Monday, May 15, 2006

So, what's the vision?

Since many of you are coming to StageNEXT as relative newbies, it's probably worth exploring the StageNEXT vision. In fact, in the numerous discussions I've held over the past year on the subject, the first question people ask is typically a coin toss between the following (paraphrased of course):

  • "What's the artistic vision for StageNEXT?"
  • "How in the world are you going to make StageNEXT financially stable?"

Both of these are required elements of a successful organizational vision, and it's a real challenge to define a vision that encompasses and balances both sides of the coin: business and artistry. If it were easy, there wouldn't be so many arts organization failures--both in Charlotte and nationwide. To boil it down, you have to answer two (2) questions well:

  • "How do we foster and remain true to our artistic vision while achieving financial viability?"
  • "How do we develop and maintain a business model that enables effective pursuit of the artistic vision?"

Given our stated objective to serve as a conduit for exploring issues of community and diversity, there's a need for another essential question in the hopper:

  • "How do we sustain an artistic vision and business model that embraces Charlotte as a community and creates a sense of belonging across the ethnic and cultural spectrum?"

I'll say it again: these aren't easy questions, but they are questions that must be answered. The responses drive a company's essential mission and sense of purpose. Without them, we might as well be manufacturing widgets (although most widget manufacturers these days have also embraced the "vision thing").

Over the next few posts, I'll make an attempt to frame an initial response. While there is no one "right" answer, there are an inifinte number of "wrong" answers. I'm hoping your feedback will help to refine our thinking and clarify the StageNEXT vision.


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