Leading for the Future: Innovative Support for Artistic Excellence
Leading for the Future, a program of Nonprofit Finance Fund funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, was a pilot initiative designed to help a group of ten artistically outstanding performing arts organizations strengthen their business in a shifting environment. NFF provided grants, technical assistance, and consulting services to help each organization innovatively meet environmental challenges, such as the erosion of audience and the impact of technology on live performance, while developing models of sustainability that can be used by arts organizations nationwide.
Participants had access to up to $1 million over four or five years with the goal of allowing participants to take transformative rather than incremental steps to remain artistically relevant, effective and excellent while ensuring long-term financial viability.
As the initiative draws to a close, the projects each organization undertook provide instructive examples and models for other arts organizations to learn from and, in some cases, replicate.
In the right-hand column of this page, you can navigate to a compelling case study for each of the ten participating organizations that concisely summarizes the highlights and lessons learned. (These are available as a single pdf here.) And, we invite you to review and download the key publications produced via the initiative below.
Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, New York, NY
Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles, CA
Cunningham Dance Foundation, New York, NY
Jacob's Pillow Dance, Becket, MA
Misnomer Dance Theater, New York, NY
National Black Arts Festival, Atlanta, GA
Ping Chong & Company, New York, NY
SITI Company, New York, NY
Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago, IL
The Wooster Group, New York, NY
- Change Capital in Action: Lessons from Leading Arts Organizations
Change Capital in Action: Lessons from Leading Arts Organizations shares the results of Leading for the Future (LFF), a five-year program that has invested change capital in ten leading performing arts organizations to support and sustain their business and artistic adaptation. It features principles of the LFF initiative, profiles of individual change efforts, participants financial and program outcomes, and lessons relevant for arts organizations and funders alike.
- Case for Change Capital in the Arts
The Case for Change Capital in the Arts shares the philosophy governing the Leading for the Future Initiative and discusses the need for and application of change capital in the arts. It also outlines core principles and practices that can improve capitalization in the sector but that will require changes in behavior by both nonprofits and funders alike. The piece tells how each of the participating organizations is applying change capital to undertake meaningful artistic, organizational and financial change.
- Case for Capital: Financial Reporting Done Right
Financial Reporting Done Right introduces a new way of financial reporting that improves transparency around how organizations manage their capital resources. While conventional accounting and reporting treat capital and revenue in the same way, NFF recommends that nonprofits make stratightforward adjustments for capital that better reveal their true operating performance and progress.
- Securing a Legacy: Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation’s Historic Closure
In 2008, with leadership and support from its legendary founder and choreographer Merce Cunningham, the Cunningham Dance Foundation began laying the groundwork for its momentous closure after Merce was no longer able to work. Five years later, after a farewell worldwide Legacy Tour that culminated with final performances in New York City, the organization has ceased operation, provided career transition support for dancers and staff, and transferred its archival assets—including carefully curated digital “dance capsules” for each of its major works—to the Cunningham Trust. In this interactive webinar, you will hear their groundbreaking story, learn about the catalytic role played by flexible capital and ponder the implications of their exit for the field at large.
- Experiments in Audience Development & Engagement
Join Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Center Theatre Group as we explore how each is using this special kind of investment to attract, develop and engage new audiences in creative and lasting ways. We’ll discuss what each organization is learning about new approaches to programming, the theatergoing experience, marketing and engagement techniques, and the role of young artists in attracting the next generation of patrons.
- Reliable Revenue in the Arts -- Possibility or Pipe Dream?
Learn about how SITI Company, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and Ping Chong & Company are building and sustaining more reliable revenue to support their cultural programming during a time of unprecedented artistic and economic flux. Discover how these organizations are investing Change Capital to:Invest in new marketing and development capacityStabilize and grow earned incomeAttract new foundation revenueStrengthen individual donor bases
- How Change Capital Can Help Arts Organizations
See our webinar on how "Change Capital" can help transform arts organizations. The discussion includes brief presentations from The Wooster Group and Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, 2 of the 10 companies participating in NFF's Leading for the Future Initiative, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In the webinar, we discuss how to: Build a "risk reserve" fund for greater artistic freedom, stabilize earned income, generate incremental new revenue, and expand audiences.