Arts Council England awards £30 million for capacity-building

Natalie Woolman, The Stage [UK], 5/17/12

Arts Council England has announced awards to venues worth a total of £30 million. The money is being distributed through ACE's Catalyst programme, which is aimed at helping cultural organisations to increase their fundraising potential. Overall, 173 organisations have been given more than £30 million to develop their fundraising capacity and make themselves more attractive to potential donors. Northern Stage Company in Newcastle is to receive £179,000 to "invest in research, front-line training and to strengthen and develop its in-house skills" and Yorkshire Dance will be given £132,000 to raise money to increase its artistic output. There are two other Catalyst streams. The first is designed to help large organisations to build endowments, and the successful applicants to this £55 million pot will be announced next month. Meanwhile, a £7 million programme aimed at cultural organisations with little or no fundraising experience that want to improve their capability to raise funds will open this autumn. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "There's huge, unlocked potential for fundraising across the cultural sector. While some claim that there's no money to be raised outside big London organisations, I've seen for myself what professional, dedicated fundraising expertise can deliver in every corner of the country. We recognise there's a challenge in making sure the right skills are available, particularly in smaller organisations, which is why these grants are a huge leap towards a future of greater financial independence for hundreds of smaller arts groups from Cornwall to Cumbria."


Michigan's culturally-diverse orgs gain hard-to-get access to capacity-building help

Annie McGuigan Fenton, Michigan Nonprofit Association blog, 5/8/12

In September 2010, the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center began delivering a program called Capacity Building: Detroit. The [2-year] program supports arts organizations in Southeast Michigan by providing seminars, web-chat discussions and 1-on-1 coaching for 52 organizations. Thanks to support from the Ford Foundation, Michigan Nonprofit Association in partnership with Cultural Alliance for Southeastern Michigan has been able to offer a special sub-grant program to augment Capacity Building: Detroit. MNA recognizes that gaps in access to capacity building opportunities exist more frequently for culturally diverse organizations; this sub-grant program seeks to address that gap. [Applicants] were asked to meet two criteria: 1) The board or leadership staff of the organization is more than 50% culturally diverse; and 2) The audience/participants of the organization are 80% or more culturally diverse, and the organization has a proven track record of serving the needs of one or more of the targeted cultural groups. In February, 15 organizations [received] grants of up to $15,000.


Canada's gov't provides capacity-building support for Aboriginal arts

Canada Council website

In May 2005, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts signed a memorandum of understanding for a three-year, $5 million investment. Both parties agreed to equally share and fund an initiative to build the capacity of Aboriginal and culturally diverse arts organizations. For the Aboriginal Arts Office of the Canada Council, the primary objective of the Capacity Building Program was to sustain a strong core of Aboriginal arts organizations active in First Nations, Métis and Inuit artistic practices in Canada. This initiative provided funds to several Aboriginal arts organizations to help increase their administrative capacity, develop their internal governance, and build their long-term strength and sustainability. [FROM TC: A new round of funding is available and June 30, 2012 is the deadline to apply.]


In Ohio, a capacity-building grant helps address trend of declining donations

Sheri Chaney Jones, Measurement Resources blog, May 2012

The share of all philanthropy going to arts organizations has dropped over $1 billion nationwide in the past decade. The Jazz Arts Group in Columbus, Ohio is taking a proactive, cutting-edge approach to dealing with this trend...using performance and outcome measures. Thanks to a capacity building grant [from] the Columbus Foundation, they've partnered with Measurement Resources to increase their evaluation capacity and experience [higher] revenues, positive press, and organizational efficiencies. Like many nonprofit organizations, they understood the value of outcomes and assessment but needed help with the 'how'. The Jazz Arts Group identified five overall organizational benchmarks: increased participant creativity, economic impact, cost per participant, participant engagement, and overall satisfaction. Data collection and analysis have been designed to [be] performed by their staff, not requiring the additional help of an outside consultant. They recently received a grant with more funding than the previous year and believe that reporting outcomes played a part in that success. They still struggle with finding time and personnel to gather some observational measures, but are exploring ways to utilize interns or other staff.


An interactive Web platform for sharing stories about capacity-building in the arts

Nell Edgington, president of Social Velocity, on the SV blog, 5/11/12

Karina Mangu-Ward is the Director of Activating Innovation at EmcArts, a social enterprise for innovation and adaptive change across the arts sector. She leads the strategy and development of, an interactive online platform where arts leaders can learn from each other about the power of adaptive change and the practice of innovation. [Here is an excerpt from an interview:]

Nell: ArtsFwd is about encouraging and profiling innovation in the arts. But innovation is such a loaded and overused word. What do you think is true innovation?

Karina: Innovation is definitely a buzzy word, so we try to be careful about how we use it. EmcArts [is] primarily concerned with organizational innovation. So we're not talking about creativity, which is more of an individual pursuit, or inspiration, which is about a momentary spark. The stories on ArtsFwd are about organizations working to build their capacity to adapt to a rapidly shifting environment through the process of innovation, which requires a cross-functional team working together over a sustained period of time to develop, test, and optimize genuinely new approaches.... In the past 10 years, unprecedented changes in our operating environment have placed radical new demands on our arts organizations. We're seeing changes in patterns of public participation, technological access to the arts, generational and demographic shifts, new forms of resource development, and many more factors. Now more than ever, it's apparent that the "muscles" arts leaders exercise to promote organizational stability need to be balanced by equally strong muscles around adaptive capacity. We believe that organizations can build those muscles, and an ultimately an organizational culture that is intrinsically flexible and responsive, by in investing in incubating innovation.

Nell: The Nonprofit Finance Fund is in the process of a pretty interesting "Change Capital for the Arts" project. What do you think about the concept and do you see more arts organizations going after it?

Karina: We're encouraged by this move from old capitalization, i.e big endowment campaigns, to more frequent injections of smaller amounts of capital to bridge the inevitable gap between prototyping and  sustainability of a new strategy. We certainly see a hunger for this kind of "risk" or "change" capital in the organizations applying to our Innovation Labs, which is why we provide a $40,000 grant for prototyping. This kind of seed money helps managers resist the pressure to monetize or fossilize new programs too soon, giving them the breathing space for innovations to grow and embrace a culture of adaptive capacity. This kind of change capital is the money we need a lot of right now. The failure of funders to provide it is one of the reasons why innovation has not had a larger impact on the field.

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