In these days of uncertainty and change, the governance of arts and culture organisations has risen in importance.A Practical Guide to Governance (Clore Leadership)
At the CRC we believe effective and ethical governance is essential for good curating. Our philosophy on curating values both knowledge creation and communication. The idea of knowledge, talent, know-how and expertise feels like it is somewhat under siege at the moment, both politically and more systemically within the cultural sector. Engagement or learning are sometimes misconceived as an alternative to curation rather than part of it. Well-governed organisations that communicate well internally and externally tend to be more aware and less susceptible to such misconceptions.
Our work occupies the space between the generation of ideas, knowledge, stories and communication. For this kind of curating to be successful an organisation, or an individual, must be values-based and evidence-led. These characteristics are also essential for a well-governed organisation. The ability to see the big picture while also focusing on the details matters.
In November 2018 I contributed a short provocation to the Cultural Governance Alliance on cultural leadership and the civic agenda. My stance is based on the three huge elephants in the room whenever governance and change leadership are danced around: permission, trust and control.
The gap needs narrowing, conversations need to be genuinely two-way and the people recruited to boards must reflect the diversity of the people they exist to serve, as well as reflecting the skills the organisation needs to maintain—or in many cases—achieve good governance.Cultural Leaders Championing their Civic Agenda (Tehmina Goskar)
Replace people with curators and governance with curation and I see very little difference in the two. This is about cultivating the right attitude within an organisation and within ourselves.
We are really pleased to be joining the Cultural Governance Alliance as a supporter because we believe in the same things. We set up with a specific set of values and aims which we constantly measure our achievements against. Our values and aims also give us a framework to lean on when we feel we need to say no, and maintain our ethos and standards in everything we do.
The Cultural Governance Alliance website is an incredibly generous resource available for free. The practical guides and knowledge library are sourced from a huge range of contributors making the ‘hive mind’ of the CGA very valuable indeed. For very busy organisation directors and board members, information is provided in a clear and bite-sized (but not dumbed-down) way. It feels like you are receiving advice from people who actually know what they are talking about. One example is in the Practical Guide on how to induct a new board member:
New board members should be encouraged to attend performances/visit the collection of an organisation to enable them to advocate with confidence about the artistic/curatorial work.How do you induct a new board member? (Cultural Governance Alliance)
If you are a curator, artistic lead or the person responsible for the content of your organisation I can’t stress enough how important this piece of advice is. Invite conversation, share your passion for your subject, this is what will enthuse your governing body to advocate properly and do it with confidence. It is also incredibly important for helping make serious board room decisions with a true understanding of the work it exists to do.
Whether you are a company or charity board member, an employee, a director, sole trader or a volunteer, take an interest in the governance of your organisation and your work and join the Cultural Governance Alliance now to help promote and evolve good governance in the cultural sector.