Arts Leaders As Cultural Innovators (ALACI)

A national adaptive leadership development program for individual change-makers in the arts and culture sector.

Why do we need adaptive leadership in the arts & culture field?

Rising leaders know that the best practices of the past can no longer guide solutions for the future. Given the complexity of our organizations and communities today, we need to move away from traditional models of heroic leadership — where leaders are the singular problem-solver or driving force, and instead develop adaptive leaders who can collaborate and distribute responsibility for tackling today's wicked problems.

In his book Leadership Without Easy Answers, Ronald Heifetz defines adaptive leadership as “mobilizing people’s hearts and minds to work together differently to address complex challenges.” Adaptive leadership skills continue to be under-developed and under-resourced in our field. Through ALACI, EmcArts brings our decade-long expertise to support the professional leadership development of individual change-makers, and leave a legacy of increased adaptive capacity in each participating community.

Round 3 of ALACI is currently in design for 2018-19, and will focus on those who have recently taken on executive leadership for the first time in their careers (6 months to 2 years into the position). We are currently looking for 3-4 communities from which to draw participants (8 leaders from each), so let us know if you see yourself, or someone else in your community, as a potential ALACI participant!

For more information about ALACI, contact Liz Dreyer, Senior Program Manager.

ALACI's way of looking at adaptive change is helping my community, my organization and me work differently. These are everyday, useful frameworks that you can put into practice right away.

Debbie Chess Madie, Executive Director, Tucson Pima Arts Council, Round 1 Fellow
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Program Impact

  • Invested in 29 fellows across 4 states in Rhode Island, Washington DC, Arizona and New York
  • Engaged 18 nationally renowned faculty & experts in fields of innovation and arts management
  • Two national learning networks with adaptive leaders who learn, experiment and practice together
The elements of the program, over 18 months, have been carefully designed to reinforce each other and achieve maximum impact, for participants and for their communities. Most traditional leadership training provides little space for the integrated practice of new skills learned in the program. With adaptive leadership, however, it is impossible to usefully strengthen relevant skills by working with single leaders alone and way from their workplaces.

The fundamental design principle of ALACI is therefore to move back and forth between group learning via multi-day seminars, and individual practice of new approaches and skills within each participant's work environment.

Read more about our faculty and executive coaches from Round 1 and Round 2.
What do ALACI fellows gain?
Through ALACI, fellows develop the following core competencies for adaptive leadership: 
  1. An increased awareness of one’s core values, strengths, and preferences to the various tasks of leadership (emotional intelligence)
  2. An understanding of organizations and communities as complex adaptive systems (systems thinking, cultural competency)
  3. A strengthened ability to apply specific skills to advancing adaptive responses to complex organizational challenges (process facilitation, dialogic skills, active listening)
  4. A working knowledge of innovation as a framework for achieving organizational resilience (definition, practice, documentation, measurement)
  5. A broader capacity to engage with peers to achieve results beyond those which can be achieved when working alone (mutual influence, collaboration, sharing authority)