What.

The field of arts and culture faces unprecedented challenges that include rapid and unpredictable change. Our focus is to help our clients address change and develop appropriate solutions. Our services include:

Planning

Cultural / Creative Economy Planning

We believe that arts and culture are among a community’s most powerful assets. Cultural planning allows a community to chart its own cultural future, leveraging and enhancing those assets.

Effective cultural planning holds up a mirror to the community. The goal is to reflect and advance the community’s unique aspirations, opportunities, needs and heritage. Through inclusive community engagement, we craft a cultural vision and a roadmap to achieve it.

People now create and participate in culture in an enormous range of ways – as amateurs, professionals and students. Their cultural interests range from fine arts to popular culture; from the mainstream to new artistic and cultural expressions; from heritage-based to community-based activities; and from nonprofit to commercial to do-it-yourself enterprises. People also participate as digital communities that vet art and culture without the traditional roles of professional curator or critic. Individuals curate their own artistic experiences and cultural journeys. Cultural planning must address the full range of these cultural expressions.

Cultural planning is no longer arts development. The creative sector of the economy is now understood to be an important asset for many communities and one that is frequently unplanned. Artists are often entrepreneurs and are drivers of regional economies. Creative businesses are often small businesses that drive job growth. Creative places have greater vitality and help attract and retain a desirable workforce. Good cultural planning integrates cultural and economic development. This is the most effective path to economic growth that simultaneously enriches the cultural life of the community.

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Strategic Planning

Arts and cultural organizations increasingly have to be mission-driven and market-responsive. Organizations that can fully articulate their purpose and competitive advantages, and that use constant feedback from their constituents, are better able to engage their audiences and thrive in a world of rapid change. We have developed strategic plans for a great variety of organizations and have deepened our expertise. While planning is not formulaic, we typically conduct an in-depth assessment of an organization’s artistic programs, business model, finances, and culture. This understanding allows organizations to identify and make choices about critical issues. In our view, organizations are intermediaries that add value to the work of artists and their expressions. By clarifying an organization’s value-added, we can help identify specific ways to remain vital in an increasingly competitive environment.

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Public Art Planning and Project Management

Over the past 50 years, more than 600 municipalities and states have adopted percent for art legislation, allocating one- to two-percent of capital improvement budgets for public art. Many of these programs also require public art in new private development. We provide assistance in all aspects of public art planning and project management, whether developing a new program, master planning for an existing program or managing specific projects from artist selection through artwork installation.

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Creative Placemaking

Creative placemaking has become an opportunity for many American cities, large and small. These cities are aware that they are in competition—for jobs, for business relocations, for creative young people, for tourists and visitors. Beyond these economic benefits, creative places make communities more livable for their citizens and reflect the diversity of our multicultural society. Successful creative places harness the energy and innovation of their citizens and build collaborative partnerships among government, business, education and the arts. We understand that cultural development is no longer limited to supporting artists and cultural institutions and that synergistic partnerships can foster vibrant, dynamic communities. Our practice identifies such collaborations to support creative placemaking for our clients.

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Cultural Facilities Planning

Many communities want to develop new cultural facilities – performing arts halls, museums and art centers. Cities pursue these facilities for a number of reasons, to provide exhibition and performance space for local and touring programs, to promote economic development, to revitalize neighborhoods. We assist with planning for such cultural facilities, assessing potential audiences and nonprofit usage, developing short and long term operating costs and assessing community readiness to provide the private funding needed to support capital and operating costs.

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Leadership and Organizational Transition

Many arts and cultural organizations face a substantial shift in leadership as founders and long-term leaders prepare to turn their organizations over to a new generation of leadership. A thoughtful, intentional and disciplined process of preparing both the leader and the organization—current leadership, board, staff, and key stakeholders—enables a transition focused on future success. We help illuminate the distinct strengths of the organization and its leadership, and identify potential challenges. We offer a range of professional development opportunities from a short workshop on preparing for transition to an extensive yearlong program to prepare long-term leaders and founders for the process.

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Support for Urban Planning

Traditionally, municipal comprehensive planning has focused on land use—creating policies that govern where residential, commercial and industrial enterprises may locate. Over the last three decades, general planning and city visioning has been expanded to include elements that address transportation, economic development, education, human services, character and design and recreation and leisure. These comprehensive plans are important because they constitute the policy framework that drives municipal decision-making. Increasingly, cities have begun to include an arts and cultural element in their general plans. To support this process, we assess the arts and cultural assets of the community, identify gaps in the local cultural ecology, and develop policies and strategies that support the community’s vision

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Assessment and Capacity Building

Underlying much of our work is our expertise in assessment and capacity building. Capacity building refers to a broad range of organizational change that better enables an organization to fulfill its mission. Assessment is a way of understanding an organization’s capacities to identify leverage points for improvement. It can include the adaptation of best practices to fit a new situation. We have a variety of formal tools to assess different aspects of organizational capacity. In addition, we use assessment in communities to identify cultural characteristics, shared vision, and ways to achieve a shared goal.

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Philanthropic Investment Effectiveness

Program Design and Assessments

Effective programs benefit from constant feedback. We have experience in designing grant making, capacity building, leadership and other programs, and we often use assessment (process evaluation) to help foundations and government agencies achieve their goals.

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Innovating

Projects Reflecting Change in the Field

We take on selected projects intended to demonstrate or lead change in the arts and culture field. These projects often draw on our expertise in analytic thinking and problem-solving.

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