One of the reasons Springboard for the Arts is able to take on and implement large scale projects with their small team is through leveraging their staff. The staff lives and breathes seven principles:
- We view artists as vital contributors to their communities.
- Our programs are delivered by artists to artists.
- Our capacity to build relationships is the basis of our effectiveness.
- We emphasize building systems of investment and support.
- We develop cross-sector collaborations.
- We operate with a sense of transformational possibility.
- We are non-judgmental about artists’ work.
These principles define the culture of Springboard and give the staff autonomy to make decisions they know align with the values of the organization.
In this Field Notes piece that originally appeared in 2013, NAS’ Dallas Shelby shares how these seven principles helped Springboard spearhead a huge creative placemaking initiative. Watch the case story, featuring Springboard for the Arts’ Executive Director, Laura Zabel, below.
What are your organization’s core values? How do they help align staff and programs?
Baron Z says
Your principles don’t make much sense.
1.We view artists as vital contributors to their communities. Um, you didn’t invent that, and if you didn’t, why would you be doing anything with artists?
2.Our programs are delivered by artists to artists. Artists need programs from other artists? Your staff are artists?
3.Our capacity to build relationships is the basis of our effectiveness. Who wants a relationship with you? Artists just need funds.
4.We emphasize building systems of investment and support. For what? For you or the artists? Systems?
5.We develop cross-sector collaborations. Really? What sectors? What kind of sectors? What good does that do?
My point is, nonprofit talk is gobbledygook that either means nothing, or means something ultimately harmful to artists. If you want to help artists, give them funds to do their work, or places to live, places to work. That’s mostly what we need. It’s a shame how few foundations etc. will actually do that. Usually, they exploit artists, forcing them to serve some other agenda, unless they are mediocre artists who rely on agenda to sell their products. Foundations seem to serve each other more than anything else. I’m just sick of it all. Art is art. It is not community engagement, it is not social action, it is not avant-garde novelties, and it is definitely not show-and-tell projects masquerading as “art.” Art requires beauty, great technique, great feeling, thinking, sophistication, sensibility, all the values it has had for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, those values have been battered to pieces by avant-gardists, and as a result, no one cares about art any more. It has also been bureaucratized to death by nonprofits, foundations and the like. When I put on a concert, I do not subject my audience to demographic analysis and I will never do it. It is irrelevant, offensive and intrusive. Art is the joining of spirit, mind, worship, creation, and life though esthetics. It is not social strategy.
6.We operate with a sense of transformational possibility.
7.We are non-judgmental about artists’ work. Please tell everyone.
Ralph Stalter, Jr. says
This is a great example of how collaboration can address complex challenges, tapping into communal creativity and unleashing true innovation and buy-in.
Many of the adaptive challenges facing nonprofit organizations today require people to change the way they work, generate solutions and engage stakeholders. They call for our human capacity to be greater than the sum of its parts and leverage the creative potential already present among these organizations.
I am convinced that we have the artistic, financial, and strategic resources right here in Southern NV to compete nationally when it comes to “creative placemaking”! We simply need to align those resources, and our common efforts, to build productive relationships, and to promote the development of partnerships and social enterprises to secure enduring dividends for both the participating nonprofit partners and the Southern NV communities which they serve.