I tweeted this equation at the start of the 2014 Charles J. Busta III Lecture in Business, “The Arts Transforming Communities,” delivered on April 22, 2014 by Marin Alsop, Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Doreen Bolger, Director of the Baltimore Museum of Art; Rebecca Hoffberger, Director of the American Visionary Art Museum; and Julia Marciari-Alexander, Executive Director of the Walters Art Museum. What followed was an inspiring series of very personal stories from some of the most prominent leaders in the local and national cultural scenes. I found myself almost envying the young women of Notre Dame of Maryland University who were able to hear from such shining role models so early in life. Without trailblazers and precedents, it is a greater uphill struggle for women to assume leadership roles, even in arts organizations, which are overwhelmingly staffed by women but count few female directors as this ArtsFWD post by Eleanor Whitney noted. Indeed, diversity in all its forms is lacking throughout arts organizations and their audiences as in business in general; Nina Simon wrote and gathered links to other insightful posts and events on the topic this last year, and the conversation is sure to continue.
This year’s Busta Lecture event was an important step along the road to a better place for the arts and their audiences, and a proud night for Baltimore to see its own transformation in the stories of these innovative leaders. Fortunately, the gracious hosts at NDMU posted all their talks online so you can check them out yourself. We’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions!