Is there a Case for Strategic Investment in Mid-Sized Arts Organizations?

An Assessment of the Bush Foundation's Regional Arts Development Program

Organized by Nancy Fushan, program officer, Bush Foundation
Presented by Gayle Ober, executive director, Dale Warland Singers; Susan Moore, consultant, LarsonAllen Public Service Group; and Laurel Reuter, director, North Dakota Museum of Art.

Mid-sized arts organizations play a pivotal role in the ecology of the cultural sector. They nurture the creation of new work, provide artistic research and development, serve as the training ground for young artistic and administrative talent, and often anchor arts organizations in smaller metropolitan and rural areas. Yet they have few foundation sources for sustained support. National research indicates that this sector has become particularly fragile. What is the rationale and payoff for a foundation's long-term investment in mid-sized organizations? The Bush Foundation is in the final phase of a major commitment of strategic operating support to twenty-one high performing and high potential mid-sized arts organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. This session will present findings from an eight-year evaluation of the Regional Arts Development Program, participant case histories, lessons learned, and future directions.