Irvine Foundation Releases Study on Arts Innovation Fund

December 07, 2012

Slover Linett announces the publication yesterday of our report on the James Irvine Foundation’s Arts Innovation Fund, which has supported new programming, community, and artistic initiatives at some of California’s largest cultural organizations since 2006. Our report, co-authored with our frequent collaborator Nick Rabkin, explores how change and risk-taking work at today’s major arts organizations and how the 19 grantees in the program attempted to bridge ‘relevance gaps’ with audiences, communities, and artists.

To share the findings with the arts community and encourage dialogue, Irvine has created a special website summarizing the findings using infographics and providing links to both the report and project case studies.  The foundation’s arts program director, Josephine Ramirez, has also written a blog post announcing the study, and is featured in these videos about the Arts Innovation Fund and the lessons learned from it.

To download the report directly, click here. (Please note that the graphic design of the report is optimized for tablet reading rather than paper printing.)

In the report, titled A Laboratory for Relevance: Findings and Recommendations from the Arts Innovation Fund, co-authors Rabkin, Peter Linett, and Sarah Lee explore the reasons these arts organizations felt the need to innovate; what they hoped to accomplish; the processes they undertook; and challenges they encountered. The report also offers recommendations for future efforts to support innovation in the arts.

“We hope that the report is useful not only to our colleagues at the Irvine Foundation, but to other funders, arts managers, our fellow researchers and consultants, and the cultural policy community,” says Slover Linett chairman & chief idea officer Peter Linett. “We tried to take a big-picture look at the purposes and dynamics of change among large nonprofit arts organizations, and to acknowledge the limits and tensions around change.”

The Slover Linett team would like to thank Ramirez and her Irvine colleagues, especially senior arts program officer Ted Russell and research and evaluation manager Kevin Rafter, for a deeply rewarding collaboration on the study. We are also grateful to Bob Tobin and his associates at the Williams Group for their innovative design work and editorial insight.

We welcome your comments about the report, or about innovation and experimentation in the arts more generally; please contact Peter Linett at (505) 820-7257 or by email. And if you find the study relevant, please help us bring it to the attention of your colleagues around the field.

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