From Washington: Rick Heath reports

APACA executive director Rick Heath reports on his experiences participating in the DeVos Institute’s fellowship program for arts managers.

Rick Heath (kneeling centre) on a site tour of the redevelopment of New Victory Theater 42nd St, NYC.

My time in Washington with the DeVos Institute’s fellowship program is about to come to a close. Imagine a four-week conference – on speed – and you start to build a picture.

Whilst you might expect to take away a few gems of wisdom at a conference, these gems come by the truckload on an hourly basis. This is testament to the leadership from Michael Kaiser and Brett Egan and a swathe of experts in marketing, development, strategic planning, and programming – inspiring to say the least.

Over the course of the last four weeks we’ve had site visits and heard case studies and presentations from organisations such as Park Avenue Armory, the New 42nd Street Studios, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Penumbra Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and Orlando Ballet.

My Fellows are from Iceland, Finland, San Francisco, New York City, Toronto, Syria, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Manchester, Tennessee and Czech Republic to name but a few, and collectively provide exceptional insight, an international perspective and an unparalleled breadth of experience (not to mention excellent dining company).

On my own mission I’ve also had extraordinary meetings with Mario Garcia Durham, president of Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts and Michael Orlove, director of artist communities and presenting at the National Endowment for the Arts. These meetings have provided an exceptional overview of the sector development and advocacy taking place in the USA (and another truckload of ideas and inspiration).

The learning is delivered around the framework of The Cycle, a practical approach to arts management. This framework was described by one of the Fellows as “elegant”. In every sense of the word this captures the essence of the program – stylish, sophisticated, classic and smart. It speaks to the essentials of running effective arts organisations, focusing on the stuff you need to know and leaving out the stuff you don’t.

I look forward to bringing this learning back to Australia and to APACA members and continuing to do so as the Fellowship continues in 2018 and ’19.


Rick Heath
Executive Director, APACA

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