the BBQ Cookoff. But we did get to see the Scotland vs. England Rugby game at a local pub. Scotland won!

February 22, 2006

A/V Geeks present Those Creepy School Films

Remember those educational films they showed us in school? We had them for sex ed and also driver's ed. Anything with "ed" in the class title. Aurora Picture Show hosted A/V Geeks this weekend for a double header program called Sin & Redemption. Skip, the curator and collector of these discarded school and government flicks, has a collection of 18,000 archived in his house. Each year Aurora brings him out and he delights audiences with a curated series based on a theme.

The first evening Drinky Drink was films about the positives and negatives of alcohol. We screened it in a brewery. The second evening Creepy Christian Cinema was at the Aurora Church and it featured religious films.

To launch each program Skip shows an educational film strip and has audience members take turns reading each screen. Were they serious when they made this stuff? The best part of the evening is the 16mm film projector which has that wonderful "click click click" sound.

I got a copy of "It's Wonderful Being a Girl" which reminds me of that awful moment in elementary school when they called the girls into the auditorium, put paper on the windows, and showed us the menstruation films. Still gives me the creeps.

February 19, 2006

Shout Out to the 415

Today's Style Section of the NY Times has poignant article “Area Code, Sweet Area Code” by Maggie Master. People are on the move but their cell phone area code anchors them to their past.

Although I moved to Houston my cell phone still retains my (415) San Francisco area code. Ironically I lived in Oakland (510) when I obtained the code but most of my days were spent in the City across the Bay, it felt more natural. Plus the cache. According to the article (415) is the Cadillac of area codes. We also have a fax line which is a (510) but I rarely give it out.

Keeping the area code at first seemed like a great way to be seamlessly in two places. My clients and friends in SF could still call me and feel like I was next door. Our Vanage account with a (713) Houston number (we could have picked any area code in the world) rings at home 3x, just in case it is Stephen’s Mum calling from the UK and then forward to my cell phone. It is a bit sluggish for callers but it works nonetheless.

Caller ID is essential these days. My new cell phone actually shows that state from which the caller is using their area code – or rather, which area code they are posing under. Overseas and blocked calls show UNKNOWN and usually this is a telemarketer from India these days.

The other day at work a call came in from 510 and I was so excited to speak with an Oaklander. It was Davy from Found Magazine. He told me he just liked the area code, he’d never lived there.

415 is my anchor, my past, my cool factor and my link back to reality since Houston feels very unconventional and incidental. A 415-er in Houston - feels very long distance.

February 18, 2006

Girls Rock the Olympics!

Usually my favorite Olympic sport to watch is figure skating which Stephen hates because he doesn't think its a sport. How can you dress up all fancy, wear intricate makeup and call it a sport? I use to not agree but I'm finding it not-very-interesting in the face of reality shows that place celebrities on the ice or the dance floor. Imagine if figure skaters could only wear the cool slick spandex type outfits that other athletes wear in their competitions. Then it would be at least a bit more about sport and less about really bad fashion.

What I am finding refreshing is seeing women excel at strength, endurance and athleticism. How wonderful to see women of all shapes and sizes pushing the limits of our coach potato imaginations. Plus, they aren’t wearing makeup, usually have bad hair and often have snot running down their nose. Fabulous! So nice to get away from standard TV where everyone looks so polished.

Also enjoyable is the full coverage on NBC. Yes, they are U.S.A happy but they do follow non-us athletes and give us some of their story. Of course you get the bizarre commentary that usually dwells on some strange fact but hay, at least these super heroes seem human. Girls Rock!

photo: Gold Medal winner Kati Wilhelm of Germnay and Silver Medal winner Martina Glagow of Germany © Getty Images

February 17, 2006

Excuse me, is that placenta in your hair?

A remarkable product has turned my bad hair days into good ones. HASK PLACENTA Super Strength No Rinse Hair Repair Treatment for Extremely Damaged Hair is a miracle. But yes, it does have placenta. Is that gross? I'm too blinded by the hair success to make a good judgment call.

This stuff keeps my hair unfrizzy even in humidity - since we've already had hazy, hot, humid days in the 80s this week. "Remarkable that Houston weather, it is." A Yoda statement.

Also got a great haircut from Dianne at Toni & Guy in the mall. At first I was a bit sad because it looked very shag and could have passed for a mullet. Very scary. But when I did it myself it looks great - wow a good haircut, unfrizzy. Not sure if I should have done the Sun In on my own. That's another story. Camera in the repair shop otherwise I would supply photos.

February 16, 2006

Post A Secret

Check out this PostSecret blog that Davey from Found Magazine just told me about.

People create postcards with a secret and send them into him. Here's my favorite.

February 15, 2006

Teaching Practical Strategic Planning at Art League Houston

I will be presenting a total of four workshops at Art League Houston.

Just added:

June 13, 20 & 27
Practical Strategic Planning
1953 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX
713.523.9530 phone
$110 members/$120 non-members
Advance Registration Required

Details on all four workshops at www.artsmanagementconsulting.com

Off the Meter

Downtown parking in San Francisco was as expensive as a nice lunch. While preparing my 2005 taxes I found $34 parking stubs for 3 hours of car hoteling. Now factor in into the cost of driving the car into the city -toll, gas, traffic and insurance. Then you had to drive back again. My life was filled with meetings and often I paid for more than one parking lot in a day.

Street parking at a meter was impossible until after 6pm and even then you had to hide on a side street until the meter police passed and then scramble into an empty spot 10 minutes before 6. There you sat as cars and buses honked at you to get out of their lane. But you hunkered down in your seat and took it. That spot was gold.

Here in Downtown Houston finding street parking with a meter any time on a weekday is effortless. There they sit, empty and waiting. But you still have to feed those beasts. $1.25 for an hour but no change machine and they don't take bills. Would you believe that this past Monday a meter officer actually told me to park in a broken meter spot? I had asked her for change and she said "spot #9 is broken if you want to park there." What? You are telling me to park in a broken meter instead of standing there and waiting to give me a ticket? When I returned to my car two hours later it sat ticketless. Amazing.

February 12, 2006

Not Taking Their Toll

Yesterday I was driving to Austin and had my first Toll experience. Although it seems obvious now, I had no idea that the Toll Road meant I would have to pay a Toll. Of course I didn't have any money on me so when I got to the booth I apologized to the Toll Taker.

"I've never been on this road before, I didn't realize I had to pay and I don't have enough money." The woman smiled, asked me how much I had ($.92 for a $1.25 Toll) and said "That's fine, have a nice day." She didn't give me a ticket, make me get off the road, drive to the Toll office, and pay with a credit card. In San Francisco I had the experience of not having enough money and they gave me a ticket right then and there. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

February 9, 2006

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Andrea my fearless leader at Aurora Picture Show said today that it sounds like from my blog that I miss California and would go back if I could. So, I'm writing this post to say that I actually love Houston and, sorry to say, I don't miss California. Yes, I miss my friends but we manage to keep in touch via email and phone.

I'm finding that Houston is just as wacky, creative and even has its pockets of progressive liberals. Come on, how can you not be smitten with a state that loves itself so much it has created its own songs such as Yellow Rose of Texas and Deep in the Heart of Texas? The state flag is practically a required tatoo once you drive over the border into this giant wacky island.

(Photo not me or Andrea - I found the image here www.xahlee.org/.../ lanci/pa_tarci.html)

Stephen and I find ourselves practicing this song - along with the clapping.

Deep In The Heart of Texas

The stars at night, are big and bright,

deep in the heart of Texas,

The prairie sky is wide and high,

deep in the heart of Texas.
The sage in bloom is like perfume,

deep in the heart of Texas,

Reminds me of, the one I love,

deep in the heart of Texas.

The coyotes wail, along the trail,

deep in the heart of Texas,

The rabbits rush, around the brush,

deep in the heart of Texas

The cowboys cry, "Ki-yip-pee-yi,"

deep in the heart of Texas.

The doggies bawl, and bawl and bawl,

deep in the heart of Texas.

... But I'm not going to start talking with an twang and saying "you'll".

February 7, 2006

Britney defends driving with baby on her lap

Britney Spears can't escape her white trashiness. Can you believe this woman is driving with her baby on her lap? Does she think she's on a date? Just proves that anyone can have a baby.

Is it just as bad that I'm not just reading about her I'm also blogging about Britney. I admit that it is people like me who keep the paparazzi employed. Hey, I'm just reporting the gossip, not creating it.

American Science & Surplus

Check out this wild and wacky website American Science & Surplus. They sell closeouts of things you really don't need. The best features are the hand drawn illustrations and amusing descriptions of each product. Choice Example:

Embarrassing Product #14 Occasionally, very occasionally, we are embarrassed to be offering a product. This is one of those occasions, simply because the item is so trivial. It is a plastic hamster exercise wheel. Yup. A 5-1/2" dia x 3-1/4" thick cage-like wheel. The hub clips to the cage bars on one side while the other side is open. We suppose you will need one if you bought a wheel free cage, and your hamster is pouting as a result. Or you could convert into a lazy susan nut bowl. (Twirl it to bring the Brazil nuts close?) According to the package gerbils will eat it, but we don't recommend buying it for gerbil food. No mystery why this item is available in surplus!!
$1.75 / EACH

February 6, 2006

Teaching Arts Management Workshops for Art League Houston

The three workshop series is geared towards folks who are interested in learning best practices of arts administration, board leadership and audience development. Geared towards folks who are currently involved with or aspiring to be on staff, board or volunteering with nonprofit arts organizations. For more info please contact me amy@amykweskin.com.

MARCH 2006

March 14, 21, 28
Fundamentals of Arts Administration Workshop
Art League Houston
6:30-9pm1953 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX
713.523.9530 phone
$110 members/$120 non-members
($30 discount when registering for all three workshop series)
Advance Registration Required

APRIL - MAY 2006

April 4, 11 & 18
Play a Leading Role on an Arts Board of Directors
Art League Houston
6:30-9pm1953 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX
713.523.9530 phone
$110 members/$120 non-members
($30 discount when registering for all three workshop series) A
dvance Registration Required

April 25, May 2 & 9Arts Marketing Boot Camp
Art League Houston
6:30-9pm1953 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX
713.523.9530 phone
$110 members/$120 non-members
($30 discount when registering for all three workshop series)
Advance Registration Required

New Website!

My best bud Simone created a new website for herself (I can't give the link until she says OK) and I was so inspired I activated my other domain name and re-branded myself.

Brand Amy
Arts Management Consulting

Instead of my old site www.amykweskin.com, beautifully designed by my brother Matthew, which featured photos and consulting - this one is just consulting. But I use the photos to accentuate the site.

Check out the background! One of the out-of-focus images I took with my mom's broken camera lense when we were in Santa Fe over the holidays. I think it works.

A fond farewell to www.amykweskin.com which now only lives in archives.

February 2, 2006

Do Macintosh Computers Encourage Confusion?

I use to be a Mac fan, one of those typical "Mac is so cool and PCs bite" kind of people. Macs seemed intuitive, creative, fun and contributed to the funk-factor. Then I learned the PC. It took a while but I became pretty quick at the operating system. At first I felt disconnected from all the control I had on a Mac and too dependent on a tech. But then that became the norm.

Now at my new job I'm back on a Mac and I'm going loony. My immediate feeling is that they are too clever for their own good and that it is a visual and information overload. All the icons on the desktop cleverly convey some kind of deeper meaning. Mail is not just mail it is a little stamp. Excel has a funky X that is meant to look like a futuristic French-design-inspired % symbol. The address book has a little book icon with an “@” sign. How clever.

I don’t want clever. I can’t work with clever. I’m already clever. The program icons jump up and down on your screen when they need attention. I already do that – no need to excite me more. I can’t ever seem to get a clean desktop. It is littered with information. A little calendar with a little alarm clock has just jumped up on my screen and now the little calendar icon on the bottom of the screen is jumping like a Mexican jumping bean. I’m over stimulated and confused. STOP!

But if you think about it, and I’m sure I’ll stir up my creative Mac friends, the folks who use Mac do seem scattered and over stimulated. Yes, they are some of the most interesting and artistic folks I know but do they need more stimulation? The best thing the arts can do is move off the Mac system and over to a PC to manage their business operations. Fine, be creative on a Mac. I admire your ability to multi-task and look at a million little icons. But I’m falling into a Million Little Pieces and that’s no lie.

February 1, 2006

My UHD Arts Administration Class 2 Reading Assignment and Homework

Reading Assignment 1
Managing a Nonprofit Organization in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Wolf
Chapter 1 – Understanding Nonprofit Organizations
Chapter 5 – Marketing

Reading Assignment 2
Vision, Mission and Core Values Document (follows)

Research Assignment
On the internet find an arts organizations that is new to you and find its mission statement on the website. Where is the mission located on the website – home page, deep inside, every page? How does the programming described on the site support the mission? Are there programs that do not appear to support the mission? If so, why do you think they are part of their programming mix?

Be prepared to discuss your findings in class. You may want to bring a printout sample from the website to support your argument.

Articulating the Vision, Mission, Core Values and Creating the Elevator Pitch

Vision Statement
What does the organization aspire to be, to do, to accomplish and in grand terms. These are the ideas, concepts, values, guiding principles and even dreams on which the mission statement will be based.

Mission Statement
Outlines the blue print and actions the organization will take in reaching its vision. The mission is a call-to-action for your internal and external stakeholders. These will guide the measurements by which the organization will evaluate its success in achieving its vision and future actions.

“The challenge of developing a good mission statement is to create a text that is sufficiently broad to encompass the many possible activities that the organization may wish to engage in. This is crucial inasmuch as the law obligates the trustees of the organization to limit their activities to those covered by the mission statement as contained in the organizing charter. However, in addition to a broad statement of purpose, a mission statement is only valuable if it gives some specific guidance on the direction the organization should take in regard to programs, services and activities.” From Managing a Nonprofit Organization in the Twenty-First Centery, by Thomas Wolf, Simon and Schuster, 1999

Core Values
The Core Values are the principles by which the business is run. These are statements that outline the main beliefs, morals and ethics that are followed in practicing business. They can be used internally among staff, volunteers and artists as well as externally when communicating with customers, patrons, sponsors, donors and advertisers. The Core Values are not considered a necessary document in the way that the Mission Statement is key to the business foundation. But, a business that outlines and articulates Core Values is making a powerful statement about its business culture.

Elevator Pitch (Business terms – value proposition, unique selling point)
Imagine you get on an elevator and it turns out that an important potential funder, collaborator, city official or someone you have wanted to make contact with gets on too. You may have 25 floors to introduce yourself and Pitch your organization. What will you say? How will you get them interested in hearing more? You have approximately 30 seconds.

Your enthusiasm for the vision and mission of the organization needs to come through in your pitch. Be careful not to get wrapped up in telling a long story that has meaning for you but maybe not the listener. Craft it from the listener’s perspective. Why was this person on your list of people to contact? What would get them excited about your organization based on your understanding of their interests or needs?

· What does your organization do?
· Who does it reach?
· What makes it unique?
· Finish with a call-to-action – an invitation to experience and engage in your organization.

Practice the pitch with anyone who is going to be promoting your organization. Make certain that people are comfortable with making your pitch and that always have an opportunity for presenting a call-to-action. This is a great marketing tool for your organization’s best advocates!

The Dog Whisperer

In the spirit of pet posts I am revealing my new favorite show The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic Channel. Ever wondered what a dog is thinking? Cesar Millan seems to get into their minds, taking a viscious beast and transforming it into a peaceful pet.

The show makes me think that many of these behaviors are replicated in the business environment. Haven't there been co-workers and bosses you've wanted to push to the ground, dominate and control? Maybe some professions lend themselves to this kind of behavior.

Boo Cat has Boo Boo

Our beloved crazy cat Tika is in the vet hospital overnight because she either has an abscess in her mouth or a tumor. She has been acting normal - as normal as this crazy cat can be. But her new habit of drooling and the onset of simple-chronic-halatosis (spelling), which in her case was complex and quite fishy, indicated to us that there is something wrong. The vet explored her mouth and there we discovered the problem. It is not a pretty site.

Tomorrow they are performing dental surgery to see if it is an abscess. If not a biopsy will be performed. The vet doesn’t think that it looks good because it is an on the lower jaw – abscesses usually do not appear on the lower jaw, only the upper one.

Poor Tika.