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Creative Strategies Incubator Findings

January 31, 201831 January 2018

Arts attendance / Social impacts of the arts

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The nine video presentations in this series outline findings “from three years of strategic experimentation and shared learning” by seven arts organizations, with the overarching goal of better understanding “how to engage with audiences and build communities”.

The first video outlines the incubator program’s goals: to explore new strategies, to nurture organizational change through innovation, and to contribute to shared learning. This presentation also highlights a key theme of the series: “building relationships with audiences and community takes time”, often much more than expected when starting out.

There are seven presentations from arts organizations that received grants to pursue initiatives in two broad areas:

  1. The design of new digitally-based interfaces
  2. The re-assessment of the role of non-professionals in art-making

In her concluding remarks, Nancy Webster (Metcalf’s Creative Strategies Incubator Support Lead and Young People's Theatre Executive Director) provides seven key reflections from the initiatives:

  • Audience and community development programs need to be centred within the artistic mandate of the organization, not an add-on unrelated to existing programming.
  • Building meaningful relationships with audiences and communities requires significant time investment.
  • “Depth leads to breadth”: Deepening relationships leads to a broadening of the audience, not the other way around.
  • The journey as much as the destination: The right invitation and the need to listen along the way can lead to meaningful engagement.
  • Organizations must balance their ambitions with their resources. Often, audience and community development programs require more human and financial resources than might be initially anticipated.
  • The pace of change is increasing, especially with regards to technology and the needs of the marketplace.
  • Organizations should remain open to the “happy accident”, by learning to listen to the unexpected, including their failures.

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