The organizational structures and underlying assumptions necessary to thrive in this new development phase for the arts will be quite different from those that served us well -- or that we took for granted -- even in the recent past. Where before we were structured for growth, future success will mean being structured for sustainability; growth capacity as a measure of success will be replaced by "adaptive capacity."
This basic change in business assumptions will better reflect the trajectory of contemporary life. Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman suggests we are now living in globalized environments that bypass interdependency and are full of "endemic uncertainty." Living self-determined lives that are independent of the social and cultural norms of the past, people are "looking for engagement, for experiences that they themselves can feel part of creating."
We are becoming used to the shift from "proprietary" software to "open-source"; now our organizations have to undergo a similar shift, to accommodate the new "architectures of participation" that Clay Shirky writes about.What all this means is that the ability of an arts organization to adapt its programs, strategies, structures, and systems to address continuous external change and seize fleeting opportunities will become a leading indicator of success and a primary measure of organizational health. In this new era, successful organizations will more deeply recognize and engage with the creativity and artistic potential of the larger community, and the dominant organizational model will change to one that is porous, open, and responsive.
This shift will require new forms of strategic thinking, organizational nimbleness, and a commitment to remaining transitory (not to efficiency, specialty, and technical rigidity). Wider definitions of success will center on helping foster "expressive lives" in our communities (a term introduced to arts policy by Bill Ivey), more than on developing a professional cultural community for its own sake. As Samuel Jones wrote recently, "We have moved from a model of provision to one of enabling. The role of the cultural professional has changed."