For anyone who’s ever danced, wanted to dance, or knows me and wondered why I did it, this video by the Ontario Arts Council is the best explanation I’ve found. I’m truly grateful to the friend who sent it to me.
As we approach the New Year and take time to reflect on life, the universe and everything (to paraphrase the great Douglas Adams), this video helps me remember some of the reasons dancing made my life so rich, and that dancing will always be with me. If you’re so inclined, dance a bit; dance like nobody’s watching or like everyone’s watching – just dance.
I read an outstanding article today from the Stanford Social Innovation Review about the real costs of running a non-profit organization. In short, overhead = capacity to deliver the programs that serve the organization’s mandate. Without investment in these costs, organizations are hamstrung and aren’t as effective as they can be. Since arts organizations are often non-profits, this absolutely applies. I can’t help but think about the creativity we could foster if we could (and would – we often restrict ourselves in this area by thinking that putting every penny we can “on the stage” will make us the most successful) make these types of investments not only in our artists, but in those who support them on the administrative side.
If, as some say, non-profits should act more like businesses, why is it that some donors don’t allow them to? And why do we keep buying in to this argument ourselves?
The article says it much better than I do, especially the paragraphs about the results organizations get from investing in capacity.
Bravo to the Stanford Social Innovation Review for publishing the article, to Julie Brandt for writing it, and to Ray Musyka for linking to it on LinkedIn.
Bravo also to Dan Palotta for making similar arguments through his TED talks.
Nonprofits are driven by mission, but they too have financial targets and other performance metrics to meet. In the private sector, we see that companies with high-quality training and development programs generate 26 percent more revenue per employee and realize 40 percent less voluntary turnover than their peers. What if we translated this to the nonprofit sector? If we invested in the training and developing staff who deliver these critical programs, would we see 26 percent or more impact per staff member? Would nonprofits achieve greater success because they could focus their people, time, and money on mission-driven activities rather than covering the cost of turnover?
The belief that nonprofits that minimize investments in overhead deliver higher-quality services or better results has deprived many organizations of the resources they need to serve their communities. Leaders of nonprofits need flexibility to invest in recruiting and sustaining the best talent, training and developing employees properly, and building a strong pipeline for succession. Expenses like this are not frivolous; they’re smart.
If you live in Edmonton, Alberta, you know there’s a municipal election in October. If the Arts matter to you, you’ll want to follow the #yegvotesarts campaign, an initiative of the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton (PACE). This non-partisan campaign is following all the candidates for Mayor, Councillors and School Board trustees, asking them what their vision for the Arts in the lives of Edmontonians will be if they were elected.
Check out answers to the candidate survey on the arts via PACE’s website, facebook page, twitter feed, and on tumblr. There’s even a great button – see above – that you can find at various locations around town, such as the Fringe and Alberta Ballet’s office!
Some of the candidates have even endorsed or highlighted the campaign. Don Iveson, a mayoral candidate has been seen wearing the #yegvotesarts button, Ward 7 candidate Mimi Williams has given it a “thumbs up” on her campaign facebook page, and Ward 3 candidate David Dodge has endorsed the campaign as well.
The Arts are a vital part of community vitality and resiliency and play an important role in making Edmonton a great place to live, work and play. Get involved or show your support by following the campaign using the hashtag #yegvotesarts.
This may seem like an odd blog. Some days it’s about knitting, some days it’s about managing or advocating for the Arts, some days it’s seemingly random thoughts on creativity.
It’s About the Art is about all of these things, because all of these things, to me at least, are about the Art. The Arts are everything to me. I believe that life without Art isn’t really life. The Arts are our interpretation and expression of our world. They provide transcendent experiences, ask important questions, entertain, educate, engage and allow us to progress as societies and indeed as a species. The Arts are us – intrinsic, fundamental, and very, very important.
So for me, everything is about the Art. I hope you’ll agree and enjoy.
…it isn’t – at least in the United States. Just when Stats Can’s Performing Arts survey is on its way out due to federal government cuts, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis is working with the National Endowment for the Arts to measure the full economic impact of the Arts. It’s huge step forward.
If you’d like to read the Bloomberg article, it can be found here.
I’ve long wished for Canadian versions of the research that is available in the US on such things as Arts participation, economic impact, the measurable impact of arts activity and participation on communities, and so on. I’m going to keep wishing the governments and foundations will start to care enough to fund these, and that Canadian researchers will have the time and funding to do it.
A New Year’s Resolution, perhaps? Or a wish?
(A quick “p.s.”: Life and work have kept me away from blogging for a long while, and while they still might, I’ll continue to post when I see things like the above…or have something worthwhile to say.)
Today – April 29 – is International Dance Day. Held world wide every year on the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, a French choreographer who revolutionized ballet production during the 18th Century, this day encourages all of us to engage with dance.
This year’s International Dance Day message is by Flemish Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and it’s incredibly relevant to all aspects of our lives.
I also highly recommend the Canadian message, put together by the Canadian Dance Assembly and authored by Yvon Soglo, Crazy Smooth.
(The above is provided with a big nod to Victoria School of the Arts’ weekly newsletter, for pointing me in this direction.)