Thursday, May 30, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Arts Administrators Leave Their Jobs

The Indianapolis arts community has been stunned by resignations at the top of three local arts organizations announced within the past few days.
Two of these have been on the administrative side, one on the artistic.

What follows is a purely hypothetical list, not to be connected with the departures of Kirk Trevor from the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Steven Stolen from Indiana Repertory Theatre, or John Pickett from Indianapolis Opera. (Although the list focuses on the woes of running an arts organization [I use "Administrator" as a generic job title], some items on this Letterman-style list potentially have lots to do with resignations on the artistic side as well.)

10.  To save money, the board eliminates one or more staff positions and expects Administrator to carry out those duties, too.

9. Board blames Administrator for failure to secure major grants.

8. Some of the blame in #9 is generated by annoyance at Administrator for seeming to expect board members to contribute more.

7. Board divides into factions and Administrator must attempt to please two or more cabals.

6. Administrator chooses the wrong side in such a struggle, usually (understandably) the one more loyal to him/her.

5. Administrator  and artistic director get into irreconcilable conflict, and board decides one of them has to go.

4. Administrator and artistic director get along too well, so board faults Administrator for not vetoing more of the artistic director's ideas, which are generally assumed to be less practical.

3. "Mission drift" on board leads to pressure on Administrator always to go with the most popular programming, regardless of how much or little it fulfills the organization's mission.

2. Snobs gain control of board and resist Administrator's efforts at outreach and broadening the fan base.

1. Stress caused by any combination of the above is so aggravating that even if Administrator is managing conflicts and contradictions pretty well, burnout results.


  1. Adding to your list:

    -Administrator has accomplished all his or her talents and ideas can achieve at the organization.

    -Administrator wants new challenges.

    -Administrator has more than one passion and wants to achieve in a new field.

  2. Hey boards - here is part of your job. give it, get it, or get off. seriosly look at the fund-raising or out-reach goal of your organization and determine your percentage.