Leading progress in the arts and culture sector

Progress requires leadership. It requires leaders to convene the perspectives of many, action the best ideas and collectively raise the overall standard of practice. We talk to María García Holley, a passionate advocate for the arts, about how to lead progress in the sector.

No matter which sector you work in, professionalism and leadership are deemed critical for progress. It’s unlikely that any one individual, however skilled or talented, will be able to make meaningful change alone.

The arts and culture sector is no different. It requires leaders to keep abreast of trends and successfully navigate the changing market.

The question is, how can professionals demonstrate leadership in the arts and culture sector? For me, the following five points are a useful place to start:

1. Remember who you’re working for

Art and culture is created by people, for people. Whatever job you’re in, in whichever sector, it can be all too easy to forget the people whose lives your products and services will impact. The motivation to succeed only increases when you keep the people whose problems you’re trying to solve at the forefront of your mind.

2. Identify your values and stick to them

Knowing which values are important to you is crucial to driving the change you want to see in the world. Recognise the values that are important to you and identify ways you can use those ideals to guide the projects you work on.

3. Recognise those who want to see you succeed

Art production can be simplified to a four-step process: creation, production, distribution and consumption.

Behind each one of these steps lies a community of people that enable them to happen. It’s often easy to take these people for granted. They are the ones who encourage you in times of need, believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself, and inspire you to strive for better. Think about who they are and remember them. The more visible those people are in your life, the more likely you are to succeed.

4. Call upon a diverse network of people to guide you

Don’t let what you already know blind you to opportunities to learn in future. Every person you meet provides great opportunity to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. Indeed, there is lots of research to support the idea that the more diverse your networks are, the more impact you’re likely to achieve.

5. Leverage your network to action your ideas

Think of your network as a way for your ideas to take root. Listen to the insights and expertise from people from different backgrounds and different sectors, and use them to inspire your thinking and boost innovation.

My hope for the arts and culture sector in future is to see artists recognised as changemakers, and culture positioned at the heart of the development plans of cities and nations.

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