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What Can We Learn from High-Performing Arts Organizations of Color?9756GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​For a few weeks in the Twin Cities last fall, the St. Paul-based Theatre Mu presented an interactive exhibit highlighting the work of Asian artists and performers. While audiences could view the exhibit online, it was created so that they could also walk through display stalls, with social distancing, at the Jungle Theatre. In an innovative twist, people could also view portions of the exhibit from the theatre’s street-facing windows. </p><p>The collaboration between the two theaters, according to Anh-Thu Pham, Theatre Mu’s managing director, allowed the company to keep many of its set designers, captioners, builders and others on the payroll during the pandemic, while offering some respite to a community in lockdown. </p><p>“We were founded with a dual purpose, as a community organization as well as a theatre, and those two threads are woven so deeply into our DNA,” Pham said in a recent panel discussion. “They are part and parcel of everything we do.” </p><p>Those threads, it turns out, are not exclusive to the make-up of Theatre Mu. According to a recent report, many organizations that have grown out of and serve the needs of BIPOC communities (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) have managed to build and sustain a loyal base while audiences at more classical, or Eurocentric, organizations have generally been in&#160; decline for decades. Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts and co-author of a recently published report, <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/The-Alchemy-of-High-Performing-Arts-Organizations-Part-2.pdf"><em>The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations, Part II&#58; A Spotlight on Organizations of Color</em></a>, said that it is in fact their origins in serving communities long ignored by the mainstream that can provide BIPOC organizations with a tangible degree of audience and community loyalty. </p><p>Yet Voss also emphasized that, despite those enviable strengths, BIPOC organizations have rarely been rewarded by funders that have for years sought to encourage precisely the qualities these organizations exhibit—serving diverse audiences, employing many artists of color and a diverse staff, creating more inclusive organizations and reaching into underrepresented and economically disadvantaged communities. “These local organizations are often in competition with the white organizations for funding and they usually lose out to them,” Voss says. “Organizations that are rooted in communities of color receive far less support, recognition and attention both from funders and from society at large.”</p><p>Voss presented these and other key findings from the new report, which is based on the experiences of 21 high-performing BIPOC organizations, with a median budget of $1.4 million (Theatre Mu was one of the organizations). The interviews were conducted in August and September of 2020 and included representatives from dance, music, theater, multidisciplinary performing arts and community-based arts organizations. An earlier report from SMU DataArt’s research, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-alchemy-of-high-performing-arts-organizations.aspx"><em>The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations</em></a><em>,</em> focused on the successful practices of a wider range of organizations. </p><p>Voss and Pham were joined in the panel discussion by representatives from two of the other high-performing organizations in the BIPOC report&#58; Juan Díes, the co-founder and executive director of Sones de Mexico Ensemble, a folk music group based in Chicago, and Blake-Anthony Johnson, the chief executive officer of the Chicago Sinfonietta. The conversation was <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-a-webinar-series-from-the-wallace-foundation-session-5.aspx">the fifth in Wallace’s “Reimagining the Future of the Arts” series</a>, which provides a forum to explore pressing questions in the field. </p><p>In addition to addressing the question of BIPOC organizations’ community orientation, the panelists discussed the quick improvisation and innovation that helped them navigate the pandemic, particularly the full-on embracing of digital content. They relied on the skills they’d honed working for years with tight budgets while retaining a focus on the communities they serve, and they expressed a vital need for increased funding to expand what organizations can accomplish. &#160;</p><p><strong>Survival on a shoestring</strong><strong> </strong><br> Díes of Sones de Mexico told the panel that while his group’s performances have always attracted a broad audience, unbound by geography or culture, audiences have grown even larger with digital performances during the pandemic. But because he is the sole staff member, Díes said, “capacity is a big issue.” He runs the company’s website and educational programs and also arranges new music performances.</p><p>Although Díes is used to wearing all of these administrative hats, he said he has received no additional funding to do so and sometimes finds it a challenge. </p><p>Pham added that Theater Mu shifted to producing digital performances just days after the shutdown. Since then the company has produced more than 40 events, but she said it could not keep up at that pace. “We needed to take a breath,” she said. </p><p>Chicago Sinfonietta, too, has succeeded in extending its reach internationally, finding new audiences for virtual performances in more than 40 countries and enrolling interns digitally from Lebanon and Dubai, according to Johnson. But, he said, the strains on the organization are a constant concern. This has led the Sinfonietta to drop some priorities, while remaining true to the its mission of training BIPOC musicians and organizational leaders to increase the diversity of orchestras. </p><p>He compared the exercise of contending with these limits to juggling balls, some made of glass and some of plastic. Because glass balls would shatter if you let them fall, you keep them up in the air, while you can drop the plastic balls since they will bounce and can be picked up at a later date. “You can do everything, but not all at once,” he said. “You determine what is fundamental and what can wait. You look at what are essentials and what can go for now.” </p><p>All of the panelists stressed how challenging it has been to squeeze more from their organizations, which are already stretched thin, and urged funding organizations themselves to pivot towards supporting increased organizational capacity rather than just performances and programs, the traditional focus. “The top challenge we heard in this research was organizational capacity,” said Voss. “It’s a serious issue that brings concerns of staff burnout, low compensation levels, recruitment and retention issues that can inhibit the organizations’ ability to capitalize on the short-term successes and get to a sense of balance.”</p><p>She added, “Exclusion from equitable access to capital means many organizations of color that want to grow are denied agency.”<br> </p><p><strong>Toward equity in arts funding</strong><br> According to <a href="http&#58;//notjustmoney.us/docs/NotJustMoney_Full_Report_July2017.pdf">an article</a> Voss cites in the BIPOC study&#58; “People of color represent 37 percent of the population, but just 4 percent of all foundation arts funding is allocated to groups whose primary mission is to serve communities of color. It is estimated that approximately one in two Americans is low-income or living in poverty but less than 3 percent of arts foundation funding is directed to cultural groups whose primary purpose is to serve these communities.”</p><p>Voss said the inequities in funding for BIPOC arts organizations were particularly unfortunate because these organizations have succeeded in achieving some of the critical goals various funders have supported in recent years. For instance, many white organizations have struggled to fulfill goals such as increasing diversity in the art they produce and their audience base, while widening access to underserved communities.</p><p>“I heard repeatedly how profoundly relevant these organizations are and that brings me back to how they were founded in the first place,” Voss said. “Usually, there had been no opportunities for artists of color in these communities and these organizations provide that programming. They filled a void, and that sets up a particularly dynamic relationship between the organization and the community. They are funded not just by a few people with deep pockets as much as the whole community having a sense of ownership.”</p><p>Johnson said he has learned that when seeking funding, he must devote a great deal of time to educating funders about how the Sinfonietta trains artists of color, helping them launch careers in music, and helps develop administrative leaders of color, as well as how their support of BIPOC organizations can help organizations achieve such important goals. A key, he said, is making funders aware of the strength of the Chicago Sinfonietta in bringing greater diversity and inclusivity to the orchestral world. “It’s a matter of educating people,” he said. “It’s letting them know that there are options for supporting orchestras, people like us. So it’s a matter of access to those funding organizations and then having the time to do that educating.” <br> </p><p><strong>Building increased capacity</strong><br> One of the consistent challenges, Johnson said, is making the case for funds to expand staff and organizational capacity, not just programs. “Yes, a few funders have been mindful of that need, but it’s such a rare thing,” he said. After giving it some additional thought, he said there had been but a single instance when his organization was offered such funding. </p><p>“These are communities that do not have a lot of high net worth individuals,” Voss said. “They don’t have wealth to pay high ticket prices, rising ticket prices, and they cannot provide high levels of funding. But in the more Eurocentric, white organizations, individual contributions are plentiful and fund growth.”</p><p>She added, “These organizations are in a vicious cycle&#58; we’ll give you less money because you’re smaller but without that money they can’t grow bigger. This is affecting underrepresented communities.”</p><p>Díes agreed, recommending that funders consider providing more multiyear grants to build stability into organizations and offer greater opportunities for them to achieve long-term expansion. He also suggested that the requirements built into some grants that recipients attend financial management courses be dropped. “There’s distrust built in there, like we don’t know how to manage money,” he said, insisting that that was incorrect after 23 years of experience, in his case. “The foundations should trust us.” </p><p>Pham noted a particular problem&#58; While many funding organizations are willing to support youth education programs, they have been reluctant to fund programs for adults. These sorts of adult-education programs can be especially helpful in training BIPOC artists who are eager to develop careers as actors or stage designers. “That’s a disparity that I run into,” she said.</p><p>Voss said the funding challenges are serious but she was still optimistic about the path forward, especially as lockdowns lift, arts venues reopen and arts organizations are able to build on the lessons they have learned from going digital during the pandemic.</p><p>“There has been a lapse in how the model is supposed to work,” Voss said. “But the field at large has so much to learn from the strong BIPOC organization leaders. What we don’t want to see any more is one kind of organization pitted against another.”<br></p><p><em>Top photo&#58;&#160;Sones de Mexico Ensemble&#160;by Henry Fajardo​</em><br></p>James Sterngold 1122021-06-02T04:00:00ZAs the arts sector looks toward re-opening, a new report offers lessons from successful organizations run by and serving BIPOC communities6/2/2021 6:07:16 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What Can We Learn from High-Performing Arts Organizations of Color As the arts sector looks toward re-opening, a new report 313https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Orchestrating Digital Arts Programming to Meet the Moment22032GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​​​​​As various performing arts organizations across the country venture toward reopening, many have been forever changed by the pandemic. Some of these changes have been positive for both organizations and audiences—shifting away from status quo and toward new levels of innovation and accessibility. One such shift has been the widespread adoption of digital programs. Indeed, a study, <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/covidstudy/" target="_blank"><em>Culture Track&#58; Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis</em></a>, conducted during 2020 and commissioned by Wallace, has uncovered a high level of participation in digital programs during the pandemic.</p><p>To further explore the crucial role of digital in the performing arts, we recently connected with two grant recipients from Wallace’s <a href="/knowledge-center/building-audiences-for-sustainability/pages/default.aspx">Building Audiences for Sustainability</a> initiative, which ended in 2019&#58; Seattle Opera and Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Marketing Director Kristina Murti at Seattle Opera and Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes and Managing Director Emika Abe at Woolly Mammoth shared insights from their respective organizations’ creation of digital programs, highlighting some of the advantages and challenges that they’ve experienced. The interviews have been edited for length and clarity. </p><p> <strong>Looking back at the past year, what one piece of digital content do you think was your most successful, interesting, significant or surprising? And why?</strong></p><p> <strong>Goyanes&#58;</strong> In many ways, Woolly Mammoth was built to meet a moment like this, as risk-taking and innovation are at the core of what we do. From the outset of the pandemic, we wanted to create opportunities to continue to spark conversation through theatre and to quickly provide jobs for artists and technicians who were left unemployed. We decided to commission two works specifically for alternative mediums. It feels important to talk about both since they were both significant for us, and also so different from each other, which really showcases how wide-ranging this type of content can be.&#160;</p><p>The first was commissioning the Telephonic Literary Union to create <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcmSt8x4h0" target="_blank"><em>Human ​Resources</em></a>, which repurposed a customer service hotline into an intimate audio anthology for remote times. The project contained audio experiences written by authors of color, employed actors from all over the country, and spurred audiences to listen, reflect and try to find the “Super Secret Happiness Code” embedded within the hotline. As evidence of its success, six months later, <em>Human&#160;Resources</em> had a future life—The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presented the piece for their local community last month. </p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kjPJbg0cwE" target="_blank"><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Orchestrating-Digital-Arts-Programming-to-Meet-the-Moment/this-is-who-i-am.jpg" alt="this-is-who-i-am.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></a>The second project, <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kjPJbg0cwE" target="_blank"><em>This is Who I Am​​</em></a>, was a co-commission with New York City’s Play Company for Playwright and Director Amir Nizar Zuabi to write a play specifically for our current digital platform, <a href="https&#58;//www.woollyondemand.net/auth" target="_blank">Woolly on Demand</a>. Zuabi embraced that challenge completely and wrote the story of two characters, a Father and his Son, meeting on video chat with the hope of overcoming their estrangement. This fully realized production was rehearsed and performed entirely remotely, with its two actors, Ramsey Faragallah and Yousof Sultani, performing nightly from their own kitchens. We shared the play through a five-way co-production with American Repertory Theater in MA, The Guthrie Theater in MN and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.&#160;</p><p> <strong><a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwjUaBA9j0E" target="_blank"><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Orchestrating-Digital-Arts-Programming-to-Meet-the-Moment/don-giovanni.jpg" alt="don-giovanni.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />​</a>Murti&#58;</strong> In my opinion, our <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwjUaBA9j0E" target="_blank"><em>Don Giovanni</em></a>, recorded in January, was our most significant opera recording this season.&#160; It was the second full opera we recorded, and the first work we did not record in our main performance hall. There’s a lot of assumptions in opera about “how things need to be” and the idea of recording a “performance” outside of our main performance hall was not something we were seriously considering earlier in the pandemic—until we needed to, and then we decided to build a sound/film studio in our administration/operations center. We also recorded the audio separately from the staging and synced everything together in a pretty seamless way. The idea that we could record the performance “off-site” brought confidence to our next project, <a href="https&#58;//youtu.be/O35L90nbSVI" target="_blank"><em>Flight</em></a>, which was recorded really off-site&#58; at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. That project is most certainly the pinnacle of what we’ve done so far but having <em>Don Giovanni</em> under our belt and producing opera in an entirely new way was crucial to being able to put together an amazing product like <em>Flight</em>.&#160; </p><p> <strong>What has been the biggest challenge that your organization has faced while reconfiguring its programming for the digital space? </strong><u> </u></p><p> <strong>Abe&#58;</strong> It’s hard to pinpoint what the biggest challenge has been, as there have been so many! </p><p>One challenge has been that in undertaking new digital projects, we really went back to being beginners, even though Woolly has been around for 41 years. At first, we didn’t know what types of professionals we needed to engage to create work online. As we were seeking an outlet to share our work virtually, new hosting and streaming platforms for the theatre community were rushing into existence to tap into a new market. We had to evaluate our options without any particular expertise on our staff about video formatting or ways to stream from your computer to your television. At least we can say with confidence that we know a lot more now than we did a year ago.</p><p>Fortunately, because so many other theatres were making similar pivots into the digital sphere, we were able to turn to our colleagues for guidance—and then later on, to share our own insights with others. It has been heartening to see the many ways in which the theatre industry has come together to collaborate and support each other through this pandemic.</p><p> <strong>Murti&#58;</strong> We have not been able to use our main performance venue, McCaw Hall, consistently as a recording site so we have had to <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoEUBC7wm0o" target="_blank">reimagine</a> several of our Opera Center spaces as movie sets. Due to social distancing requirements and space considerations, we also had to record the music separately from the staging. These two issues were challenging but allowed us to think way outside of the box. As mentioned, <em>Flight</em>, which premiered this month, takes place in an airport terminal and was filmed on location at The Museum of Flight, an impressive museum filled with aircraft and large spaces that feels very much like an airport. No opera stage set will ever match the scale and brilliance of being at that location for this opera.&#160; </p><p> <strong>Was there any type of program you tried along the way that didn’t work, or didn’t work as expected? If so, what did you learn from this experience?</strong></p><p> <strong>Murti&#58;</strong> We’ve really experimented a lot with community programming. What format works?&#160; Should they occur at a specific date and time? Do we take reservations? Do we pre-record the entire talk and then edit into a more formal video? What’s the best length?&#160; We’ve tried a lot of things here and continue to experiment.&#160; </p><p>In general, I’d say we’ve found that shorter (20-minutes or less) is better than longer. We are still trying to determine whether it’s better to have a Zoom-style event with a set date and time, which people can join and feel like they are part of the discussion, or an event that is pre-recorded.&#160; </p><p> <strong>Goyanes&#58;</strong> Close to the beginning of the pandemic, we decided to experiment in the learning space, specifically offering classes entitled “Woolly for the Body, Mind and Spirit.” We offered a dance class, a class that paired a contemporary book with a contemporary play that Woolly had produced, as well as an acting class specifically geared for video audition techniques. We have not offered classes like this at Woolly in a long time, and we struggled with enrollment for many reasons, not the least of which was that we were launching this while COVID-19 numbers were high in the summer of 2020. The emotional toll of the pandemic, as well as the isolation, has been hard on our staff and our audiences. While we are energized by class ideas, in hindsight we needed more time for our community to wrap its head not only around what shelter-in-place meant, but also what it meant for Woolly to move into an intentionally educational space again. Another takeaway was that we learned to stick to what we do best and adapt it to the moment, rather than launch entirely new offerings for our audience. </p><p> <strong>Have there been any unexpected advantages to presenting virtual programming? If so, what does this success look like? </strong></p><p> <strong>Murti&#58;</strong> I touched on this earlier with the idea of separating the audio and staging recordings—that is something we did not consider last summer but has allowed us to expand into new and different locations and possibilities. We are currently planning where to record our upcoming <em>Tosca</em> and are considering one of the most beautiful cathedrals in our city. <br> <br> Another advantage to virtual programming is the ability for people to watch the opera more than once.&#160; We’ve found that a lot of people do this. For<em>The Elixir of Love</em>, our subscribers watched the opera on average 1.8 times. We keep each of our digital programs available to subscribers for three weeks following their online premiere, and many have reported watching early on and then again later on.&#160; </p><p> <strong>Do you expect to incorporate digital programs into your regular programming in a post-pandemic landscape? If so, how?</strong> </p><p> <strong>Murti&#58;</strong> Yes, although what this looks like is very much evolving. Attendance at digital talks have far outpaced what we would have in-person. Seattle has terrible traffic so I believe we will have a hybrid of an in-person and virtual atmosphere for these events going forward. Some opera/musical content will most definitely continue virtually, but we haven’t figured out yet what that will look like in the future.</p><p> <strong>Goyanes&#58;</strong> While we are absolutely eager to bring live in-person theatre back into our programming, we also want to center the idea of abundance in our collaborations, relationships and in the theater we make. One of Woolly’s guiding principles is to reimagine collaboration and community, across industries, communities, disciplines and mediums. Digital programming fits squarely into that reimagining, and we are eager to build upon the experiments of this past year.</p><p>For one, producing in the digital realm greatly increases access to our work. For example, our theatre in downtown DC seats 270 people, and on the last night of our digital production of Amir Nizar Zuabi’s <em>This is Who I Am</em>, we saw upwards of 500 people tune in online, not only from all over the United States, but also from abroad. With a lower ticket price for our online productions, we have also been able to provide greater access by removing a financial barrier for more audiences.</p><p>We know that as vaccinations become widely available and restrictions from the pandemic get lifted, we will face new hurdles. Experts say that COVID-19 or similar viruses will be an ongoing part of our lives. A year ago, as new leaders were stewarding Woolly Mammoth into its next chapter, we were growing our operations and impact. Now, the same growth has been set back and we are not yet sure how long the ramifications of this time will last. Many of our artists are still unemployed and we fear that many will have left our field permanently.</p><p>All that said, we fully believe that Woolly Mammoth’s courage, creativity and sense of possibility will help us chart a path through these and other challenges we face. </p><p> <strong>What advice would you offer an organization who is just beginning their journey in adapting to the digital stage? </strong></p><p> <strong>Murti&#58;</strong> Try to think outside of your normal locations. After a year of this, audiences are going to expect you to do more than simply put your normal in-person event into a digital format.&#160; Virtual content should be designed with that in mind, as it takes just as long to figure out as an in-person event. Everyone has been surprised at how long it takes to edit a full-length opera. We’re doing it in about 2-3 weeks and it’s a real push to get it completed.</p><p> <strong>Abe&#58;</strong> Now that there is a lot of material out in the world online, check out what you’re interested in to get a sense of the breadth of different ways that artists are creating in all sorts of digital mediums. Are you interested in interactive shows? Live or filmed? Take note of what engages you, what makes for ease of experience, what feels satisfying. And then reach out to folks at those theatres. Ask questions with curiosity and gratitude – take the advice that serves you and chart your own path. Just like there is no one way to make theatre, there is no one way to make theatre online.</p><p> <em>For more information on Seattle Opera’s and Woolly Mammoth Theatre’s full range of digital programming, please visit their websites&#58; </em><a href="http&#58;//www.seattleopera.org/" target="_blank"><em>www.seattleopera.org</em></a><em> and ​</em><em><a href="http&#58;//www.woollymammoth.net/" target="_blank">www.woollymammoth.net</a></em></p>Wallace editorial team792021-05-11T04:00:00ZFrom obstacles to achievements and everything in between, two performing arts leaders share tales of creating art for the digital environment5/11/2021 2:23:04 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Orchestrating Digital Arts Programming to Meet the Moment From obstacles to achievements and everything in between, two 396https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
How Can Arts Organizations Better Serve the Communities They Work In?26252GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​​​​When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live performances last spring, Anna Glass, executive director of the Dance Theater of Harlem (DTH), said the company was thrown off balance but still needed to respond to its changed circumstances. So, despite having little technical knowledge, equipment or experience with virtual presentations, staffers quickly started to prepare and post online digital dance performances. Improvised though it was, this attempt to reach people produced an unexpected result&#58; the discovery of a previously unknown global audience, stretching from California to the Bahamas and Brazil.<br></p><p>“What we were most shocked by was to see how beloved this institution is worldwide. That was a surprise because DTH has been through a lot of turmoil,” Glass said, referring to a period from 2004 to 2012 when financial difficulties shuttered the venerable dance company. “But we were surprised to find that having been out of sight for a while did not mean we were out of mind. There was a hunger to see what we are and what we do.”</p><p>Glass said the experience of creating those digital performances has now inspired a stronger desire to find and engage with audiences and to strengthen relationships within and outside of the company. “We had success,” she said of the quick pivot and changed operations during the pandemic. “Not from a financial standpoint, but in giving us a new platform to tell our stories. That lesson has been worth its weight in gold.”</p><p>Dance Theater of Harlem’s experience is not an anomaly. Many arts and cultural organizations over the past year have experimented with new ways to engage their audiences and, frankly, survive.<br></p><p>Under the stresses of the pandemic, economic insecurity and a national reckoning with racial justice, audiences, too, have been seeking out ways (especially in online offerings) to find community through the arts. This desire for connection was borne out in a broad survey conducted last year during the early months of the pandemic and described in a report, <a href="https&#58;//sloverlinett.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Centering-the-Picture-full-report-CCTC-Wave-1-findings.pdf"><em>Centering the Picture&#58; The role of race &amp; ethnicity in cultural engagement in the U.S.</em></a><em>,</em> by Slover Linett Audience Research and LaPlaca Cohen, an arts marketing company. The researchers surveyed 124,000 people from different racial and ethnic groups from April 29 to May 19, 2020, to find out how they interacted with arts and culture organizations and what changes they might like to see. The responses generally struck three overriding themes&#58;<br></p><ol><li>Organizations could become more community- and people-centered; </li><li>They could offer more casual and enjoyable experiences; and </li><li>They could provide more engaging and relevant content that is reflective of the communities they serve. </li></ol><p>Further, BIPOC (or Black, indigenous and people of color) respondents were even more likely than white respondents to express an interest in changes in the arts and cultural organizations they frequented, reflecting trends that had already been under way in many communities. </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/How-Can-Arts-Organizations-Better-Serve-the-Communities-They-Work-In/desire-for-change-in-cultural-sector.jpg" alt="desire-for-change-in-cultural-sector.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><strong><br>​At the Nexus of Art and Community</strong><br></p><p>These themes and the survey itself provided an anchor for the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-a-webinar-series-from-the-wallace-foundation-session-4.aspx">fourth edition of Wallace’s Arts Conversation Series</a>, which began with the question&#58; How can organizations respond to what their communities need most, especially in light of the continuing pandemic? Glass was one of the panelists. </p><p>Nancy Yao Massbach, president of the Museum of Chinese in America, in New York City, and also one of the panelists, said the theme of being community centered resonated with her organization as well, adding that the museum staff felt a keen need to remain connected with a community suffering under the lockdown. “It’s not just a desire for changes to make the museum more accessible,” she said. “It is an urgency.” &#160; </p><p>Noting &#160;that the museum’s online offerings on the Chinese community’s experience in the United States and artifacts relating these Chinese-American stories, all free, had experienced a 10- to 20-fold increase in viewers since the pandemic, Massbach said she and others at the museum did not want this new engagement to be temporary but to continue once venues reopened. Massbach’s words were echoed by Glass and Josephine Ramirez, executive vice president of The Music Center in Los Angeles, the third panelist. All suggested that their organizations had successfully pivoted from survival mode toward a rebirth of sorts, devising creative ways to connect with their audiences—and with their peers. </p><p>Ramirez said that The Music Center’s efforts to find innovative ways to offer virtual performances, such as turning traditional live summer dance events into online dance-teaching sessions, gave the organization a way to provide useful content to audiences while keeping the dancers employed, an important institutional objective. It has also led to a greater degree of internal communication and collaboration among staff members at The Music Center, which houses four resident companies and produces a variety of performances and educational experiences. In a follow-up conversation, Ramirez said it was essential for staff members to become “unstuck” and break free of their tried and true ways of preparing performances to better respond to, engage with and build audiences during the shutdown. This often involved tweaking some job responsibilities. </p><p>“Everyone had to learn something new and different,” she said. “Under those circumstances, we had to communicate more than ever with staff, to make explicit all the things they needed to do that before were always implicit. We’d never had to do that before. Now we had to communicate more and better on what was expected and new methods. Old expectations were exploded. We had to help people get comfortable with constant change and that meant a lot more and better communication.”</p><p>Massbach said that the Museum of Chinese in America had benefited too from new levels of staff inclusiveness and brainstorming, which has produced innovations such as using the museum’s street-facing windows for exhibits, something not done previously. The organization has also revamped its website to more effectively promote the museum’s recent initiatives, including its response to anti-Asian attacks, the launch of a series how to be an ally and presentations on unsung aspects of the Chinese diaspora in the United States. </p><p><strong>It Takes a Village</strong></p><p>Another key to building audiences and strengthening arts organizations overall has been to seek out greater collaboration within the arts and cultural sector. That has included ideas such as sharing useful information and replacing competition for grant dollars with cooperation, i.e., having nonprofits, particularly those operating within the same racial or cultural communities, jointly apply for—and then share—funding.&#160; &#160;</p><p>To accomplish that, Massbach suggested that funders consider providing grants to what she called a BIPOC “fund of funds,” adapted from a model used in the financial sector—creating an umbrella organization that could collect grants and funds and then allocate the money more equitably among multiple organizations in a particular community. </p><p>“If you have, hypothetically, a thousand small cultural organizations applying for money, and foundations are trying to discern between a thousand, it’s really, really hard,” she said. She went on to elaborate during the panel discussion that if a group of organizations could create that “fund of funds,” or “foundation of foundations,” to guide money toward many different organizations, the money could be distributed more equitably and sustainably. “I don’t want to be the ‘check the box’ Chinese-American organization that gets the funding when other people don’t because it was easier for people to do that work,” she said. </p><p>In another example of field collaboration, Glass said that she has benefited from a spontaneously created forum for New York-based arts and cultural organizations to meet, share ideas and collaborate on advocacy. Launched in March 2020, the virtual meetings were dubbed Culture@3 for their start time. “For the first few meetings we talked about things like how to get hand sanitizer,” Glass said. “Then we started discussing whatever problems came up, things like insurance problems and city funding. It turned into a place of advocacy and support, sharing information. For this field to survive we need to keep these lines of communication open.” </p><p>Lucy Sexton, the executive director of New Yorkers for Culture &amp; Arts, an advocacy group, and one of three people who help run Culture@3, said the effort was having a big impact on the hundreds of organizations that have become regular participants. While meetings were initially held seven days a week, given the enormous need early in the shutdown, they are now on a four-day-a-week schedule. In addition to running the general meetings, the organizers have spun off working groups on such topics as fundraising and human resources. Recently, Sexton said, the group brought in an expert to explain changes in the tax rules for unemployment benefits, and one of their working groups raised $150,000 to provide emergency grants, as much as $500, to artists in need. </p><p>“This has helped us build stronger advocacy for the cultural field,” Sexton said. “We never talked like this before. There was no collaboration, no communication like this.” </p><p>Glass added that her hope was that this collaboration might prevent the sort of panic she recalls experiencing when the shutdown first hit. The sense of helplessness and being caught completely off guard without a viable game plan is something she says she wants to avoid in the future.</p><p>“That’s what’s making me look hard at our business model,” Glass said. “I don’t want us to hit the next catastrophe, and there will be a next one at some point, and I’m curled up in a ball unprepared. Before that catastrophe we need to create a system for when the Bat-Signal goes up, everyone knows what their role is and how to respond.”</p><p>Ramirez agreed and said that, while arts organizations always need to remain focused on financial sustainability, one of the lessons of the pandemic is that opportunities to bring in larger, more diverse audiences should be pursued even if there is no immediate financial return. “For us, it’s about expanding our family, for people to understand who we are and to experience our work,” she said. “It’s really about the expansion of our family more than anything else.” </p>​<br>James Sterngold 1122021-04-27T04:00:00ZPandemic sheds light on what audiences, particularly those in BIPOC communities, want from arts and cultural organizations—and how organizations are responding4/27/2021 4:25:56 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Can Arts Organizations Better Serve the Communities They Work In Pandemic sheds light on what audiences, particularly 370https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Reframing “Success” and “Failure” in The Arts9606GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​Pondering how nonprofit arts organizations can survive the pandemic lockdowns, Elizabeth Merritt, vice president for strategic foresight at the American Alliance of Museums and founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums, turns to evolutionary biology for a model. </p><p>Organisms, she says, have developed two basic survival strategies depending on their environment. </p><p>Those that are known as K-selection live in generally stable environments, which reward steadiness, sturdy structures, slow change and long-range planning. Then there are R-selection organisms, which live in rapidly changing, volatile, hostile environments, that require a skill set centered on nimbleness, risk-taking and an ability to pivot quickly. The simple truth, Merritt says, is that arts organizations have generally moved from the K environment to an R environment due to the pandemic, and most are having to master unfamiliar, flexible strategies to survive in this new Darwinian period. </p><p>“In recent years, arts nonprofits have been pressed to be more like businesses&#58; plan, focus on audiences, earn revenues, measure performance results,” says Merritt. “The irony is that just as that was taking hold, particularly in museums, the whole environment changes. It’s more volatile.”</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Why Scenario Planning? Why Now? </h2><p>Merritt was one of the panelists in the third conversation of Wallace’s series, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-a-webinar-series-from-the-wallace-foundation.aspx">“Reimaging the Future of the Arts.”</a> This installment, moderated by Marc Scorca,&#160;​CEO and president of OPERA America,&#160;focused on <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-a-webinar-series-from-the-wallace-foundation-session-3.aspx">how arts organizations can adapt to uncertainty</a> by utilizing a planning model to develop a range of scenarios on what the future might hold and then preparing multiple strategies to thrive, no matter the environment. Employing a “scenario planning” process is one way of minimizing any surprises or paralysis in the face of unexpected circumstances while ensuring that institutions are creative and flexible enough to try new approaches. </p><p>In kicking off the panel discussion, Daniel Payne, managing principal at AEA Consulting, which provides strategy and planning for creative organizations, introduced a&#160;scenario planning <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-uncertain-times-a-scenario-planning-toolkit-for-arts-culture-sector.aspx">toolkit</a>&#160;that&#160;the organization had recently created. </p><p>While scenario planning, a strategy borrowed from corporate management, can sound liberating, Payne sounded a warning, echoed by other panelists&#58; A scenario planning exercise can create tensions in arts organizations because some parts of arts organizations may be more comfortable experimenting than others. In practice, he said, there can be a disconnect between the artistic side of an organization and “the board mindset, which is frequently focused on preservation, conservation and protection.” This may fall in line with a K-selection (stability) versus an R-selection (risk taking) environment, but panelists agreed that in today’s environment it was essential to bridge the divide.&#160;</p><p>“By necessity, we’re doing things that are experimental, fleeting, transient, not permanent,” Kristina Newman-Scott, the president of BRIC, an arts and media nonprofit in Brooklyn, says in a conversation after the panel. “But that means failure must be a part of it. You have to do things even when you don’t know what it will look like on the other side. You have to realize that can go against the hierarchy we’ve developed, a hierarchy that relies on the money side, and money reinforces the rigidity. I live in that place, where I consistently bump up against that rigidity.”</p><p>Stephanie Ybarra, the artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage, the state theater of Maryland, which produces both professional productions and educational programs, describes a similar tension. “Our idea now is to look to small experiments, to test them and then, if they’re working, scale them up,” Ybarra said in a conversation. “But a key point is that our measure cannot be ticket sales for Baltimore Center Stage. It’s our position in the community, our support for the community. We have to reframe the ideas of success and failure.”</p><p>Such reframing can often challenge any entrenched mindsets. “One of the biggest barriers to being nimble is the feeling that you have to be perfect,” says Merritt. “Lots of times perfect is the enemy of the good, but you don’t have to be perfect. Give us a break! You also have to realize that, sometimes, the risk of not changing is greater than the risk of changing.” </p><p>Any failure in experimenting, she adds, should be seen not as a dead end but a learning opportunity.</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Community Arts + Education </h2><p>At BRIC, as the pandemic shut down theaters and other live venues, Newman-Scott says they were forced to come up with new ways to fulfill the organization’s mission of providing creative opportunities to their Brooklyn community and keep their staff engaged. So, they reached out to the NYC Department of Education and simply asked how BRIC could be of service. &#160;</p><p>Together, they acknowledged the large digital divide affecting lower income families, providing special challenges for remote learning. They developed a plan for teachers to provide raw video from their online classes and lessons, which BRIC’s experienced media producers would then edit into videos played on BRIC’s cable channels. BRIC has six cable channels that reach 500,000 homes in Brooklyn. Even students without good computers or Wi-Fi usually have access to televisions.</p><p>“We know we can’t solve that digital divide, but we thought, we can help move the needle,” says Newman-Scott. “Once we were doing it, we were like, why weren’t we doing this before?”</p><p>And BRIC has gone a step further. “The teachers told us they wanted to learn how to produce those videos themselves, and we said, ‘We will train you,’” she says.</p><p>BRIC also tried to reshape its artists’ incubator program. Normally they would provide studio space to local artists, which allowed them the time to create new works and test them in front of one another. With the studio closed to face-to-face activities, BRIC tried to put the program online. “But we found that some of this just didn’t translate to a virtual environment,” Newman-Scott says. “By its nature, this art isn’t polished. It’s unfinished, experimental. It’s in process, not complete. So, it’s supposed to be educational about the process, but it doesn’t come across as well in the virtual setting.”</p><p>Lesson learned.</p><p>“This is a model that we can develop and that we can share with others,” she says of their own more experimental process. “It keeps challenging us. It challenges our own assumptions about our values and mission.&quot;​<br></p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">A Theatre as Social Hub</h2><p>When the pandemic hit, Ybarra was pleased that the board of the Baltimore Center Stage quickly formed a small group that operated as a brain trust to help the creative staff develop new ideas and to support thoughtful experimentation. One of the early problems they faced was the need to shutter a program that offered matinees for students and the question of what they might do now to reach them.</p><p>The theater had been presenting a one man play, <em>Where We Stand,</em> a Faustian tale in which a man, sickened by years of backbreaking labor, meets a stranger one day on the outskirts of town and is offered a bargain—in exchange for giving the stranger the town’s soul and name, the man would receive health and prosperity. He accepts and then he and the town confront the impact of that choice. The play had just finished a run in New York City and was about to open in Baltimore when the pandemic hit.</p><p>The theater quickly developed a new plan. First, videographers filmed the play to be presented virtually, something that, Ybarra says, they had not done previously. Then they created an educational curriculum for classroom use tied to the Common Core; it was adaptable for 7th to 12th graders, though most viewers were high school students. That was new for Baltimore Center Stage. The investment amounted to just a few thousand dollars and a couple of weeks of work for the staff. </p><p>It proved popular, with about 1,500 students watching online and following the curriculum, with an audience that has now spread far beyond Baltimore, Ybarra says. That has encouraged the theater to build on the success, with board support, to invest more money and build a library of free student-oriented performances, with accompanying study aids. </p><p>“We might monetize it later, but not now,” Ybarra says. “The aim from the start was to learn from the experience.”</p><p>Another experiment involved offering virtual readings of parts of plays—for instance, from <em>The Glass Menagerie</em>—and using them in deeper conversations with an online audience about the crafts of writing, staging and acting. The theater was disappointed that only about 150 people tuned in but is thinking about how it might expand interest and is continuing the series, with a focus on getting “under the hood of a specific aspect of theatermaking,” Ybarra says. </p><p>“This has us thinking about shifting the balance between earned revenue and contributions,” she continues. “Now seems like the time to reposition Baltimore Center Stage as a cultural hub, a civic hub. We want to bring in lots of new stakeholders.”</p><p>Merritt sees continuing this sort of thoughtful experimentation as an aspect of developing strategies for a variety of scenarios. Both the successes and failures should be regarded as positive contributions to the process of adaptation and survival in the more difficult environment. “Being loose and flexible and experimental, it might make audiences happier, and we need to get even better at exploring that,” she says.</p><p>But when the pandemic eventually recedes and theaters reopen to audiences, will organizations simply revert to previous strategies?&#160;</p><p>While she can’t speak for others, Ybarra is firm about Baltimore Center Stage&#58; “Absolutely not!” she says. “We’re just not going back.”<br></p>James Sterngold 1122021-02-16T05:00:00ZWhat arts groups might learn from imagining many possible futures, experimenting and scaling what works2/23/2021 2:48:41 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Reframing “Success” and “Failure” in The Arts What arts groups might learn from imagining many possible futures 366https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Resiliency, Innovation, Courage Key Characteristics to Ensure Survival of The Arts5567GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​As the new year brings thoughts of recovery for arts practitioners and audiences—remember the joy of live performances?—we can learn a lot from looking at research from the past two decades. Researchers Diane Grams and Betty Farrell, for instance, have for the past 15 years helped demonstrate some of the ways the arts have survived and recovered from multiple crises through the years.</p><p>Grams and Farrell were the lead authors and editors of the book <a href="https&#58;//www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/entering-cultural-communities/9780813544953"> <em>Entering Cultural Communities&#58; Diversity and Change in the Nonprofit Arts</em></a> (Rutgers University Press 2008), which explored how to build broader participation in the arts—using data captured during the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. Their work took on greater resonance as the 2008 economic crisis bore down and organizations were once again faced with an uncertain future. Today many organizations are expressing similar concerns (see Wallace’s recent <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-a-webinar-series-from-the-wallace-foundation.aspx">Arts Conversation Series</a> for an example)&#58; that the pandemic and all it has wrought have exacerbated already debilitating factors, with declining arts participation high up on that list. </p><p>The Wallace Blog caught up with Grams and Farrell over email to see what insights they might have for organizations facing today’s challenges. You can also download the first chapter of the book free of charge <a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/Building-Arts-Participation-Through-Transactions-Relationships-or-Both.aspx">here​</a> on our site.&#160;​<br></p><p> <strong>Your book frames the concept of building wider, deeper and more diverse arts participation. Why was this important? And how is that relevant to our situation today? </strong> </p><p> <strong> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Resiliency-Innovation-Courage-Key-Characteristics-Ensure-Survival-The-Arts/Entering-Cultural-Communities-Diversity-Change-Nonprofit-Arts-Chapter-1-a.jpg" alt="Entering-Cultural-Communities-Diversity-Change-Nonprofit-Arts-Chapter-1-a.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;173px;height&#58;261px;" />Grams&#58;</strong> The year 2020 brought what might be viewed as the convergence of all the previous crises that have threatened the very existence of the arts. The current challenges for the cultural sector are still unfolding in the face of shuttered organizations and greatly curtailed arts programs, devastatingly high unemployment rates among artists and cultural staff, competing priorities facing funders, and audiences and participants unsure of when they can safely return to public spaces to engage in creative activities.&#160; </p><p>We see resilience, innovation and courage as three enduring elements that will help ensure the survival and recovery of many cultural organizations. The arts face enormous challenges, but the pandemic has also created new opportunities to engage people where they are now and to reshape cultural participation for a new post-pandemic world. &#160;</p><p>Our research focused on the concept of expanding and diversifying audience participation across a wide range of artistic genres and cultural organizations. We were interested in tracking some profound changes taking place in the cultural sector, as artists, educators, cultural leaders, funders and audiences alike were challenging the cultural status quo. We saw organizational and programmatic changes taking place both inside and outside these organizations. Building relationships and building financial support will remain critically important for cultural organizations in the post-pandemic era. </p><p> <strong>Among the cultural organizations you studied, what were some strategies they used to cultivate resilience? </strong></p><p> <strong>Farrell&#58; &#160;</strong>Many started by making internal organizational changes. They broke down the barriers between departments to bring arts education or community outreach programs directly into the institution’s core efforts. They engaged new visitors by making their physical space more welcoming and less intimidating. They created new “point-of-entry” programs, such as a concert that mixed a traditional symphony along with jazz or rock performances. They sought more ethnic and cultural diversity among the staff, volunteers and board members to signal the institution’s recognition of the need for greater representation. They learned to reach out beyond their own walls in new ways, especially forming partnerships with non-cultural organizations in the community. In making these changes, the cultural organization was becoming more institutionally adaptable and ultimately more resilient in the face of continuing change. </p><p> <strong>What kinds of innovation will arts organizations need to recover and prosper? &#160;</strong></p><p> <strong>​​​<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Resiliency-Innovation-Courage-Key-Characteristics-Ensure-Survival-The-Arts/Grams-and-Farrell.jpg" alt="Grams-and-Farrell.jpg" class="wf-Image-Right" style="margin&#58;5px;" />Grams&#58; </strong>There are many examples of how organizations innovate with new strategies for engagement. One is in the expanded use of technology as a tool for artistic expression. Organizations will continue to be challenged to develop innovative programs that incorporate their audience’s growing sophistication with technological tools and their desire to be active cultural producers rather than just recipients. </p><p>We saw many innovative programs emerge in the course of our research that were about building community beyond the organization’s walls. For example, the “One City, One Book” program served as both a literacy and community-building effort. Cities, states, schools and universities have used the process of everyone reading the same book as a way to introduce often overlooked work by authors from isolated immigrant groups, or to solve a problem, such as bullying in schools. When the National Endowment for the Arts began “The Big Read” program in 2005, some of our interviewees feared it meant the death of the locally sponsored programs. Now, we see this has not been the case. The NEA has not only expanded funding of these programs but has created an even bigger outlet for some historically overlooked authors and genres. </p><p>And innovation is also evident in transactional activities. Some new approaches to ticketing for exhibitions come to mind. Because of social-distancing limitations on the numbers of patrons that can enter the building, line queues can be tracked with phone text alerts allowing patrons to wander until their time to enter a special exhibition space occurs. Within the exhibition space, visitors could use their own phone and coded podcasts, once considered rogue and unauthorized practices because they sidestepped the paid audio tour. </p><p> <strong>What are examples from your research of the kind of courage demonstrated by arts leaders that can help an organization change and thrive? &#160;</strong></p><p> <strong>Farrell&#58; </strong>It takes courage to take on something new, untested or unusual. &#160;It also takes courage to share power. One example of this from our research was the Walker Art Center’s Teen Arts Council program. These young people were given both a substantial budget and a powerful voice in how their funds would be used in the institution’s core exhibitions. During our site visit we observed a museum curator coming to the Teen Arts Council to make a presentation about an upcoming exhibition, asking for their ideas about how they might participate in and contribute financial support to the proposed exhibition. </p><p> <strong>Grams&#58; </strong>It takes courage to talk about race. &#160;When race intersects with issues of identity, skin color, religion, sexual preference and diversity within or across communities, the conversation can either be explosive or it can be a site of reconciliation. The planning process for “The African Presence in Mexico,” a 2006 exhibition at The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, brought out concerns in both the African American and Latino communities, around the topics of race, racism, and the complexities of multiculturalism. But the museum could ultimately count the success of the exhibition not only in the estimated seventy-two thousand people who attended, but that more than half had been African Americans, many of whom had never before been to this Mexican ethnic museum. </p><p> <strong>Based on your experience studying arts organizations and audience participation, what advice would you give to arts leaders who are working in the current environment?”</strong></p><p> <strong>Grams&#58;</strong> The arts have long been forced to prove their value to society, and today is no different. &#160;Our formal classification as “nonessential businesses” strikes a debilitating blow against our most basic understanding of the human need for cultural expression. Moreover, during the pandemic, this designation limited manufacturing of materials and supplies necessary for art making while shuttering businesses and organizations, and leaving thousands of artists and allied workers without a source of income and a limited economic safety net. </p><p>Even as we find ourselves in the midst of this economic and social catastrophe, we are reminded that the arts can be a powerful tool for creating social cohesion and for healing, in addition to being a tool for economic development and revitalization. In short, they are essential. We see this today—from people singing from balconies to creating murals, paintings and posters that honor health care workers and to the popularity of star-studded Zoom performances. Through proactive cultural policy in the near future, can the arts enhance opportunities for cultural participation and play a more central role in addressing social and community recovery, as a tool for bonding and healing our most serious social fractures?</p><p> <strong>Farrell&#58; </strong>&#160;Cultural practitioners know how to be resourceful, nimble and creative in designing projects and programs that engage their audiences in the moment. But they work in an often fragmented and individualistic art world, and much that could be learned and widely shared from these efforts is inevitably lost. When practitioners work with researchers as they did in our study, however, they can design studies alongside their projects to document what works and what doesn’t. They can build longitudinal evidence about the impact of participating in the arts, capturing knowledge and shaping effective arts policy. Forging stronger ties between research and practice with the goal of creating a shared knowledge base is a critically important way to build resilience for the post-pandemic future of the cultural sector.​</p><p> <em>​Main image&#58;Installation by Patricia Mendoza for Faith in Women exhibition at Inter-​media Arts in Minneapolis, September 29, 2005–January 7, 2006. Photograph by Timothy D. Lace © 2005.​</em></p><p> <em>Photo of Betty Farrell and Diane Grams from their 2008 book launch in Chicago. ​</em></p> <p></p>Wallace editorial team792021-02-11T05:00:00ZAuthors of a seminal book on audience participation in the arts help us assess the current landscape2/11/2021 3:13:47 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Resiliency, Innovation, Courage Key Characteristics to Ensure Survival of The Arts Authors of a seminal book on audience 391https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Future Arts Administrators and Other Adult Learners Persevere Online5199GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>As students gear up for the spring semester (whether in-person or virtually), many are preparing to return to programs that look and operate much differently than in previous years. Those who teach and run arts administration programs have experienced this shift as well, with many programs rethinking and reworking pre-existing systems to acclimate to the current environment. </p><p>We recently connected over email with John-Morgan Bush, Director of Lifelong Learning at The Juilliard School, and Lee Ann Scotto Adams, Executive Director of the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE), over email to discuss obstacles and bright spots that the arts higher education landscape has experienced as a result of the pandemic, its resultant economic hardships and the urgent, ongoing conversations around equity and access. Despite previously anticipated enrollment drops in higher education due to rising COVID-19 cases on campuses and the potential drawbacks of virtual course instruction, Bush and Adams share that arts programs and their students—from the undergraduate to the continuing education level—have demonstrated perseverance and agility, adapting and learning within a new environment.</p><p><strong>The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused enrollment changes in higher education programs as cases on campuses rose last fall. What are some challenges unique to arts programs? And how are people addressing them?</strong></p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> Many arts administration programs in the AAAE network have actually seen recent increases in inquiries, applications and enrollment. This isn’t too surprising, as this tends to happen in higher education when there is an economic crisis. There was a similar trend during the 2009 economic collapse. People go back to school to augment their skills or make a career change; this is true at the undergraduate level too. One of AAAE’s undergraduate programs in the Midwest has seen a 25 percent increase in its freshman class this year, and they are getting an influx of undergraduate students who are choosing arts-discipline majors and minors. Undergraduate students who are interested in studying the arts may be choosing arts administration during this time of economic uncertainty, as the skills taught in these programs are transferrable to multiple careers. &#160;</p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> First, I believe that it is important to realize that the impact of COVID-19 is being felt acutely across all sectors, public and private. We are out of balance as a society right now and are collectively reeling. Throughout the performing arts, there are the obvious challenges such as not being able to convene an audience in person or teach in our traditional settings. But beyond these immediate dilemmas, I believe that one of the biggest challenges that we need to address is how we keep our adult audiences interested in the artistic work we do during this time of separation. I believe that curiosity is the sister to creativity. </p><p>In Juilliard’s Evening Division (an adult learning program that offers an array of programs in various arts disciplines), we are looking at every way possible to provide value to our students, so they remain curious about the art forms that they love, even in the absence of live performance. When they stay curious, they are engaged to not only support artistic practice, but willing to participate in the artistic process as well. In my view, curiosity is what we will need most of all when the pandemic passes (and it will!)—we will need communities who are inquisitive enough about our artistic output that they want to support us and participate as soon as they are able to do so.</p><p><strong>What kinds of changes and/or adjustments have programs made for disciplines that require frequent and rigorous in-person instruction? </strong></p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> Fortunately, for arts administration and related programs, such as theatre management, entertainment industry management, cultural management, arts leadership, arts entrepreneurship, cultural policy and museum studies, these programs can be easily transitioned and scaled to an online classroom environment. This is one area of arts teaching and learning that doesn’t require hands-on instruction. Even before the pandemic hit, many arts administration programs in the AAAE network were offered online or offered an optional online component to the curriculum, especially at the graduate level.<strong> </strong> </p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> COVID-19 has upended our belief about what is possible and what learning environments in the performing arts can look like and it has catalyzed innovation. The impact on continuing education was no less substantial. If you envision online learning as students “beaming” into classes via broadband and greeting each other and their professors through webcams built into laptops you are not entirely wrong. But, if your mental image is a group comprised solely of tech-savvy millennials and gen Z’ers livestreaming into classes, that’s where you’d be mistaken. At Juilliard, it was in fact the intrepid students of the Juilliard Evening Division, more than 50 percent of whom over the age of 60, who paved the way in online learning. COVID-19 has taught us that flexibility is needed more than ever—it’s essential. It has also reminded me to never underestimate the human capacity to adapt and learn at any age. </p><p><strong>What has been lost in all the technology? Alternatively, what have programs and educators gained?&#160; </strong></p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> I’ve advised our continuing education faculty to think of online learning not merely as a replacement or facsimile of an in-class lecture, but rather as a completely new opportunity to provide more value and deepen learning experiences. Working together with our Evening Division faculty, we’ve found ways to creatively organize continuing education curricula so that students realize and can track where they are on their carefully designated learning journeys. We can organize our supplemental materials, videos, scores, readings and more, in ways that spark curiosity and meaning to the individual artistic experience. </p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> We’re seeing some advantages as well. Though it was a tough start when the pandemic hit and arts leaders initially panicked, I believe these technologies have enhanced the field by broadening access to the arts. As an example, the AAAE academic conference moved to an entirely virtual format in May 2020, and drew in almost double the number of attendees, with members joining us from China, Australia, Vienna and Manila. These international members typically aren’t able to attend the annual meetings, as travel budgets and academic schedules can be prohibitive. This year, the virtual formal levelled the playing field for all and brought many new voices to the conversation.</p><p>The Wallace Blog recently posted <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/can-pandemic-be-catalyst-for-new-global-arts-ecology.aspx?utm_source=facebook&amp;utm_medium=b32ae361-3e65-4032-82eb-0cda2790e66e&amp;utm_campaign=Website&amp;utm_content=organic_paid">an article</a> by Zenetta S. Drew where she states, “Artists—whether professional or not—became the unofficial essential workers of the pandemic, vital to our nation’s health and recovery, and an overwhelming validation of the importance of the arts.” </p><p>Our nation is consuming the arts now more than ever. Perhaps it’s the equivalent of eating a pint of ice cream to combat a stressful day. The arts are nourishing to the soul. They also provide an escape. Drew goes on to state, “the continuation of the pandemic has…also forced a group of technology-resistant learners of all ages to learn to use online platforms, opening up arts events to new audiences, many of whom will pay to view performances online.”&#160; </p><p>Again, here we see a case for technology broadening access to the arts among new audiences.</p><p><strong>In what ways have students inspired you through their practice during this critical juncture?</strong></p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> One of the most devastating impacts of COVID-19 has been the isolation it has imposed on elderly and other at-risk populations. While I knew that learning would persist online, in those early days I wondered if our sense of community would as well. I can say now, with total certainty, that community does persist. As we moved our courses online, I was inspired by the student interactions with each other and faculty. In March during the darkest days of the pandemic [in New York], I witnessed one professor end his class with the sincere wish that his students (mostly senior citizens) stay safe and well, and they reciprocated the sentiment. But the emotion behind it, the role that this course had come to play in both the lives of students and teacher was extraordinary. It provided rhythm to the passing of time, opportunity to connect with like-minded peers when isolation was the order of the day and celebration and/or escape through music. </p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> Since the pandemic began, the AAAE membership has seen an influx of new student members. I believe students are eager to connect and engage with each other and with leaders in the field. We have also seen strong student interest in leadership opportunities. Perhaps with the limited internship opportunities available during the pandemic, students are looking for alternative avenues to build their skills and grow their networks. I recently put out a call for conference planning committee members, and I received 13 student volunteers! I received so many offers from students to assist that I had to create a student planning sub-committee. Like the at-risk populations John-Morgan references, students have so much to lose with social isolation and dramatic shifts in academic and professional development opportunities, but they are proving to be absolutely resilient and brilliant through all of this.</p><p><strong>What do you think the arts higher education landscape will look like next the five to ten years?&#160;</strong></p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> There are so many factors at play here – the political landscape; policy decisions (especially around federal student loans and possible federal student loan forgiveness coming down the line); timely COVID-19 relief funding to assist individuals, businesses and organizations that are struggling right now; and accumulating debt among so many Americans. I think we will continue to see growth in interest in arts administration programs and other arts disciplines with transferrable skills, and an increase in quality online and hybrid programs. There is much more widespread recognition of the value of the arts in our society, especially as we navigate these difficult times, and this will continue to drive interest in arts administration programs. </p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> This is a great question and one for which I desperately wish that I had a definitive answer. But seeing that none of us have a crystal ball, we must be careful to not project but evaluate what we see before us today. In public schools, higher education and continuing education, we are beginning to see the value of flexible and hybrid learning formats as well as remote work environments. We are seeing that excellent teachers are excellent both online and in-person and that a humanistic approach to instruction has always been an incredible asset. We are collectively acknowledging that digital performance will play an ongoing role in our artistic lives. It’s bringing people together. We are seeing students signing up for online classes with siblings, parents and friends on opposite sides of the country. Adult education courses are a great way for them to stay connected through the arts. This is just one of many new opportunities to pique curiosity and find new ways to engage adult learners with our art forms. </p> <em>Please note, John-Morgan Bush’s responses are based on his personal expertise and as Juilliard’s Director of Lifelong Learning.<br><br>John-Morgan Bush photo by Gregory Mahan;&#160;Lee Ann Adams photo by Frederick Fullerton<br></em> Wallace editorial team792021-01-14T05:00:00ZTwo veterans of the arts higher education field discuss the challenges and happy surprises of operating throughout the pandemic1/14/2021 8:12:34 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Future Arts Administrators and Other Adult Learners Persevere Online Two veterans of the arts higher education field 636https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
2020: Pain with Some Rays of Light26288GP0|#b68a91d0-1c13-4d82-b12d-2b08588c04d7;L0|#0b68a91d0-1c13-4d82-b12d-2b08588c04d7|News;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>​​​​As the holidays approach, we are closing in on the end of a very difficult year. Few Americans have been untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic or the emergence of a social justice movement calling for an overdue reckoning with the nation’s troubled racial past. Some too have been hit by devasting wildfires and hurricanes. As 2020 draws to its conclusion, I want to give a brief update on how The Wallace Foundation has responded to these developments and how we intend to face 2021.</p><p>The pandemic has had far-reaching, inequitable and sometimes dire effects on many sectors of our society. The areas in which Wallace works—the arts, education leadership, and learning and enrichment—are no exception. We have responded in two ways, with both cash and information. </p><p>On the financial side, Wallace has made unrestricted emergency assistance grants totaling $8 million to about 70 of our grantee partners under a special fund our board established last April. While the overall need vastly outstrips our resources, these emergency grants were intended to help our grantees who had the most severe budget shortfalls due to the pandemic. The organizations serve education, the out-of-school time and summer learning fields and the arts. Proportionately larger grants were made to organizations that directly serve children, are led by a person of color and/or work with more than one of our focus areas. In addition, we made a number of targeted grants to organizations that support racial justice and to various disaster relief funds.</p><p>As for useful information, Wallace has drawn on its knowledge base and marshalled our communications channels to try to share timely ideas with the fields we serve for how to face the pandemic’s challenges. We’ve offered free webinars on nonprofit financial management in a crisis, and on the federal CARES Act. Our <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/default.aspx">blog</a> has covered these topics and others, such as&#160;how principals are managing the switch to online learning&#160;and&#160;how&#160;digital technologies can be used to&#160;keep young people engaged in creative pursuits. A series of virtual conversations we’ve organized, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-a-webinar-series-from-the-wallace-foundation.aspx">Reimagining the Future of the Arts</a>, has brought together thinkers and arts innovators to share insights into how arts organizations might prepare for a post-pandemic world. Finally, we have funded a number of tools that we hope can aid organizations as they weather the storm, including <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-uncertain-times-a-scenario-planning-toolkit-for-arts-culture-sector.aspx"><em>Navigating Uncertain Times</em></a>, a​​​​​ scenario planning toolkit for arts organizations, and guidance to principals about <a href="https&#58;//www.nassp.org/restart-and-recovery/">planning for reopening schools</a> by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.</p><p>Longer term, Wallace remains committed to our approach of developing large-scale, multiyear initiatives that help us&#160;make progress on important unanswered questions in the fields we serve. We will continue to aim for dual goals. First, to help our grantees create value for those they serve by supporting and strengthening their work at the local level. Second, to add value by capturing what is learned by our grantees as they innovate, and then sharing these lessons and evidence with practitioners, policymakers and influencers in order to catalyze improvements more broadly. </p><p>These are dark times, but the recent news about the effectiveness of vaccines has&#160;brought a ray of light to at least one aspect of the darkness. Like everyone, we are hoping that at this time next year we will be able to talk about the pandemic mainly in the past tense, even as we deal with what are likely to be its longer-term effects. We hope that the push to address the systemic oppression of marginalized communities in our nation, however, stays very much at the forefront. As I wrote back in June, we are intensifying our efforts to infuse “diversity, equity, access and inclusion into the work we do internally and externally in the arts, K-12 leadership, summer learning, social and emotional learning, and afterschool.” That applies to both our current efforts and to the design of new initiatives, at least one of which we hope to launch in 2021. </p><p>Whatever the new year brings, we remain committed to strengthening the capacity of our grantees to serve their communities while developing credible ideas and information to advance policy and practice nationwide. All in the service of our mission to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone.</p><p>I wish you and everyone a happy, peaceful holiday season—and a brighter new year.</p><p>Sincerely,</p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/2020-Pain-with-Some-Rays-of-Light/Will-Miller_Wallace.jpg" alt="Will-Miller_Wallace.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;110px;height&#58;26px;" /><br></p><p>Will Miller<br>President</p><p><span><span><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/2020-Pain-with-Some-Rays-of-Light/Will%20Miller%20headshot.jpg" alt="Will Miller headshot.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;94px;" /></span></span><br></p>Will Miller42020-12-18T05:00:00ZWallace President Will Miller offers thoughts on an unprecedented time12/18/2020 6:45:21 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / 2020: Pain with Some Rays of Light Wallace President Will Miller offers thoughts on an unprecedented time 436https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
A Pandemic Time Capsule in 10 Blog Posts26783GP0|#b68a91d0-1c13-4d82-b12d-2b08588c04d7;L0|#0b68a91d0-1c13-4d82-b12d-2b08588c04d7|News;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​​​​A deadly global health crisis. Its economic fallout on school districts, arts organizations, nonprofits, and communities of color in particular. An energized racial justice movement across America and beyond. </p><p>It’s no surprise that both Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com at the time of this writing have both chosen<em> pandemic</em> as their word of the year. Indeed, the most widely read posts on The Wallace Blog in this tumultuous year reflect concerns across the many communities we work with. &#160;From the first lockdowns in March, our editorial team, with the assistance of so many partners, quickly shifted gears to help people navigate the fog of 2020—everything from an <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/managing-nonprofit-finances-during-the-coronavirus-crisis.aspx">interview with a financial management expert</a> on weathering the financial crisis to a <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/the-arts-getting-us-through-a-pandemic.aspx">list of the nonprofit arts organizations</a> that provided comfort, stimulation and plain-old entertainment when we needed them most.</p><p>Our Top 10 stories this year might someday become a time capsule of Wallace’s work during the pandemic. We present them here by popularity, which for this purpose is defined by total number of&#160;views, from lowest (1,030) to highest (more than 20,000!), with an average viewing time of three&#160;minutes and 12 seconds. </p><p> <strong>10) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/helping-museums-navigate-through-the-covid-19-fog.aspx"> <strong>Helping Museums Navigate Through the COVID-19 Fog</strong></a>&#160;Much like the rest of the country, museums have been grasping for ways to endure the disruption COVID-19 has brought on. Elizabeth Merritt, vice president for strategic foresight at the American Alliance of Museums,&#160;​offers ways that museums and other organizations could create plans for possible post-pandemic scenarios in their communities. </p><p> <strong>9) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/engaging-audiences-in-the-age-of-social-distancing.aspx"> <strong>Engaging Audiences in the Age of Social Distancing</strong></a>&#160;This post describes&#160;how some of the arts organizations that&#160;participated in our now-concluded Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative ramped up their digital offerings and continued&#160;to connect with their audiences online.</p><p> <strong>8) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/bringing-out-the-best-in-principals-during-the-covid-19-crisis.aspx"> <strong>Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 Crisis</strong></a>&#160;Back in early summer, we caught up with Jill Baker, superintendent of the&#160;Long Beach (Calif.)&#160;Unified School District, about the district’s efforts to support principals during school closures, as well as its summer plans for school leadership development.</p><p> <strong>7) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/changing-principal-preparation-to-help-meet-school-needs.aspx"> <strong>Changing Principal Preparation to Help Meet School Needs</strong></a>&#160;In the first post of a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program, the university’s director gives a behind-the-scenes look at the changes the program made to better prepare future leaders. (Reporting for this story took place in the few pre-COVID months of 2020.)</p><p> <strong>6) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/research-about-the-arts-and-kids-a-fertile-area-for-inquiry.aspx"> <strong>Research About the Arts and Kids&#58; A Fertile Area for Inquiry</strong></a>&#160;Wallace’s director of communications Lucas Held recaps a conference held at George Mason University, part of an effort by the National Endowment for the Arts to help ensure “that every child will have access to arts education.”<br></p><p> <strong>5) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/keeping-young-people-creative-and-connected-in-quarantine.aspx"> <strong>Keeping Young People Creative (and Connected) in Quarantine</strong></a>&#160;At the height of classroom shutdowns, we chatted with Kylie Peppler, a researcher who focuses on the intersection of art, education and technology, to discuss how digital technologies could be used to keep young people engaged in this era of social distancing and isolation.<br></p><p> <strong>4) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/literacy-expert-on-why-kids-must-keep-reading-during-this-unprecedented-moment.aspx"> <strong>Literacy Expert on Why Kids Must Keep Reading During This ‘Unprecedented Moment’</strong></a><strong>&#160;</strong>Jimmy Kim, the person behind <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reads-helping-children-become-summer-bookworms.aspx">READS for Summer Learning</a>, offers guidance and tools for parents and caregivers on encouraging at-home reading for children amid all the uncertainty of the pandemic.</p><p> <strong>3) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/what-the-pandemic-means-for-summer-learning-and-how-policymakers-can-help.aspx"> <strong>What the Pandemic Means for Summer Learning-And How Policymakers Can Help</strong></a>&#160;Government policies can both help and limit summer learning efforts. In this post, RAND’s Catherine Augustine discusses a <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/getting-support-for-summer-learning-policies-affect-summer-learning-programs.aspx">report on the summer learning policy landscape</a> and what could lie ahead for summer programs in the pandemic and beyond.</p><p> <strong>2) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/managing-nonprofit-finances-during-the-coronavirus-crisis.aspx"> <strong>Managing Nonprofit Finances During the Coronavirus Crisis</strong></a>&#160;It might come as little&#160;surprise that&#160;our second most popular post of 2020 is about the financial bottom line. Nonprofit financial management expert Hilda Polanco discusses&#160;how nonprofits can best assess and work to maintain their financial health throughout the pandemic. While you’re at it, take a look at the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-covid-19-for-nonprofits-from-financial-triage-to-scenario-planning.aspx">webinar</a> on this topic, attended by more than 1,000 people.</p><p> <strong>1) </strong> <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/the-cares-act.aspx"> <strong>The CARES Act&#58; Five Things That School and District Leaders Need to Know Now</strong></a>&#160;EducationCounsel, a mission-based education organization and law firm, dug into the federal CARES Act and summarized its&#160;major education&#160;provisions&#160;shortly after the relief&#160;legislation was passed&#160;last spring. The post was followed up by&#160;a&#160;webinar on the&#160;topic, which you can view <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/unpacking-the-federal-response-to-covid-19-in-education.aspx">here</a>, and the team is ready to look at any&#160;future federal legislation as the pandemic continues into 2021. </p>Jenna Doleh912020-12-15T05:00:00ZA look back at your favorite reads this year—from supporting principals during COVID-19 to keeping kids connected during quarantine.12/15/2020 6:51:26 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / A Pandemic Time Capsule in 10 Blog Posts Our most-read posts this year—from helping schools and nonprofits navigate 721https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Looking Toward an Alchemy for Arts Organizations Post-COVID26778GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​What is a “universal story”? </p><p>While many leaders of nonprofit arts organizations have, out of necessity, made financial stability a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, some have been driven to explore even more fundamental questions about the stories they choose to tell in their performances, and how to make sure the stories have meaning to their audiences. The goal, ultimately, is to broaden their audience base as well as strengthen their financial bottom line. </p><p>Michael Bateman, managing director of the A Noise Within theater in Pasadena, California, for instance, says he has focused on connecting with and finding relevance with communities beyond the organization’s more traditional audiences in Los Angeles, which had been predominantly white. The organization began by questioning the so-called classic plays they presented from the Western tradition, which touch on what are intended to be universal human themes—the artists ranging from Shakespeare and Dickens to Moliere. Did these plays really touch and move the kinds of diverse audiences the theater wanted to reach, particularly in communities of color? </p><p>To answer that question, the organization found opportunities to hold discussions with artists of color and asked them to define what a new “universal story” might be. They’d begun this effort before the pandemic, but Bateman says it gained new importance as the organization began to rethink its mission and increase its outreach to new communities as the pandemic and national reckoning with racial justice took hold. </p><p>“We know it’s hard for all to feel welcome here,” Bateman says of the traditional plays and other performances and events at the theater. “We want to tell stories where the audiences see themselves. We want to make people feel more welcome. We’re engaging with other artists in our community. What we’ve done is go back to our community and say, ‘What do you need from us now?’”</p><p>Bateman was one of three panelists in <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-a-webinar-series-from-the-wallace-foundation-session-2.aspx">the second conversation</a> in Wallace’s <em>Reimagining the Future of the Arts</em>&#160;series. The other participants were Zenetta S. Drew, executive director of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Kim Noltemy, president and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Association. Zannie Voss, Ph.D., director of SMU DataArts, one of the country’s leading centers for arts research, moderated the panel. </p><p>Voss is co-author of a recent study for the Wallace Foundation, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-alchemy-of-high-performing-arts-organizations.aspx"><em>The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations,</em></a> which analyzes the elements that produce financial stability by looking at two groups of high-performing arts organizations, one group that had consistently strong financial track records and a second group that had been in financial distress but recovered. The study summarizes its lengthy analysis this way, “The cornerstones of high performance appear to lie in the alchemy of high standards in the creation of work that is meaningful to the local community.”</p><p>Simply put&#58; high-quality art + community relevance = success. </p><p>In the panel discussion, and in later conversations with the panelists on their efforts to adapt to the current environment, all three emphasized that finding those meaningful community connections was an immediate priority, in the hopes that the results would eventually help them build new business models. Each admitted to a combination of excitement and anxiety.</p><p>Drew of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre describes this as a moment of validation for her organization and the company’s vision. She says it is a time of great challenges but also opportunities that we have waited years to implement. Since 1996, she says, the theater has tried to build a digital audience, previously with little success, due to historical barriers to online expansion. She has leapt at the greater interest in virtual performances now, with theaters closed, both to try and sustain revenue but also to connect with audiences and communities beyond Dallas. </p><p>A starting point, she says, is the role the arts are playing in helping people manage in the pandemic. “As a result of the pandemic, the arts are finding relevancy for our individual and collective work,” Drew says. “Everybody now, novice and professional, has become art makers and are putting things online. Art has been validated in its relevance. Artists are essential workers to our nation’s social, emotional resilience and recovery. It is enriching us. It changes lives. It heals.”</p><p>The theatre has been charging for popular digital events, a model that Drew says she intends to aggressively pursue. She stresses that it’s not just an alternative way to add earned revenue, but a core element in the mission of an arts organization that, she says, has long confronted an array of deep challenges. DBDT has never had the kind of broad and deep donor base that some other arts nonprofits have, making for a precarious and lean structure well before the pandemic. Also, its focus on Black artists and Black audiences has meant the organization encountered resistance from some white members of the community and sponsors, she says. Some had urged the organization in the past to remove the designation as a self-declared “Black” theater from the name, which it has to this day refused, since that is the group’s identity and identifies a core community it serves.</p><p>“I’ve always been working with the pandemic of racism,” Drew says. “That’s been true for us from the beginning. COVID is just another issue on the list of issues we have to deal with, and that’s why we’re ready, we’re resilient, we have ideas. I have the same panorama of problems as everyone else, but we are focusing on the opportunities.”</p><p>Audiences have embraced DBDT’s online events and performances, which are earning revenues and expanding not just in Texas but in surrounding states and even overseas. “I have someone from Australia on every virtual event we do,” she says.</p><p>“I’m trying to lead the industry in thinking outside the box,” Drew says. “We’re not just doing things until we can get people in seats again. We can’t go backwards. We’re building a new paradigm for our existence. This was great news for DBDT.” (To read more about DBDT's digital efforts and vision for the future, read <a href="/news-and-media/blog/pages/can-pandemic-be-catalyst-for-new-global-arts-ecology.aspx">Drew's recent essay​</a> for The Wallace Blog.)<br></p><p>On of Drew’s fans is Kim Noltemy of the Dallas Symphony (the two sit on each other’s boards). She expresses admiration for how successfully the Dallas Black Dance Theatre has utilized virtual performances to earn more revenues and to create a sense of excitement around its events. It is a model, she says, that she is eager to replicate to some degree at the symphony.</p><p>“I think this is going to be a great turning point for the orchestra industry,” she says. “People are becoming accustomed to listening to music online and paying for it. It was such an effort before. People only wanted live music. But we’re changing the paradigm.”</p><p>Offering virtual concerts, about 20 percent of which are free, is a means of developing a more complete digital musical experience. Additionally, they have expanded the symphony’s free outdoor music events, mostly chamber groups, which allow it to reach into new neighborhoods and build relationships with more diverse audiences, particularly in communities of color. In those outdoor events, they have been offering a combination of classical music, pieces such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, popular contemporary music, such as music by the film composer John Williams, and jazzy ragtime pieces for a brass chamber group. In previous years, she says, the symphony did from 15 to 20 of those events a year. Performances have increased sharply to about 90 since the pandemic hit, and Noltemy expects they will offer 40 more before the year’s end, hoping that some of those audience members will turn into subscribers.</p><p>“This transformation is permanent, no matter what happens with the pandemic,” she says. “Now, our focus is creating high quality content for the online events and getting better at those productions. That takes experience.”</p><p>Additionally, Noltemy says they will be extending the kind of attention that the symphony has traditionally provided to donors, board members and subscribers to a broader array of audience members and prospective audience members. Once the symphony is offering indoor concerts on a regular basis again, this will include invitations to pre-concert discussions of the programs to post-concert parties attended by some orchestra members. For now, there will be more targeted marketing materials and digital outreach. “That has to be a high priority, like in business,” she says. “We need to use those tools much more than we ever have.”</p><p>Such ramped-up communications and personal outreach can help organizations interact more deeply with the diverse communities they seek to engage with. Some are even creating programs designed to prompt discussion and feedback. Bateman at A Noise Within points to new free online programs&#58; “Noise Now,” started last year, and “Fridays@Five,” which began during the shutdown. Both involve a series of discussions with writers, directors and artists of color talking about their backgrounds and what special insights they may bring to their work in the theater, among other things. </p><p>“We have to dig up that part of our cornerstone and rebuild our foundation,” Bateman says, referring to the organization’s mission and its growing knowledge of what kind of stories might be relevant and meaningful to the different communities around Pasadena. In fact, A Noise Within has just written a new strategic plan with a goal of one day creating a new financial model that includes, among other things, more revenue from online plays and events—something that has come directly from these conversation about community and sustainability. </p> ​<br>James Sterngold 1122020-12-10T05:00:00ZExpert panel says high quality art, community connection plus a strong online presence can help fuel future success in the arts12/10/2020 2:00:24 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Looking Toward an Alchemy for Arts Organizations Post-COVID Expert panel says high quality art, community connection plus a 397https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts26330GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​As the COVID-19 pandemic and national reckoning with racial justice continue, arts and culture organizations find themselves in an utterly transformed, and potentially decimating, landscape. To help organizations make their way through this unprecedented time—and even envision some silver linings—global strategic and business planning firm AEA Consulting has released a <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-uncertain-times-a-scenario-planning-toolkit-for-arts-culture-sector.aspx">scenario-planning toolkit</a>. </p><p>Created specifically for the arts sector, the toolkit describes four possible scenarios for the pandemic’s course, and people’s behavior in the wake of it, over the next five years. A <a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/Arts-Organizations-Early-Response-to-COVID-19-Uncertainty-Insights-from-the-Field.aspx">companion report</a> looks at a recent survey of arts leaders and field experts, providing insights that arts organizations can draw on as they undertake their planning. </p><p>The Wallace Blog conducted an email dialogue about the report with <a href="https&#58;//aeaconsulting.com/about/people/daniel_payne">Daniel Payne</a>, a managing principal at AEA Consulting. The exchange has been edited for clarity and length. </p><p><strong>Given the extraordinary degree of uncertainty we are facing, scenario planning might seem counterintuitive. Why is it especially helpful in conditions of high uncertainty?</strong></p><p>COVID-19 shortened our planning horizons from years to weeks. Scenario planning presents an opportunity to think beyond near-term predictions and be more imaginative about multiple possible futures—exactly what is needed when the fog of uncertainty makes it hard to clearly determine likely outcomes. It encourages organizations to focus less on individual bets about direction and instead think about core principles (purpose, mission, and service to communities and audiences), consider potential impact in multiple possible outcomes and lay out different paths to achieve success.</p><p>In other words, there is no right future or wrong future in scenario planning. It is a process that helps an organization imagine itself in different future settings and craft a response, perhaps even uncovering previously hidden opportunities. It extends the planning horizon beyond the near-term—whether to reopening, the end of a financial crisis or otherwise—and ensures organizations can best position themselves for success in multiple possibilities in the long term.</p><p><strong>What is the difference between scenario planning and “strategic planning” exercises—what are the pros and cons of each, especially when uncertainty is so high?</strong></p><p>Scenario planning and strategic planning are related to one another in many ways. One way to think about scenario planning is as a form of long-range strategic planning that emphasizes an understanding of the wider environment that you are operating in. It also turns out that some of the weaknesses that we see in traditional strategic planning processes can be mitigated by scenario planning. So, rather than thinking of them as either-or, you can think of them as yes-and, and consider adding a scenario planning process to your next round of strategic planning. &#160;&#160; </p><p>One of the cons often said about strategic planning is the plan can be seen as a rigid direction toward a three-year or five-year horizon that may become irrelevant when the context shifts in six months or one year. Scenario planning offers a counter to that, both prompting people for more flexibility in their consideration of the future and providing a systematic way to find commonalities in those possibilities to create more solid footing for a plan. In contrast, one of the potential cons to scenario planning is that it becomes too abstract, and you end up without clear actionable outcomes. But a good strategic planning process would provide a framework to take the outputs from scenario planning and then develop action steps and implementation plans, track financial impacts and other resource needs, and create the tools to measure whether you are achieving the desired impact. Neither are a magic bullet, but in concert (and with continued attention and evaluation), they can help prepare organizations to advance their mission, no matter what may be next.</p><p><strong>Though each of the tool’s four scenarios presents a very different future, are there any commonalities among them that organizations might prepare for now?</strong></p><p>While we would say there are no absolute certainties, there are certainly a number of common themes that you can find if you were to sit in each of the four futures that we’ve identified in the toolkit. We highlighted a number of these in the overview document—often these are related to the impacts of longer-term trends in demographics or advances in science and technology. For example, one common theme we highlight is an increased focus on racial equity and social justice&#58; beyond the moral imperative itself, most future projections show the U.S. becoming a majority-minority country sometime in the 2040s. It’s going to become an increasingly critical issue simply so that arts organizations can engage the audience.</p><p>There are other commonalities that deal more with the likelihood of increasing uncertainty and volatility—for example, a need for the sector to better engage with and manage mental health impacts. There are also potential impacts of this in how the sector creates the physical spaces it uses—to increase flexibility to deal with the possibilities of continued distancing, but also to increase their openness to create a renewed sense of welcome. And we will need to rethink how all spaces can be managed to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. These are trends that already existed in many new cultural spaces, but they seem to become more urgent no matter the future scenario. </p><p><strong>In what ways can scenario planning go wrong—or at least fall into traps—and how can these potential pitfalls be avoided?</strong></p><p>One way that scenario planning can go wrong is embedded in the name itself—to spend too much time with the scenarios and not enough time thinking about their implications for an organization. We’ve tried to emphasize the need to make this work actionable through the materials, but for some, there’s a rabbit hole of spending so much time and energy crafting those different futures. We hope the toolkit can help that by providing these four future scenarios, so that the focus can move more quickly to their implications. However, we know there’s no one size fits all answer, and different organizations may have different contexts to emphasize or specific situations they want to address in the scenarios.</p><p>Another common challenge is spending too much time and energy on one preferred future—whether because that is the future seen as most likely or because there is some preferred outcome with in it. One way we suggest dealing with that is to make sure that you bring together a diverse group of participants for the process—diverse in backgrounds and experiences, but also bringing voices to the table that may be newer to an organization’s strategic process. It can be a great opportunity to bring in a board member who recently joined or a member of your community that you don’t get to speak with enough.</p><p><strong>What is an example of a perspective that doing scenario planning opened up for you?</strong><br> One thing this process has opened our eyes to—not entirely new at all, but certainly something this highlights in a significant way—is the array of skills an organization needs to be able to manage their future direction. We built this toolkit after talking to a wide range of arts leaders for the work discussed in <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/arts-organizations-early-response-to-covid-19-uncertainty-insights-from-the-field.aspx">Arts Organizations’ Early Response to COVID-19 Uncertainty&#58; Insights from the Field</a>. There was a wide range of skills these leaders discussed as critical to moving forward—from data analysis, digital expertise, business modeling and core leadership training to, yes, scenario planning resources—and that doesn’t even get into the skills needed to produce most organization’s core programs. It is going to take a diverse but coordinated set of people to achieve success.</p><p>And more directly related to the scenarios, one thing that constantly popped out to me in creating the scenarios and using them in workshops with several organizations is how significant the digital component of arts and culture is likely to be, and how far behind most of the arts and culture sector is there.</p><p><strong>What are alternative ways other than scenario planning to think systematically about the future?</strong></p><p>If you search for “future thinking” or “strategic foresight,” there are lots of lots of different methods that you will come across, ranging from relatively straightforward methods like prediction games and markets to the <a href="http&#58;//www.millennium-project.org/publications-2/futures-research-methodology-version-3-0/">highly idiosyncratic (and usually trademarked!)</a>. Others might suggest the Tarot, I Ching and spin-the-bottle as popular strategies! One thing that we do like about scenario planning is that it does seem to be readily linked to creative and imaginative outputs that may be familiar to arts and cultural organizations. You can take the futures identified in your scenarios and turn them into a sort of science fiction. We’ve seen organizations illustrate them graphically, imagine future situations as one-act plays or even turn them into choreography. It’s a great way to engage teams in an exercise that is outside their normal daily work, too.<br></p><p>For more on scenario planning and the future of the arts see<a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/Reimagining-the-Future-of-the-Arts-a-Webinar-Series-from-The-Wallace-Foundation-Session-3.aspx"> this panel discussion ​</a>featuring Payne and others, part of&#160;Wallace's <em>Reimaginging the Future of The Arts</em> series.&#160;<br></p> Wallace editorial team792020-11-20T05:00:00ZResearcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and culture organizations add scenario planning to their strategic toolbox11/20/2020 4:43:25 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts Researcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and 487https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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