About ArtsLab

Carrie and Claudia in a small group work session.

Many smaller arts organizations play an important role in the cultural life of our region, contributing significantly through their innovative work and frequently through their ability to reach new audiences and more culturally diverse audiences. They nurture and develop the artistic and cultural voices for the future. They are often artist-led or culturally specific organizations. Leaders in these organizations cultivate new artistic voices, present and/or produce new works, and encourage emerging and mid-career artists. Many have a proven track record of actively engaging artists and audiences in high quality arts opportunities. In addition, a strengthened arts sector has value beyond the individual arts organization served; a thriving arts sector is fundamental to improving the quality of life in communities. ArtsLab is designed to respond to the needs of visionary smaller arts organizations.

ArtsLab is not a traditional grant program. It is an in-depth three year learning and technical assistance program offering a diverse set of activities designed to strengthen small arts organizations. The program brings together eight nonprofit arts groups in northern Minnesota and eight in urban Minneapolis/St. Paul to share ideas and study best practices. ArtsLab provides peer learning seminars or “Labs,” one-to-one consulting, distance learning and modest grants to support the work undertaken through ArtsLab.

This unique capacity-building program focuses on four dimensions of capacity:

Leadership Capacity: the ability of organizational leaders to inspire, prioritize, make decisions, provide direction, and innovate.

Adaptive Capacity: the ability of a nonprofit organization to monitor, assess, and respond to internal and external changes through strategic focus, assessment and evaluation

Management Capacity: the ability of a nonprofit organization to ensure the effective and efficient use of organizational resources, with particular focus on financial, funding and audience development tools and skills

Operational Capacity: the ability of a nonprofit organization to implement key organizational and programmatic functions, through focus on systems and technology