And as we look to the future, we need to know what our community needs in order to keep leading that charge and connecting residents to thousands of arts and cultural experiences each year.
Phase 1 looked backward: we examined what our work has meant to York County since we were founded 20 years ago. Phase 1 also looked across the country and benchmarked our results with other united arts funds to compare/contrast how funding for the arts has shifted and changed throughout communities large and small.
Phase 2 looked to York and to our donors, arts partners, and community members through empathy interviews and prototyping sessions to find out what is most important, learn their successes/challenges, and gain a deeper understanding of their needs.
Large organizations differ from smaller organizations in what they value and in what they need. Large arts organizations value predictability & stability of Cultural Alliance funding. Small arts organizations value support/guidance and “seal of approval” that the Cultural Alliance offers.
Donors highly respect the Cultural Alliance and its role in efficiently raising funds for the arts community. Donors trust in the Cultural Alliance to ensure that our cultural partners and grant recipients use their unrestricted operating support to positively impact our community through a transparent, equitable grant-making process
The Cultural Alliance should be broadening its operational support and including more organizations as partners that receive unrestricted operating dollars to support the overall sector. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
The current way the Cultural Alliance funds are allocated to our arts partners is outdated. Anchoring operational allocations to original corporate support funds raised in 1999 isn’t keeping pace with the needs of our partners, and our funded arts partners can’t significantly impact allocations in our current process.
Current Cultural Alliance professional development and promotion programs for the arts community are not generating desired impact. Arts organizations and artists have very different needs, and one-size-fits all training programs, conferences, and promotional events are not addressing their needs in a meaningful way.
The Cultural Alliance should play a role in helping new and challenged arts organizations thrive. It strengthens the sector when organizations within it are strong. Struggling organizations should get resources to help turn them around, and budding organizations should have access to resources to help them grow and become sustainable.
Supporting individual working artists “plant the seeds” to strengthen the arts sector in our community and could have significant economic development impact.