National Arts Strategies (NAS), an organization that provides accessible and affordable, high quality leadership training programs that enable leaders in arts and culture to explore their toughest challenges, announced the 50 leaders that will be attending The Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture.
The program is an 18-month long course designed as a forum to help already outstanding leaders creatively solve the current issues they face. Such problems could include finding a new way to engage with the community and/or finding ways to lead their organization through a rapidly changing environment. NAS received applications from leaders in 32 states and 13 different countries and, according to the news release, was “astounded by the level of diversity of community work these leaders are undertaking.”
Long Beach Opera Artistic/General Director and Chicago Opera Theater General Director Andreas Mitisek has been asked to take part in this latest class of exceptional leaders. The 50 chosen executives will work with NAS and each other over the next year to address their most difficult challenges and lead change and evolution in the arts and culture sector. This is the third class of The Chief Executive Program, having evolved from the past two classes, this year’s strategy is to focus on leaders of organizations where community sits humbly at the heart of the mission.
Andreas thinks less about the fact that the NAS chose him as “one of the top executive cultural leaders” in the world, and more about his work and the importance of the Long Beach Opera to the Long Beach community. Andreas explained, “This is a great opportunity for me to lead with like-minded individuals in cross-cultural fields of art and to really think about change and how the arts can encourage change in communities.”
Andreas continued, saying "I’m interested to hear some of the different approaches, from people who work with different communities in different fields. I know one participant is from Columbia, one is from England, there a few from different states in the U.S….I think for me the thing is really trying to figure out how can we in Long Beach can make more use of art as a way to change our life, to get more people involved and to create social change.”
Beginning in September 2014 and continuing through 2015, The Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture, will include three in-person educational events at Vanderbilt University, at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and at Sundance Resort. A variety of “at-work” activities designed to help leaders move forward on their own unique objectives and goals will also be implemented.
NAS CEO Designate Gail Crider said in a statement, “Healthy organizations share deep connections with their communities. We’ve seen that leaders who build and maintain a strong sense of local relevance are creating organizations for both the present and the future. We at NAS progress field-wide change by providing the training and support to these leaders. Having experienced this program and bonded as a community, these 50 leaders will have the ideas, tools and connections to effect change in their own organizations and to accelerate their work collectively to strengthen communities and the cultural sector.”
As the director of opera houses in two very different cities, Andreas applies what he learns from both locations to his entire practice. In comparing Chicago to LA, he said, “The environment and community in Chicago is more of a city in the old sense of the term, while Long Beach and Los Angeles takes a different approach. In Los Angeles it’s all about finding access to different neighborhoods. I find it very inspiring to see how audiences react and participate in these two different communities. There’s a lot to learn on either side and I'm fortunate to be able to observe and influence each one.”
According to NAS, participants in the program were selected following a highly competitive recruitment process to identify the top executive cultural leaders from around the world whose organizations work closely with communities on creative placemaking initiatives. The leaders chosen to participate in The Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture were selected from a wide range of cultural formus, locations, perspectives and experience levels. These executives have proven themselves to be effective, innovative, collaborative and open-minded.
On how the Long Beach Opera is doing now and what he’s looking forward to regarding the Chief Executive Program, Andreas said, “We have been doing a great job with the Long Beach Opera, reaching out to communities, going to new locations bringing people into the fold of arts and performances...I’m excited to be heard on an international level and to be given this opportunity to brainstorm on an international level. It’s a great opportunity to be heard and to learn.”