by Jini Stolk

I’ve recently been thinking that boards should be paying more attention to their own succession planning – as a way of ensuring “new freshness, new ideas and new energy.”  This thoughtful article from the Newsletter of the Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums lays out why boards must take responsibility for their own turnover, and why this should include regular frank discussions with board members about their intentions and aspirations. It’s one of the best pieces  I’ve seen about the role and importance of the Nominating Committee – a frequently overlooked and under-rated board function.

I pledge to raise this issue with the boards I’m on.

Signs You’ve Stayed Too Long at the Party from Tim Wolfred via The Artful Manager, is a piece I love to look at every year or so. It’s a valuable challenge to every cultural manager: are you still in the right place, doing the right job? It might be time for a change, according to Wolfred, if “I keep returning to this thought: the organization needs to go in a new direction (or to a new level) and I’m not the right person for it” to “I don’t think I’m burned out, but other people think I am”; or “I can’t stand my board anymore…and/or I  can’t seem to please the board no matter what I do.”

Reviewing this checklist won’t necessarily make you decide to leave – but it could help you pay more attention to refreshing your energy if you want to stay.

And, finally, a few words of appreciation to two organizations whose approaches to leave-taking serve as shining examples:

The announcement by Dáirine Ní Mheadhra & John Hess, Artistic Directors of Queen of Puddings that they are closing after twenty years of developing and producing new Canadian chamber opera was carefully considered and beautifully communicated.  “We want to conclude in a year like this, which is full of artistic pleasure, highlights, and fulfilment of our goals, with continued financial stability due to a deficit-free track record. The end of our current season in August 2013 feels like a very natural artistic ebbing point, and thus feels like the right moment to close the company.”  I didn’t see everything they produced, but Ana Sokolovic’s opera Svadba-Wedding was one of the few shows that moved me so much on opening night that I bought tickets and returned a week later. I wish them all the best.

Tafelmusik, in giving early notice that Jeanne Lamon will be stepping down after 33 years as Music Director following the 2013/14 season, are allowing generous room for celebrating one of Toronto’s and Canada’s most renowned and best loved artists – and for ensuring a lasting physical legacy with their Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre Venue Revitalization Project . (Naming opportunities start at only $500! Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to say thanks to Jeanne?)







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