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Urbanist and author Diana Lind will lead the Arts + Business Council for Greater Philadelphia

June 13, 2019 Category: FeaturedLongPeople

Yesterday the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia announced that Diana Lind will become the executive director of the Arts + Business Council for Greater Philadelphia.

According the announcement, Lind is an urban policy specialist and writer with a background in non-profit management that includes leading the Fels Policy Research Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, serving as the editor in chief of Next City, and as a founding adviser to NewCities.

“Diana’s superb policy credentials and understanding of how nonprofits operate will help take the Arts + Business Council to the next level of leadership in Greater Philadelphia’s extraordinary creative economy,” said Rob Wonderling, the Chamber’s president and CEO, via the release announcing the appointment “We are so thrilled to have someone with Diana’s extensive knowledge joining the Chamber.”

Arts + Business Council Advisory Board Chair Alan Jacobson, president of Exit Design + J2 Design also commented on the announcement: “Diana’s creative writing talent and tremendous professional experience matched with a focus on design, makes her an ideal individual to lead the Council at this exciting time.”

Although she doesn’t start at the Council until July 8, Lind was willing to respond to Generocity‘s emailed questions about her new job.

Generocity: What intrigues you about leading this organization? How do you see your background dovetailing with the needs and demands of the position?

Lind: From the moment I first learned about the Arts & Business Council a few years ago, I was excited about this cause. I grew up wanting to be a novelist, started my career writing about architecture and design, worked in media, led a nonprofit — through all these experiences I grew very familiar with the joys and challenges that come with creative work.

At the same time, I’ve spent a lot of my career writing and learning about urban policy in cities around the world. As a result I’m deeply interested in the levers of economic development, particularly here in Philly. So it’s just extremely exciting to combine such varied interests in one juicy role.  What’s more is that I get to do that within the Chamber of Commerce — a 219-year-old institution that is smartly thinking about how to advance its goals in new ways and is an amazing platform to connect with the business community.

From our Partners

Generocity: How do nonprofit sensibilities and experiences enrich and/or inform partnerships with for-profits?

Lind: I’m really excited about the opportunity to connect with the nonprofit arts and culture community through this job. I know the pain points of running a nonprofit, and some of our programs have been created with them in mind. Our program Business Volunteers for the Arts is a perfect example — we match business professionals willing to lend their expertise with arts organizations who could use some pro bono consulting and manpower. Business on Board similarly focuses on matching business leaders with arts and culture nonprofit boards.

Generocity: Tell me about your vision for the Arts + Business Council. What aspects of the work are you really looking forward to diving into first?

Lind: I haven’t even started my job yet, but my vision for the ABC is that it will be a more robust, influential player in the arts, culture and business scenes. I’d also love to see us broaden what we think of as the “arts” (see more on this in your question below). There is so much potential, and the programs that currently exist at the ABC are just the beginning.

Generocity: In looking at the Arts + Business Council’s advisory board I see a number of folks from big budget, large arts “anchor” organizations and relatively few representatives of community arts organizations. Give me a sense of how [ABC] currently engages community arts organizations, and any thoughts you may have about how [it] addresses the disparity in resources and funding for large arts organizations and small, ethnic and low-income community-serving arts organizations.

Lind: These are good questions to which I don’t have the answers just yet. I assume I could answer them more knowledgeably next month. I’m quite certain that many community arts organizations are involved in other programs of the ABC (please also check out organizations that won awards last month such as Philadelphia Young Playwrights, REC Philly, Little Giant, etc.) but may not have spots on the advisory board. That being said, I’m eager to expand what we think of as the “arts” — not just to include community arts organizations, but more broadly creative entrepreneurs.

Generocity: As a writer you know narratives from the inside out. What is Philadelphia’s arts and business narrative as you know it and as you envision it? 

Lind: Philadelphia has an amazing arts community and an amazing business community. The two could be better linked and that’s where this organization comes in. I’d love to say that Philadelphia is the best city in the country to be a part of the creative economy, and my mission is to make that happen and demonstrate it with solid metrics like job growth, business expansion, volunteer hours, and more.


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