A report from the National Arts Strategies Executive Program: Part 1

Brandon Bell is an arts administrator and percussionist. He is director of education and artistic administrator at Da Camera and is an adjunct faculty member at Houston Community College. He is currently writing his dissertation as he completes the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and is a 2019 fellow of the National Arts Strategies Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the next eight months, I will be participating in the National Arts Strategies Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy. This program, a collaboration between National Arts Strategies and the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, brings together over 100 arts administrators who are looking to gain the tools necessary to further their impact in the cultural sector. The program consists of six intensive online courses that are augmented by two on-campus convenings in Philadelphia. Units in the program include Strategy and Positioning, Arts and Culture Finance, Leading Healthy Teams, Nonprofit Fundraising, as well as electives in Community and Collaboration, Impact Management, Intro to Social Media, Evaluation, and Nonprofit Governance.

As of this blog post, I am halfway through the Strategy and Positioning unit. Having spent my entire academic career in music school, I’ve never really spent time thinking about the Strategic Triangle, search goods v. experience goods, the identification of market segments, and other topics along these lines. Thinking in these terms has already helped me to begin to internally articulate questions and goals for Da Camera’s Education and Community Initiatives department: What is our identity? How do we relate to our customers? What differentiates our programming from similar offerings in our market? I look forward to doing a deep-dive into these questions through positioning statements and competitive analysis matrices over the coming weeks.

I’m excited to share my journey with Da Camera friends and family through these blog posts. Next up, an update on the Strategy and Positioning unit as well as a preview of the first on-campus convening.