CI to Eye
Summary: In an age of profound change, how must arts administrators evolve so our organizations stay relevant and thrive? It starts by asking tough questions. Erik Gensler, the President of Capacity Interactive (CI), a digital marketing consulting firm for the arts, speaks with thinkers and leaders inside and outside of the arts about leadership, marketing, organizational culture, and innovation. If you’re an arts administrator, you don’t want to miss these conversations created to spark your imagination and encourage you to think and grow in new ways. Please join us to CI to Eye.
Deborah Cullinan is the CEO of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), the cultural anchor of San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens development. By using culture as an instrument for social change, YBCA is reimagining the role an arts institution can play in the community it serves. Deborah and Erik discuss Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ position as a cultural incubator and the role of change management in nurturing organizational health. They also talk about the iterative evolution of an organization's mission and website.
Lily Weiss is the Executive Director of the Dallas Arts District, the largest contiguous arts community in the United States. Six different Pritzker Prize-winning architects have designed buildings in the district, which spans 19 blocks in the northeast corner of downtown Dallas. In this episode, Lily and Erik talk about the history of the Dallas Arts District. They also discuss why collaboration among arts organizations in the district is vital, and how auxiliary elements like parking, dining, and transportation impact patron participation.
Lisa Niedermeyer is the Producing Director for Disability Dance Works, a production company founded by disabled dancer Alice Sheppard to launch art experiences at the intersection of disability, technology, and design. In this episode, Lisa and Erik talk about why it's important to have meaningful cultural experiences centered around disability. They also discuss how venues can create "joy equity" experiences and how digital experiences should be compatible with assistive technologies.
Darren Sussman is the co-founder of the Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts (IFWA). The IFWA provides financial education and personal planning solutions to artists and arts professionals. Before launching the IFWA, Darren was the co-founder and president of TheaterMania and OvationTix. In this episode, Darren and Erik talk about why it’s crucial for arts professionals to have the freedom of financial wellness. They also discuss financial planning offense and defense (trigger warning: sports metaphor) and growth lessons from Darren’s years at TheaterMania and OvationTix.
Dr. Robin DiAngelo is the bestselling author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism and Is Everybody Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education. Dr. DiAngelo has been a consultant and trainer for over 20 years on racial and social justice issues. In this episode, Robin and Erik talk about why diversity is essential among those who control the art and entertainment we consume. They also discuss combatting white solidarity among our peers, why claiming color-blindness can contribute to a continued bias, and acknowledging white fragility to overcome it.
Ronnie Brooks is the founding Director of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute in Saint Paul Minnesota. In that role, she has worked with many arts leaders and their organizations to help them clarify their core values and better focus the purpose of their work. Since her formal retirement earlier this year, she has put her extensive experience to use as a strategic planning, leadership development, and nonprofit governance consultant. In this episode, Erik and Ronnie talk about the necessity of taking care of yourself in order to become a more effective and leader, the importance of aligning your actions with your core values, and the need for creativity and vitality among leaders to meet the vast challenges of nonprofit work. If you’re looking to become a better and more fulfilled leader, this episode is for you.
John Schreiber is an Emmy and Tony Award-winning producer and the President and CEO of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). NJPAC is the state’s largest cultural institution which presents over 600 events each season and reaches over 100,000 students annually. In this episode, Erik and John talk about the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s innovative use of real estate development to help fund and further their mission. They also discuss programming for diverse audiences, structuring an effective board, and the importance of mission alignment.
Linda Shelton has been the Executive Director of The Joyce Theater Foundation since 1993. She was highlighted as one of “The Most Influential People in Dance Today” by Dance Magazine in 2017. She also sits on the boards of Dance/NYC, Dance/USA, and has served as a Tony Awards nominator. Under her leadership, The Joyce received the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Liberty Award in 2011 and the William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming in 2019. In this episode, Linda and Erik talk about developing the appropriate purview for a board of directors and the Joyce Theater’s community in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. They also discuss the joint effort between Eliot Feld and Cora Cahan to transform the former movie house into a renowned home for dance.
Cameron Herold is an executive coach, best-selling author, and Founder of the COO Alliance. Cameron coaches leaders primarily in the commercial space but has valuable lessons to share with nonprofit arts managers about leadership, recruiting, and managing teams. In this episode, Erik and Cameron talk about the importance of hiring the right people to drive an organization’s success, the value of keeping employees happy, how to spend your hours at work efficiently, and establishing a company culture that is reflected externally as much as it is internally.
Ben Cameron is the President of the Jerome Foundation and former Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which received the National Medal for the Arts from President Barack Obama. Ben also has extensive expertise in grantmaking for the arts. In this episode, Erik and Ben talk about the ideal role of the Board of Directors, the importance of defining the values that underlie an organization’s mission, and how the arts can help create unity in our divisive political climate.
Since CI to Eye’s launch in 2017, Erik Gensler asks guests an important question at the end of each episode. He asks, “If you could broadcast to executive directors, leadership teams, staff, and board of 1,000 arts organizations, what advice would you provide to help them improve their business? This is called their CI to Eye moment, and we’ve compiled last year’s moments in this special episode.
Chris Boneau is the co-founder of Boneau/Bryan-Brown. Since founding his theatrical press agency with partner Adrian Bryan-Brown in 1991, Chris has represented over 400 plays and musicals which have won 222 Tony Awards and 11 Pulitzer Prizes. In this episode, Erik and Chris talk about his experience doing press for notable Broadway productions like Angels in America with director George C. Wolfe. They also discuss the challenges of pitching institutional stories, what it’s like to work with A-list celebrities, and how theater criticism has evolved.
Jessica Schmidt is the Principal Consultant at Orchestrate Inclusion. Before her work as a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant to arts organizations, she led education and community engagement work at Boston, Pittsburgh, and Dallas Symphony Orchestras. In this episode, Erik and Jessica talk about her experience implementing DEI initiatives in orchestras and processing change in a world that is often steeped in tradition. They also discuss how to broach difficult conversations, and define “privilege,” “microaggressions,” and other important DEI terms.
Eduardo Vilaro is the Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Hispánico. He’s led the organization since 2009 but first joined the company as a dancer in 1985. Eduardo oversees both the artistic and administration of the company. In this episode, Erik and Eduardo talk about how the company’s emphasis on Latinx culture manifests throughout the organization, from what’s on stage, to the staff and board. They also discuss the politics of being a Latinx dance company in America today.
Dr. Andrew Simnick is the Senior Vice President for Finance, Strategy, and Operations at The Art Institute of Chicago. He and his team have applied data and analytics to decision-making across many areas of their organization, including building a fantastic model that can accurately predict weekly attendance at the museum. In this episode, Erik and Andrew talk about this model and other tools he and his team have built, the importance of starting not with data, but with the right questions, and ensuring your organizational culture is ready to put insights into action.