The OAF Blog

Transformation in the Arts

July 13, 2016

While the mandate of the Ontario Arts Foundation is to invest in perpetuity, i.e. for the very long term, we recognize that arts organizations, like any organization cannot exist in perpetuity based solely on past success. To continue to deliver sustained arts programs, organizations need to adapt and respond to change in their operating environment.

Transformation or Bust

Diane Ragsdale, a well know arts commentator, spoke at a 2016 Creative New Zealand Conference – her topic was titled Transformation or Bust - When Hustling Tickets and Contributions is Just Not Cutting it Anymore. It is lengthy, but a thoughtful perspective on the arts and the notion of creative transformation to be viable and successful.

She observes that the justification for the arts in western culture seems to have shifted too far in the direction of ‘measurement’ – arts as paying its way, or contributing to economic growth. It is absolutely true that the arts are strong economic contributors, but have we lost, at the political level, sight of ‘culture for sake for culture’s sake’?

Positive Transformation

Diane identifies five ways arts organizations can work to transform in a positive way and continue to engage with their communities:

  1. Let the community back in

  2. Practice radical hospitality

  3. Be the kitchen table. Be the campfire

  4. Focus on impact rather than size. Form covenants rather than contracts

  5. Create scaffolds of meaning-making rather than money-making

Each intriguingly named theme is accompanied by examples of organizations being creative and transforming themselves, or how they practice their craft and engage with their audience.

Read the full transcript here.

 

 

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