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Arts Insights June 2014

Ten Top Web Resources for
Arts & Culture Leaders

 

Summer is almost here. It’s time for outdoor concerts, arts festivals, summer stock and, once again, ACG’s annual list of the top ten web resources for arts and culture leaders. Here, in no particular order, are our recommendations to bookmark for your summer reading list.

Advocacy

Several of this year’s top ten appeared on our list last year. But while most have updated their sites with new resources, perhaps none of these new features is as useful (or, indeed, impressive) as the Creative Industries: Business & Employment in the Arts section now being featured on the Americans for the Arts website. Here, you can access hard data on the impact arts organizations (both nonprofit and for-profit) are having on communities across the United States ? including  yours. These free reports (which are available by state, county, or legislative district) pull from data compiled by Dun & Bradstreet to create customized pdf files offering concise information on the economic impact of the arts on a specific area. Reports include employment data, economic impact information, and maps indicating the location of each arts organization or business in the region. Incidentally, aggregate data available here indicates that arts organizations/businesses employed 3.1 million people in 2013 or 2.1% of jobs nationwide. Visit www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/creative-industries to access these well- presented reports. Registration is required, but it’s fast and free. We also suggest a visit to www.americansforthearts.org to check out the many other resources offered by Americans for the Arts.

The Performing Arts Alliance website provides excellent advocacy tools for cultural organizations and individuals, including detailed recommendations on arts policy and up-to-the-minute updates on pending arts legislation. The Take Action section, which at press time included resources aimed at influencing Senate action on reinstating the IRA Charitable Rollover, provides solid information on mobilizing staff and stakeholders to be effective arts advocates. The site’s Issue Center provides overviews and analysis on topics ranging from federal funding for arts education to net neutrality. paa.convio.net

Grant Application Preparation

In January 2014, the National Endowment for the Arts launched a series of webinars outlining procedures (and offering tips and tricks) for their grant application preparation process. These presentations, which last less than an hour each, are customized by field or discipline (dance, opera, poetry, etc.) and include invaluable information for those seeking guidelines for presenting their best fundraising case to the Endowment. Recent webinars have expanded the series to other topics. Upcoming posts will include a discussion on designing facilities to encourage participation “across the broad spectrum of ability and age” and a presentation on the intersection of the arts and new technologies. arts.gov/videos/webinars

Governance

Two online resource libraries stand out for the breadth and depth of information they  provide to those involved in the governance of arts organizations. The first, Free Management Library?, a collaborative effort by a number of entities, covers nearly every aspect of effective management, with sections ranging from human resources to cloud computing to stress management. Its library  of board governance resources is particularly comprehensive and well organized ? an indispensable compendium of nuts-and-bolts information including fact sheets, forms, sample policies, board manuals and other tools. This site continues to be the web’s single best source of free information on all aspects of nonprofit operations. Visit managementhelp.org then select “Board of Directors” (or whatever topic you prefer) from the list of libraries.

Nonprofit and Philanthropy Good Practice, continues to provide current, concise information on a broad range of topics from board structure and executive compensation to lobbying regulations  and social media. Navigation through the many resources on this site is simple once you know to click the main headings (for example, Advocacy and Lobbying, Fundraising, Governance, etc.) which are purple, rather than what look like links in the text beneath them (which are in green). Visit www.npgoodpractice.org/topics/Nonprofit to explore this outstanding collection of governance tools and information.

Your Brand & Funding

Guidestar has long been the internet’s most visited source for researching detailed information about specific nonprofit organizations. If your organization hasn’t visited the site to review its  existing profile (compiled from IRS 990 forms), don’t delay! Updating your basic profile, which is already there and publicly available, allows you to provide supplemental information that  can promote and strengthen your brand while making your organization’s mission far more visible to potential funders. Guidestar requires registration to access much of its material, but the process is quick and simple. www.guidestar.org

Crowd Sourcing

No leading site dedicated exclusively to crowd funding the arts (in general or by specific field) has emerged, though we think a new one, www.razoo.com/br/fundraisingideas/arts-fundraising, shows promise. Kickstarter, the trailblazing champion of online fundraising since 2009, continues  to reign in crowd funding. And there’s good news. Its interface and dramatic new look make it more friendly to arts and culture organizations. The redesign of its new homepage further enhances the impact your project can make on local audiences and potential collaborators in your community. www.kickstarter.com

Volunteer Management

Volunteer Match, the web’s most-accessed source for teaming volunteers with nonprofit organizations, is packed with helpful advice for governance leaders and volunteer managers. Its new Learning Center even offers webinars on advanced topics like facilitating difficult volunteer  transitions and strategically assessing your volunteer program. In the past decade, the organization has paired over four million people willing to contribute their time with organizations eager to tap their skills. Once registration is completed, submitting descriptions of your organization’s volunteer positions is fast and free. Don’t miss this opportunity to promote your organization’s activities to a wide, engaged audience. www.volunteermatch.org/nonprofits/

Strategic Planning

Cleveland’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture offers a concise online Strategic Planning Guide specially directed towards arts and culture organizations, including information on what resources a strategic plan will require, what it should include and accomplish, and how to effectively engage stakeholders in the process. www.cultureforward.org/Reference-Desk/Tools/Strategic-Planning. This represents just one of the areas covered by the site’s Reference Desk, which includes resources for everything from legislative visits to planning events.

Cultural Tourism

You deserve a summer break! What’s On, hosted by The Art Newspaper, itself a valuable source of breaking news in the art world, makes it easy to daydream about a quick getaway. Visit http://www.theartnewspaper.com/whatson to explore a worldwide database of current and upcoming art museum exhibits and special events. Searchable by country, city and keyword, we find that returned results are sometimes more complete if you choose “Venue” instead of “Exhibitions” or “Features” as a first option before selecting a country.

Additional Resources

Boardsource, hosted by the National Center for Nonprofit Boards, doesn’t qualify for our list because a fee is required to access most of its information, but if you are not familiar with the site  we recommend a visit to familiarize yourself with this important resource for nonprofit governance leaders. www.boardsource.org

Finally, Arts Consulting Group has its online Arts Insights archive features articles on a wide variety of topics. Visit www.artsconsulting.com/artsinsights to search past issues or sign up for a free monthly e-subscription.

Copyright © 2014 Arts Consulting Group, Inc.

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