#ResponsiveMoments with Kate Ladenheim
Meet an organizing team member of Responsive Org’s Future of Work Conference
On September 19–20, 2016, Responsive Org will host its first conference on The Future of Work. In line with the mission of Responsive Org, the members of the organizing team believe it is important to be transparent about why we’re here and what we’re all about. One way to do this is to empower our organizing team members to share their personal opinions and stories…
Who are you?
I am a dance artist based in NYC, and involved in dance in many ways. I’m a choreographer with my company The People Movers, a performer with immersive theater company Third Rail Projects, and I produce a nomadic arts showcase called CRAWL. I also work in design, digital marketing, and advocacy for artists, small businesses, and individuals.
And sometimes, when I’m feeling like I don’t have enough to do*, I help produce conferences!
*this is sarcasm.
Why do you think being Responsive matters?
I’m coming to Responsive movements from a mostly non-profit, hyper-traditional arts background. I’m eager for new ways of thinking about how organizations, funding structures, and independent artists can work together. There’s a survival-based mentality that’s really pervasive in my community — and I always wonder if there’s a way we can shift the priority from surviving to flourishing.
Artists — and especially dance artists — are really fantastic creative problem solvers and abstract thinkers. We’re trained very early on to collaborate across disciplines and personal divides, to put the whole picture before our own priorities, and to approach our work with openness and malleability. However, the organizational structures at play are based on old-school, non-profit business models that traditionally don’t utilize these talents.
Enter Responsive: a movement dedicated to creating transparent, purposeful, unpredictable, malleable organizations that prioritize the wellness of their employees and communities. I’m diving in to see how this kind of thinking can impact the myriad things I do within the dance and arts community.
What’s a Responsive Moment you’ve experienced in your life?
I’m not certain I’ve ever been good at being responsive, as defined by Responsive.org. As a conservatory trained ex-bunhead who has spent most of my life in non-profit arts, the vast majority of my organizational involvement has been in traditional settings.
Based on my experiences with these types of organizations, I believe that this traditional kind of organizational design — particularly in the dance field — perpetuates systems of inequity, and creates an insular, perpetually broke, and exhausted workforce. Additionally, the contemporary dance field is also struggling to maintain audiences and widespread relevance. My work in advocacy and consulting has continually come up against these walls.
As my own projects in dance grow and develop, I want to make sure that my organizations are designed with responsiveness in mind. How do we as a community stay open and transparent when times are stressful? How do we empower artists to advocate for their work and their own value? How do we create supportive networks that allow for diverse perspectives?
I don’t know the answers to these questions — but I’m excited to have found the Responsive community, and to learn how leaders in other industries are navigating these questions and balancing these priorities.