Event Summary: March 2018 NAS “Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy” Convening

March 13, 2018
Programs & Research

In March 2018, National Arts Strategies convened 94 arts and culture leaders for the first in-person meeting of the 2018 Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy (EPACS), developed in partnership with CSIS. Students represented 26 states and US territories, and 7 countries, traveling from as far abroad as Australia and Brazil.


Dallas Shelby, National Arts Strategy

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Dallas Shelby, National Arts Strategies
The program kicked off with an introductory dinner. Using illustration and found materials, participants recreated their name tags to represent their values, traits, and hobbies, as they met face-to-face for the first time.



Meredith Myers, University of Pennsylvania


Thursday, March 8th, 2018

The first full day of the program honed in on “Leadership and Decision-Making” with Meredith Myers, and “Program Design & Innovation” with Gray Garmon and Katie Krummeck.

Meredith Myers (Executive Director, Job Crafting) focused on the dynamics of teamwork, and surfaced communication tools to boost collaborative effort and team problem solving.

Meredith Myers, University of Pennsylvania

The session centered around four core objectives:

Realize the power of our questions and the role inference plays in creating our organizational realities. In her words, “There is no getting rid of bias – but there is ‘being aware of it,’ and deciding how you want to work with it. … When we surface [our biases], we become more predictable, others become more predictable, and we realize we have more options.”

Develop active listening and perspective-taking skills to better understand and engage with others (even when they behave in problematic ways). Myers claimed,

“Active listening is an orientation towards life.”

Practice with- and gain insight into a real work challenge of personal importance.

Leverage the skills of advocacy and inquiry to further collaborate and navigate difficult conversations.


Gray Garmon, Katie Krummeck Southern Methodist University

Student practices “ideation” stage of brainstorming.

Gray Garmon and Katie Krummeck (instructors in the Master of Arts in Design and Innovation (MADI) at Southern Methodist University) co-led sessions around human-centered design, focused on using creative methods to unearth clients needs, desires, and experiences in order to build more impactful programs. Sessions included:

Outline of design thinking process (Define; Understand; Ideate; Prototype; Test & Evaluate; Produce & Share); Tips for interviewing, when seeking to understand the problem; Brainstorming best practices; Rapid prototyping; Empathy mapping; Customer journey map; and crafting powerful “How Might We” questions.

Gray and Katie encouraged students to “build to think!” This approach emphasized action over protracted thought: it encouraged teams to build prototypes as a way to test their design and learn how to improve programs and services, rather than focusing all efforts on the planning stage and becoming overly attached to one singular method or outcome.


Students prototype for their peers, addressing the question: “How might we improve the online learning process?”

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Peter Frumkin (Faculty Director, Center for Social Impact Strategy) led students through negotiation strategies. Workshop modules included identifying the negotiator’s BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement), creating value, anchoring the negotiation, framing the offer, and closing the negotiation. Students worked with one another to simulate a negotiation.



Saturday, March 10th, 2018

On the final day of the convening, students took a two-hour tour of Eastern State Penitentiary, the world’s first penitentiary (built in 1821). Today, Eastern State Penitentiary combines history with interpretive exhibits on incarceration and the criminal justice system, throughout their multi-acre campus. This cohorts’ tour provided the basis for continued discussion of Eastern State Penitentiary as a case study when the students reconvene in August.

For more information on the Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy, head over to the program landing page on National Arts Strategies’ website.