ISSUE 10 | VOLUME 3 | June 2009


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Dear Readers,

In challenging economic times, many arts & culture professionals are facing lay-offs or work in organizations where lay-offs have recently occurred. Higher levels of stress are to be expected on both sides as some face a job search in an uncertain climate and others the possibility of longer hours, more duties and fewer resources. Fortunately, there are ways that you can address stress and related issues. We hope you find the suggestions below useful.

As always, we welcome your comments and input at and let us know how we can help.

Geri Thomas, President


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Take a little time to adjust
Even though you thought you were prepared for possible lay-offs, it will still seem like a shock. Right now the economy is the major perpetrator – don’t blame yourself or spend too much time thinking about what you should or could have done to prevent losing your job. You may experience all or several stages of the grieving process – denial, anger, resistance, sadness, and finally acceptance. You will have good days and bad.

Be positive
Avoid negative people and situations and seek the support of family, friends, and partners. While the current state of affairs may seem unfathomable, downturns and upturns, especially in arts & culture, are cyclical. Accept this and prepare yourself for when the upside occurs – work on your resume; network with colleagues; enhance your skills by enrolling in a professional development seminar or sign up for a career advisory session or some other form of coaching.

Take care of your health
Regular exercise and sleeping patterns, relaxation techniques, and healthy eating are more important than ever during the stress of unemployment.

Seek professional help when you need it
If you are overly anxious or feeling despair, speak with someone you trust or a mental health professional – don’t remain isolated. If you are at a loss as to what to do next regarding your career or your next position, seek career advice and assistance from a reputable arts & culture firm.

Have fun and do things that give you pleasure
Be aware of your budget but don’t avoid the activities and recreations that you enjoy. Fun is as essential to health as sleep, food and exercise and can also provide you with opportunities to refocus, meet new people and concentrate on personal interests.


Be realistic
Due to the present economy, lay-offs may be the only way that some arts & culture organizations and businesses can stay solvent. Don’t feel unnecessary guilt at “surviving” a round of lay-offs. Be as supportive as possible of those who are leaving: let them know you will be happy to provide references and networking contacts.

Be forward-thinking and team-oriented
Realize that your job, far from being in peril, may be more important now than ever before. You may be asked to do more with fewer resources or staff assistance. Be proactive in finding ways to share new responsibilities creatively and effectively, but don’t feel that you have to be in two places at once. Instead, focus on your skills and apply them towards definite goals, both short and long-term. Stick to reasonable work practices and avoid overstaying at the office.

Reinvent your personal work space
Don’t let stress or anticipated fall-out from a recent round of lay-offs poison your work environment. Spruce up your personal work space and ask your employer about group activities for the office - bring in a masseuse, or plan a group night out. Be aware of what you enjoy about your work and your work environment and think of ways to further accentuate those things.

Be open with your employer and yourself
If you are feeling profound stress or anxiety related to work, be open with your employer about your feelings. Ask for feedback about your current output and ways of moving forward professionally. See if you can schedule a day off or move vacation time up. The most important part of controlling your own emotions is acknowledging them. Professional counseling may be helpful, even in the short term.

These links may be useful for further suggestions concerning stress, burn-out and challenges facing arts & culture organizations:

Barry Hessenius: Burn-Out - Recognizing It; Dealing With It (May 10, 2009)

John Killacky: Survival Strategies for the Arts

Geri Thomas to Speak at Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, MI
SAVE THE DATE! Thomas & Associates, Inc. is pleased to announce Geri Thomas’s invitation to speak at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI, this coming November 6th on building lasting career paths in the arts & culture industry. President of Thomas & Associates, Inc., Ms. Thomas will address an audience of students, alumni and faculty as well as cultural leaders and professionals from the area. If you or a colleague you know will be in or near Grand Rapids for that date, we would love to see you there! Further details will be forthcoming: contact David V. Griffin at or 212-779-7059 with any questions.
Arts & Business Council Panel on Career Issues Attended by Sold-Out Audience

On May 12, Geri Thomas participated in “Navigating an Arts Career in These Economic Times,” a panel hosted by the Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA) of the Arts & Business Council. Ms. Thomas was joined by four emerging arts administrators representing four different career situations for a unique “inverse panel” style conversation.

The panel addressed a sold-out audience of over a hundred arts & culture professionals and took place at the historic Con Edison Building’s Edison Room in Manhattan. The panelists’ conversation touched on issues such as determining if an organization is a good employer; enhancing job security; and working as a freelancer.

Ms. Thomas was pleased to work with ELNYA and the Arts & Business Council on this important program and extends her thanks to her fellow panelists: Sonya Reynolds, arts market analyst and Arts Administrator for United Creators; Chris Henderson, Creative Director of Moviehouse; Maria Nicole Smith, Grants Officer at The Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation; and Linda Rondinelli, Development & Marketing Manager for Poets & Writers, Inc.

AAM Session Addresses Gender Bias in Arts & Culture Professions

During this year’s American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Geri Thomas and Marsha Semmel, Co-chairs of the upcoming ArtTable Study on Women in the Visual Arts; Philadelphia Art Museum Interim Director, Gail Harrity, and Dena Muller, Executive Director of ArtTable presented a session entitled, "Women in Leadership: Changes in Museum and Arts Management," on Saturday, May 2.

The AAM session covered a wide range of topics - education and mentoring; entry into the field and career paths; retention, compensation and job satisfaction - all a prelude to ArtTable's upcoming study on the status of women's roles in visual arts professions. This study will seek to address key challenges in the workforce, the mechanisms that perpetuate gender bias and the need to move the discussion from anecdotal evidence into statistical and analytical examination. Over 120 people attended this timely and provocative discussion.

ArtTable is the leading membership organization for women in the visual arts and is headquartered in New York City with chapters nationwide. Visit the website at for further information.

Contact Us for Information on Speaking Engagements!

Geri Thomas and the Senior Associates at Thomas & Associates, Inc., are available for speaking engagements, seminars and panels to address career services, recruitment, outplacement and staffing and human resources topics for arts & culture organizations. With years of experience we understand the industry and tailor remarks and content to serve the needs and interest of your audience.

For scheduling, please call David V. Griffin at 212-779-7059 or e-mail for more information.


As always, we welcome your comments and input at
Confidentiality is always assured.

About Thomas & Associates, Inc. /
Thomas & Associates, Inc. is an innovative firm that offers staffing, consulting, and professional development workshops for museums, galleries and arts and culture businesses nationwide and internationally. The company has recently launched its career services division to address the needs of arts and culture professionals everywhere.

For employment opportunities and to subscribe to the quarterly newsletter, Art Career News, visit

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