Fund for the Arts Connects Louisville Arts Groups With Potential Board Members

Nonprofit cultural groups need active, invested boards of directors to help govern, hire leaders, and raise money. One of the Fund for the Arts’ goals is to prepare young professionals to serve on boards, and one way the Fund helps the two connect is the annual Community Arts Board Fair.

The concept is a little like speed dating – invite a smallish group of area arts organizations actively recruiting for their boards of directors to set up tables and meet young professionals who are ready to start becoming more actively involved. Hopefully, some matches are made.

“Maybe you walk away seriously considering joining a board, and maybe you walk away thinking I think I’ll just volunteer for a while first,” says Fund for the Arts president and CEO Barbara Sexton Smith.

This year’s fair is Wednesday, December 4, 5-7 p.m. at the law offices of Stoll Keenon Ogden (500 W. Jefferson St., 20th floor). The Fund requests participants RSVP

“Every board is looking for different types of leadership to bring on board,” says Sexton Smith. “But one thing I think all boards should have in common is you have to look at all aspects of your business and make sure you have board expertise in each of those areas. For example, every nonprofit board should have someone working in accounting as a professional. There should be someone working as a lawyer – or two – on the board.”

This year’s fair will include Kentucky Shakespeare, Kentucky Opera, The Portland Museum, Louisville Youth Orchestra and Pandora Productions, among others. While some prospective board members might gravitate toward a particular organization because of personal experience – the vocal music major who went to law school might find his way back to opera by serving on a board, for example – Sexton Smith says problem-solvers of all professional stripes are in high demand.

“Arts and culture, at their very nature, are all about innovation and problem-solving, and every single business person in the region understands the importance of having innovation in your business,” she says. “You need people who can solve problems on a daily basis. Those people make great board members.”

Just like in speed dating, turning a promising meeting into a match depends on compatibility. Different boards require different levels of investment, and Sexton Smith says being fully aware of the expectations is key to a successful board relationship.

“So the first step is, as a prospective board member, have a list of questions in your pocket. Make sure you ask what are you expecting from me, in terms of contributions and money to the organization, and how much time will be expected of me?” says Sexton Smith. “Be very clear about that up front, so everybody is on the same page.”

(Image via Shutterstock)

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