Wednesday, December 26, 2012

End of Year Smatterings and Inspirations

Whether you're on vacation, making cookies with nephews, grinding out some work through the end of the year, or sitting in your kitchen drinking tea and watching the fog roll off the redwoods, it's probably a low week for blog-reading. That said, maybe you're bored or desperate for stimulation of the non-gastronomical variety. In that spirit, I offer a few things that have excited me in recent weeks:
  • The MCA Denver Holiday Video is out, and it is very, very good. Way better than that video at Museum X where the director drones on about the new initiatives of the year. I have felt in the past that some of the MCA's holiday videos were a bit too pretentious, but this year's edition is full of joy and a message that really reflects what they do in Denver. 
  • I LOVE the way the James Irvine Foundation presents their lessons learned from grant-making in the Arts Innovation Fund program. It is attractive, smart, and packs rich information into a navigable format that makes you want to explore and learn more. I know I have a lot to learn from the content AND the format of this report.
  • This is just a super-interesting review of an exhibition of damaged art. What happens to objects when they are no longer art? How should (and do) we treat them? This article sparked some interesting discussion online with colleagues from natural history museums, which deal with damage and touching very differently than art institutions do.
  • We're working at my museum on a strategic approach to our educational outreach with K12 classes and students. This Createquity article by Talia Gibas on "Unpacking Shared Delivery of Arts Education" was so useful to me that I shared it with our whole advisory group. I found the article to be a clear starting point for thinking in a fresh way about how our museum can best intersect with schools and artists (and students, in our participatory setting) to develop strong programs.
  • EMCArts put out a brief report from their recent study on how arts organizations deal with conflict around new ideas. The results are fairly interesting, and not entirely surprising: clear decision-making processes, shared agendas, action-oriented leaders, and comfort with conflict all lead to better support of innovation. I'm sometimes wary of studies of "innovation," but I like how this one could be used reflectively within an organization to assess openness to change. 
What's inspiring you in these last days of 2012?
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