I had the opportunity to listen to the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture panel review of its general operating grant program last week. CAC brought in outside experts from across the country to review over 70 arts and culture organizations’ applications. It was a great learning opportunity for all involved in the process.
Here are some of the insights and challenges I heard:
- The importance of organizations being flexible or nimble in responding to its environment and making changes to its structure and programming;
- The use of social media to engage younger, different or new audiences and in selling the whole experience of what it means to be a member of that organization’s family rather than just selling a ticket to a performance;
- The need to continue to diversity leadership of organizations both in terms of the board and its staffing – how we embrace younger members of the community as well as those of different cultures and backgrounds;
- Priority must be given to meaningful engagement with the community – how the organization ensures it is reaching out, listening and working together with members of the community.
- Greater focus on accountability – both programmatically and fiscally – and the need to tell the story of both.
It was great to hear that many of our arts and culture organizations are thinking about these issues or have incorporated them into their organizations. But upon reflecting on what I heard, I also think that these insights hold true for the broader nonprofit community to ensure that the overall nonprofit sector remains healthy and vibrant.