Last week I spoke at, and attended, Linda Naiman’s Transformational Leadership for an Age of Innovation workshop in beautiful Vancouver Canada.
David Fushtey, who is both an excellent sculptor and an attorney, principal for The Governance Council in Canada, gave an incredibly thought provoking presentation on the importance of governance with a conscience. What does this mean and why should we as artists care?
Well, I think last weeks devastating news about the financial meltdown of the United States most prominent and oldest banking institutions, that has not been seen since The Great Depression in 1929, and which will cause the US taxpayers ultimately to incur liability for at least 700 billion dollars, frankly, is enough. And in case that does not speak to you, or you don’t make enough money to care about the generations of taxpayers to follow that will pay for the greed of big business, perhaps understanding, with an election upon us, that it is UP TO US to help change how our leaders govern and what kinds of ethics they bring with them will.
Yes, your heard me correctly– I said UP TO US!
Artists– our moment to use our gifts in a much bigger way is here and blazing brightly before us.
As artists, I believe we have a significant role to play in a world in search of a new identity, a new value system. And the CEO of our new world lies in the hands, at least for the United States, with our soon to be elected new leader. How will he choose to govern our country? How can we shape his decision making process? How can we influence him and others close to him in positions of power?
Each one of us has a historic, trail-blazing, pioneering opportunity to change significantly, and to financially deepen, both the value artists bring and the meaning of creativity and artistry starting right now.
As long as I can remember, art and artists have been thought of by the corporate world of business as being “soft”, aesthetic in nature and, as a result, unreconcilable items that don’t have a place on their profit and loss statements and balance sheets.
Well, I have big news– the world has just witnessed the consequences of a world run by “the numbers”. Every single one of the institutions that have just tumbled to their knees, just like Enron, propped up their financial statements and puffing to make them look like a picture of health. Only this time, we are not talking about just one large corporation but a significant number- from Fannie Mae to five of the top banking institutions falling like dominos all in a row.
While we all know that numbers don’t tell you how emotionally and creatively healthy you are, or a business or any financial institution is, we have NEVER had this kind of amunition to speak our case for why we belong in significant roles inside corporate America. Numbers can be fudged, changed and re-arranged to create the “impression” of financial health and stablity when underneath cancer has spread everywhere.
But Art- cannot. The way people express themselves through drawing, theater, music, the written and spoken word reveals a great deal that cannot be misunderstood, that cannot lie or be easily concealed.
There is an opportunity for every artists now, more than even, to speak the truth about the value of learning to express, communicate and understand each other. The profit and loss statement and balance sheet for corporations needs to evolve into something far more than a bunch of numbers that can tell lies. All our major corporations in the future need to have along with these statements of numbers, ROI statements–I don’t mean Return on Investment statements but instead a RETURN ON IMAGINATION statements. This new kind of ROI can speak the truth about the needs, goals, internal communication, imaginations and creativity of those who work for an organization as well as govern inside of it.
The work of an artist inside corporate America, working with its culture and corporate community, can truly shape this kind of understanding of just what soft skills can do to provide real assurance of the stability and health of an organization.
This short film is an excellent example of the role artist and good governance leader can play in our world. Born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, MÃ©xico. Alonso Ãlvarez Barreda 24, with this short film â€œHistoria de un Letreroâ€, Story of a Sign, won an award at Cannes Festival 2008.
Check it out and then let me know where you would like to begin to change the worlds understanding of the role your art can play in big business and for the leaders of our country, as well as any other one that you might live in.