I didn’t start this process thinking of myself as an advocate. I’m an advocate for the arts, naturally, but I had never considered the possibility that I must necessarily be part of spreading the word on new ideas, practices and research in arts presenting. I’m still learning the ropes, aren’t I? I wanted to buy the book or read the blog, consult the experts, figure out how to do my job better and then go and do it. I still do, of course, but I’m beginning to see where the journey I started when I heard Ken Foster talk about his paper, Thriving in an Uncertain World: Arts Presenting Change and the New Realities, at last year’s conference has naturally led. The journey continued in the readings and workshops for the LDI Collaborative Inquiry over the summer and fall and on Monday got another bucket full of realizations and ideas when Ken, LDI and ELI members and other conference participants met to continue the discussion. Now I have realized that the journey must go beyond my inner monologue or my weekly staff meeting to dialogues with colleagues in my city, my region and beyond. In the past, I might have recognized that expanding the dialogue was a good idea, but now I understand it is part of the work.
A crystallizing moment came for me at the Annual Meeting on Sunday when,in an ad-oc poll, presenter members were asked to stand up and, as a laundry list of hypothetical cuts was read aloud, were asked to sit down if the cut that cause them to terminate their membership. I found myself sitting when professional development was mentioned. I don’t think professional development would have been the deal breaker for me a year ago.