In reading the history of the Historical Society of Philadelphia and the dismal failures to manage its extensive collection of over 10,000 items and a world-famous research collection it is clear that a Dictablanda, or a soft dictatorship in which civil liberties are preserved, is the best solution for the survival of the cultural sector.
The following will highlight why a benevolent leader is needed in the cultural sector.
This post is about power
"There seemed to be no agreement why the HSP existed"
This is a problem no dictator has ever had. The HSP needed a leader to say exactly why the HSP existed and what it needed to do to be financially solvent. It didn't, and it lost 50k a month. With a benevolent dictator, a subservient board of trustees would be able to voice their concerns and exercise the freedom to leave the board, but ultimately the leader decides what happens or what does not happen.
The movie, The Death of Stalin (2017) comically shows how well boards solve problems as Stalin's closest advisers fight for his job after he dies.
Three Solutions too Many
In an attempt to save the HSP Susan Stitt, CEO, came up with three good solutions. A true dictablanda need not present solutions. Instead they would introduce actions. Should the HSP, live within its means, get smaller to get better, or put its efforts into a big idea? Any action that saves you from losing 50k a month is ideal.
Susan Sitt was CEO. She should have been allowed to act like one.
Singapore did alright under Lee Kuan Yew, but would it work for the Cultural Sector?
Nosce Te Ipsum: Know Thyself
The HSP still doesn't know what to be. What are you? Is the HSP a museum or a special collections library? Someone must take control, liquidate the board rather than the employees and make the HSP thrive.
The agreement to work with the Atwater Kent Museum was a strong half-step in the right direction, but still only a half-step. Time for survival means time to go all in!
*N.B.: This post is not an endorsement of political dictatorship, but rather an attempt to spark conversation about decision-making and power in the cultural sector. What do you think?
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