Governance of Public Cultural Institutions
Boards of cultural institutions frequently draw public criticism. The most common issues are (lack of) acceptance of responsibility, intransparent decision-making, reciprocal internal control between the bodies or the organisation’s relationship with the public sector. Employees and board members should be familiar with the tasks and duties of the respective bodies. Only if the committees work together effectively can the institution become a shining beacon of culture.
Effective committee work: Dos and Don'ts
In order to ensure a smooth collaboration, particular attention should be paid to the following points:
In addition to the charter, rules of procedure should be defined for the respective committees. These rules should prescribe a clear code of conduct and a catalogue of tasks. They should be transparent and free of ambiguity. A compliance officer may also be appointed to monitor adherence to the rules of procedure, division of tasks and responsibilities.
Committees work particularly well when their members bring a diversity of expertise to the table. For example, instead of equipping a cultural organisation only with academic specialists, it is helpful to bring together a range in expertise: Entrepreneurship, politics, law as well as marketing are areas that need to be represented. Running an organisation involves a variety of tasks that are not purely technical. They can only be fulfilled if they are reflected in the competencies of the members. It should also be noted that advisory board members are often volunteers and do not necessarily have many years of board experience. It is therefore recommended to support advisory boards through further training. This way, they can meet the constantly changing operational demands and their positions of responsibility in the long term.
It is essential to avoid appointing people to a board of trustees or an advisory board whose individual professional interests are too closely intertwined with those of the organisation. Personal interests are always an element of motivation, but should be kept to a minimum. Of course, it is important that advisory boards not only identify with the institution's idealistic purpose, but that they can also open new doors for it. Ideally, the advisory board serves as an additional social figurehead for the organisation and as a pool of experts from whose experience the institution's management can benefit in its everyday work. Otherwise, mutual dependencies or even nepotism can arise.
The collaboration of the committees works particularly well when their competences complement each other, thus creating a platform for dialogue. If the bodies' work together effectively, the organisation can function at its best.