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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 334https://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 348https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Future Arts Administrators and Other Adult Learners Persevere Online5199GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>As students gear up for the spring semester (whether in-person or virtually), many are preparing to return to programs that look and operate much differently than in previous years. Those who teach and run arts administration programs have experienced this shift as well, with many programs rethinking and reworking pre-existing systems to acclimate to the current environment. </p><p>We recently connected over email with John-Morgan Bush, Director of Lifelong Learning at The Juilliard School, and Lee Ann Scotto Adams, Executive Director of the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE), over email to discuss obstacles and bright spots that the arts higher education landscape has experienced as a result of the pandemic, its resultant economic hardships and the urgent, ongoing conversations around equity and access. Despite previously anticipated enrollment drops in higher education due to rising COVID-19 cases on campuses and the potential drawbacks of virtual course instruction, Bush and Adams share that arts programs and their students—from the undergraduate to the continuing education level—have demonstrated perseverance and agility, adapting and learning within a new environment.</p><p><strong>The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused enrollment changes in higher education programs as cases on campuses rose last fall. What are some challenges unique to arts programs? And how are people addressing them?</strong></p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> Many arts administration programs in the AAAE network have actually seen recent increases in inquiries, applications and enrollment. This isn’t too surprising, as this tends to happen in higher education when there is an economic crisis. There was a similar trend during the 2009 economic collapse. People go back to school to augment their skills or make a career change; this is true at the undergraduate level too. One of AAAE’s undergraduate programs in the Midwest has seen a 25 percent increase in its freshman class this year, and they are getting an influx of undergraduate students who are choosing arts-discipline majors and minors. Undergraduate students who are interested in studying the arts may be choosing arts administration during this time of economic uncertainty, as the skills taught in these programs are transferrable to multiple careers. &#160;</p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> First, I believe that it is important to realize that the impact of COVID-19 is being felt acutely across all sectors, public and private. We are out of balance as a society right now and are collectively reeling. Throughout the performing arts, there are the obvious challenges such as not being able to convene an audience in person or teach in our traditional settings. But beyond these immediate dilemmas, I believe that one of the biggest challenges that we need to address is how we keep our adult audiences interested in the artistic work we do during this time of separation. I believe that curiosity is the sister to creativity. </p><p>In Juilliard’s Evening Division (an adult learning program that offers an array of programs in various arts disciplines), we are looking at every way possible to provide value to our students, so they remain curious about the art forms that they love, even in the absence of live performance. When they stay curious, they are engaged to not only support artistic practice, but willing to participate in the artistic process as well. In my view, curiosity is what we will need most of all when the pandemic passes (and it will!)—we will need communities who are inquisitive enough about our artistic output that they want to support us and participate as soon as they are able to do so.</p><p><strong>What kinds of changes and/or adjustments have programs made for disciplines that require frequent and rigorous in-person instruction? </strong></p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> Fortunately, for arts administration and related programs, such as theatre management, entertainment industry management, cultural management, arts leadership, arts entrepreneurship, cultural policy and museum studies, these programs can be easily transitioned and scaled to an online classroom environment. This is one area of arts teaching and learning that doesn’t require hands-on instruction. Even before the pandemic hit, many arts administration programs in the AAAE network were offered online or offered an optional online component to the curriculum, especially at the graduate level.<strong> </strong> </p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> COVID-19 has upended our belief about what is possible and what learning environments in the performing arts can look like and it has catalyzed innovation. The impact on continuing education was no less substantial. If you envision online learning as students “beaming” into classes via broadband and greeting each other and their professors through webcams built into laptops you are not entirely wrong. But, if your mental image is a group comprised solely of tech-savvy millennials and gen Z’ers livestreaming into classes, that’s where you’d be mistaken. At Juilliard, it was in fact the intrepid students of the Juilliard Evening Division, more than 50 percent of whom over the age of 60, who paved the way in online learning. COVID-19 has taught us that flexibility is needed more than ever—it’s essential. It has also reminded me to never underestimate the human capacity to adapt and learn at any age. </p><p><strong>What has been lost in all the technology? Alternatively, what have programs and educators gained?&#160; </strong></p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> I’ve advised our continuing education faculty to think of online learning not merely as a replacement or facsimile of an in-class lecture, but rather as a completely new opportunity to provide more value and deepen learning experiences. Working together with our Evening Division faculty, we’ve found ways to creatively organize continuing education curricula so that students realize and can track where they are on their carefully designated learning journeys. We can organize our supplemental materials, videos, scores, readings and more, in ways that spark curiosity and meaning to the individual artistic experience. </p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> We’re seeing some advantages as well. Though it was a tough start when the pandemic hit and arts leaders initially panicked, I believe these technologies have enhanced the field by broadening access to the arts. As an example, the AAAE academic conference moved to an entirely virtual format in May 2020, and drew in almost double the number of attendees, with members joining us from China, Australia, Vienna and Manila. These international members typically aren’t able to attend the annual meetings, as travel budgets and academic schedules can be prohibitive. This year, the virtual formal levelled the playing field for all and brought many new voices to the conversation.</p><p>The Wallace Blog recently posted <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/can-pandemic-be-catalyst-for-new-global-arts-ecology.aspx?utm_source=facebook&amp;utm_medium=b32ae361-3e65-4032-82eb-0cda2790e66e&amp;utm_campaign=Website&amp;utm_content=organic_paid">an article</a> by Zenetta S. Drew where she states, “Artists—whether professional or not—became the unofficial essential workers of the pandemic, vital to our nation’s health and recovery, and an overwhelming validation of the importance of the arts.” </p><p>Our nation is consuming the arts now more than ever. Perhaps it’s the equivalent of eating a pint of ice cream to combat a stressful day. The arts are nourishing to the soul. They also provide an escape. Drew goes on to state, “the continuation of the pandemic has…also forced a group of technology-resistant learners of all ages to learn to use online platforms, opening up arts events to new audiences, many of whom will pay to view performances online.”&#160; </p><p>Again, here we see a case for technology broadening access to the arts among new audiences.</p><p><strong>In what ways have students inspired you through their practice during this critical juncture?</strong></p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> One of the most devastating impacts of COVID-19 has been the isolation it has imposed on elderly and other at-risk populations. While I knew that learning would persist online, in those early days I wondered if our sense of community would as well. I can say now, with total certainty, that community does persist. As we moved our courses online, I was inspired by the student interactions with each other and faculty. In March during the darkest days of the pandemic [in New York], I witnessed one professor end his class with the sincere wish that his students (mostly senior citizens) stay safe and well, and they reciprocated the sentiment. But the emotion behind it, the role that this course had come to play in both the lives of students and teacher was extraordinary. It provided rhythm to the passing of time, opportunity to connect with like-minded peers when isolation was the order of the day and celebration and/or escape through music. </p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> Since the pandemic began, the AAAE membership has seen an influx of new student members. I believe students are eager to connect and engage with each other and with leaders in the field. We have also seen strong student interest in leadership opportunities. Perhaps with the limited internship opportunities available during the pandemic, students are looking for alternative avenues to build their skills and grow their networks. I recently put out a call for conference planning committee members, and I received 13 student volunteers! I received so many offers from students to assist that I had to create a student planning sub-committee. Like the at-risk populations John-Morgan references, students have so much to lose with social isolation and dramatic shifts in academic and professional development opportunities, but they are proving to be absolutely resilient and brilliant through all of this.</p><p><strong>What do you think the arts higher education landscape will look like next the five to ten years?&#160;</strong></p><p><strong>LSA&#58;</strong> There are so many factors at play here – the political landscape; policy decisions (especially around federal student loans and possible federal student loan forgiveness coming down the line); timely COVID-19 relief funding to assist individuals, businesses and organizations that are struggling right now; and accumulating debt among so many Americans. I think we will continue to see growth in interest in arts administration programs and other arts disciplines with transferrable skills, and an increase in quality online and hybrid programs. There is much more widespread recognition of the value of the arts in our society, especially as we navigate these difficult times, and this will continue to drive interest in arts administration programs. </p><p><strong>JMB&#58;</strong> This is a great question and one for which I desperately wish that I had a definitive answer. But seeing that none of us have a crystal ball, we must be careful to not project but evaluate what we see before us today. In public schools, higher education and continuing education, we are beginning to see the value of flexible and hybrid learning formats as well as remote work environments. We are seeing that excellent teachers are excellent both online and in-person and that a humanistic approach to instruction has always been an incredible asset. We are collectively acknowledging that digital performance will play an ongoing role in our artistic lives. It’s bringing people together. We are seeing students signing up for online classes with siblings, parents and friends on opposite sides of the country. Adult education courses are a great way for them to stay connected through the arts. This is just one of many new opportunities to pique curiosity and find new ways to engage adult learners with our art forms. </p> <em>Please note, John-Morgan Bush’s responses are based on his personal expertise and as Juilliard’s Director of Lifelong Learning.<br><br>John-Morgan Bush photo by Gregory Mahan;&#160;Lee Ann Adams photo by Frederick Fullerton<br></em> Wallace editorial team792021-01-14T05:00:00ZTwo veterans of the arts higher education field discuss the challenges and happy surprises of operating throughout the pandemic1/14/2021 8:12:34 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Future Arts Administrators and Other Adult Learners Persevere Online Two veterans of the arts higher education field 578https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Looking Toward an Alchemy for Arts Organizations Post-COVID26778GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​What is a “universal story”? </p><p>While many leaders of nonprofit arts organizations have, out of necessity, made financial stability a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, some have been driven to explore even more fundamental questions about the stories they choose to tell in their performances, and how to make sure the stories have meaning to their audiences. The goal, ultimately, is to broaden their audience base as well as strengthen their financial bottom line. </p><p>Michael Bateman, managing director of the A Noise Within theater in Pasadena, California, for instance, says he has focused on connecting with and finding relevance with communities beyond the organization’s more traditional audiences in Los Angeles, which had been predominantly white. The organization began by questioning the so-called classic plays they presented from the Western tradition, which touch on what are intended to be universal human themes—the artists ranging from Shakespeare and Dickens to Moliere. Did these plays really touch and move the kinds of diverse audiences the theater wanted to reach, particularly in communities of color? </p><p>To answer that question, the organization found opportunities to hold discussions with artists of color and asked them to define what a new “universal story” might be. They’d begun this effort before the pandemic, but Bateman says it gained new importance as the organization began to rethink its mission and increase its outreach to new communities as the pandemic and national reckoning with racial justice took hold. </p><p>“We know it’s hard for all to feel welcome here,” Bateman says of the traditional plays and other performances and events at the theater. “We want to tell stories where the audiences see themselves. We want to make people feel more welcome. We’re engaging with other artists in our community. What we’ve done is go back to our community and say, ‘What do you need from us now?’”</p><p>Bateman was one of three panelists in <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-a-webinar-series-from-the-wallace-foundation-session-2.aspx">the second conversation</a> in Wallace’s <em>Reimagining the Future of the Arts</em>&#160;series. The other participants were Zenetta S. Drew, executive director of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Kim Noltemy, president and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Association. Zannie Voss, Ph.D., director of SMU DataArts, one of the country’s leading centers for arts research, moderated the panel. </p><p>Voss is co-author of a recent study for the Wallace Foundation, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-alchemy-of-high-performing-arts-organizations.aspx"><em>The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations,</em></a> which analyzes the elements that produce financial stability by looking at two groups of high-performing arts organizations, one group that had consistently strong financial track records and a second group that had been in financial distress but recovered. The study summarizes its lengthy analysis this way, “The cornerstones of high performance appear to lie in the alchemy of high standards in the creation of work that is meaningful to the local community.”</p><p>Simply put&#58; high-quality art + community relevance = success. </p><p>In the panel discussion, and in later conversations with the panelists on their efforts to adapt to the current environment, all three emphasized that finding those meaningful community connections was an immediate priority, in the hopes that the results would eventually help them build new business models. Each admitted to a combination of excitement and anxiety.</p><p>Drew of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre describes this as a moment of validation for her organization and the company’s vision. She says it is a time of great challenges but also opportunities that we have waited years to implement. Since 1996, she says, the theater has tried to build a digital audience, previously with little success, due to historical barriers to online expansion. She has leapt at the greater interest in virtual performances now, with theaters closed, both to try and sustain revenue but also to connect with audiences and communities beyond Dallas. </p><p>A starting point, she says, is the role the arts are playing in helping people manage in the pandemic. “As a result of the pandemic, the arts are finding relevancy for our individual and collective work,” Drew says. “Everybody now, novice and professional, has become art makers and are putting things online. Art has been validated in its relevance. Artists are essential workers to our nation’s social, emotional resilience and recovery. It is enriching us. It changes lives. It heals.”</p><p>The theatre has been charging for popular digital events, a model that Drew says she intends to aggressively pursue. She stresses that it’s not just an alternative way to add earned revenue, but a core element in the mission of an arts organization that, she says, has long confronted an array of deep challenges. DBDT has never had the kind of broad and deep donor base that some other arts nonprofits have, making for a precarious and lean structure well before the pandemic. Also, its focus on Black artists and Black audiences has meant the organization encountered resistance from some white members of the community and sponsors, she says. Some had urged the organization in the past to remove the designation as a self-declared “Black” theater from the name, which it has to this day refused, since that is the group’s identity and identifies a core community it serves.</p><p>“I’ve always been working with the pandemic of racism,” Drew says. “That’s been true for us from the beginning. COVID is just another issue on the list of issues we have to deal with, and that’s why we’re ready, we’re resilient, we have ideas. I have the same panorama of problems as everyone else, but we are focusing on the opportunities.”</p><p>Audiences have embraced DBDT’s online events and performances, which are earning revenues and expanding not just in Texas but in surrounding states and even overseas. “I have someone from Australia on every virtual event we do,” she says.</p><p>“I’m trying to lead the industry in thinking outside the box,” Drew says. “We’re not just doing things until we can get people in seats again. We can’t go backwards. We’re building a new paradigm for our existence. This was great news for DBDT.” (To read more about DBDT's digital efforts and vision for the future, read <a href="/news-and-media/blog/pages/can-pandemic-be-catalyst-for-new-global-arts-ecology.aspx">Drew's recent essay​</a> for The Wallace Blog.)<br></p><p>On of Drew’s fans is Kim Noltemy of the Dallas Symphony (the two sit on each other’s boards). She expresses admiration for how successfully the Dallas Black Dance Theatre has utilized virtual performances to earn more revenues and to create a sense of excitement around its events. It is a model, she says, that she is eager to replicate to some degree at the symphony.</p><p>“I think this is going to be a great turning point for the orchestra industry,” she says. “People are becoming accustomed to listening to music online and paying for it. It was such an effort before. People only wanted live music. But we’re changing the paradigm.”</p><p>Offering virtual concerts, about 20 percent of which are free, is a means of developing a more complete digital musical experience. Additionally, they have expanded the symphony’s free outdoor music events, mostly chamber groups, which allow it to reach into new neighborhoods and build relationships with more diverse audiences, particularly in communities of color. In those outdoor events, they have been offering a combination of classical music, pieces such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, popular contemporary music, such as music by the film composer John Williams, and jazzy ragtime pieces for a brass chamber group. In previous years, she says, the symphony did from 15 to 20 of those events a year. Performances have increased sharply to about 90 since the pandemic hit, and Noltemy expects they will offer 40 more before the year’s end, hoping that some of those audience members will turn into subscribers.</p><p>“This transformation is permanent, no matter what happens with the pandemic,” she says. “Now, our focus is creating high quality content for the online events and getting better at those productions. That takes experience.”</p><p>Additionally, Noltemy says they will be extending the kind of attention that the symphony has traditionally provided to donors, board members and subscribers to a broader array of audience members and prospective audience members. Once the symphony is offering indoor concerts on a regular basis again, this will include invitations to pre-concert discussions of the programs to post-concert parties attended by some orchestra members. For now, there will be more targeted marketing materials and digital outreach. “That has to be a high priority, like in business,” she says. “We need to use those tools much more than we ever have.”</p><p>Such ramped-up communications and personal outreach can help organizations interact more deeply with the diverse communities they seek to engage with. Some are even creating programs designed to prompt discussion and feedback. Bateman at A Noise Within points to new free online programs&#58; “Noise Now,” started last year, and “Fridays@Five,” which began during the shutdown. Both involve a series of discussions with writers, directors and artists of color talking about their backgrounds and what special insights they may bring to their work in the theater, among other things. </p><p>“We have to dig up that part of our cornerstone and rebuild our foundation,” Bateman says, referring to the organization’s mission and its growing knowledge of what kind of stories might be relevant and meaningful to the different communities around Pasadena. In fact, A Noise Within has just written a new strategic plan with a goal of one day creating a new financial model that includes, among other things, more revenue from online plays and events—something that has come directly from these conversation about community and sustainability. </p> ​<br>James Sterngold 1122020-12-10T05:00:00ZExpert panel says high quality art, community connection plus a strong online presence can help fuel future success in the arts12/10/2020 2:00:24 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Looking Toward an Alchemy for Arts Organizations Post-COVID Expert panel says high quality art, community connection plus a 367https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Can Pandemic Be Catalyst for New Global Arts Ecology?26775GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down America’s businesses and arts organizations, the entire nation became an at-home arts industry overnight. Through social media and other online technologies, people of all ages transformed into artists, as the arts, and not sports, offered the means to express their pain, healing and hope. Artists—whether professional or not—became the unofficial essential workers of the pandemic, vital to our nation’s health and recovery, and an overwhelming validation of the importance of the arts. <br></p><p>At the same time, leaders of arts organizations were in a state of complete panic as the cessation of ticket sales, touring fees and other earned revenue intensified an assortment of operating challenges and financial problems. Many groups lacked the resources or familiarity to quickly transition to the virtual realm. But what shocked me most was the resistance of arts leaders to see the situation as an opportunity to explore and develop a new dynamic business model. Instead, there seemed to be consensus that the pandemic was a finite attack that would end with a return to the safety of our previous status quo. </p><p>But even before COVID-19 the system was broken. Audiences and revenue from ticket sales have been steadily declining for the previous three decades. National <a href="https&#58;//www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/US_Patterns_of_Arts_ParticipationRevised.pdf" target="_blank">statistics have tracked this disturbing trend</a> in audience participation, while a recent <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/audience-building-and-financial-health-nonprofit-performing-arts.aspx">review of the literature on audience behavior</a> found little evidence as to why audiences are shrinking or how the field is responding. Additionally, organizations face growing challenges and costs from efforts to reach underserved communities, competition for contributed revenue and pressure to implement Diversity Equity and Inclusion initiatives. In short, the business practices that worked half a century ago now offer diminishing returns, as arts organizations fail to reach, educate and attract large numbers of new participants. </p><p>Where is the creativity in arts leadership, and who is championing change? Now is the chance to make significant and lasting changes industry wide. For the first time in recent history, all of the arts share a common problem, which presents a transformative opportunity to seek a new business model that can benefit all genres and move the industry into the twenty-first century. </p><p>Over its 44-year history, Dallas Black Dance Theatre has weathered its share of crisesand has come to embrace a crisis management philosophy inspired by Niccolo Machiavelli&#58; “Never waste the opportunities offered by a good crisis.” While COVID-19 caused other arts organizations to freeze, DBDT’s staff, dancers and Board of Directors immediately recognized the unique opportunity to stimulate intentional change. For the company, the pandemic revealed an unlimited continuum of undefined possibilities now and into the future. Its real impact will have far-reaching consequences for the arts; it is essential that we look forward and not backward.</p><p>An early pioneer of the digital age, DBDT began exploring online platforms in 1996. This initiative was made possible by the telecommunications company GTE, which provided a $700,000 grant to DBDT to create distance learning opportunities with seven school districts across America. The dance program entitled, “Choreographing the Future through Arts, Technology, and Education,” emboldened DBDT’s vision to use technology to expand the reach of arts programming. </p><p>With the new millennium and the advent of HD television, DBDT began conversations with Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, to pursue 24-hour arts programming to expand and broaden support for Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Due to the aftermath of September 11, the idea was not actualized, but the powerful concept had been planted. In this fast-paced and ever-changing digital age, the arts must continuously re-invent, re-envision and innovate to not only stay relevant but merely survive.&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p>Let’s take a lesson from football. It was never a widely popular sport until television helped familiarize the nation with the game in the 1960s. One early leader to recognize the potential for brand awareness and expanded marketing was the Dallas Cowboys. In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys adopted the practice of hosting Thanksgiving Day games. With families spending the day at home with limited options on television, they offered a captive audience who gradually learned the game and developed holiday traditions around the annual event. Since then, the Dallas Cowboys have played on Thanksgiving Day every year (except twice), spearheading the brand to national prominence regardless of the game’s final score. </p><p>Today, the sports industry has generated so much interest that there is now a little league football team in every neighborhood. This phenomenon has created a communal mindset that increases the number of people who ultimately attend games in person. It is this same concept that DBDT has been advocating for since that first GTE partnership. We firmly believe that the greater the exposure and education about various art forms and arts organizations, the greater will be the number of people who become interested in engaging in a live arts experience. Just as sports owners are continually having to build more massive stadiums, performing arts centers will need to build larger theaters in the future!</p><p>Yet many arts leaders have been insistent that such a strategy reduces in-person attendance rather than creating demand. Even the most seasoned leaders have approached virtual formats for delivering arts programming with dread. Although there is no data to support this idea, the unchallenged position has been that for the arts to be genuinely appreciated, performances must be experienced live. I agree that live experiences are the epitome of arts engagement but compared to having no experience at all, is virtual programming not an acceptable alternative? Consider how many thousands of people are as excited by the experience of watching a sports game via technology versus sitting in a stadium. For many sports fans, the same barriers prevent in-person participation as they do in the arts—cost, geography and access. </p><p>Once health situations improve and theaters safely reopen to capacity, it is reasonable to believe that dedicated arts lovers and even sporadic attendees will return to in-person engagement and the one-of-a-kind experience that can only be achieved sitting in a crowded theater in front of live artists. But what about the thousands of others who have now been exposed to the arts via technology but cannot transition back to pre-COVID-19 in-person attendance options? Indeed, a Culture Track <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/reports/" target="_blank">survey conducted in the early months of the pandemic</a> discovered that digital events are attracting more diverse audiences and that many people enjoying arts experiences online had not visited an arts institution in the previous year.&#160;&#160; </p><p>Will the future of arts participation remain another form of arts elitism? For those who have no theaters, museums or live cultural access in their cities, schools or community venues or for those who lack the transportation, money and even the attire to feel comfortable in an arts venue—do they no longer deserve some level of continued arts access?&#160; </p><p>To begin to answer these questions, we must acknowledge that two basic historical barriers to the online expansion of the arts have converged at once to create an open door for resolution. First, the contractual constraints, protection of artistic and intellectual property, union contracts and numerous other legal restrictions are being reassessed and new constructs developed as art makers, worldwide travel limitations and arts agency budget cuts have drastically reduced opportunities for in-person creative work globally.&#160; </p><p>Limited access to technology for a large segment of the general public was a second barrier, but the continuation of the pandemic has allowed for the expansion of broadband and accelerated the implementation of technology infrastructure for students learning at home, K-12 schools, universities, community venues and performing arts venues. It has also forced a group of technology-resistant learners of all ages to learn to use online platforms, opening up arts events to new audiences, many of whom will pay to view performances online.&#160;&#160; </p><p>Over the summer, Dallas Black Dance Theatre became the first professional dance company nationally and internationally to consistently present paid virtual performances as a new business model after the closing of live performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While others in the dance industry began streaming their content for free to raise donations, DBDT decided immediately that paid virtual performances needed to be part of our new operating model and that this crisis was an opportunity to create a new paradigm shift toward resiliency, expand audiences and generate earned income.</p><p>This new model has resulted in extending the organization’s reach beyond the theater, allowing audiences in areas the company has never traveled to physically to enjoy performances. Once in-theater programming resumes, the company plans to retain a virtual option to continue to expand its audience base, reach new underserved and more diverse communities and to generate an additional earned revenue stream.&#160; </p><p>Dallas Black Dance Theatre envisions and is now developing a full complement of virtual activities. These include conservatory-level dance training at the same professional level as in-studio classes, student matinee/field trips, lecture/demonstrations, in-school dance residency programs, community outreach, and touring programs made available to presenters, as well as a home-school education program for those looking to incorporate dance into their curriculum. For the past three years, DBDT has also been exploring a new streaming platform designed to become a “Netflix for The Arts.” We believe now is the time for the arts to coalesce and move forward to pursue the potential of this concept as an industry.</p><p>The creative industries have always sought to recruit, train and develop the most talented of individuals who can be creative, daring and financially practical, all while delivering out-of-the-box experiences and outcomes. So, should we not expect the same from arts leaders and organizations?</p><p>Pandora’s Box has been opened in 2020 for the arts worldwide. What if, through our collective creative leadership, we could envision the arts ecosystem 20 years from now and say that the COVID-19 pandemic became the catalyst for creating a new, more inclusive, more financially viable, global arts ecology?<br></p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Can-Pandemic-Be-Catalyst-for-New-Global-Arts-Ecology/Zenetta-Drew-Dallas-Black-Dance-Theater.jpg" alt="Zenetta-Drew-Dallas-Black-Dance-Theater.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;width&#58;135px;" /><span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;"></span><div><br></div><p><em>Zenetta S. Drew is the executive director of the </em><a href="https&#58;//dbdt.com/"><em>Dallas Black Dance Theatre</em></a><em>. The lead&#160;photo (above) is by the Dallas Dance Project.</em><br></p>Zenetta S. Drew1132020-12-07T05:00:00ZThis year forced high-tech solutions to the global arts crisis—and it’s about time, says leader of Dallas Black Dance Theatre12/7/2020 7:17:36 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Can Pandemic Be Catalyst for New Global Arts Ecology This year forced high-tech solutions to the global arts crisis—and 3059https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts26330GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​As the COVID-19 pandemic and national reckoning with racial justice continue, arts and culture organizations find themselves in an utterly transformed, and potentially decimating, landscape. To help organizations make their way through this unprecedented time—and even envision some silver linings—global strategic and business planning firm AEA Consulting has released a <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-uncertain-times-a-scenario-planning-toolkit-for-arts-culture-sector.aspx">scenario-planning toolkit</a>. </p><p>Created specifically for the arts sector, the toolkit describes four possible scenarios for the pandemic’s course, and people’s behavior in the wake of it, over the next five years. A <a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/Arts-Organizations-Early-Response-to-COVID-19-Uncertainty-Insights-from-the-Field.aspx">companion report</a> looks at a recent survey of arts leaders and field experts, providing insights that arts organizations can draw on as they undertake their planning. </p><p>The Wallace Blog conducted an email dialogue about the report with <a href="https&#58;//aeaconsulting.com/about/people/daniel_payne">Daniel Payne</a>, a managing principal at AEA Consulting. The exchange has been edited for clarity and length. </p><p><strong>Given the extraordinary degree of uncertainty we are facing, scenario planning might seem counterintuitive. Why is it especially helpful in conditions of high uncertainty?</strong></p><p>COVID-19 shortened our planning horizons from years to weeks. Scenario planning presents an opportunity to think beyond near-term predictions and be more imaginative about multiple possible futures—exactly what is needed when the fog of uncertainty makes it hard to clearly determine likely outcomes. It encourages organizations to focus less on individual bets about direction and instead think about core principles (purpose, mission, and service to communities and audiences), consider potential impact in multiple possible outcomes and lay out different paths to achieve success.</p><p>In other words, there is no right future or wrong future in scenario planning. It is a process that helps an organization imagine itself in different future settings and craft a response, perhaps even uncovering previously hidden opportunities. It extends the planning horizon beyond the near-term—whether to reopening, the end of a financial crisis or otherwise—and ensures organizations can best position themselves for success in multiple possibilities in the long term.</p><p><strong>What is the difference between scenario planning and “strategic planning” exercises—what are the pros and cons of each, especially when uncertainty is so high?</strong></p><p>Scenario planning and strategic planning are related to one another in many ways. One way to think about scenario planning is as a form of long-range strategic planning that emphasizes an understanding of the wider environment that you are operating in. It also turns out that some of the weaknesses that we see in traditional strategic planning processes can be mitigated by scenario planning. So, rather than thinking of them as either-or, you can think of them as yes-and, and consider adding a scenario planning process to your next round of strategic planning. &#160;&#160; </p><p>One of the cons often said about strategic planning is the plan can be seen as a rigid direction toward a three-year or five-year horizon that may become irrelevant when the context shifts in six months or one year. Scenario planning offers a counter to that, both prompting people for more flexibility in their consideration of the future and providing a systematic way to find commonalities in those possibilities to create more solid footing for a plan. In contrast, one of the potential cons to scenario planning is that it becomes too abstract, and you end up without clear actionable outcomes. But a good strategic planning process would provide a framework to take the outputs from scenario planning and then develop action steps and implementation plans, track financial impacts and other resource needs, and create the tools to measure whether you are achieving the desired impact. Neither are a magic bullet, but in concert (and with continued attention and evaluation), they can help prepare organizations to advance their mission, no matter what may be next.</p><p><strong>Though each of the tool’s four scenarios presents a very different future, are there any commonalities among them that organizations might prepare for now?</strong></p><p>While we would say there are no absolute certainties, there are certainly a number of common themes that you can find if you were to sit in each of the four futures that we’ve identified in the toolkit. We highlighted a number of these in the overview document—often these are related to the impacts of longer-term trends in demographics or advances in science and technology. For example, one common theme we highlight is an increased focus on racial equity and social justice&#58; beyond the moral imperative itself, most future projections show the U.S. becoming a majority-minority country sometime in the 2040s. It’s going to become an increasingly critical issue simply so that arts organizations can engage the audience.</p><p>There are other commonalities that deal more with the likelihood of increasing uncertainty and volatility—for example, a need for the sector to better engage with and manage mental health impacts. There are also potential impacts of this in how the sector creates the physical spaces it uses—to increase flexibility to deal with the possibilities of continued distancing, but also to increase their openness to create a renewed sense of welcome. And we will need to rethink how all spaces can be managed to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. These are trends that already existed in many new cultural spaces, but they seem to become more urgent no matter the future scenario. </p><p><strong>In what ways can scenario planning go wrong—or at least fall into traps—and how can these potential pitfalls be avoided?</strong></p><p>One way that scenario planning can go wrong is embedded in the name itself—to spend too much time with the scenarios and not enough time thinking about their implications for an organization. We’ve tried to emphasize the need to make this work actionable through the materials, but for some, there’s a rabbit hole of spending so much time and energy crafting those different futures. We hope the toolkit can help that by providing these four future scenarios, so that the focus can move more quickly to their implications. However, we know there’s no one size fits all answer, and different organizations may have different contexts to emphasize or specific situations they want to address in the scenarios.</p><p>Another common challenge is spending too much time and energy on one preferred future—whether because that is the future seen as most likely or because there is some preferred outcome with in it. One way we suggest dealing with that is to make sure that you bring together a diverse group of participants for the process—diverse in backgrounds and experiences, but also bringing voices to the table that may be newer to an organization’s strategic process. It can be a great opportunity to bring in a board member who recently joined or a member of your community that you don’t get to speak with enough.</p><p><strong>What is an example of a perspective that doing scenario planning opened up for you?</strong><br> One thing this process has opened our eyes to—not entirely new at all, but certainly something this highlights in a significant way—is the array of skills an organization needs to be able to manage their future direction. We built this toolkit after talking to a wide range of arts leaders for the work discussed in <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/arts-organizations-early-response-to-covid-19-uncertainty-insights-from-the-field.aspx">Arts Organizations’ Early Response to COVID-19 Uncertainty&#58; Insights from the Field</a>. There was a wide range of skills these leaders discussed as critical to moving forward—from data analysis, digital expertise, business modeling and core leadership training to, yes, scenario planning resources—and that doesn’t even get into the skills needed to produce most organization’s core programs. It is going to take a diverse but coordinated set of people to achieve success.</p><p>And more directly related to the scenarios, one thing that constantly popped out to me in creating the scenarios and using them in workshops with several organizations is how significant the digital component of arts and culture is likely to be, and how far behind most of the arts and culture sector is there.</p><p><strong>What are alternative ways other than scenario planning to think systematically about the future?</strong></p><p>If you search for “future thinking” or “strategic foresight,” there are lots of lots of different methods that you will come across, ranging from relatively straightforward methods like prediction games and markets to the <a href="http&#58;//www.millennium-project.org/publications-2/futures-research-methodology-version-3-0/">highly idiosyncratic (and usually trademarked!)</a>. Others might suggest the Tarot, I Ching and spin-the-bottle as popular strategies! One thing that we do like about scenario planning is that it does seem to be readily linked to creative and imaginative outputs that may be familiar to arts and cultural organizations. You can take the futures identified in your scenarios and turn them into a sort of science fiction. We’ve seen organizations illustrate them graphically, imagine future situations as one-act plays or even turn them into choreography. It’s a great way to engage teams in an exercise that is outside their normal daily work, too.<br></p><p>For more on scenario planning and the future of the arts see<a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/Reimagining-the-Future-of-the-Arts-a-Webinar-Series-from-The-Wallace-Foundation-Session-3.aspx"> this panel discussion ​</a>featuring Payne and others, part of&#160;Wallace's <em>Reimaginging the Future of The Arts</em> series.&#160;<br></p> Wallace editorial team792020-11-20T05:00:00ZResearcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and culture organizations add scenario planning to their strategic toolbox11/20/2020 4:43:25 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts Researcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and 441https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
The Pandemic is Transforming The Arts—and It’s Not All Bad News23328GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​Last summer, with theaters across the country shuttered by the coronavirus, Kate Maguire set out to break through the pandemic fatigue. To succeed, the artistic director and CEO of the Berkshire Theater Group in Pittsfield, Mass., knew she would need to do something that had not been attempted since union performances closed down last March&#58; bring a group of actors together in front of a live audience. </p><p>Maguire convinced Actors’ Equity to allow <a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/theater/godspell-berkshires-coronavirus.html">an outdoor production of <em>Godspell</em></a> and devised an acceptable safety plan. She worked with local and state authorities to ensure everyone would feel safe and be protected—the stage would be under a tent, everyone in masks, and the audience size would be capped at 50. Still, Maguire hoped the play with its theme of community and spiritual unity would resonate with an emotionally battered audience—and she saw that wish fulfilled. </p><p>“People were weeping because they were in the presence of music, of language and of this story,” she recalled. “All of a sudden we were in the midst of really understanding what the arts mean to peoples’ lives.” </p><p>Maguire recounted this story for the more than 600 participants gathered online for <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-session-one-what-audiences-want.aspx">the first of Wallace’s five-part “Reimagining the Future of the Arts”</a> conversation series. She went on to explain that she’s thinking about reducing the number of plays the company typically produces in a season and examining artistic choices in order to offer audiences the kind of emotional connections they experienced this summer. Even after the pandemic fades, she says, she expects to continue with these changes. </p><p>“I think what happened this summer was really monumental artistically, and that freshness changes your focus,” she said. “I’m not so sure I’m going to build the circus as I have in the past. I would like to be able to concentrate on intensity, not variety.” </p><p>She is not alone. The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with an energized racial justice movement, has sparked an urgency among many nonprofit arts leaders to rethink their how their organizations approach everything from audience interaction to inclusivity and equity. </p><p>“We will never go back,” <strong>Lisa Richards Toney</strong>, president and CEO of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, said on the same panel discussion. She and Maguire kicked off the series, along with <strong>Arthur Cohen, the founder and CEO </strong>of the LaPlaca Cohen, a strategy and arts marketing firm, <strong>Franklin Sirmans</strong>, president and CEO of the Pérez Art Museum in Miami; the panel was moderated by Wallace's communications director Lucas Held. While each of the panelists&#160;acknowledged the stresses pulling at an old system, they embraced this moment as an opportunity to come up with forward-looking ideas and determine how to carry them out. &#160; </p><p><strong>Audiences Are Changing</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>Cohen kicked off the panel with a presentation based on the <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/covidstudy/">survey</a> his firm conducted with Slover Linett Research last spring. More than 124,000 people responded, most through 653 arts organizations. Not surprisingly, the attitude expressed by most respondents was, in a word, glum. They said they felt isolated, anxious, bored and disconnected. Asked what they most wanted from arts events in this dark time, most said they wanted to laugh and relax, seek an escape, find hope, feel connected and discover educational opportunities for children.</p><p>“COVID-19, in every fundamental way, has disrupted our sense of what normal looks like,” Diane Jean-Mary, partner and chief strategy officer at LaPlaca Cohen, said in <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/what-we-need-from-arts-and-culture-right-now.aspx">an earlier conversation</a> on The Wallace Blog. “In a time of such great uncertainty, many are turning to creativity, perhaps as a way to regain a sense of agency, expression and enjoyment.” </p><p>The survey also provided powerful evidence that new patterns—meaning new opportunities—are emerging. Most striking, perhaps, is the diversity of new audiences. Digital events, many free of charge, are attracting people from lower income groups. Audiences are skewing younger and have different levels of education. Many of those enjoying digital arts offerings had not visited an arts institution in the previous year, meaning they were considered new audience members, now hungry for artistic stimulation. </p><p>There were other examples of this diversity. For example, those taking in digital orchestra performances who had not attended a live concert in the previous year were 15 times more likely to be Black, and three times more likely to be from Gen Z, ages 18 to 23 years old, than those who had attended a performance. Of the people viewing digital content from art museums, those who had not visited a museum in the previous year were almost twice as likely to have a high school education or less than those who had visited. [For more survey results, see <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Culture-and-Community-in-a-Time-of-Crisis-Slides.pdf">Cohen’s presentation from the event</a>.] </p><p>“This represents a really interesting opportunity to perhaps view the digital audience as a growth audience for us,” said Cohen. </p><p><strong>Digital Is Here to Stay</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>When the shutdown hit in March, Sirmans of the Perez Art Museum says he quickly pivoted to greater use of digital alternatives. “We went into it with abandon in the first few months of the pandemic without knowing exactly what we were doing, but we’re learning now,” he explained in a conversation following the webinar. Although it’s too soon to assess the full impact of these offerings on audiences, Sirmans said he expects that many of the changes will be permanent. </p><p>A new section of the organization’s website showcases its strong Caribbean art collection while a redesigned smartphone app creates a more robust mobile experience. “Digital is primary for us now,” Sirmans said. “Our community expects it and we know we have fans in the world, especially for our Latin American and Caribbean art. This is how we expand to them.”</p><p>Toney of APAP, a national service organization that supports and advances the performing arts presenting, booking and touring fields, carried the thought further, saying that by using online technologies, arts organizations could reach audiences globally, not solely the local audience members who can attend events in person. Moreover, the organizations can now expand time and run programming year-round, not just seasonally. This greater flexibility, she said, “should create an obligation to change” how the organizations conduct their activities. </p><p>Cohen agreed that the experimentation with online events in this new environment has transformed digital efforts from what had been decidedly secondary activities in the past to what are now a primary means of artistic expression and audience connections. They have taken on a new primary role, he said, side by side with the live event&#58; “These are new pathways to connection with people who wouldn’t have come in the door.”</p><p><strong>&#160;“Outdoors Is the New Indoors” </strong></p><p>The need to protect audiences from the virus has encouraged some organizations to seize opportunities to use and transform outdoor spaces. Maguire says the outdoor tent used for <em>Godspell </em>normally holds 400 people but because the organizers could allow only 50 people to view the show at a time, they had to improvise with the space. “We’re going to have to think more about how we do that so it’s a good experience,” she said.<strong></strong></p><p>The Perez museum is using its space differently, too, Sirmans said, and is trying to turn pandemic necessities into benefits. For a show on the African diaspora, for example, the museum doubled the indoor space that normally would have been allotted. This, he said, allowed for new types of juxtapositions and greater use of illustrative written and graphic materials. </p><p>In addition, the museum is repurposing its outdoor sculpture garden, which features an array of steel and stone works by artists such as Anthony Caro, Gonzalo Fonseca and Edgar Negret. The museum is holding lectures, a film program and collaborations with other arts institutions and educational programs outside. </p><p>“Outdoors is the new indoors,” Sirmans said. </p><p><strong>From Equity to Activism</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>Arts organizations are grappling with much more than logistical improvisation. They are having serious conversations about what the national reckoning with racial injustice means for them. &#160;Some organizations are considering fundamental shifts in their structure and the composition of their leadership to respond to the calls for greater equity and inclusiveness, according to the panelists. </p><p>Cohen, for one, called for organizations to better incorporate community and audience perspectives into their endeavors. “For some, audiences have been the ones least present in the planning,” he said, adding that reaching out to and including community input could be critical to organizations struggling to grow their audiences and maintain their relevance. “That’s your greatest opportunity going forward.” </p><p>This is true also in programming. For instance, Toney noted that it has become traditional that organizations offer every February—Black History Month—a Black-themed event or something created by Black artists. But artists of color should be integral to the arts events throughout the year, she said, so that organizations move away from the “white-centric canon.” In a conversation after the webinar, she followed up on that theme. “I know and have heard people in these organizations say, ‘Our audience won’t come. I know them,’” she said. “Then you have to do something about your audience. This is not easy to do.”</p><p>Toney also suggested that arts organizations might reimagine themselves as engines of progressive change. They could do this, in part, she said, by joining forces and speaking collectively, particularly on policy issues, more than they have in the past. “Really, it’s about positioning ourselves as one ecosystem with more joint action,” she said. </p><p>How much nonprofit arts organizations might embrace that advocacy model is unclear. Sirmans said he’s proud that Miami’s Perez museum has a staff and board as diverse as the city itself and features many artists of color in its collections and shows. How much the museum might speak up as a social advocate is a question, he said, that remains unanswered. </p><p>“We want to be that kind of place,” he said. “But we’re trying to figure out how we fit into that conversation.” </p>James Sterngold 1122020-11-12T05:00:00ZDespite the many challenges they face, arts organizations have some reason for optimism, according to a recent panel discussion11/23/2020 4:59:28 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / The Pandemic is Transforming The Arts—and It’s Not All Bad News Despite the many challenges they face, arts organizations 569https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
High-Quality Art and Community Relevance Key to Healthy Arts Organizations29432GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>What are common strategies employed by leaders of sustainable arts organizations? How might arts and culture institutions achieve organizational health and financial sustainability? A recent report by SMU DataArts, in partnership with The Wallace Foundation addresses these questions and more. </p><p><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-alchemy-of-high-performing-arts-organizations.aspx">The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations</a> studies two cohorts of organizations&#58; 10 with a long track record of high performance and 10 that engineered a “turnaround” from low to high performance. Through an analysis of similarities across the two groups, the report offers a blueprint of how they achieved organizational health, the cornerstone of which appears to lie between programmatic excellence and community relevance. Though the study was undertaken prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s being shared with the hope that the past experiences of 20 arts organizations may inform thinking about strategies for recovery.</p><p>We spoke with Zannie Voss, Ph.D., director of SMU DataArts, over email to explore pivotal insights from the report. </p><p><strong>What is the significance of examining arts organizations that engineered a “turnaround” from low to high performance, instead of focusing your research solely on arts organizations that have proven to sustain organizational health over a long period of time?&#160; </strong></p><p>The situation of the average organization is a need and desire to improve performance—how to get from their current Point A to Point B and beyond. Turnaround organizations have been in a similar position not long ago and can illuminate the path forward. Had we focused only on arts organizations that had proven to sustain organizational health over a long period, we might have missed the opportunity to better understand how to get the ball rolling towards high performance. </p><p>We learned that the high performing arts organizations in this study were once turnaround organizations.&#160; Their turnaround simply occurred prior to the timeframe captured in the data for this project. This finding reinforced the notion that turnarounds are not only possible, but their success can endure.</p><p><strong>You shared that both cohorts follow the mantra “success breeds success,” and assert that achieving “tactical wins” creates a positive feedback loop. For organizations currently struggling to obtain financial health, how might they identify their first “tactical win” to pursue? </strong></p><p>Initial tactical wins come in all shapes and forms, and typically result from some degree of risk-taking or innovation. We heard several examples such as&#58; 1) a first large gift that followed a big idea or strategy shift for the organization’s future; 2) the first time a shift in strategy or new programming successfully attracted the intended audience; 3) the first time another organization agreed to the idea of a partnership; 4) the first time board giving reached 100%; and, 5) the first time people were willing to pay for digital programming. </p><p>Each organization will have its own answer to the question&#58; “What will be our first, early win?”</p><p><strong>Recognizing that this data was gathered and synthesized prior to the onset of COVID-19, how can the findings still serve as a guide for other arts organizations?&#160;</strong></p><p>Coming out of the pandemic, many organizations will be looking for guidance on how to turnaround performance and become more stable. We contacted study participants two months into the COVID-19 crisis to ask whether their mental model for how success happens still held at this unique time. They unanimously confirmed that the underlying principles still hold, although some indicated that aspects, such as community orientation and adaptive capability have taken on even greater importance. Still, we acknowledge that the pandemic’s toll on human lives, the economy and public perceptions about the safety of gathering to share cultural experiences in closed spaces may impact aspects of this model in untold ways (e.g., introduction of new elements, the critical nature of some elements over others, timeframe required, etc.).</p><p><strong>What do you hope leaders of arts organizations will take away from the report’s findings and insights? </strong></p><p>Success is not accidental or haphazard. All interviewees possess a mental map—or playbook—for how success happens, created with involvement from staff and board. I hope arts leaders use the model as a framework for analyzing where their organization stands on the various elements. Does it heavily emphasize high standards of program excellence but underinvest in its community? Is the organization’s culture built on trust, transparency and a participatory management style? Is the organization’s energy in a place of passion, aggression or resignation? Are all decisions guided by mission alignment? Given what the organization has, what it does and where its expertise lies, where are there new opportunities to be seized? </p><p>Ultimately, success takes a slow, controlled burn. Grounded plans recognize multiple steps in the process rather than assuming a single action or miracle moment will provide transformation. </p>Wallace editorial team792020-10-06T04:00:00ZAuthor of new report finds that successful arts and culture institutions credit careful planning and dedicated work10/6/2020 1:51:44 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / High-Quality Art and Community Relevance Key to Healthy Arts Organizations Author of new report finds that successful arts 288https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What We Need from The Arts Right Now24124GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​As arts organizations around the country plan to reopen, strategists and researchers at LaPlaca Cohen and Slover Linett have teamed up on a research initiative to help arts leaders understand what audiences want and expect from organizations during the pandemic—and how organizations can address the hopes, fears and needs of people as they consider returning. The new study, <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/covidstudy/">Culture Track&#58; Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis</a>, based on responses from more than 120,000 survey respondents, sheds light on the current cultural landscape.<u> </u></p><p>We caught up with Jen Benoit-Bryan, vice president &amp; co-director of research at Slover Linett Audience Research and Diane Jean-Mary, partner and chief strategy officer at LaPlaca Cohen, over email to learn more about the implications of the study and how people might look to it for guidance.</p><p> <strong>We know you have been sharing these findings with arts leaders around the country. What has resonated with the field? How are organizations applying this data? </strong></p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Djm headshot_color.png" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-We-Need-from-Arts-and-Culture-Right-Now/Djm%20headshot_color.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;175px;height&#58;175px;" />DJM</strong>&#58; Presenting the findings amidst our placeless, Zoom-fueled, reality has provided space for a truly national conversation surrounding the role of arts and culture in our society. Previously, our Culture Track road shows were highly localized, bringing in audiences from a particular city or region to discuss the latest findings. This year, we were able to have far greater dialogue at the national level as participants tune into our presentations from all around the country. This feels particularly vital in a year when we are all navigating the same global issues of health, a hurting economy, and the fight for racial justice. It’s been pretty incredible to see institutions around the country not just take meaningful insights from the study but also from each other. </p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Jen6.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-We-Need-from-Arts-and-Culture-Right-Now/Jen6.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;175px;height&#58;117px;" />JBB</strong>&#58; One of the most surprising and meaningful insights from the data has been the high level of arts and culture digital participation among the general public during COVID-19, and crucially, the finding that digital offerings seem to be expanding and diversifying participation. It has been fascinating to see that for many segments of the arts and culture sector, a lot of the people using digital content from organizations hadn’t attended that type of organization in person in the previous year—for example, 51 percent of people using digital content from science museums during COVID-19 hadn’t been to a science museum in person in 2019. </p><p>Perhaps even more importantly, those using digital content who hadn’t been in-person were much more likely to be diverse along demographics that we know are underrepresented in arts and cultural organizations, such as people with low incomes, low education levels and Black or African Americans. We have heard from many organizations who are already using these findings to explain why resources for digital engagement are critical now and in the future.</p><p> <strong>You’ve both been doing research on audiences for many years. What is different about these findings? What do audiences continue to value during a pandemic?</strong></p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> &#160;A central assumption we held when designing this work was the need to understand what communities require and want from cultural organizations during COVID-19. Therefore, it was critical that we hear from a range of audiences and attenders to culture—defined quite broadly—as well as the public with their varied types and degrees of connection to culture. That’s unique. Most studies focus on a single organization’s audiences or perhaps a portion of the cultural landscape like orchestras, but this study goes way beyond those frames of reference. The sheer scale of participation in the study—over 120,000 respondents—allowed us to slice and compare segments of the data in a more granular way, which is extremely powerful for understanding portions of the whole like users of digital arts and culture activities.</p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; COVID-19, in every fundamental way, has disrupted our sense of what normal looks like, and we’re seeing that bear out in the research. In a time of such great uncertainty, many are turning to creativity, perhaps as a way to regain a sense of agency, expression and enjoyment. It was great to see how many people are leaning into their inner artist and maker&#58; singing, crafting, baking, painting and more. There are also facets of culture that are just as vital now as they were before the pandemic, particularly in the ways that people perceive the value of the arts&#58; a force for connecting us to each other, for understanding the vastness of human experience, and for emotional and intellectual escape.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Was there anything that surprised you about these findings?</strong> </p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> I was surprised by the proportion of the public—96 percent—that sees a role for arts and culture organizations during a crisis like COVID-19. When we wrote this question, we thought many people might tell us that arts and culture should just “get out of the way” during a crisis, but people are looking to arts and culture for four main kinds of help&#58; support staying connected with others and educating kids; emotional support; practical support and opportunities for distraction and escape.<br><br><strong>What is one key finding you hope organizations will take away from the study?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; The single most revealing finding was just how big the racial inclusion problem is in our sector. Anecdotally, the field understands that it has failed to welcome and serve communities of color and has made strides to confront diversity, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve equity and inclusion, and this is reflected in the data. Our survey reached 122,000 respondents, largely pulled from lists provided by over 650 cultural organizations around the nation. The overwhelming majority of those audiences are white, 85 percent of the audiences surveyed through their lists to be exact. Of those surveyed through cultural organizations’ lists, just three percent are Black, five percent are Hispanix/Latinx and four percent are Asian/Pacific Islander. Less than one percent is Native American. Every organization should reflect on this data, unpacking the barriers that have signaled to BIPOC audiences that we do not belong. </p><p>For the future relevance of the arts, cultural organizations will have to change alongside our society. And that change cannot be limited to the visitor-facing channels at their disposal. Audiences can see through the optics of superficial inclusion, they can feel when diversity is a mere checkbox. Cultural organizations should instead focus on building trust, relevance and connection with their audiences of color.&#160; </p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> &#160; The research also provides some clear evidence about the changes that would make arts and culture organizations better for Black or African American respondents and Hispanic or Latinx respondents. Almost three-quarters of Black or African American respondents, two-thirds of Hispanic or Latinx respondents and about half of the public want arts and culture organizations to become more centered on their communities and the people in them. This includes changes such as greater diversity; a focus on local artists, nonprofits and community; deepening engagement with young people; treating employees fairly; and being friendlier to all kinds of people. There’s more to unpack and explore here, particularly through the upcoming qualitative research coming next. </p><p> <strong>Did the data give any clues as to the future of organizations using digital content going forward?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; With increasing financial pressure placed on cultural organizations to recoup revenue lost to COVID-19 closures, many institutions are assessing how best to monetize their virtual content. It is important as they examine all the options on the table, not to regard digital as a substitute for prior onsite revenues. The data suggests that the audience’s appetite for paid digital content is quite low. Instead, digital offerings present an opportunity for broadening audiences beyond the typical visitor. We’re seeing greater engagement particularly amongst people of color and lower income families.&#160;Digital is a great tool that institutions should deploy in service to bettering the lives of their communities, rather than as a driver of revenue.</p><p> <strong>What is the level of confidence on these findings? Do you feel they are broadly applicable?</strong></p><p> <strong>JBB&#58; </strong>As we designed the study, we made a few decisions with the goal of creating a broadly applicable and useful dataset. First, we defined “arts and culture” quite widely and worked to recruit participating organizations across the sector. We also worked with NORC [National Opinion Research Center] at the University of Chicago to draw an extremely rigorous and representative sample of the public with a margin of error of 2.88 percentage points. In survey design, we made the strategic decision not to ask any questions that were focused just on the organization distributing the survey—although we considered it—because we wanted these findings to be broadly useful to the arts and culture sector.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Given the findings, what kind of an arts experience would people be responsive to over the next six to 12 months?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; Based on what we’re seeing from the data and hearing from the field, the most successful arts experiences of the future will be designed around what audiences are so desperately missing in their lives—connection, novelty and adventure. We’re in the wild west of creativity and invention, and people seem more willing to experiment with activities that help them reconnect with the parts of life we’ve lost. We are all craving connection with our loved ones and that will only grow in intensity as we move from one year in quarantine to the next. I bet that any arts organization that provides a way for friends and families to connect through shared, novel experiences will be a major hit with audiences. This is especially true if the experience embraces a participatory approach that invites the audience to be the engineers of the adventure, fun and sense of togetherness. Bonus points for experiences that get us off Zoom and into the world (safely, of course), and also for experiences that help parents and caregivers educate children in a fun and interactive way.&#160; </p><p> <em> <span> <span> <strong> </strong></span></span>Diane Jean-Mary is a global strategy consultant with expertise in organizational change and transformation for the field of arts and entertainment. As Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at LaPlaca Cohen, Diane oversees a dynamic range of projects, nationally and internationally, on cultural entrepreneurship, mission and purpose development, brand strategy, strategic visioning, and audience development across non-profit and corporate creative institutions. She also leads the firm's ongoing Culture Track study, an insights and innovation platform dedicated to addressing the most pressing challenges in the cultural sector. <br></em></p><p> <em><span><span><strong></strong></span></span>Jen Benoit-Bryan is the Vice President &amp; Co-director of Research at Slover Linett, a firm that uses the tools of research and evaluation to help the cultural sector understand its participants and communities, experiment with new strategies for engagement, and connect more deeply to more people. Jen has overseen a portfolio of over sixty complex client engagements over the past six years at Slover Linett, using the tools of research and evaluation to help organizations meet their goals. Since coming to Slover Linett in 2014, she has worked on wide-ranging, often multi-year projects with the National Academy of Sciences, Central Park Conservancy, the Kennedy Center, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Carnegie Hall, Washington National Opera, Ballet Austin, the High Line, Dallas Zoo, and SFMOMA, among many other arts, culture, and informal learning organizations. Jen serves as the Principal Investigator &amp; Slover Linett Team Director for the Culture &amp; Community in a Time of Crisis (CCTC) study conducted in 2020 in partnership with LaPlaca Cohen. Jen earned her Ph.D. in public administration &amp; research methodology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. </em></p><em> </em>Wallace editorial team792020-09-09T04:00:00ZNew large-scale survey on cultural sector in the pandemic finds audiences crave meaningful digital experiences, more racial inclusion and connection with others9/11/2020 3:26:35 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What We Need from The Arts Right Now New large-scale survey on cultural sector in the pandemic finds audiences crave more 696https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID?24344GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>As society looks to address the ravaging effects of both COVID-19 and systemic racism, artists and arts organizations have an essential role in reimagining the future. In an Op-Ed for <em>KCET’s Southland Sessions</em>, Kristy Edmunds, Executive and Artistic Director for UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, argues that while the products of the creative sector will undoubtedly continue as indispensable contributions for a thriving society moving forward, it is artistic process and creative problem solving that are most crucial to paving the way towards a vital and inclusive future. Edmunds argues that these intrinsic benefits of the arts are often overlooked, particularly in discussions about post-pandemic recovery. </p><p>To nurture this philosophy, arts organizations can and must help get artists to the recovery table. It starts with a commitment to what Edmunds calls “duty of care.” For Edmunds, what this looks like is maintaining transparency and cultivating pathways of information&#58; “We have to provide as much information as possible to artists. We’re saying here’s what we’re seeing, here’s what we’re learning from various organizational/institutional vantage points, so that knowledge is transferred and shared rather than left dangling in the air. Artists will know what to do for their work and process and decision-making. The most important thing for them to know is that they’re not being abandoned—they are being sought.” </p><p>In addition, Edmunds says, arts organizations can proactively work to ensure that artists have a prominent voice in post-pandemic recovery conversations. She observes that it tends to be the most visible leader who is invited to the policy roundtable, but that person may not necessarily be best suited for the task at hand. To address this, she offers, “It’s incumbent upon us, as leaders, to understand the dynamic of what’s being sought, and to bring artists into the room with us.” </p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.kcet.org/shows/southland-sessions/kristy-edmunds-public-care-is-our-most-durable-good">Read Edmunds’ Op-Ed on the KCET website</a>. </p> Wallace editorial team792020-08-11T04:00:00ZOp-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support them—can play a vital role in post-pandemic problem solving8/11/2020 6:17:51 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID Op-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support 685https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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