Thursday, October 30, 2008

Healthy Dancers

Gone are the days of suffering through mindless aches and pains and starvation to reach a specific aesthetic. Not that aches and pains nor an aesthetic exist, but more and more dancers are becoming educated about their bodies and self care.

has both published a new book and also has an upcoming seminar for students and pre-professionals. New York City Ballet just had a similar seminar as well. The Harkness Dance Center offers many programs for professional and pre-professional alike.

ABT Healthy Dancer Open House

Seminars on Nutrition and Injury Prevention
Offered Free to Families, Students, and Instructors
Sunday, November 16, 2008, 12 Noon
Special Guest Appearances by Angelina Ballerina- and
Dancers of American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre will hold its first ABT Healthy Dancer Open House at its 890 Broadway studios on Sunday, November 16, 2008 from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. The Open House is a free event open to dance students of all ages across all disciplines, as well as parents and teachers throughout the New York metropolitan area. The event will include demonstrations by American Ballet Theatre-s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, a special appearance by Angelina Ballerina- and guest appearances by ABT dancers.

ABT-s Healthy Dancer Open House will offer seminars throughout the day from the following panel of ABT medical experts: Dr. William Hamilton, orthopedist, and Julie Daugherty, ABT physical therapist, will discuss injury prevention. Joy Bauer Nutrition will discuss healthy eating habits specific to dancers. Linda Hamilton, Ph.D, psychologist, will give -Advice for Dancers- from her monthly Dance Magazine columns. Special guest Angelina Ballerina- will lead demonstrations in safe stretching for children. Professional pointe shoe fittings by Capezio® will be available for students and pre-professional dancers.

ABT Healthy Dancer Open House kicks off the release of the new publication The Healthy Dancer: ABT Guidelines for Dancer Health, scheduled for release on October 20, 2008.
ABT Healthy Dancer Open House is sponsored by Payless ShoeSource®. For more information and to sign up for ABT Healthy Dancer Open House, please visit ABT-s website at ( ) or call the Healthy Dancer Hotline 212.419.4383.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Job Description. Part VII- Executive Director


In a typical dance organization there are two people on the top of the leadership pyramid. The artistic director that I have previously described and then the executive director of whom I will mention here. The executive director is essentially the financial and business head of the organization, the CEO of the non-profit. Together the artistic and exectutive director are the right and left brain respectively.

As mentioned in previous posts, each organization has its own inter workings; with today's tight economy, there are an increasing number of organizations that utilize one person to wear both the artistic and executive hats. But here is a summary of the executive duties of a non-profit organization.

The United Way of King County offers a plethora of non-profit governance resources. Including the following job description for executive directors by Jan Masoaoka:

At a recent gathering of nonprofit CEOs (executive directors) it was amazing how many people didn't have job descriptions - and almost no one had one that had been recently updated. Too often boards only look at the executive director's job description when they're unhappy with their executive or when they're hiring a new one. If you're writing or rewriting a job description, it may be helpful to have one for comparison. I've taken my job description as executive director of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services - one of the Board Cafe's co-publishers - and made it a bit more "generic" to serve as a template. Whatever job description you use, test to see that it both provides everyday guidance for the executive director and can serve as an evaluation tool at the end of the year. AND be sure to revisit and revise the job description as the job and the organization change.

Executive Director

The Executive Director is the Chief Executive Officer of ____________. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors, and is responsible for the organization's consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives. In program development and administration, the Executive Director will:

Specific committee responsibilities:

  1. Assure that the organization has a long-range strategy which achieves its mission, and toward which it makes consistent and timely progress.

  2. Provide leadership in developing program, organizational and financial plans with the Board of Directors and staff, and carry out plans and policies authorized by the board.

  3. Promote active and broad participation by volunteers in all areas of the organization's work.

  4. Maintain official records and documents, and ensure compliance with federal, state and local regulations.

  5. Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the field.

In communications, the Executive Director will:

  1. See that the board is kept fully informed on the condition of the organization and all important factors influencing it.

  2. Publicize the activities of the organization, its programs and goals.

  3. Establish sound working relationships and cooperative arrangements with community groups and organizations.

  4. Represent the programs and point of view of the organization to agencies, organizations, and the general public.

In relations with staff, the Executive Director will:

  1. Be responsible for the recruitment, employment, and release of all personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.

  2. Ensure that job descriptions are developed, that regular performance evaluations are held, and that sound human resource practices are in place.

  3. See that an effective management team, with appropriate provision for succession, is in place.

  4. Encourage staff and volunteer development and education, and assist program staff in relating their specialized work to the total program of the organization.

  5. Maintain a climate that attracts, keeps, and motivates a diverse staff of top quality people.

In budget and finance, the Executive Director will:

  1. Be responsible for developing and maintaining sound financial practices.

  2. Work with the staff, Finance Committee, and the board in preparing a budget; see that the organization operates within budget guidelines.

  3. Ensure that adequate funds are available to permit the organization to carry out its work.

  4. Jointly, with the president and secretary of the board of directors, conduct official correspondence of the organization, and jointly, with designated officers, execute legal documents.

Job Description. Part VI- Board of Directors

Who are your board of directors? For many dancers in many companies, it is hard to really get to know these people as they are rarely present on a day-to-day basis. But the role of a board is imperative for a non-profit organization. In fact the public/group governance is one of the requisites set up to become a 501(c)3. (That refers to the legal tax exempt status of a non-profit).

Personally I find it fascinating to know those on my board, they are a window into financial, medical, law and other professions. As the work of serving on a board is volunteer, I commend the work and responsibility that these individuals take on my behalf. They are also ambassadors for the art and as they go about their varied careers.

The boards' responsibilities are established upon the formation of each nonprofit organization and are as varied and unique as each organization. Typically a board sets a meeting schedule monthly or quarterly to oversee the running of the organization. Often there are committees and sub committees to address individual tasks, but again this is all specific to the organization and agenda of the time.

The Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations defines the Board and their responsibilities as follows:

Board of Directors

To do good work, board members or boards need to:
1 . Understand and be committed to the mission statement.
2. Broadly represent the community.
3. Participate in a working committee structure and have assigned responsibilities.
4. Understand and embrace stewardship and governance roles.
5. Understand their administrative role.
6. Have shared leadership responsibilities.
7. Manage change.
8. Develop annual and multi-year action plans. 9. Be self-critical and willing to engage in self-evaluation.
10. Possess the ability to evaluate, cultivate, train and replace leadership.
11. Financially support the organization and participate in the fund-raising process.

1. Understand and be committed to the mission statement. Since board members are the "sales force" of the arts organization, their full understanding and commitment to the mission of the organization is primary. Board members need to fully understand (and be able to communicate to others) the organization's mission. If they do not understand the mission, they will not be able to sell it to anyone else.

2. Broadly represent the community.
It is vital that an arts organization's board broadly represent the community's demographics, its arts groups and individual artists. Community leaders from education, business, industry, unions, the legal sector, local government, chambers of commerce and funders are excellent recruitment sources.

3. Participate in a working committee structure with assigned responsibilities.
Committees enable the board to work in depth in areas such as planning, finance, resource development, nominating, program and marketing. Board committees are established for many reasons: to assume part of the board's work-load; to develop a special expertise that will enable a board to act in a more informed and responsible manner on an issue; to save time; sustain a tradition; or handle a continuing organizational responsibility. Committee members are assigned responsibilities suited to their personal and professional strengths and interests. This insures success. Success, in turn, insures the board member's personal satisfaction and encourages their continued commitment. An effective committee is clear about its responsibilities and relationship to others and is flexible. To work well, a committee needs clear direction; an annual schedule; a specific statement of its charge; and clear and concise operating procedures.

4. Understand and embrace stewardship and governance roles.
The primary role of the board is to serve as the organization's governing body. The board is charged with establishing policy to be carried out through an administrative staff. Board members have a stewardship role: to speak on behalf of the organization; to promote its programs and services; to represent the organization in social and business and legislative meetings; to help support the organization financially, as well as in an advisory capacity; and to participate in the fund-raising efforts of the organization.

5. Understand their administrative role.
By-laws help clarify the role of the board. They outline the overall structure of the board and the organization. They define how an organization operates, and its parameters and they do this in relation to both the board and the administration. The line of responsibility separating the board (as the governing body) and the administration (as the body that implements policy) is clearly stated in the by-laws. The by-laws are the first area declaring this important division of responsibility. Personnel policies and manuals are the second area defining this division.

6. Have shared leadership responsibilities.
Shared leadership refers to a well-balanced assignment of roles and responsibilities. If the board has a strong committee structure, clearly defined job descriptions for chairs and committee members, as well as defined staff roles, the achievement of shared leadership should naturally follow. Problems can occur when, for example, the executive committee is taking action, where the full board should be taking responsibility, or when the board becomes too involved with the day-to-day activities of the organization and interferes with the jobs of staff members.

7. Manage change.
The capacity to manage change is critical to the health, success and growth of an arts service organization. If an organization is serving its constituency to the fullest extent, change is certain to occur. It is therefore important for the board of directors to recognize that change will inevitably occur within a healthy organization. A strong, flexible board will recognize the roads that lead to advancement and the achievement of the organization's mission and will lead the organization forward along these roads.

8. Develop annual and multi-year action plans.
With a clear and concise mission statement as a starting point, an arts organization is ready to develop both annual and multi-year plans to guide its activities. Input from the staff will provide the board with important criteria for making decisions, as will program evaluations, organizational assessments and audits. A well-written annual and long-range plan will incorporate both programmatic and financial outlooks. Annual and multi-year plans are only as valuable as the action they inspire. During the planning process, the board may take advantage of the expertise of the organization's staff and to provide information on the value and success of programs and services. The board may also wish to call on outside counsel to provide objective information that can help guide the actions of the organization and assist with evaluation processes.

9. Be self-critical and willing to engage in self-evaluation.
The capacity to engage in self-evaluation and the ability to redirect energy and focus when required is essential. One of the primary roles of a planning committee is to provide the board with the opportunity to regularly examine the activities and actions of the organization. Evaluation is needed to determine what modification or change, if any, is necessary.

10. Possess the ability to evaluate, cultivate, train and replace leadership.
The board can provide itself and each trustee with opportunities for evaluation. Evaluation happens in different ways. Through orientations and retreats, for example, the board can evaluate its own operation, as well as provide trustees with self-evaluation tools. Boards should provide training opportunities, internally through regularly scheduled orientations, and externally, through programs, workshops, seminars, lectures, books, articles and newsletters. Boards benefit from having a nominating or board development committee. This important committee is charged with the responsibility for evaluating the performance of the board and determining the type of board expertise needed to carry forth the organization's mission.

11. Financially support the organization and participate in the fund-raising process.
This is one of the most critically important roles of the trustee. Part of the stewardship role is to promote the arts organization to others and offer them the opportunity to assist financially. While each board member should support the organization within their individual means, each trustee in recognition of the honor that service to the organization bestows should stretch within their limits to fulfill their financial obligation.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Job Description. Part V- Marketing Director

A cool new logo from Ballet Oklahoma.

The job of the marketing director is truly to get "butts in seats". Interestingly again the position varies company to company as sometimes the job is outsourced to an advertising firm.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet has some of the best marketing that I have seen particularly in respect to internet presence and interactivity. Additionally the company that I dance for has recently embarked on guerrilla marketing through fall fashion. The company dancers now have beautiful jackets embroidered with our names and company logo; the public can purchase various socks, shirts and pants as well as car magnets! If you want to pimp up your car with a magnet you can contact American Repertory Ballet through their website.

The marketing director of American Repertory Ballet, Christine Bragg writes of her job, "it’s my job to get our name out there. That entails: writing and disseminating press releases, creating performance marketing campaigns with online advertising, print advertising, and ground marketing, coordinating electronic communication with e-newsletters and facebook/myspace groups, planning and coordinating special events like post-performance receptions, handling comp tickets for performances, and meeting press at events and performances, just to name a few