Now accepting proposals: Innovation Lab for Performing Arts

Announcing Round 7 of  The Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts, designed and managed by EmcArts, with the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.  The Lab is a 12-month program that helps performing arts organizations incubate and test innovative strategies to address major adaptive challenges.

Click to download the Round 7 Request for Proposals and the Press Release!

The Round 7 Application deadline is Thursday, August 9, 2012.

The Innovation Lab for Performing Arts was created to advance and accelerate the development of new and innovative strategies by performing arts organizations in order to address well-defined adaptive challenges.  It is designed to do this in a way that promotes internal culture change and builds the capacity of participating organizations to innovate more effectively in the future.  Participating organizations form a “laboratory” for testing new approaches to achieving artistically vital and organizationally healthy arts institutions.

Examples of areas in which arts organizations are innovating include (but are not limited to):

  • Engaging audiences, and the wider community, in new ways
  • Rethinking program formats, venues and approaches
  • Involving the public in co-creating arts activities
  • Using technology and the Web to create and engage with artistic experiences
  • Reconsidering the role of the creative artist in the organization
  • Restructuring the organization for new demands and new ways of doing business
  • Partnering or merging with other organizations for greater reach and impact

What stages in the development of new initiatives are suited to participation in the Lab?
The evolution of breakthrough strategies is often represented as having three stages:

  • The emergence of “big ideas” from a background of no ideas
  • Moving significant strategic ideas to the point of sufficient clarity and ownership within the organization that they have a chance of being implemented
  • Getting fully shaped and supported strategies actually implemented

What does the Lab provide?
The Innovation Lab is a 12-month program in which EmcArts facilitators work with teams of staff, artists, board leaders and others from participating organizations (“Innovation Teams”).  The Lab includes individual coaching, group facilitation, an Intensive Retreat with specialized faculty, and a variety of extended support systems tailored to the needs of each organization.

Who is being invited to apply to Round 7?
Round 7 of the Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts is open to all American nonprofit producing and presenting organizations in theater, modern or contemporary dance, and jazz (including college-based presenters).  Applicants should demonstrate a core commitment to the creation, production or presentation of new work in their artform(s).

Who can we contact for further guidance?
We encourage applicants to discuss their innovation plans with EmcArts.  For clarification about the Lab program as a whole, please contact Liz Dreyer (, preferably by e-mail, and she will answer your questions.  If you want to discuss a specific project, or explore in more detail whether an application would be appropriate and timely, Liz will schedule a time for you to talk with EmcArts leadership.

What do you mean by Organizational Innovation?
Find out in our FREE Webinar June 21st at 2pm, “Business Unusual: What is Organizational Innovation?” lead by Liz Dreyer and Karina Mangu-Ward (EmcArts Director of Activating Innovation).

Register now


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.