New Pathways | Alaska Names Four Arts Organizations to Participate in Incubating Innovation



Louise Brooks
212.362.8541 x 32
Maura Wharton

ANCHORAGE, October 15, 2015—Four Alaskan arts organizations, participants in the inaugural cohort of New Pathways | Alaska, have been selected to move forward into Incubating Innovation, a program that supports organizations in exploring, testing and prototyping new strategies for increased public impact and value. Alutiiq Museum, the Island Institute, Anchorage Concert Association, and Perseverance Theatre will all receive grants of $20,000 each to support organizational innovation and their participation in this program. Incubating Innovation provides frameworks to advance a creative and adaptive response to complex challenges that nonprofit organizations often face.

Since May 2014, New Pathways | Alaska has been providing, at no cost to the cohort of eleven participating organizations, workshops, consultation and coaching, as well as a variety of online learning tools and resources (housed on to capture and reinforce lessons and contribute to the national dialogue about innovation in the nonprofit arts field. New Pathways | Alaska is funded by the Rasmuson Foundation and is a joint project of EmcArts (a New York-based arts service organization), The Foraker Group and the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

The New Pathways approach moves away from traditional strategies of technical assistance, which support the improvement of existing organizational strategies, to adaptive assistance that accelerates the adoption of “next practices” for the organizations and the field.

According to EmcArts President Richard Evans, “Today’s operating environment for the arts is highly complex. Arts leaders must adapt their programs, strategies and organizational structures thoughtfully and quickly to respond to rapid changes and fleeting opportunities. To develop these adaptive capacities, organizations can benefit from carefully structured interventions – formal assistance and effective frameworks like those provided through New Pathways – to support the design and testing of new strategies. We have been delighted by the level of interest in the program, and the large number of current participants who stepped forward to apply to Incubating Innovation.

Diane Kaplan, president of Rasmuson Foundation, heralded this new approach to supporting arts organizations in Alaska. “Alaska has significant talent in its arts community. This program provides additional funding to test new ideas and take risks that will ultimately position these arts organizations for long-term artistic and financial success.

We congratulate the following organizations that have been selected to take part in Incubating Innovation:

Alutiiq Museum (Kodiak) will explore strategies to return Alutiiq heritage to community consciousness and promote more inclusive dialogues. Alutiiq Museum unites community, visitors and researchers in original research—archaeology, history, language, culture and art. They seek to preserve indigenous knowledge and objects to tell the Alutiiq story, past and present, via exhibits, publications and education programs.

Anchorage Concert Association (Anchorage) will find ways to remove barriers to participation in order to build greater engagement. Anchorage Concert Association is a multi-disciplinary performing arts presenter of big shows, small shows and intimate community engagement events. Their diverse season and outreach are designed to expose Alaska audiences to the performing arts and have the greatest impact possible.

Island Institute (Sitka) will discover new ways to use storytelling as a transformative tool to explore, foster, and catalyze a resilient community. The Island Institute explores ways to put literature, story, and conversation to the service of community. They do this through their artists and writers residencies, their creative writing and storytelling program for kids (the Sitka Story Lab), and their publication studio. Currently, they are developing a new series of programs designed to capture the human dimension of climate change in Alaska.

Perseverance Theatre (Juneau/Anchorage) will explore strategies to foster a high level of community ownership of the theatre as a statewide Alaskan initiative. Perseverance Theatre’s mission is to create professional theatre by and for Alaskans. The theatre serves a statewide audience with outreach events, education programs and main stage performances in Juneau and Anchorage.

The selection of a second cohort of New Pathways organizations, planned for September 2015, has been postponed as program partners use the learning generated by the first cohort of participants to consider how best to advance the program. Information about future opportunities to apply, and more in-depth program information, can be found here.


ABOUT EMCARTS: EmcArts is a nationally recognized service organization for innovation and adaptive change. EmcArts works alongside people, organizations, and communities as they take on their most complex challenges. Through rigorously designed and facilitated workshops, coaching, and intensive labs, EmcArts creates the space and conditions to test innovative strategies and build cultures that embrace change. EmcArts serves as a non-profit intermediary for many arts funders, and through, provides arts practitioners with a learning community, tools, resources, and “next practices” for innovation and adaptive change.

ABOUT FORAKER GROUP: The Foraker Group is Alaska’s state association and nonprofit capacity building organization for nonprofits and tribes across Alaska. Foraker is dedicated to increasing the leadership and management skills of professionals and volunteers working in Alaska’s nonprofit and tribal organizations through an innovative approach focused on a model of sustainability.

ABOUT ALASKA STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS: ASCA is a state agency that fosters the development of the arts for all Alaskans through education, partnerships, grants and services.

ABOUT RASMUSON FOUNDATION: Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson. The Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.

Nayantara Sen is the former Communications Manager at EmcArts.