SPA 362 – Leadership Development Lab II – Spring 2020

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Week 8: Leadership in the Arts

We start this week with two analyses that bring together the traits of successful leaders and the traits of successful artists.  We meet Pamela Joyner, a banker turned art collector who now collects, shows, and mentors emerging artists.  We get just thumbnail sketches of a number of young artists in New York, and of their coaches.  Finally, in two short videos we meet Christine Kuan, who is developing the next generation of arts leaders.  In the second video, she begins to segue us to next week’s topic – leadership in education.

Leadership and Art / Leaders and Artists?

Are there some ways in which leadership is like art?  From art historian / management consultant Iris Lavy and her bookUntitled: Art & Leadership (2014).

Are there some ways in which leaders are like artists?  Michael O’Malley offers a number of ways – and one comparison notable by its absence. From his book Every Leader is an Artist: How the World’s Great Artists Can Make You a More Creative Leader (2012)

Finally, this articlette on arts and leaders by marketing author Kevin Daum, “4 Great Leadership Lessons from the Arts,” in Inc. magazine (2013)

Pamela Joyner: Banker, Collector, Philanthropist, Mentor

Joyner is featured for reshaping African American Art History by the wmagazine where they explore a lot of her background, and specifically talk about her role in rewriting art history. Joyner herself discusses why she is so interested in this part of art history. She intentionally searches for unrecognized artists outside of the stereotypical art canon. The article also specifically looks into some of her more specific and recent collections.

The Museum of Art at Duke University discussed Joyner’s collection, dedicated to African arts. What does Joyner seek in a piece she hopes to obtain? Joyner puts an emphasis on understanding the history behind each of the African pieces, and the history of each of the artist. In the end, she has accomplished a great collection due to her determination to create such a feat of work.

You might also enjoy her TEDtalk on these ideas (video – 13 min)


EmcArts helps leaders of color who are in the arts sector and experiencing barriers to mentorship, professional support, etc. Their work intends to address this gap through creating spaces for people to combat these challenges, with a focus on rising leaders of color.

“In a time of great uncertainty and shifting demographics, the work of arts leadership pivots crucially around the ability to adapt to complex and changing circumstances, and the ability to reflect and fully engage the communities that arts leaders serve. Additionally, leaders of color continue to experience challenges in accessing leadership opportunities. If the field is to thrive in the future, the pipeline of talent needs to be urgently diversified, and systems of leadership development need to be built for greater equity and inclusion.” – EmcArts.  Meet some of the young artists

Christine Kuan, Sotheby’s
Director and CEO of Sotheby’s Institute of Art

Kuan on supporting women artists (video – 4 min)

Kuan on training the next generation of arts leaders (video – 2 min)

Your classmates have identified some terrific leaders in the arts

Keep in mind the questions they pose as well as questions we’ve been asking throughout the semester (if the links don’t work for you, see Bb > Readings)

Dance: Misty Copeland 

Misty Copeland is the principal dancer at American Ballet Theater, a top ballet company based in New York, New York. On June 30, 2015, she became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal ballerina in the history of ABT. Unlike many dancers, Copeland didn’t start her formal training until she was 13 years old, when she was living with her single mother and five siblings on the floor of a motel room. A true ballet prodigy, she started dancing en pointe within three months of starting to dance, something that usually takes dancers years of training to accomplish, and she started dancing professionally just a year after starting to dance.

New York Times article about Misty’s promotion to principal ballerina


Washington Post article or video (whichever you prefer) on Misty’s views on leadership and perseverance




Misty Copeland became the first African American to become a principal ballerina, the highest position a dancer can achieve. Why is breaking this barrier important? What do you think will happen as a result?

Misty Copeland says that the one word that would describe her character is perseverance. This is important in the dance world to be able to succeed, but for her, it has helped her to not only be a great dancer, but to become a leader in ballet. Why is perseverance important to a good leader?

Copeland says that artists are leaders because they help “the normal person” to envision a fantasy world and an artistic way to see beauty. Is this important? Why are the arts important to people’s lives?

Film: Bong Joon-ho 


What role does recognition play in solidifying a leader in their field? The leadership in South Korea condemned Bong Joon Ho but he was still recognized extensively at the Oscars and has surged in popularity since then. Was he still a leader in the arts before the awards or only once he was recognized?

Music: Taylor Swift


In what ways do you see Swift as a leader (if you do at all)? By the popularity of Swifts songs? Or by the leadership Swift has shown on the business side of music? Or something else?

Painting: Salvador Dali 

Born in Figueres, Catalonia, Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in August 1931, and is one of the most recognizable Surrealist paintings. Dalí’s expansive artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography, at times in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.


Do you agree with the article’s argument regarding the “importance of constantly seeing things from different angles and fresh perspectives”? Do you think that it is appropriate to look at Salvador Dalí as a case study in leadership?