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Taboo Discussions for Artists & Arts Organizations

Taboo Cards

Some artists, if you mention the word “business” at all, they recoil, but let us play a field-wide game of Taboo, and have a brainstorm discussion about the future of the arts sans these words or any derivation of them:  “innovation” and “business models.”

Could the private sector keep itself from using all the jargon accumulated in business school and really talk about what they want to accomplish and how to do it?

So often, organizations of all kinds create job descriptions or individuals write their resumes hiding behind platitudes of these perceived “good” business skills without being specific. That or trying to identify a new direction for one’s organization can feel like when we were little kids and played “office” or “school” or “house.” You weren’t exactly sure what you were supposed to be doing, but you emulated what you saw and played out whatever notions you had about working in such a place. 

Maybe we, as adults, are still figuring it out as we go along, but I think sometimes we get caught up in best practices without really possessing a sense of self and purpose.

Since we haven’t declared these words taboo yet, I’m talking about “capacity” and “mission.”

Nonprofit or not, we cannot forget that North Star for each of our organizations – a mission statement, why we exist and why we do what we do.

I challenge organizations to look at their mission statements and refine or redefine those as well if not stated specifically. And not all organizations have the capacity to operate on the world’s largest stage. But what is their real capacity? What can they really accomplish? Then, let us set forth a path realizing the potential capacity and employing tools from the for-profit sector.

Now, under Taboo rules, we have room for three more words.

What words would you suggest because you feel they lack meaning anymore and are tripping us up from getting anywhere?

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