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Taking the Pulse of Small Ensemble Music12391GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​The field of small ensemble music, ​despite its name, is mighty. It spans a range of genres—including classical, contemporary, jazz and more—performed by small groups of musicians (think&#58; duet, trio, quartet, etc.) with one person per part, typically without a conductor. The musicians in these ensembles often function independently and generally work with fewer resources than those available to larger arts organizations. Still, these small groups have long persisted in the face of adversity, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, <a href="https&#58;//www.westerliesmusic.com/" target="_blank">The Westerlies</a>, a New York-based brass quartet, figured out how to use technology to perform together, in sync, while quarantined in their homes. Similarly, the <a href="http&#58;//hydeparkjazzfestival.org/" target="_blank">Hyde Park Jazz Festival​</a>, kept from its large outdoor stages and intimate indoor clubs on the South Side of Chicago, turned to livestreams and pop-up concerts in driveways, backyards and parks to bring music to Chicagoans where they live.</p><p>Chamber Music America (CMA), a national service organization that represents nearly 4,000 musicians, ensembles, presenting organizations, businesses and affiliates, conducted a series of Wallace-supported surveys to better understand the difficulties the field has faced and the ways in which they have worked to overcome them.&#160;The first survey, launched in <a href="https&#58;//www.chamber-music.org/pdf/CMA_Survey_Summary.pdf" target="_blank">April 2020</a>, came as organizations were shutting down in response to Covid-19. Subsequent surveys in <a href="https&#58;//www.chamber-music.org/pdf/CMA_Survey_Summary_June_2020.pdf" target="_blank">June 2020</a> and <a href="https&#58;//www.chamber-music.org/pdf/SurveySummary-June2021.pdf" target="_blank">June 2021</a> show how small ensembles have adapted as the pandemic drags on. </p><p>We connected with Nichole Knight, CMA’s Director of Operations, over email to help understand what survey results reveal. A transcript of our conversation follows, with minor edits for readability. </p><p> <strong>The Wallace Foundation&#58; What has been the biggest challenge overall that the small&#160;ensemble&#160;music field has faced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic?&#160;&#160;</strong><br> <br> <strong>Nichole Knight&#58; </strong>CMA’s constituency is unique among the performing arts as there are many individual musicians, ensembles and smaller organizations which historically haven’t had the same access to resources as some larger institutions. During the pandemic, we saw that ensembles, in particular, weren’t eligible for the same recovery support that organizations and individuals were. </p><p>One survey respondent wrote, “For us, a small [nonprofit] who never formally laid ourselves off during this time, it meant that we were very limited in the number of artist-specific Covid relief programs we were eligible for.” </p><p>Our data confirm this. Our third survey suggested that over 60 percent of respondent organizations and individuals had received CARES Act funding, while less than 40 percent of respondent ensembles had obtained support. &#160;&#160;<br> <br> But to take a step back, I want to reiterate what I hope we all understand by now&#58; not everyone was affected by this pandemic equally. Some musicians could rely on teaching positions to supplement their income; others could not. Some presenting organizations had the infrastructure and the capacity to pivot to virtual programming, while others had to overcome learning and logistical barriers or could not afford the equipment necessary to do so. And when emergency funding became available to individuals, some members experienced additional barriers due to the lack of the digital tools/technology that were necessary to complete online applications. And [relief] funds were often depleted by the time they could access them. &#160;<br> <br> We also know that those who have been traditionally marginalized—people of color and the economically disadvantaged—got sicker, experienced more loss of life within their families and communities, and will likely take longer to recover than their peers. And so all of the inequities we saw play out on a larger scale also happened within our field. &#160;</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; What surprised you most about the survey results?&#160;&#160;&#160;</strong></p><p> <strong>NK&#58; </strong>I think the surveys told us what we expected to learn, which was that our constituents were having an extremely difficult time. But the results also helped paint a fuller picture of what they were going through and show that they weren’t alone. &#160;<br> <br> That being said, our third survey, which closed mid-May but was published in June, showed that more than half of ensembles and organizations had already begun performing or presenting in-person performances. At that time, depending on the state, vaccines had just recently become available to most adults, and subsequent updates in prevention protocols were changing constantly. So I think that just proves how eager most people were to get out and perform, present and experience live music again, even without assurances of being 100 percent in the clear. <em>[CMA did not ask about vaccination status in its 2021 survey.]</em> </p><p>And while not surprising, per se, something that becomes very clear when looking at the survey results and thinking about the conversations CMA’s staff had with our members and constituents is how interconnected our discipline is. Certainly artists, presenters (and their venues) and audiences were affected by the shutdown. But that impact rippled exponentially to so many others. The livelihoods of artist managers, who have been unable to book work for their clients, and composers, who usually receive royalties when their work is performed, have also been drastically affected. So it’s going to take time for the entire field to recover.&#160;</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; While respondents in June 2021 expressed that they're eager to return to live performances, the survey also found that many plan to continue using virtual programming in some capacity moving forward. What specific advantages does virtual or hybrid programming offer musicians and small ensembles? Does it present any particular challenges as well? &#160;&#160;<br> </strong> <br> <strong>NK&#58; </strong>I think the main benefit is the ability to engage new audiences regardless of their physical or geographic proximity. But there are barriers of cost and technological know-how in undertaking a new model. And even among the respondents who have adopted new technologies, the monetization of these virtual events has not made up for the revenue lost due to cancellations and postponements. &#160;<br> <br>Another challenge musicians face is simply missing the energy of a live audience and the particular intimacy that comes with a small ensemble music performance. We’ve heard from our members time and again that while virtual programming may be great, nothing beats being in the room together. &#160; </p><p> <strong>WF&#58; What are the biggest shifts within the field that you’ve noticed over the course of these three surveys from March 2020 to June 2021?&#160;</strong> </p><p> <strong>NK&#58; </strong>The biggest tangible shift would be the increased use of technology. It was a common topic that members discussed in our virtual convenings, and we even hosted two webinars on it. In our most recent survey, respondents said they used approximately 25 different platforms, such as Zoom, social media platforms, Patreon and Twitch for their online activities (performances, rehearsals, webinars and workshops, private lessons, town halls, etc.). </p><p>In a larger sense, I would say there was a stark difference in attitudes toward the pandemic. Earlier on, respondents expressed more hopelessness. In the most recent survey, while still uncertain about the future, there seemed to be some more positivity and cautious optimism. (I’ll allow for the possibility that those who were feeling more positive were more willing to fill out the survey.) But the third survey was conducted before the current rise of the Delta variant and that is sure to have a strong impact on people and the field. So, it’s hard to be certain about attitudes right now. &#160; </p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Based on what you’ve heard from your constituents through these surveys and otherwise, what do you think are going to be the biggest changes to the field as the pandemic subsides?&#160;</strong> </p><p> <strong>NK&#58; </strong>I have a few thoughts on this. New ticketing models, for one. As I mentioned earlier, according to our surveys, overall, profits made from monetizing virtual events have not replaced in-person revenue. And vendors that maintain social distancing measures will continue to have limited capacity in their spaces. So I think we might see new ticketing models created to help make up for the extreme loss in revenue. &#160;</p><p>I think we will continue to see new tools and technologies or new ways of utilizing old ones to aid in recovery. For instance, I learned from our members about masks created to allow reed and wind players to rehearse and perform while masking up. So I think there is going to be a lot more innovation to accommodate a “new normal.”&#160;</p><p>Also, a lot of this innovation will come from the younger generation. Those who have been in school during this pandemic will have unique takeaways and bring new outlooks to their careers. A <a href="https&#58;//www.chamber-music.org/mag/2021-summer/lessons-learned">recent article</a> in the Summer 2021 issue of <em>Chamber Music </em>highlights the silver linings educators and students have taken away from this past school year. They include everything from sharper listening and rehearsal skills, to adaptability, technological know-how and a renewed sense of commitment to and belief in the discipline. </p><p>And as the field continues to work toward dismantling racial inequity, everyone will have to develop strategies to address the fact that people of color have been and continue to be <a href="https&#58;//www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html" target="_blank">disproportionately affected</a> by the pandemic. I’m not sure what that will look like exactly. But the old methods weren’t working even before the pandemic. So, organizations will have to adapt to thrive. &#160;</p>Wallace editorial team792021-09-08T04:00:00ZChamber Music America field surveys reveal innovation and resilience despite the pandemic’s challenges9/8/2021 1:36:54 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Taking the Pulse of Small Ensemble Music Chamber Music America field surveys reveal innovation and resilience despite the 260https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
5 Questions We’ve Been Asked About Wallace’s Arts Open Call for Grantees & Researchers14324GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​There is still time (deadline is midnight Friday, August 20!) to <a href="https&#58;//wallacefoundation.submittable.com/submit">submit</a> your brief expression of interest <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/arts-initiative-open-call.aspx">to the Wallace Foundation for our Arts Open Call</a>. As we’ve been meeting with and learning from many arts organizations of color, some of the same questions have come up frequently, so today we’re going to answer a few of the most common ones. </p><p>One thing to keep in mind is that in addition to funding grantees for their direct benefit, Wallace initiatives are also designed to benefit the field by sharing lessons from&#160; grantees. Also to recap, this is the guiding question of the new initiative&#58; “When facing strategic challenges, how can and do arts organizations of color leverage their experience and histories of community orientation to increase their resilience, while sustaining their relevance?” </p><p> <strong>1. In the application you ask about our “strategic challenge.” What do you mean by that? How should I respond in 150 words?</strong><br> <br>As with all of Wallace’s initiatives, this one will follow our dual strategy of supporting grantees while developing lessons that can benefit the broader field. For this initiative specifically,&#160;we’re interested in learning what kinds of challenges and community orientation practices arts organizations of color are most interested in learning about. So, it's difficult for us to give one concrete example of a strategic challenge. </p><p>If you are having a hard time choosing which challenge to focus on, describe the one (or two) that you feel are important for <em>your </em>organization and that you’d really like to explore and learn more about over the five years of this initiative. </p><p>You can find several examples of strategic challenges expressed by organizations of color in this <a href="https&#58;//culturaldata.org/pages/the-alchemy-of-high-performing-arts-organizations-a-spotlight-on-organizations-of-color/">study</a> by SMU Data​Arts we commissioned and published earlier in the year. A few challenges stated in the report are&#58; </p><blockquote style="margin&#58;0px 0px 0px 40px;border&#58;none;padding&#58;0px;"> <br>...racism, gentrification, and lack of access to funding, which some see as elements of white supremacy culture. Interviewees noted that when organizations of color seek to grow and serve low-income communities, their ability to expand is inhibited by a participant base that does not have the means itself to generate substantial earned revenue and individual contributions, and by lack of access to corporate and foundation funding at levels equitable to those provided to their peers that do not primarily serve communities of color. The absence of an engine for revenue growth appears to perpetuate critical organizational capacity shortages reflected in burnout, low wages, and insufficient staffing, particularly in the administrative areas that generate revenue. It also limits the number of people that can be served.<br> </blockquote><p> <br> These examples are in no way meant to limit your own thinking.</p><p> <strong>2. What kind of responses are you looking for? What’s most compelling for Wallace?</strong><br><br>Sometimes it's easier to say what we’re not looking for. You don’t need to “copy/paste” information from your website about your strengths and successes. You also don’t need to show that your project ideas are fully buttoned up. We know a lot can change—especially now—but the strategic challenge, your mission and vision, and the value we place on learning are constants. So, at this point, we don’t need project details. It’s important to think about the kinds of challenges you’re facing and how your roots in the community are and could help you surmount them. </p><p> <strong>3. The open call eligibility (for the first of two cohorts) is for organizations with budgets between $500,000 and $5 million. What if my budget is smaller than $500,000?</strong><br><br>In our previous arts initiative, the budget threshold was one million dollars. We thought about the ways that we’d have to work differently so that we could lower the budget threshold. We are therefore starting with the first cohort of 10 to 12 organizations with annual budgets starting at $500,000 and capped at $5 million. </p><p>Of course, we know that the majority of arts organizations of color fall below annual budgets of $500,000. This is why we will be funding a second, larger cohort of organizations with budget sizes under $500,000. There is a lot that we need to learn to design this second cohort, which we expect to begin in late 2022. </p><p> <strong>4. Why did you add the four U.S. territories, in addition to Puerto Rico?</strong><br><br>We have expanded the list of eligible U.S. territories in response to an inquiry from a group of arts organizations, artists and arts workers. It was an oversight on our part, and we are glad it was brought to our attention so that we could correct it before the deadline. </p><p>American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guåhan (Guam), are now eligible, along with Puerto Rico, the 50 states and the District of Columbia.<br></p><p> <strong>5. Why is Wallace doing this initiative, and why now?</strong><br><br>&#160;Wallace funds the arts in large part due to our founder <a href="/about-wallace/pages/history.aspx">Lila Acheson</a>’s passion to ensure that “the arts belong to everyonel.” There are a wealth of arts and culture organizations founded by and for a diversity of people, including for specific racial and ethnic communities in the U.S., and they already have a <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-alchemy-of-high-performing-arts-organizations-part-ii-a-spotlight-on-organizations-of-color.aspx">strong community orientation </a>that is an integral part of their success. </p><p>This initiative—with its five-year investment for planning, project support, cohort learning and research—is one step toward highlighting and building upon&#160; the strengths, assets and work of organizations of color, while adding to the research and knowledge base about them, which at this point is relatively slim. That’s why we’re also seeking researchers who have experience working with organizations of color to study and document the initiative. Our hope is that the resulting lessons on the links between community orientation, relevance and resilience will be useful not only to other arts organizations of color, but to the broader field of the non-profit arts.</p><p>Still ha​ve questions? Feel free to <a href="mailto&#58;artsopencall@wallacefoundation.org">shoot us an email</a>. </p>Wallace editorial team792021-08-13T04:00:00ZAs 8/20 deadline to apply for new $53 million initiative focused on arts organizations of color approaches, we answer a few common questions and concerns.8/13/2021 4:17:16 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / 5 Questions We’ve Been Asked About Wallace’s Arts Open Call for Grantees & Researchers As 8/20 deadline to apply for new 468https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Decade-long Effort to Expand Arts Education in Boston Pays Off14317GP0|#d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8;L0|#0d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8|Arts Education;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​​​A few years ago, a middle school student came to the United States without knowing any English.&#160;Joining a chorus through her school in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) district helped change that. By translating the songs on her phone, she was able to get a swift grasp of the language, something that otherwise might have taken years.&#160;&#160; <br></p><p>Anthony Beatrice, BPS’s director for the arts, share​​d this and other stories with us in a recent Zoom conversation spurred by a new study that documents the unexpected benefits and power of the arts in schools. Published by Edvestors, a school improvement nonprofit in Boston, <a href="https&#58;//www.edvestors.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/The-Arts-Advantage-Impacts-of-Arts-Education-on-Boston-Students_Brief-FINAL.pdf"> <em>The Art​s Advantage&#58; Impacts of Arts Education on Bos​ton Students</em></a> found consistent positive effects on student attendance as a result of students taking arts courses, and these effects are notably stronger for students who have a history of chronic absenteeism and students on Individualized Education Plans. In addition, parent and student school engagement were higher when more students in a school were enrolled in arts courses. Teachers were more likely to report that students put more effort into their work and parents were more active at the school. The study was based on more than 600,000 K-12 student-level observations across every Boston Public School over 11 school years from 2008-09 through 2018-19.</p><p>The benefits for students documented by the research come on top of the intrinsic benefits of the arts as a discipline, a point alluded to by Marinell Rousmaniere, president and CEO of EdVestors.&#160; </p><p>“We're an education organization,” she said. “We're not an arts organization, and our underlying belief about the arts is that all students deserve access to arts education as part of a well-rounded education.”<br></p><p>The study used data collected through EdVestors’ BPS Arts Expansion program, launched in 2009. A public-private partnership led by EdVestors and the Visual and Performing Arts Department at BPS, which Wallace&#160;​<a href="/news-and-media/press-releases/pages/boston-receives-4-million-grant-to-expand-arts-education-in-boston-public-schools.aspx">helped fund in 2012</a> through a four-year grant,&#160; the multiyear initiative brought together local foundations, the school district, arts organizations, higher education institutions and the mayor’s office to focus on creating a coherent, sustainable approach to high-quality arts education for all of the district’s students.<br><br>“Boston is a large urban district, and a very diverse district,” said ­­­ Carol Johnson, who served as superintendent at BPS from 2007 to 2013. “Almost half of students in Boston come from households where English is not the first language. That diversity, coupled with a number of equity issues and equity access issues, were important factors in how we began to approach this work.”</p><p>In the early days of the initiative, according to Johnson, the district had to deal with challenges such as financial constraints, budget cuts and competing interests from some principals. However, she and the school committee were dedicated to not allowing these barriers push them away from their main goal—equitable access to the arts for all students.</p><p>“Even though there were doubters about the strategy from some principals, once they began to expand opportunities for students, they began to see that this had possibility,” she noted.</p><p>Early planning of the initiative was extremely important, according to Johnson&#58;&#160;“We had to be very strategic, thoughtful and purposeful and set up our methods of collecting data to see where we are, then map out a long-term strategy.”</p><p>The longstanding partnerships between the district, EdVestors, local and national funders, arts organizations and other community members were key to&#160;the district’s success in boosting arts education.</p><p>“We are truly fortunate to have such a cohesive arts community in Boston,” said Beatrice, the BPS arts director “Simply put, we have more impact when we work together. The vision of the BPS Arts Expansion from 11 years ago has worked. A majority of our schools that were able to be granted funds for arts partners have now also added certified arts educators, nearly doubling the amount of certified arts teachers from around 164 in 2009 to over 300 today.”</p><p>Indeed, the study supports the value of increased access to arts learning, specifically stating, “when students have more opportunities to participate in arts learning experiences, their engagement in school overall increases, as measured by reductions in absenteeism; increases in student and parent school engagement; and modest effects on student achievement, particularly English Language Arts for middle school students.”<br></p><p class="wf-Element-Callout"> “Simply put, when we talk about the social-emotional well-being of our students, the arts are a huge part of that.&quot;</p>​Arts can be powerful for young people in other ways, too, Beatrice said.&#160; “The arts provide an opportunity for students to not only showcase their artistic skills but also give an opportunity to reflect about their process and their learning,” he said. “Simply put, when we talk about the social-emotional well-being of our students, the arts are a huge part of that.&quot;<p><br>​Brian Kisida, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri’s Truman School of Public Affairs who co-led the study, said its findings about arts learning and the link to student engagement might help schools as they begin to respond to the disruptions to in-person learning caused by COVID-19.</p><p>“Arts education should absolutely be a focus of getting students re-engaged in school as we return to some sense of normalcy after the pandemic,” he said. “I think there are some fears that schools may try to prioritize tested subjects at the expense of the arts, and I think that that would be a mistake. We know that students didn't just suffer from learning loss, but the last year has done serious harm to students’ social and emotional health—they lost the connections with their friends, they've lost the connections with their teachers.”<br><br>Rousmaniere also agreed that the findings are important as schools try to return to normalcy after the pandemic.​</p><p>​“People are focused on learning loss, but I think we need to be focused on learning readiness,” she said. “Arts is like a swiss army knife​—it feeds many different needs that schools have and will reach certain populations of students that maybe other things would not.”&#160;<br></p><p>Kisida pointed out that often the arts teacher is the only teacher, especially in an elementary school, who knows every student in the building and knows them for multiple years. “That's a real connection point for re-engaging in school that needs to be given serious consideration,” he said.<br></p><p>In preparation for the 2021-2022 school year, BPS has formed&#160;a working group of arts educators to create arts lessons connected with the core competencies of social and emotional learning&#160;to accompany&#160;the curriculum materials provided by the district’s social and emotional learning office. Beatrice sees this as a continuation of Boston’s unique system-wide approach to arts education. </p><p>“Over time I have learned that there are so many people who have our students’ interest at the heart of what they do,” he said. “Having a systems approach to ensuring students have access to quality arts education ensures that everyone is working in tangent with each other. Each program and organization have a sense of autonomy while understanding their role in the bigger piece of the arts education pie.”<br></p>Jenna Doleh912021-08-10T04:00:00ZStudy finds arts education increases student attendance and student and parent engagement8/13/2021 12:32:01 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Decade-long Effort to Expand Arts Education in Boston Pays Off Study finds arts education increases student attendance and 867https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
$53 Million Initiative Offers Much-Needed Support for Arts Organizations of Color12368GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​Over the past year at Wallace, we have engaged in candid conversations with many leaders of arts organizations of color, who talked about a problem decades in the making&#58; Their organizations have been underfunded and often overlooked, despite their rich histories, high-quality work and deep roots in their communities. <br></p><p>In fact, community orientation—a deep understanding of and connection to the people they serve—seems to be in the DNA of many of arts organizations of color.</p><p>That is why we are launching an initiative to explore this guiding question&#58; </p><p><strong>Facing strategic challenges, how can and do arts organizations of color leverage their experience and histories of community orientation to increase their resilience, while sustaining their relevance?</strong> </p><p>At the heart of this five-year, $53 million investment is Wallace’s commitment to learning and to long-term relationships with our grantees, giving them time and resources to develop ideas and test practical approaches that can be shared with one another and the field. The work is complex, nuanced and, we believe, full of potential. </p><p>We are <a href="https&#58;//wallacefoundation.submittable.com/submit">seeking letters of interest </a>for the first of two cohorts of organizations. We also are <a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/RFP-Arts-Organizations-Centering-Communities-of-Color.aspx">seeking arts researchers </a>whose experience might make them a good fit for this project. For everything you need to know about the initiative and how to submit an expression of interest if you’re eligible, visit our <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/arts-initiative-open-call.aspx">online hub</a>. </p><p>Typically, at this point we would also reveal more about the initiative​ (and its name), but we’re doing things differently this time. Here’s why&#58;</p><p><strong>Arts organizations of color know their priorities better than we do</strong></p><p>We acknowledge the limitations of our experience in this area, and we recognize that the core expertise lies with arts organizations of color themselves. They know their strengths and what resonates with their communities, and have important insights about what might be useful for the field. The initiative, therefore, will begin with a planning year during which we will work with the cohort to further define our work together. </p><p>The grantees will play a pivotal role&#58; helping us name the initiative; developing plans for new projects, or pursuing existing ones; and choosing the kind of technical supports they wish to receive. The planning year is meant to give grantees three things they don’t always have&#58; sufficient time, resources and support to carry out their vision. </p><p><strong>As part of our commitment to equity, we</strong>’<strong>re doing some things differently</strong></p><p>Equity has long been an intrinsic part of Wallace’s values, and is now at the forefront of our mission. The events of the past year and the national conversation about race led to candid conversations at Wallace about what meaningful steps we might take to strengthen our equity focus. </p><p>This began with revising our mission statement in 2020 to make more explicit our commitment to advancing equity in the fields we fund&#58; the arts, education leadership and youth development through out-of-schooltime learning and enrichment.</p><p>A cornerstone of our approach is listening to and partnering with organizations that have a similar commitment to equity, as well as the willingness and capacity to carry out multiyear plans that will be meaningful to the communities they serve.&#160;</p><p>While planning the initiative, we were keenly aware of the concern that the same well-known organizations might be selected for multiple grants by a number of national foundations. To mitigate this risk, we are casting as wide a net as possible by asking eligible organizations to express their interest. We believe this step—unusual for us—is vital to ensure an inclusive process for this new initiative.</p><p>Filling out a brief form is the first step in an application process that is designed to minimize the administrative load for organizations, while ensuring that all who are interested and eligible are considered. We are asking arts service organizations, researchers, state and local arts councils and others to help spread the word. To address an array of needs, we are also offering 15-minute, personalized consultations with Wallace staff. </p><p>In another departure from Wallace’s past approach to grantmaking, the initiative’s two cohorts will enable us to work with organizations of different sizes. The first cohort, to be selected this fall, will comprise 10 to 12 organizations with larger budget sizes of $500,000 to $5 million. A second, larger cohort, which we expect to select in late 2022, will include organizations with smaller budgets below $500,000.</p><p>We are starting with large organizations because Wallace has years of experience partnering with organizations of this size to achieve our dual goals&#58; benefiting the grantees we fund directly and the broader field. </p><p><strong>We will continue to listen and evolve</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>In planning this initiative, Wallace sought advice from numerous arts organizations of color, whose leaders and other staff generously shared not only their big-picture perspectives but also nuances within the sector. </p><p>We consulted with researchers of color, commissioned studies and sought counsel from arts service organizations to learn about trends they have observed in the field—the strengths, challenges and opportunities. </p><p>In addition, we continue to do our homework, converse with practitioners and industry experts, read existing documentation of the field, and build spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks. But we understand that no amount of prep work can sufficiently encapsulate the diversity, subtleties and richness of the field. </p><p>We acknowledge that even our use of the term ‘arts organizations of color’ is imperfect and that no umbrella term can capture the constellation of organizations that serve myriad communities, including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Arab American, and Asian American/Pacific Islander. </p><p>Relationship building is key to the success of this work. We know that as members of the field of institutional philanthropy, it will take time to build trusting relationships in a space that has long been underresourced and underacknowledged by those who use their capital to create social good. </p> <p>We all must begin somewhere. It’s very likely that elements of our approach will be unsatisfactory to some and that we’ll stumble along the way. We fully accept that we do not have all the answers, and we look forward to learning together. </p>Bahia Ramos842021-07-19T04:00:00ZWallace’s new five-year, $53 million initiative will explore that question – and we’re seeking organizations and researchers to learn along with us7/19/2021 3:33:23 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / $53 Million Initiative Offers Much-Needed Support for Arts Organizations of Color An open call seeks medium to large 690https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Why Young People Need Access to High-Quality Arts Education9829GP0|#d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8;L0|#0d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8|Arts Education;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​ <p>​​​​​Though he'd been drawing since he was young, Kaden Robinson, 17, says it was his program at the Boys &amp; Girls Club in Knoxville that taught him how to express himself through art. Help from mentors, and access to easels and canvases, helped him escape the &quot;dark place mentally&quot; he says he'd been in. &quot;I cannot imagine being the person I am without art,&quot; he says.&#160;&#160;</p><p>Kaden’s experience is not unique. Studies confirm that especially with sustained engagement, arts experiences, and especially making art, can help young people gain new perspectives, deepen empathy, picture what is possible, collaborate, and even fuel civic engagement.</p><p>Arts learning can also promote school success. In Houston, a<a href="https&#58;//kinder.rice.edu/sites/default/files/documents/Investigating%20Causal%20Effects%20of%20Arts%20Education%20Experiences%20Final_0.pdf" target="_blank"> randomized study</a> of 10,548&#160; students in grades 3-8 found increasing arts education improved writing achievement, school engagement, college aspirations and arts-facilitated empathy.</p><p>Yet spending on arts education has declined, and too many miss out&#58; A 2017 National Endowment for the Arts survey found among 18-24 year-olds, 67 percent of white students reported having had an art class in or out of school, 52 percent of African-Americans, 47 percent of Asian-Americans and 33 percent of Hispanics.<br></p><p>All children deserve access to high-quality arts education in and after school;<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/something-to-say-success-principles-for-afterschool-arts-programs.aspx"> research</a> shows that includes knowledgeable instructors, positive relationships with adults and peers, high standards, a welcoming environment, and a culminating event to build confidence and community. Within cities, schools and arts organization<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/revitalizing-arts-education.aspx"> collaborations</a> can help overcome barriers like transportation and access to instructors.</p><p>As Kaden reminds us, arts experiences affirm children’s imaginations, and expand their sense of self--and possibility--in the world. With parents deeply concerned about both learning loss and social and emotional well-being, and in the context of our emergence from COVID-19 and in a national conversation on race, ensuring access to arts experiences will help us build a more equitable future.</p><p> A shorter version of this post first appeared in Time Magazine’s <a href="https&#58;//time.com/collection/visions-of-equity/6046015/equity-agenda/" target="_blank"> Visions of Equity </a> project.​<br></p><p><em>Top&#160;photo&#58;&#160;Kaden Robinson, 17, in creative writing class; with Shannon Hance, 14, to his left and Kayla Brawner, 15, right. ​Courtesy of the Boys &amp; Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.</em><br></p><p></p>Bahia Ramos842021-06-15T04:00:00ZStudies confirm that arts experiences can boost academic and social skills--but too many children and teens are still missing out8/3/2021 9:37:31 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Why Young People Need Access to High-Quality Arts Education Studies confirm that arts experiences can boost academic and 2258https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
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 1076https://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 671https://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 499https://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 436https://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 502https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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