Why The Death of an Arts Org Is Like a Plane Crash

Howard Sherman @ Joan Marcus

Howard Sherman. Photo Credit:  Joan Marcus

Howard Sherman compares the death of an arts organization to an airplane crash, and I think it’s a very strong metaphor. Here’s the key tidbit:

“…a crash doesn’t occur because of any single event. Typically, they emanate from some failure which then triggers others.”

Likewise, he says that, “arts organizations crash because of event cascades as well. It is rarely a single unforeseen occurrence which brings down companies; it is a series of actions, or lack thereof, that result in closure.”

Of course, this is true of any kind of organization, but it may be that arts organizations are more prone than others (as a group) NOT to want to look at the “instrument panel.” Howard actually includes the image of a cockpit and asks what would happen if arts organizations had controls like this. It’s a great continuation of the metaphor, and he’s right on the money, but in fact, all organizations have these in the form of all the information they generate. If people don’t look or they don’t care, all that information is useless, and it’s as though you have a cockpit that has a single light on it. It’s red, and underneath it is written the word “Crashing.” When it lights up, you’re crashing. If it’s not lit up, you’re still flying.

Read the whole piece: Michael Crichton & The Cause of Arts Crashes.

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