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What are your core values?

If I asked you what your core values are, what would you say? 

If you’re running a company the answer should trip off your tongue. Mission, vision statements, and core values are integral to non-profit organizations. But I would argue that any arts organization should do the work of figuring this out, and letting folks know. 

Your mission statement is what you do, and what makes you unique in the way you do it.

Your vision statement is a future look at what the world will look like if you succeed in doing your work.

Your core values are two or three words (or short statements, but I prefer words) that mean so much to you you’d rather go out of business than go against them. What does that mean? If your core value, as an organization, is new work then doing Macbeth is problematic. If your core value is respect and your artistic director is a bully, that’s a problem. 

As an artist, and a human being, establishing your core values provides you with a compass that guides your decision making. Decisions about who to work with, what work you should do, what efforts you need to support. 

Core values can change over time. Since they represent deep beliefs, I’m going to suggest you keep the list short. Then run everything by them and check on your alignment.

This exercise is not easy, at least it hasn’t been for me. When you’re doing them for yourself, know that there aren’t wrong answers. They’re your answers. Be honest with yourself. Write down your core values, and your meaning for the words.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, has created this list. It’s a great place to start.
Have you downloaded the “Setting the Groundwork” worksheet I’ve created? It will help you dive deeper on this conversation about your core values, and set the foundation on which you build your artistic identity.



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