Dance New Amsterdam – Challenge Semi-Finalist

Dance New Amsterdam supports the artistry, longevity, and sustainable careers of dance artists in the United States.

Our adaptive challenge

Because of the steadily declining trend in institutional philanthropic giving, Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) will empower American dance artists (and, conversely, the national dance sector at large) by providing the infrastructure, support and encouragement to practitioners in the field to research, develop and implement innovative entrepreneurial artistic and business practices that will enable a renewed direction towards sustainability and longevity in the field.

Why it is important that our organization address this challenge, and why now?

Within the national dance field, there is a lack of comprehensive initiatives that encourage and support artists to pursue their artistic development and also link their vision with entrepreneurial endeavors. Our initiative encourages artists to have a wider perspective on their role in today’s commercial economic and social system. DNA’s proposed program is designed to offer extended opportunities for professionals in the dance field to research, develop and implement models that address future resiliency for the field. Our goal is to work in a collaborative open-source style process to create sustainable and collective models inclusive of cross-discipline and cross-sector practices that will benefit the arts sector on the whole.

What are the foundational assumptions that have reliably predicted success in the past that we are now questioning?

A wide-reaching assumption, not only within our organization, but amongst peer presenting dance organizations, is that the philanthropic community supports organizations with a proven track record of providing meaningful support to artists and developing/presenting strong work. In actuality, the philanthropic sector in the United States – particularly in the area of the arts and culture – has been steadily declining over the past several years, which necessitates a radically new vision for supporting and sustaining the arts in the future. DNA is working on becoming the part of that solution and sharing it with the national arts sector at large.

What is the evidence that is causing us to question our assumptions?

DNA is part of LOMAL (Lower Manhattan Arts League), a powerful consortium of some of the most important performing arts organization in New York City, and statistics collected both within our organization and amongst our peers have shown a declining trend in contributed income support. Not only have many foundations closed their cultural programs and are no longer providing funding for the arts, many other foundations have folded altogether, or have ceased to accept proposals. The meteoric rise of crowd-funding and resource-sharing platforms over the recent several years is also an evident indicator of new ways of generating income being undertaken by contemporary arts practitioners to replace waning philanthropic funding streams.

What are the bold new directions we are imagining for our organization?

This year, DNA is looking to magnify its national impact by harnessing its resources and partnerships and developing the Building Entrepreneurial Arts Models (BEAM) program. BEAM engages a diverse group of leading dance practitioners in a 2-year pilot with the goal of advancing systems that support life-long professional development in creative and business practices. The resulting new initiatives will enable creative minds to take advantage of and monetize their advanced skills to increase and diversify streams of income, develop cross-sector activities that will augment their artistic practice, and provide an outline for future artists to create sustainable careers in the changing arts economy.

Our vision of success

The vision of Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) is to support the artistry, longevity, and sustainable careers of dance artists in the United States, and to offer a meaningful and flexible range of services and opportunities to artists over extended periods of time. DNA has pursued this vision for nearly 30 years, and is currently implementing a wide-reaching strategy in response to the crisis of the arts philanthropy to encourage, develop and support artists as they incorporate entrepreneurial business initiatives into their practices, which will ensure longevity and sustainability of their careers in the arts.

DNA aims to enable creative minds to take advantage of and monetize their advanced skills.

Dance New Amsterdam is New York’s leading contemporary dance artist development center, and supports artists’ vision as they train, create and develop their individual voice and place in today’s cultural community. DNA develops new audiences for dance by bridging diverse communities and exploring dance’s role in the sustainability of the performing and visual arts.