Especially for those arts organizations that are reducing staff, board members must be willing to prioritize their requests, be willing to forego the occasional set or committee minutes or pitch in and write and send a board meeting agenda themselves.
If you natural tendency is to scare people into doing what you want them to do, then you may actually accomplish the opposite. People are more likely to volunteer their time when they feel it is their choice to do so and that their efforts are appreciated.
Our institutions of higher learning have been governed by boards acting independently since our Colonial period. Let us not compromise that most essential (and historic) value--one that has largely worked well--for temporary political expediency.
If board members are not helping to raise money from their friends and associates, they are not performing one of the central responsibilities of board membership. But for many arts organizations, there is a relatively quick fix to this problem.
Boards are biased, too like-minded, made up of friends who are typically cronies uncomfortable with conflict. Worse still, in most of our leading corporations today, the positions of Chairman and CEO are held by the same person.
As I travel the nation and the world speaking to arts leaders, there is one phenomenon I observe virtually everywhere: arts organizations consistently grow to the point where they are slightly uncomfortable financially.