Innovation Lab for Arts Development Agencies

In 2013, we launched a Lab for arts service organizations wrestling with new models and new mindsets.

Rather than focusing on producing and presenting organizations in the arts and culture field (as with the Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts), this Lab engages with the complex challenges of organizations that provide services in support of the ongoing development of an arts discipline, its organizations and practitioners, or of a particular area of arts activities (defined, for instance, geographically, or by theme). Given the wide range of organizations of these types, we call them collectively “arts development agencies.”

To learn more about this Lab, contact Liz Dreyer, National Programs Manager.

Current Lab Participants  
In Round 2 of the Innovation Lab for Arts Development Agencies, four grantees were selected. They began their work in July 2014, and are working with EmcArts’ expert facilitators through March 2016. Both rounds of the Innovation Lab are funded by a generous $1.58 million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

These are the four participant organizations in Round 2 of the Lab and their complex challenges:
  • Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP): In order to move beyond historical organizational models infused with cultural superiority/inferiority assumptions, 21st-century performing arts presenting professionals must respond adaptively. How can we examine the needs of those in cultural leadership roles and support their adaptive efforts?
  • Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET): How do we let go of old definitions and discover new models in order to share learning with our sister organizations and the field at large?
  • National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC): How do we ensure that our programs and services change and develop alongside the rapidly diversifying Latino community?
  • Urban Bush Women: How can we catalyze a paradigmatic shift in how the dance field identifies and nurtures female choreographers of color?
Working Open - Stories from Innovation in Progress Prototyping at Network of Ensemble Theaters

Our 2015-2016 Working Open Fellow, Sherrine Azab, has been blogging about NET's experiences with small experiments and prototyping in real-time. Check out her three-part series featuring short videos and their community polling tool on Swipe.

In Round 2 of the Lab, NET ran an experiment called "It's On Us", encouraging members across country to go on #NETdates to talk about what ensembles mean to them.
Past Lab Participants
In Round 1 of Innovation Labs for Arts Development Agencies, seven organizations were selected as participants. They engaged a four-month process of organizational self-examination and assessment focused on adaptive change possibilities.

Of the seven, three organizations — Alternate ROOTS, Dance/USA, and Theatre Communications Group — were chosen to continue work in Phases 2-4, where they designed innovative strategies and launched real-life projects that address major complex challenges. To learn more about these three grantees in this press release.
Featured Participant — Meet Alternate ROOTS
This story on Alternate ROOTS follows the journey of a regional arts organization that started the Lab with one question – What is the membership structure that best reflects the central values of ROOTS – connectedness, participatory democracy and anti-oppression – while also positioning it as the organization of choice for community engaged artists in the 21st century? Read more about Alternate ROOTS' story through their case study - Innovation through Membership and Memory — and watch their video below.
Video on ROOTS' work in the Innovation Lab for Arts Development Agencies
Artist and Alternate ROOTS member, Ariston Jacks created this graphic illustration during Round 1 of Innovation Lab meetings.