By Bernie Petit
You don’t have to be an artist, a curator, a dancer or a docent to help build our cultural community, said Jami Farris, a partner at Parker Poe.
You can be a leader.
It’s what Farris became after graduating from the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) first Cultural Leadership Training (CLT) class in 2006. Farris joined the board of Children’s Theatre of Charlotte upon graduation and became board chair in 2013.
“It has been the most rewarding personal and professional activity I have undertaken,” she said.
More than 300 emerging leaders have taken similar paths over the past 10 years, graduating from CLT and moving on to serve on boards of more than 40 local arts and culture organizations.
The nine-month, hands-on training program is a way for the cultural sector to identify new leaders, said Katherine Mooring, ASC senior vice president of programs and services.
“I continue to be amazed, year after year, at the talent, passion, and enthusiasm I encounter among participants in this program as well as what they then go on to contribute to the arts, culture and community,” Mooring said. “Their dedication and commitment has, and will continue to have, an enormous impact.”
Farris, the keynote speaker at the 10th CLT class graduation in June at Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, stressed that point to the program’s recent graduates.
She also reminded the graduates to use their strengths to make a difference in the cultural community.
“David Letterman once said, ‘I cannot sing, dance or act; what else would I be but a talk show host?’” Farris said. “That same sentiment applies to me. I cannot sing, dance, or act; what else would I be but a board member. CLT afforded me that opportunity.”
So, with a nod and an apology to the late-night icon, here’s Farris’ Top 10 List of Things You Should Do as a Cultural Board Member or Cultural Supporter:
10. Get engaged. Find out where you can make substantive and meaningful contributes to an organization.
9. Be present. You cannot be effective as a board member or advocate if you don’t participate in the organization. Go to shows, fundraisers and special events.
8. Share your resources. Time and energy are the most important resources you bring. It’s also important to make some financial contribution to the organizations you care about.
7. Get comfortable with asking. Invite friends to attend events with you and ask people in your network to support the cultural sector.
6. Read and research. Learn what other organizations are doing around the country, borrow good ideas and learn from mistakes.
5. Be a consumer of cultural activities. Take advantage of the diverse cultural offerings in our community to become well-rounded and to stay informed.
4. Use social media. Let your friends or followers know about upcoming events and use your network to support the cultural community.
3. Be an advocate in your profession. Familiarize your co-workers or clients with organizations you care about. Take advantage of donation matching programs. If your company supports the arts and culture, thank the decision makers and tell people in your circle about your company’s commitment to the cultural sector.
2. Be an advocate for ASC. Reach out to local leaders and voice your support for ASC and the cultural community.
1. Have fun! Pursue you cultural passions and engage as often as possible.