Michael Kaiser’s New Year’s Resolutions

Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, published his New Year’s resolutions for the arts in the Huffington Post earlier this week. How can we apply our entrepreneurial habits of mind to help Kaiser achieve his very worthy goals? His five resolutions are (and I’m paraphrasing here): provide consistent arts education in public schools, continue to make bold artistic choices, bring more 20 year-olds into the arts, train next generation arts leaders (especially internationally), provide arts access to rural America, and use technology to improve arts knowledge. This is an agenda that moves beyond – in fact doesn’t even mention—the popular economic arguments for arts engagement and instead is about improving arts infrastructure for the sustainability of arts and culture. If we can each strive toward achieving these goals by applying entrepreneurial habits of mind, we can, perhaps, individually and collectively advance the arts in America.

What are those entrepreneurial habits of mind? In a recent article in the Journal of Entrepreneurship, my former ASU colleague Tom Duening (now at U of Colorado) adapts Howard Barker’s Five Minds for the Future to entrepreneurial thinking and acting. Duening’s five “minds” for entrepreneurship are:
• The Opportunity Recognizing Mind
• The Designing Mind
• The Risk Managing Mind
• The Resilient Mind
• The Effectuating Mind

Providing consistent arts education in the public schools requires the application of at least three of these minds: the designing, the resilient, and the effectuating. For the next year or two, the resilient mind might be the most important as public school budgets continue to shrink, but the designing mind will be equally critical as entrepreneurial arts educators develop innovative means for integrating arts education into the K-12 classroom.

The risk-managing mind is critical to the maintenance of a bold artistic vision. Kaiser has always been a proponent of making bold choices in light of adversity (see his The Art of the Turnaround). Doing so is risky, but in truly entrepreneurial fashion, those risks are a necessary prerequisite to the rewards of artistic innovation.

The next two resolutions, to train artistic leaders internationally and to provide access to the arts in rural America, seem like they could be entrepreneurially connected to the fifth, to use technology to improve arts knowledge, if we apply our “opportunity recognizing mind.” This is the mind that connects the dots and recognizing patterns. Coupled with the effectuating mind, the opportunity-recognizing mind could put technology to work to bring the arts (and especially arts participation) to rural communities and bring training to nascent arts organizations both here and abroad.

Personally, I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because I’ve found that the risk of burning out on them by February is greater than the potential reward. This year though, I promise myself that I’ll think about Kaiser’s resolutions and Duening’s five minds and ways to connect them… I may even share a few of those thoughts here.

On another note, there is still time to register for the second bi-annual p.a.v.e. symposium on entrepreneurship and the arts: Creating Infrastructure for Creativity and Innovation, to be held in Tempe AZ April 1-2.

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