8 New Grantees Announced in EmcArts’ National Innovation Labs

Participating organizations will design and prototype innovation initiatives and tackle field-wide challenges in the Innovation Labs for the Performing Arts and Arts Development Agencies.

Eight organizations have been selected to participate in two new rounds of the Innovation Lab, our intensive program in organizational innovation for arts groups. Designed and managed by EmcArts, the Innovation Labs are funded by a generous $1.58 million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

The four grantees in Round 9 of the Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts are:

  • Center Stage Baltimore, MD
    How can we use our CS Digital programming initiative to provide theater in a sustainable way that expands the art form – and pushes its boundaries – to increase access to theater for everyone?
  • Intermedia Arts – Minneapolis, MN
    How will we enroll a new physical space in creating artistic and structural models that have equity and inclusion at their core?
  • Pillsbury House + Theatre – Minneapolis, MN
    How can designing and using evaluation processes stimulate authentic community engagement, develop a distribution system for communications, and generate art?
  • The Public Theater – New York, NY
    How can we sustainably mirror artists’ creative processes in the way we produce their work?

The four grantees in Round 2 of the Innovation Lab for Arts Development Agencies are:

  • Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) National, HQ in Washington, DC
    In order to move beyond historical organizational models infused with cultural superiority/inferiority assumptions, 21st-century performing arts presenting professionals must respond adaptively. How can we examine the needs of those in cultural leadership roles and support their adaptive efforts?
  • Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) – National, HQ in Los Angeles, CA
    How do we let go of old definitions and discover new models in order to share learning with our sister organizations and the field at large?
  • National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) National, HQ in San Antonio, TX
    How do we ensure that our programs and services change and develop alongside the rapidly diversifying Latino community?
  • Urban Bush Women – Brooklyn, NY
    How can we catalyze a paradigmatic shift in how the dance field identifies and nurtures female choreographers of color?

Read the full descriptions of all grantee organizations’ projects here.

Download the Press Release

About the Innovation Lab

These organizations will design and prototype new ideas and launch real-life projects that address complex challenges facing their organizations and the arts and culture field at large. They will participate in the Innovation Lab’s extended framework of individual coaching and group facilitation, securing significant time and space away from the regular workplace to question, rethink, plan, and learn to innovate effectively. In addition, they will receive much-needed change capital to underwrite repeated experimentation. These two Innovation Lab cohorts will begin their work in July 2014, working with EmcArts’ expert facilitators through March 2016.

Themes we noticed in Innovation Lab proposals

Proposals for both rounds of the Innovation Lab came from across the country – from rural communities to large cities; from small collectives to some of the largest institutions in the country. Several strong themes across applicant proposals emerged:

  • Issues of social justice, equity and changing demographics
  • Creative placemaking, community engagement, and rethinking the use of physical space
  • The intertwined relationship between local institutions and civic ecosystems, and the role of arts organizations in fostering change
  • How organizational structures can reflect aspects of artistic process and creativity
  • The dilemma of traditional membership organizations and what it means for the field
  • How transitional moments can act as catalysts for larger adaptive change

We look forward to exploring these themes further in the coming months as we check in with the Innovation Lab participants and share learning with you right here on ArtsFwd!

Liz Dreyer is the Senior Program Manager at EmcArts, managing the Community Innovation Labs as well as the Arts Leaders as Cultural Innovators (ALACI) program. She is also a Process Facilitator in the New Pathways programs.