New Pathways for the Arts | Houston Round 2 Announcement

EmcArts proudly announces the second round of New Pathways for the Arts | Houston, a program designed to strengthen Houston’s distinct arts organizations by advancing innovation and investing in adaptive change efforts.

This multi-year program integrates a wide range of learning activities and financial investments, incorporating facilitated deep-dive activities that foster experimental mindsets and organizational resilience. Program components, which will be introduced over a two-year period, are designed as a tiered approach, blending cohort learning, organizational experimentation, and individual skill development. New Pathways for the Arts centers on celebrating and advancing individual and organizational innovations as responses to complex challenges in both the arts and nonprofit sectors.

New Pathways for the Arts | Houston is supported by Houston Endowment. The first New Pathways for the Arts | Houston cohort, which was funded by Houston Endowment, convened by Houston Arts Alliance, and ran from 2016 to 2018, saw participation from Dance Source Houston, Houston Chamber Choir, Inprint, Musiqa, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, DiverseWorks, Fresh Arts, Writers in the Schools, and others. Building upon the successes of this first cohort, Houston Endowment provided support for a second – and even more robust – iteration of New Pathways for the region’s diverse arts and culture sector.

This second cohort of New Pathways will incorporate facilitation work by EmcArts experts, program-related micro-grants to support initial experimentation with “next practices,” and project grants to support prototyping efforts for substantial new strategies for qualifying applicants from an initial cohort of approximately 15 organizations.

Says Bao-Long Chu, Program Officer for Houston Endowment, of the New Pathways for the Arts| Houston Program: “We are pleased to support the second round of New Pathways for the Arts because we believe it is an effective tool. We encourage any local arts organizations wanting to stay ahead of change and increase their vitality to consider applying for this program.”

Core Program Design

New Pathways | Houston Round 2 will launch on May 14th, 2019 with an information session at Ensemble Theatre. Interested organizations are invited to attend a session from 12:00 to 1:30 (lunch will be provided). Please RSVP here. Following a competitive application process, up to 15 organizations will be selected to take part in the second New Pathways cohort. Organizations will have options as to how deeply they participate over time, according to their overall capacity and condition. The components of the program include:

  • A sequence of six workshops and three participant-led Innovation Forums
  • The opportunity for up to six organizations to participate in On-site Coaching to support experimentation (with $2,000 micro-grants)
  • A year-long, individually facilitated deep dive process for up to four organizations to incubate larger-scale innovation initiatives (with $40,000 prototyping grants)

When asked about the enduring impact from the first cohort of New Pathways | Houston, one participant had this to say:

I would say that ROCO is one of those organizations that’s constantly doing self-evaluation. Even though we like to think of ourselves as adaptive, there was some history that was pulling us back into old ways of thinking.  Having the structure and facilitated support of the New Pathways program…meant that we were able to sacrifice some “sacred cows” and have a big aha moment. Having everyone in the room, board, artists, staff, was uncharted territory for us, but really being collaborative with the board helped us get where we are and we plan to continue that work in the future.”

  • Amy Gibbs, Managing Director at River Oaks Chamber Orchestra

New Program Elements

In response to Houston Endowment’s challenge to build an even more comprehensive and responsive New Pathways program, EmcArts is excited to introduce two new program components:

Adaptive Leadership Training: Adaptive Leaders as Cultural Innovators (ALACI)        

This component of the program provides direct training in adaptive leadership for rising influencers in the Houston arts and culture ecology. The training equips them with the skills to guide adaptive change processes (in their own organizations and across their communities), and to expand local capacity in this vital area of organizational development. The 12-month process of seminars, coaching, virtual learning and practicums — to be launched in January of 2020 — aims to leave a long-term legacy of increased capacity for adaptive change across the Houston arts sector, and to advance cohorts of leaders adept at process facilitation who can maintain and actively support organizational innovation and adaptive change.

The anticipated participants in Houston will be up to 25 rising leaders of arts and culture organizations (or organizations that sustain significant cultural programs in their mix). We are focusing the program on first-time or recently appointed Executive Directors and Artistic/Executive Directors. The ALACI program will launch with two information sessions to be held in the summer and fall of 2019.

Associate Facilitator Training Initiative

Alongside the New Pathways program, we are also introducing an accompanying Associate Facilitator Training Initiative. Led by EmcArts’ process facilitation team, this program will engage Houston’s facilitators to build a robust community of practitioners. Focused on a facilitation toolbox for complexity and adaptive change, this will be an opportunity to both enhance facilitative skills and actively observe other program components of New Pathways. Participating also confirms eligibility to be hired as a lead facilitator in the Incubating Innovation process. Interested associate facilitators are invited to join us for an information session at our launch event at Ensemble Theater on May 14th, 2019, from 1:45 to 3:00 PM.

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