by Vicki Stroich
Dramaturg and Arts Administrator
Theatre is one of the most social and collaborative artistic practices there is. The transition to a leadership role in an organization was an exciting challenge for me. Given how I had worked before, the biggest challenge ended up being how isolated I felt.
“It’s lonely at the top” is a common phrase meant to normalize that feeling of isolation. I cringe when people say that phrase now but I used to accept it without question.
The complexity of the challenges that are part of running an organization today created a whole bubbling universe in my head that staff and others in my immediate circle didn’t always need to see. But I needed to process parts of it somewhere.
Whether you are in a leadership role at your organization or not, working at a non-profit arts and culture organization of any size can be stressful and stress is a lonely place to be. I’ve read a lot of online articles about stress posted by other artists and arts administrators on Facebook. You may have to.
But who do you reach out to for support?
The first time I attended a PACT Conference I made connections with people I respected and who just plain made me laugh. I realized quickly that there is no reason to wait for the conference each spring to access that support network. An email, a phone-call or dinner when I am in someone’s town reminds me that I am not alone and, I hope, reminds my peers that they are not alone either.
As many of us start new seasons, I would encourage you to look up from your lonely peak this year and wave at someone standing on theirs. Send one of your peers a note, give them a call or invite them to go for a walk if they are nearby. It’s lonely at the top but it doesn’t have to be.