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creating a more sustainable arts & cultural sector

Mission Accomplished – ensuring good


governance in challenging times

13/14 November 2006


Two Quotes:

1. “Effective governance by a board of trustees is a relatively rare and unnatural act…


– …because the tides of trusteeship carry boards in the wrong direction: from
strategy towards operation, from long-term challenges towards immediate
concerns, from collective action towards individual initiatives”

2. “The three most important lessons focus on making sure a trustee truly understands
the financial condition of the institution; is not hesitant to ask tough, probing
questions; and is willing to challenge management when something does not make
sense. …
– …many boards operate in such a collegial, consensus-driven manner that
individuals are uncomfortable challenging management or questioning
inconsistencies or the quality of information they receive…
– …you need a director on the board who will be a pleasant irritant, someone who
will force people to think a little differently. That’s what a good board does.”

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What is Governance?

“The systems and procedures concerned with ensuring overall direction,


effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation.”
Good Governance: a Code for the Voluntary & Community Sector

“Governance goes beyond notions of ethics, responsibility, accountability. It is


an ethos enveloping an organisation causing everyone to think about not just
how, but why, they do what they do.”
Foundation for Good Governance

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What is Governance?

“The systems and procedures concerned with ensuring overall direction,


effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation.”
Good Governance: a Code for the Voluntary & Community Sector

Not just about how the Board works –


The whole organisation:
•Internal
•External
•Executive
•Non-executive

MD/CEO – Chair:
“must learn to dance together”…
…neither can stray far from each other’s gaze or proceed independently”
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What is MMM?

Mission, Models, Money (MMM) is a national action research programme and a


campaign for change which aims to ensure that artistic and cultural endeavour thrives
in the UK at a time of accelerating social, demographic, cultural and economic change.

MMM’s mission
Engaging leaders of the not for profit arts and cultural sector and their funders to
address the challenges of developing mission-led, financially and organisationally
sustainable businesses, by exploring and promoting a deeper understanding of the
principal issues identified by MMM as enabling sustainability.

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What’s emerging so far from the MMM Programme?

Recognition of accelerating change in external operating environment – but


insufficient recognition of “tectonic shift in global culture” – especially in relation to
demographics, environmental pressures, new technology, cultural identity, primacy of
marketplace

Governance behaviours not changing fast enough to reflect new operating context
– the challenges faced are of a different order to those in the past

One-size-fits-all charity model may not be the appropriate corporate structure for
all A&Cos

Trustees should regularly revisit continuing relevance of the mission of their A&CO –
and have to avoid mission creep forced upon them by funders and other stakeholders

In fast changing environment how to ensure the right people are hired – with the
right talent to the right job specs; and how to manage executive and non executive
succession issues?
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Today

Share actual experience and examples of governance:

• Identify top quality and effective governance


• highlight what is special to the arts/culture sector and what is universal
• examine current changes and their impact and consequences
• contribute to MMM’s wider agenda of research, signposting, influence, action and
campaigning

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Today

Share actual experience and examples of governance:

• The Case Studies


• 3 Key Governance Issues for the Sector:
1. Trustee Responsibilities for Supporting Artistic Risk
2. Understanding and Applying Appropriate Business Models
3. Building Effective Relationships between Board and Executive

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Today’s agenda

10:00 – 10:20 Welcome & Introduction


10:20 – 10:45 Starter Questions
10:45 – 11:30 The Case Studies
11:30 – 13:00 Key Governance Issues for the Sector
13:00 – 13:15 Conclusions – next steps
13:15 – 14:00 Lunch & Networking

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Starter Questions:

1. (CEO/Chair pairs):
• What really frustrates you about governance? In your organisation what’s a specific
obstacle to progress and high performance?

2. (in pair with a stranger)


• “We got it Right” – share an example of good governance…of a high quality decision…a
process that met every objective. Why did it work?

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The Case Studies:

Fabrica, Brighton:
• relationship between board members, staff, volunteers

Sadler’s Wells, London:


• board role in balancing artistic risk with financial viability

Voluntary Arts Network:


• Board using ‘Good Governance Code’ for review and change

Watershed Arts Trust, Bristol:


• new legal structure as starting point for development as social enterprise

Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere:


• succession planning and board development following stabilisation

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The Case Studies:

Discuss the case study


From the issues raised:
• Make connections with your own organisation/experience
• How did you/might you tackle/anticipate/avoid these challenges?

Feedback from Group Discussion


Key practical lessons about the governance of Arts/Culture organisations:
• What an organisation’s leadership must get right if it is to thrive

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Key Governance Issues:

1. Trustee Responsibilities for Supporting Artistic Risk


2. Understanding & Applying Appropriate Business Models
3. Building Effective Relationships between Board and Executive

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Key Governance Issues:

1. Trustee Responsibilities for Supporting Artistic Risk

In relationship to:
• Audiences/participants
• Finances
• Mission
• Other stakeholders

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2. Understanding & Applying Appropriate Business Models

Mission
Mission

Programmes

The
“Iron”
Organisational Triangle Financial
Capacity Capacity

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Key Governance Issues:

3. Building Effective Relationships between Board and Executive

• They “must learn to dance together” and “neither can stray far from each
other's gaze or proceed independently.”
• “The quality of its leadership can make or break a board. Good
governance requires sound leadership and is inhibited by weak leadership.
• “Although an excellent board chair does not guarantee superior
governance, a poor or inadequate one nearly always thwarts it”.

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Key Governance Issues:

THE ISSUES;
• Trustee Responsibilities for Supporting Artistic Risk
• Understanding & Applying Appropriate Business Models
• Building Effective Relationships between Board and Executive

THE GROUP TASKS:


• What Challenges are particular to Arts/Culture Organisations
• Recommendations for Tackling those Challenges
• What would Help you do so with Confidence?

FEEDBACK – SELECT 2 CHALLENGES; ON EACH:


1. Two recommendations for Internal Action – what organisations can do for
themselves?
2. Two proposals for External Assistance – who could do what to help?

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Conclusions

Recipe for disaster for a progressive 21st century arts organisation:

Be forced by circumstances and/or funding to take a legal structure developed to


encourage investment in railways 200 years ago, adapt inadequately for non-profit
distributing activity, and coat liberally with an antiquated, class-ridden status designed
in 1601 to support chancery chapels, education for young boys and dowries for young
maidens.
Garnish with red tape and heavily prescriptive handbooks advocating one size fits all.
Stir annually with a highly paid consultant at a Board retreat.

Madeline Hutchins

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