The role and effectiveness of supervisory boards within arts institutions


Arts and culture

Client focus

Governance & context


Board review

Team development

Inquiry & surveys

Tools & methodologies

Psychometric analysis

Team diagnostics

The issue

The environment in which many cultural institutions are operating today is subject to a number of trends and uncertainties that will significantly impact the future of these institutions.

This will include developing the leadership required for the future which may be very different from that required today. We believe that leadership, both at the Trustee or Supervisory Board level, and at the Executive level, will be crucial to success in addressing this changing environment and creating the right environment for successful and appropriate social entrepreneurship within an institution.

Our approach

In collaboration with INSEAD Non Executives Directors (INNED), we began by organizing expert meetings to which we invited 30 of the most distinguished supervisory board. During these expert meetings we discussed the role, position and effectiveness of supervisory boards and their members based on discussion papers and statements.

The feedback from these meetings was then used to setup a seminar in which 100 supervisory board members participated. Here we worked on and discussed the following topics: new generation supervisory board members, tension between the financial and artistic sides of supervision, the benefit of (self) evaluation in supervisory boards, and the need for an organized interest group focusing on cultural governance.

The results

Through these meetings and seminars we were able to identify some key opportunities for creating improvements within the role and approach of the supervisory board. The process very much confirmed the need and benefits of an ongoing discussion of the role and effectiveness of supervisory boards within cultural institutions. There was also recognition of the need for further co-operation between cultural institutions and supervisory boards. Finally, it was agreed that existing boards need to take responsibility for recruiting and educating a new generation of supervisors.