What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The goal of the Fiscal Sponsorship program development project was to develop a low-risk but highly accessible way to offer incubation to new arts and culture based nonprofits in order to spur and support increased arts activity in the region.
The things we've had to consider:
Accessible but controlled financial practices
Funding to support staff administrative and coaching time
Fit with the Arts Alive! mission and values
How to develop a transparent, thoughtful, and timely application process
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Originally we designed the program to support arts and culture based nonprofits in the startup phase.
During a strategic planning year, we came to better understand our community's need/desire for public art. In order to support this we have allowed a group in our incubation program to remain with us because they are facilitating and supporting public art. They operate independently, we have contracted a lower fee with them for program participation, and they do good work and serve as a great resource!
Later we realized the need for project based support. Artists, community members, and groups had come to us with project ideas that we were unable to support because we focused on incubating and launching nonprofits. The community demonstrated need for project based support. We are slowly adapting our model, first with our public art partner, to be able to support smaller projects that do not have a long-range operating goal.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
Our bookkeeper was instrumental to this program development. We also relied on our insurance provider, our partners at the Entrepreneurship center, the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, the NH Secretary of State's office, the NH Attorney General's office, and applicants and participants in the program gave essential feedback.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Fiscal Sponsorship is an amazing way to help arts businesses launch, and to support Creative Economy and Creative Placemaking. Here are our success stories:
MAxT Makerspace in Peterborough has grown from a small operation under our fiscal sponsorship to an independent nonprofit organization with a robust membership, an industrial space that is over 4,000 square feet, paid staff, and great community partnerships and a working business model.
Monadnock International Film Festival celebrates its 7th year in operation in 2019. It has a strong community following, international participation in the submission process, and now offers year round programming in a few of the Monadnock region towns. The organization has been able to sustain 1-2 staff members since its inception, and engages hundreds of volunteers each year for the festival.
ConVal Visual & Performing Arts Center continues to work towards building a multi-arts performance space in the "Void" left at the ConVal high school. A void meant to be filled with a performing arts center back in the 1970s. It was never built, and the community has been organizing around realizing this vision. Our program allowed the project to raise funds for a feasibility study and architectural planning, as well as to engage the community with outreach and planning events. They continue to work towards their dream now as an independent nonprofit.
The idea for Ashuelot Concerts began as a music appreciation and performance organization that would hatch in our program and develop as a means to employ and engage internationally recognized classical musicians. Through working with their board, and better understanding needs in the community, the leadership of the project developed a new program that pivoted their work towards younger audiences - ages 0-18. This has opened funding opportunities and employment opportunities for the musicians this group works with. They look forward to launching into 501(c)3 independence in 2019.
The Magical History Tour is a community group that will host a mural festival in Keene in June 2019 to produce 15 permanent murals painted by The Walldogs, an international group of artists who are professional historic sign painters. This group has had to work closely with the City to get approvals, change policies, and tweak ordinances to allow this project to happen. They are smoothing the way for future public art and mural projects. They will not become a nonprofit, but they will transfer maintenance funds to another arts & culture nonprofit, which will be the caretaker of the murals long into the future.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
In our community an organization called The Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurs has always been an inspiration. They focus their work on for-profit businesses and entrepreneurs, but have resources that also apply to nonprofit businesses. Their coaching programs, referral services, and workshops have taught us how best to care for these fledgling organizations and projects.
On a personal note: As an artist myself, in the past I have sought fiscal sponsorship from my local arts council. It helped me raise $5,000 for a project I was working on. The partnership was so valuable to the creation of my work it certainly inspired me to invest time and care to develop this program to artists and community groups in my work with Arts Alive!
Beyond that there wasn't much information available to help us discover best practices at the time we began looking hard at the details of our program. Many organizations we talked to basically said - "we just open a bank account and let them use it."