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ArtsLab 2019: Building Community & Adaptability

How do you sustain a thriving arts organization?

In a time of rapidly changing priorities and communities, focusing on who we exist to serve and why we do this work can bring powerful insights and clear direction. How do we continue to regenerate our organization to remain relevant, focused, and adaptive? ArtsLab is a peer learning community supported by tools and resources designed to help cultural organizations answer these questions and thrive.

Join your peers for a 6-month retreat series to create a compelling story of organizational vision and build a strategic framework for the next 2-3 years. With your team, you will work with experts and other arts leaders to explore and test ideas while building the skills, knowledge, and networks needed to flourish.

Program Overview

Led by a team of 3-4 leaders from your organization (board, artistic, staff, volunteer), your organization will participate in a 6-month capacity building program, where you will learn from your peers and presenters about what a healthy business model would look like for your organization and develop a compelling story about who you are and where you’re headed.

ArtsLab Healthy Business Model, including, programs, relationships, infrastructure and finance, and leadership and culture, with strategy at the middle Learning content will be built on the Healthy Business Model above. This model represents the belief that for an organization to thrive, attention must be paid to all four quadrants, guided by organizational strategy. During this program, you will focus on the following areas of your work, facilitated by Arts Midwest staff and MN arts leaders and staff from Propel Nonprofits, Imagine Deliver, and others.

  • What is your guiding focus for the coming two years?
  • What are your financial goals to become more sustainable and be able to take risks?
  • What infrastructure needs must be met to achieve your organizational goals?
  • Who is your community and how do you serve them?
  • How can you become more relevant to your community?
  • How are you moving the needle on your approach to equity and inclusion?
  • How are you nurturing a healthy culture within your team and board?
  • How do your deeply held vision and values guide your programming and creative direction?
  • What compelling stories can you craft to encourage investment from volunteers, board members, donors, or funders?
  • How does your personal leadership style impact how you show up and how your team functions?

Through the exploration of these and other questions, your organization will craft a 2 page strategic framework, intended to guide your work over the coming 2-3 years and compelling personal stories you can use as your build your circle of support.

Program Cost

This training program is valued at $12,000 per organization but is offered free of charge, with generous support from the McKnight Foundation, the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundations, the Bigelow Foundation, and the Mardag Foundation.

Program Dates

The course consists of three 1.5-day retreats held in Chaska, MN, and twice monthly webinars from January–June 2019.


  • Friday-Saturday, January 11-12, 2019 (Fri 1-9 p.m., Sat 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Friday-Saturday, March 8-9, 2019 (Fri 1-9 p.m., Sat 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Sunday-Monday, June 9-10, 2019 (Sun 1-9 p.m., Mon 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

Virtual workshops: (2nd and 4th Tuesdays, noon – 1 p.m.)

  • Tuesday, January 8 – orientation webinars scheduled with your team
  • Tuesday, February 12
  • Tuesday, February 26
  • Tuesday, March 12
  • Tuesday, March 26
  • Tuesday, April 9
  • Tuesday, April 23
  • Tuesday, May 14
  • Tuesday, May 28

Participating Organizations

Read about the twelve organizations selected for this program here.

Questions about this program can be directed to Erin Brueggemann, Program Director, 612-238-8006 or [email protected].