8 Organizational Features Emerging in the New Era

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This Week: What are 8 new organizational features emerging in the new era in the arts?

In the past 10 years, unprecedented developments in the operating environment have placed radical new demands on arts and culture organizations.

After 50 years focused on growth and longevity, changes in public participation, technological access to the arts, demographic shifts, and new forms of resource development have revealed that there are critical new organizational structures needed to thrive in this new era for the arts.

Below are 8 old structural features – those that typified the first 50 years of the professional arts sectors – and 8 new structural features – those that we see emerging in response to this new era for the arts.

Old and Emerging Structural Features

  • OLD: A mission that focuses on organizational outputs and achievements
  • EMERGING: A mission that focuses on community impacts and value
  • OLD: A singular creative vision and direction, handled by one or a few insiders
  • EMERGING: Pluralized curation that includes dialogue with external voices
  • OLD: A select, high-level artistic group, separate from the community and presenting to it via formal seasons of activity
  • EMERGING: Acknowledging and embracing the creative capacities in the community — guided by, and working with, professionals, year-round, on demand
  • OLD: Strong boundaries to the organization, serving to differentiate it from others and from the wider community
  • EMERGING: Loose organizational boundaries, porous to the community, that blur distinctions between organizations and emphasize commonalities
  • OLD: Specialist administrative departments with consistent technical competencies working in hierarchies
  • EMERGING: “Post-specialist” workers with varying responsibilities, working in artistically centered teams
  • OLD: Marketing of products to passive consumers
  • EMERGING: Engagement of audiences as active participants in process as well as product
  • OLD: Boards as core funders and solicitors for established work
  • EMERGING: Boards as champions of change and as informed ambassadors to enroll others
  • OLD: Balance sheets focus on building long-term permanent assets
  • EMERGING: Financial profile that emphasizes working capital and reserves, including risk capital

You can also download a PDF version of these 8 old and emerging structural features here.

Download PDF: 8 Emerging Organizational Features

In your organization, which emerging structural features are you moving towards or would like to move towards? How might you do that?


Every week, the Tipster brings you easy-to-digest bits of inspiration to challenge your thinking and advance your practice.

  • With the major changes in the cultural Field ex. dance (dance companies disappearing/pick up companies common = job instability)- it is imperative that there is a focus on building a bridge between the old and the emerging. A bridge will help with the leap that is best taken by all sectors involved. Often times important players are afraid to take the leap – the old is reliable and predictable (this relates to the tipsters 4 types of organizational culture post on May 14) but creativity and the market is often not predictable nor constant. I believe we’ve all heard that – change is the only constant.

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