I saw Richard Evans, from EmcArts speak earlier this week. I found his thoughts around innovation and adaptability very interesting. I have always thought that arts organizations need to be adaptable. I remember once during the first strategic planning process I was a part of I kept introducing the word flexibility as a core value and everyone kept asking me what I meant and I couldn’t really explain what I meant by that. Now I know I meant adaptability, but also flexibility…hah. Anyway, he actually laid out what it means to be adaptable and how an organization can get there. He said, essentially that the road to innovation is called adaptability street. Interesting stuff.
But then he got into this whole thing about how we have to CHANGE, CHANGE or DIE. Yawn. Look, I’m all for change and I think we do change, I think we change all the time, we have to. I also think we have to try harder to find new models and ways of doing our work. But really if someone shows me that picture of the people dancing in the plaza at the Performing Arts Center in LA one more time and tells me how that is the wave of the future…please. Non-professionals dancing…OMG! Really?? we’ve been dancing for thousands of years. We’re human, we dance, we can’t help it. Whenever someone shows that picture, and literally I’ve seen it a dozen times in lectures and presentations, they always say “and it’s not about selling tickets,” and “they don’t charge the people to dance.” Yes, yes it is about selling tickets, or are you trying to tell me the Performing Arts Center in LA is moving its model to dancing in the plaza rather than presenting world class international dance companies. It’s nice that they provide opportunities for people to dance and sure, more of that is lovely and needed, but don’t tell me it’s a revolutionary innovation, it’s not.
I think Richard Evans is a smart guy and don’t forget I think his ideas about innovation and adaptability are spot on and we should all be more adaptable and innovative and he actually gave us a road map to get there (he said in the lecture slides to come, which I will be happy to share). Just please stop showing me that picture.