Developing Effective Arts Boards, The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada (P.O. Box 7, Toronto, Ontario M5H 2Y4). 1983. 32 pp, $C3 paper.
Trustee Handbook, 4th ed, National Association of Independent Schools (18 Tremont St. Boston, MA 02108), 1980 78 pp, $7.75.
Is the Board of Trustees a necessary evil? The latest handbook in the appropriately expanding literature on arts boards again sets forth the now generally understood legal necessity and nature of a board and speaks to the more debatable question in its opening quotation:
“The other day a museum expert told me that in a very few years, he hoped, there would be no more Trustees. Fiddlesticks. Who is to replace them? Government agencies and paper producing bureaucrats? Maybe a few Trustees might think that they are only answerable to God. Good, I say. If they can get God on our side, so much the better” (Moncrief Williamson, Fellows Lecture 1983, Canadian Museum Association).
The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada addresses fundamental questions of arts administrators and volunteer boards in its concise, sound and informative publication, Developing Effective Arts Boards. This basic manual is well worth having on hand to provide a clear overview of board responsibilities, functions, organizations and operations.
In a simple, concrete format, this 32-page publication outlines how to form and run a board as well as how to go about fulfilling its functions of setting goals, appointing top personnel, assessing performance and acting upon the assessment. The section on board organization includes not only advice on who should make up the board, but offers suggestions on where to find suitable board members, how to determine what is expected of trustees and how to get a board member to perform effectively. FinalIy, this booklet addresses the more sensitive issue of artistic involvement in a forthright manner.
Arts trustees should not neglect a perusal of the fourth edition of the National Association of Independent Schools’ Trustee Handbook. This somewhat more expansive (78 pages) handbook presents principles for governance specifically of independent schools, but around a most relevant central theme of “a partnership of mutual endeavor and trust” between the board and school head.
This sensitivity to the relationship between board and professional head adds an important dimension to the discussion of board structure and the role of trustees. If not directly applicable, most topics have at least analogous validity for theatres (e.g. establishing education policy versus interference in setting curriculum can readily be adapted to artistic policy vs. play selection).
Regional theatre, just beginning to blossom in 1964 when the NAIS first published this handbook, stands to benefit from the insight and perspective gained over the years by the school association. The handbook includes useful and explicit information on orientation of new trustees, policy development, evaluation of the institution, responsibility to the constituency. Other relevant sections deal with how to broaden trustee knowledge of the institution, how to relate to people in the community and deal with complaints (Trustees must never circumvent the head, even with the best of intentions), how to deal with difficulties and conflicts, and the proper distribution of responsibilities. Performance review of both head and board is a pertinent topic as is the discussion of dealing with a change in leadership (the termination and selection process).
In its postscript, this publication also addresses that “necessary evil” issue: “Trustees are considered by many people, otherwise intelligent, to be a strange species: rich, stingy, blind, leisured and full of notions. Mark Twain once said that school boards were what God made, after he practiced making idiots.’ “
Comment upon this statement con-cludes: “It is clear that to be a trustee… is not an honorary position or a sinecure. Trusteeship calls for hard work and intelligent judgment on many difficult and challenging matters affecting many people. The rewards of trusteeship, and they are great, lie primarily in the inner satisfaction that comes from being part of an essential and often noble enterprise.
One would hope that thoughtful reading of such volumes as these will stimulate fresh and creative evaluation of the role of trustees in a continuing effort to make theatre boards realize their potential as “one of the most important sources of strength” in serving the art.
Laura Hardman is president of the board of the Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta.
The Foundation Directory Supplement, 9th edition, Patricia Read, editor-in-chief, The Foundation Center, New York, NY. 425 pp, $30 paper. To update the information in its biennial Directory, the Foundation Center publishes a comprehensive supplement in non-Directory years. Like the Directory, the supplement provides complete foundation listings, including contact information, activities, financial statistics and grant application information.
The Foundation Grants Index Annual, 13th edition, Patricia Read, editor-in-chief, The Foundation Center, New York, NY. 760 pp, $40 paper. A compilation of all the information collected by the Foundation Center during 1982-83, the 13th edition of the annual Index covers over 32,000 grants of $5,000 or more awarded by 465 private and community foundations throughout the U.S. In addition to grant listings, this resource guide contains an introduction analyzing recent trends in foundation philanthropy, as well as a number of useful indexes categorizing grant information by subject, population and geographic focus, recipient organizations and types of support awarded.
Foundation Grants to Individuals, 4th edition, Claude Barilleaux, ed., The Foundation Center, New York, 245 pp, $18 paper. This unique directory profiles some 1,000 U.S. foundations offering grant programs for individuals in a variety of categories, including scholarships and loans, fellowships, internships and residencies, awards and prizes, and grants restricted to company employees and geographic areas. In addition to comprehensive foundation listings and five complete indexes, there is a brief analysis of federal laws governing foundation giving to individuals, as well as a detailed bibliography of resource materials on non-foundation sources of support for individuals.
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