Tag Archives: assimilate

Nonprofit Arts Board Members, Executive Directors, and Staffs: Has Your Board Been Assimilated? Have You?

BORG-CUBE

Board membership for a nonprofit arts organization is a privilege. It requires commitment of time and money.  It requires the urge to change things for the better.

It’s not for self-aggrandizement.  It is not about being thanked endlessly.  It’s not about banquets, galas, and being fed.

It’s a job.

Group thinking can be inspirational, but “groupthink” can poison your organization’s health.  When your board only votes unanimously, for example, or the newly-approved mission is just reverse-engineered to current activities and reduced to pabulum, you may no longer have a board.  You may instead have a Borg.

Borg members wait for orders.  They don’t debate.  Resistance is futile.

The Borg is powerful.  Borg Presidents lead by autocracy.  Borg Queens (often founders) drive staff away by insisting the organization’s activities revolve around them. Borg Drones atrophy.

Board or Borg?

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“Diversify” Does Not Mean “Assimilate”

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Diversify the audience?  Yes.  Diversify the experience?  Not so much.

Generally speaking, arts audiences are asked to follow privileged Euro-centric (often described as “old” and “white”) behaviors. There are long-standing limitations:  no talking, no eating, no drinking, no touching. Sit. Watch. Listen. Clap.

There’s a strict sensibility about enjoyment – so much so, that when a theatre allows its patrons to bring in beverages, arguments ensue as though the end of civilization is nigh.

In any arts endeavor, the key is to invite participation, not ask others to follow your conventions as though they were the default.

The same holds true in the board room. “To change (something) so that it has more different kinds of people or things.” (Webster’s definition of “diversify”) denotes change in the “something,” not changing the people to assimilate to the “something.”

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