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We partner with universities and faculty engaged in some of the world's leading research in organizational management and leadership. But there are questions that are critical to our sector that aren't always addressed directly in this research. With the support of national funders – and with your participation – we undertake research projects, interviews, convenings, and other activities to fill in the gaps, and share our findings here.


The Summit at Sundance: Cultural Sector Ideation

Last year, NAS brought the participants of The Chief Executive Program together at an ideation conference to collectively work on real-world solutions to four key problems facing the field: engaging collaborators in shaping our institutional agendas; creating 21st century boards; developing transformational employees and systems; and maximizing the field’s value in the eyes of the public. The result of that convening was over 400 ideas for how to solve those issues.

We prepared a report that documents the ideas generated and some of the materials used to help participants frame the issues and work on the solutions. We’ve also posted this information online and invite the entire field to continue to hone and shape these concepts, to share ideas and build upon those of their colleagues.

Visit the Cultural Sector Ideation website »

Download the Summit at Sundance Working Document »

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders

Last October, National Arts Strategies, in partnership with the Salzburg Global Seminar, presented the first annual Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders, co-chaired by NAS President and CEO Russell Willis Taylor and National Arts Council of Zambia Chairperson Mulenga Kapwepwe. Over the course of this convening, fifty young cultural leaders from around the globe came together to address questions on the role of the arts and their place in communities, the tension between global and local in today’s world and the creation and communication of value. Through a series of panel discussions, group conversations, informal networking and skill-building sessions on team building and communication, change management and innovation, fellows expanded their thinking on what it means to be a cultural leader and worked together to explore ideas for how they will serve the field. NAS Program Manager Sunny Widmann authored the session report, which summarizes these discussions. The report also includes links to blog posts and video interviews with fellows (featured on Field Notes during the session) and a visual diary of the event by fellow and comics artist Paola Gaviria.

Read the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders session report »

Holding Up the Arts: Can we sustain what we’ve created? Should we?

On October 27, 2012, Diane Ragsdale addressed fellows of the 2012 Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders with a keynote address entitled, “Holding Up the Arts: Can we sustain what we’ve created? Should we?” Ms. Ragsdale’s speech examined the meaning and implications of sustainability for the arts and culture field and the life cycle of organizations, including the idea that death is a necessary part of the arts ecosystem. She discussed the role of the arts organization and the importance of mattering to one’s community, warning against current tendencies towards market-driven tactics, exclusivity and becoming “nonprofit arts zombies.”

Read the full text of “Holding Up the Arts” »

NAS Launches New ArtsJournal Blog

National Arts Strategies is excited to announce our newest initiative, Field Notes. Field Notes is an ArtsJournal-hosted blog, and is our way to share ideas from conversations with cultural leaders and innovative thinkers, and from our experience working in the sector. The entire NAS team will contribute our observations and insights, and we share a commitment to mining, distilling and contextualizing ideas; providing the morals of the stories we share as well as frameworks that anyone can use; and offering everyone in the field the opportunity to discuss the underlying issues behind some of today’s toughest management challenges.

Read more about our vision for Field Notes at »


Why the Arts Matter Now

NAS President and CEO Russell Willis Taylor recently delivered the keynote address to attendees of the Midwest Arts Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mrs. Taylor’s speech, “Why the Arts Matter Now,” stresses the importance of creating a shared value for our communities and that the nonprofit arts organizations are in the business of meaning before markets.

Read “Why the Arts Matter Now” »

Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S.

Doug Borwick of the popular ArtsJournal blog Engaging Matters has released a new book, Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. In Building Communities, Borwick posits that the future success of arts organizations is dependent upon establishing real, deep connections with their communities. The book features the essay “Changing Our Future” by NAS President CEO Russell Willis Taylor, as well as contributions from arts thinkers including NAS Chief Executive Program participants Sebastian Ruth and Dorothy Gunther Pugh with forewords by National Endowment of the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman and Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch.

Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. »


Local Faces: D.C.’s Local and National Art Scene

On June 12th, NAS Program Manager Sunny Widmann moderated a panel at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The panel, entitled “Local Faces: D.C.’s Local and National Art Scene,” was co-presented by the Corcoran and Emerging Arts Leaders DC. Panelists Lisa Gold (Washington Project for the Arts), Ryan Hill (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, YOUmedia Network), Mariah Johnson (Porch Projects) and Jayme McLellan (Civilian Art Projects, Corcoran College of Art Design) explored the unique challenges and opportunities that local arts organizations and artists face when sharing a city with national museums.

Watch a video recording of the panel »

The New Nature of Money

Changes in the environment – economic, demographic and social – may challenge the health of an organization. How can a leader improve his or her organization’s financial strength so that it can nimbly adapt and adjust to these changes?   In “The New Nature of Money,” Peter Frumkin explores a framework for thinking about financial sustainability as linked to the business model and financial flexibility.  As the author discusses, there are a variety of ways in which sustainability can be threatened or enhanced through the management of revenues and expenses.  Sustainability and flexibility combined are the lynchpin of creating greater value for patrons and communities.

Read “The New Nature of Money” by Peter Frumkin »


Defining Values: A training for developing new opportunities for uncertain futures

Europe’s critical economic situation has resulted in the United Kingdom government making cuts across the board and once again issuing a plea for “more American-style fundraising in the arts,” or, a more diverse, less government-centered financial base for the arts. The potential of the arts to build true engagement across conventional boundaries of culture, generation, economic status, class and professional expertise has a long and rich history in the UK, as evidenced by the establishment of the BBC and national cultural institutions, but the need for a fresh look at fundraising strategy and philosophy has never been greater.

In October 2011, three senior arts and education practitioners brought together 40 participants from 15 organizations in the UK to address practical and effective ways to strengthen the real value of the arts, thereby sustaining their varied revenue streams. The program, Defining Values, was presented by National Arts Strategies President and CEO Russell Willis Taylor, Anna Ledgard and Julia Rowntree at London’s Somerset House with support from the Fidelity UK Foundation, the Fidelity Foundation and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The aim of the program was to help arts organizations discover latent potential in their existing values and activities, thereby enabling them to move from one-off transactions in fundraising to sustainable relationships in fund development. The session offered case studies and group exercises exploring the skills, language, philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings necessary to successful fund development, with special focus on how to create enduring relationships. The following organizations took part in colleague teams of CEO/Artistic Director, Head of Learning and Head of Development: Arcola Theatre, B3 Media, Battersea Arts Center, English National Opera, Iniva, National Portrait, Gallery, The Place Theatre, Project Phakama, Roundhouse, Serious, Somerset House Trust, Sound and Music, South Bank Centre, Tate, Theatre Royal Stratford East.

The program saw many favorable outcomes from participant organizations. In particular, Battersea Arts Centre is taking steps to bring the fundraising process itself into the creative embrace of the organization, recognizing its power to build creativity, neighborly cooperation and citizenship across its various constituencies. BAC recently hosted a lecture by Dr. Franklyn Prochaska on English philanthropic traditions as further inspiration for the social, creative and civic benefits of associational philanthropy.

Download “Good Neighbors: Associational Philanthropy and Civic Apprenticeship in 19th Century England” here »

Note on Technology as a Strategic Tool

How can organizations embrace new IT models to maximize workflow and productivity while reducing IT costs? NAS Vice President Jim Rosenberg discusses ways in which organizations can best analyze their needs and evaluate market offerings to identify an ideal IT infrastructure.

Read the article, “Note on Technology as a Strategic Tool”