JAY KATZ is an Arts Consultant and Executive Coach, who is a former board member of ACCA |

Arts Consultants have long been offering their services to help Arts organizations in their management and planning. In recent years, a different form of consulting has become available to Arts organizations – that of Coaching. Many Arts consultants already engage in coaching activities as part of their consulting work. However, following on the growth of coaching as a tool for developing and supporting managers and leaders in the private sector, more and more arts organizations are now hiring coaches, independent of other consulting projects. This can be demonstrated by the Ontario Arts Council’s recent inclusion of Coaching among the types of consulting projects for which it provides support through grants.

The growing popularity of coaching can be attributed to the experience of its benefits. Two of the more widely quoted studies on coaching in the private sector have cited demonstrable improvements in organizations which used coaching:

Birkeland, et al (1997) and Davis and Petchnik (1998) studied the impact of coaching on executives at Amoco Corporation (now part of British Petroleum) over a ten year period. They found that coached executives whose compensation was based on performance had 50% higher raises than colleagues who weren’t receiving coaching.

In the February 19, 2001 issue of Fortune Magazine, Anne Fisher cited a study of the return on investment from coaching. Executives from Fortune 1,000 companies who had been coached between six and twelve months, described an average return of $100,000 from their improved performances as a result of coaching, which was approximately six times the average cost of the coaching provided.

These studies are part of a large body of research which defines and measures the benefits to organizations who hire coaches for their managers and executives. In addition to the widely accepted benefits of coaching, there are also particular benefit for arts organizations.

Why Coach Arts Managers?
Coaching is proven to benefit the organizations in all industries whose managers and executives have been coached. Aside from that, there are circumstances that are specific to the Arts, which invite coaching opportunities. Many Arts managers are artists or creators who have taken on administrative responsibilities out of necessity. Many prove to be quite adept managers, though this lack of formal management training reveals an opportunity to expand and fortify administrators’ “management toolkits”.

Arts administrators also often work under generally stressful circumstances. As we know, working long hours, stretching inadequate resources and wearing many management hats simultaneously, are routine for many Arts managers, across all disciplines. Arts managers are frequently required to be adept at both creative “right-brain” competencies and logical “left-brain” competencies. CEOs in the Arts typically report to a board of part-time volunteers. All of these circumstances lend themselves well to benefit from coaching.

Coaching and Consulting – A Comparison
Both Coaching and Consulting help build clients’ capacities by sharing insights and expertise. Beyond that are other similarities and differences, summarized in this table:





Capacity Building

  • Builds capacity through recommendations and plans delivered to an entire organization or group, at the end of a process.
  • Builds capacity of individual managers or groups, which in turn builds the capacities of the organizations where they work.




  • Consultants work with clients to address an explicit situation, and then the clients enact specific plans or recommendations.
  • Usually for the benefit of a group or whole organization.
  • Coaches work in private with clients to address improvement on specific areas or of general competency.
  • Usually focused on one manager/ executive at a time, though it also works with groups.


  • Generally 1 to 6 months
  • Generally 3 to 12 months




Services Provided

  • Provide expertise and insight not available internally.
  • Leave the organization with enhanced capacity.
  • Identify practices/ policies that improve clients’ effectiveness.
  • Provide expertise and insight not available individually.
  • Leave the client (and by transference, their organization) with enhanced capacity.
  • Identify and entrench practices/ policies that improve clients’ effectiveness.
  • Can bridge the competency gap   between planning and implementation, where many organizations stumble.





  • Clients do not always have sufficient resources/expertise to successfully act on consultants’ plans and recommendations.
  • Consultants are typically not involved in implementation.
  • Other factors that lay outside the scope of the specific consulting project can hamper its success.
  • Clients who have severe behavioural problems, have fundamentally different values from their organization or have an inability to examine or adapt their practices do not usually respond to coaching.


Frequency of Client Contact

  • Limited to the specific tasks in the contract, with intermittent additional contact for communications and information gathering purposes.
  • Regularly and frequently occurring throughout the period of the contract, with further intermittent contact as needed.