The Foundation's Arts Marketing Initiative wound down in 2006 after several years of successfully helping small and mid-sized arts organizations build marketing capacity.
The Initiative was launched in 1998 as a result of roundtable discussions hosted by the Foundation, where arts leaderscited marketing as their greatest need. Over six years, the Foundation invested nearly $2.5 million to provide comprehensive support including professional instruction, on-site assistance, marketing planning, peer learning, and funding to implement marketing plans.
"For small, growing nonprofits, there's really no convenient time to do lots of things that need to get done," said Will K. Wilkins, executive director of Real Art Ways. "The Arts Marketing Initiative forced us to take the time to think about marketing, to learn about specific marketing strategies, then gave us the funding we needed to implement what we had learned."
A recent independent evaluation (PDF, 157KB) of the Initiative reports that the participating agencies benefited from increased revenues as well as an increased marketing capacity.
"This is an exemplary program that could be successfully replicated," according to the evaluator, Craig Dreezen of Dreezen & Associates. "The multiple-year program blending funding, professional assistance, and peer learning works well."
While much of the success of the Initiative can be attributed to its design, the substantial contributions of the organizations' leadership, consultant Dorothy Chen-Courtin and senior program officer Sharon O'Meara were also major factors, according Dreezen.
"I was impressed by the commitment of the agencies participating in the Initiative," said Sharon. "They each had unique hurdles to overcome, but managed to work together and learn from each other. It was very much a team effort."
The agencies that successfully completed the initiative are The Artists Collective, Chamber Music Plus, Hill-Stead Museum, Little Theatre of Manchester, and Real Art Ways (pictured).