Photo courtesy of Munson Steed
Jai McClendon Jones is the visionary and executive artistic director of Atlanta’s Resource for Entertainment & Arts (AREA). As an entrepreneur and philanthropist, ]she prides herself in bringing out the confidence of youth through her artistic development initiatives while spreading the joy of entertainment for adults.
Jones described how she helps young people develop leadership skills at AREA.How does dance impact a young person’s confidence?
I always say it’s more than just dance. When you tap into the divine gifts that we all have, you must nurture, mold and shape them for the good. They can develop into a beautiful harvest of possibilities. Just as a person is being nurtured, molded and shaped, it is the same process for a young dancer. Together, it builds a limitless whole person. I am into making whole people. Confidence is just one attribute developed with this process, and being a purveyor of this transformative process with youth through the arts is my divine gift.What is your approach to developing talent and leadership?
“The good to great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results,” James C. Collins said. As the quote states, I am not a person that believes I am bigger than anyone.
I am a collaborative servant leader. I like for my team to feel involved and I listen to them. I lead by example and allow everyone to flourish in their respective roles within AREA. I am not a micromanager but I am hands-on. This is because as a dance educator first, you must have a heart of selflessness, patience, and desire to truly make someone else better. It’s been amazing to develop and build key team members from within AREA.
What is your vision for AREA?
AREA … is not only an award-winning multi-disciplinary arts organization but an environment that fosters growth, learning and expression in the performing arts. [It’s] an idea that stemmed from the marriage of the arts and business at its best. I cultivated AREA as a means for giving back and creating a space for artists to cultivate and grow in their craft, and where the community as a whole can be a part of the process. The AREA brand is a reflection of me. It’s vibrant, a change agent, innovative, fresh, high-quality, inclusive and limitless. Our brand tagline is, “My AREA Has No Limits,” and we embody all of that.
Source: Rolling Out