Leadership Through the Arts

Interdisciplinarity involves a transfer of methods and/or practices from one discipline to another.  

Transdisciplinarity concerns itself with what is between, across, and beyond disciplines.

Leadership Through the Arts (LTtA) is an ambitious initiative to advance inter-arts practices and innovatively engage with society in and through the arts.  By shifting focus from artistic products to creative processes, LTtA will establish a platform for first-time collaborations across diverse disciplines and cultures.  This platform will include a public engagement component to demonstrate how transdisciplinarity can simultaneously stimulate creativity, be a vehicle for developing empathy, and strengthen community.

PERFORMER – Who is doing.

PERFORMING – Way of doing.

PERFORMANCE – What is done.

Integrative Performing theory believes that “performer” and “performance” emerge from the central act of “performing”. With this in mind, we must not only reconsider who we are as “artists” and the “works” we create/perform, but also question the reliability or utility of these identities and identifications in the first place.

Although artists themselves would never deny that their “way of doing” is vital, an overwhelming proportion of artistic support structures and the arts economy in general are increasingly dependent on the identification, idolization, and/or commoditization of artistic identities and works.  Although such tendencies are logical within a society built around capitalist ideology, it is highly questionable whether they ultimately can support the risk-taking and innovation that a healthy arts community requires.  

Leadership is a performing art”

The arts can and should play a vital role in public life.  They should not only be supported, but also be influential in the development, implementation, and application of public policy.  There is no doubt in my mind that the arts can be a medium through which social well-being can be enhanced and that arts leaders can play a significant role in this process; however, we must first establish new ways of thinking about who we are, how we can collaborate, and what we can achieve.

To summarize:

  • The Leadership Through the Arts platform aims simultaneously to:
    • enable first contact between leaders from diverse disciplines and cultures, and
    • promote innovative approaches to public engagement.
  • More specifically, LTtA’s activities will be united by three overlapping themes:
  1. Transdisciplinarity – working between, across, and beyond disciplines and cultures;
  2. Integrative Performing – shifting our focus to artistic processes (and away from artistic identities and works); and,
  3. Leadership – determining how we can be effective leaders not only in and with the arts, but also through the arts in society as a whole.

The primary focus of LTtA is first-time collaboration.  This has been identified as an exceptional and much-needed initiative.  Most funding bodies assume that artists will subsidize such encounters themselves even though the expense of studio rental, travel, and accommodation alone can be prohibitive (it is generally assumed that no fee would be paid).  One of the most innovative challenges that artists can make is to initiate new collaborations.  However, the financial risk can be so great that artists feel obliged to stick with what and who they know already.  LTtA proposes a platform and financial assistance for this first contact while simultaneously addressing another important subject in the arts: public engagement.

In addition to promoting new inter-arts practices, LTtA intends to assert the necessity and utility of the arts in society as a whole.  Cultural sensitivity may be stimulated by art works; however, serious and significant community-building requires empathy, and this is primarily cultivated in an artistic context through creative and receptive processes.  While new ways of thinking and creating together will emerge from innovative collaborations, LTtA will demonstrate the increased power and influence of such collaborations when the general public is encouraged to participate as co-creators and co-leaders.  In this way, public engagement can be a vehicle through which creative processes are established and revealed.