New Pathways for the Arts
New Pathways is a training and immersion program for arts organizations in a local arts community to advance and accelerate the development of innovative strategies and to strengthen adaptive leadership.
Designed in partnership with a local host agency, this program consists of Community Convenings, hands-on work sessions introducing and exploring the topic of organizational innovation for leadership teams from up to 20 arts organizations, and the Core Program, a concentrated eight-month framework for select organizations to incubate and prototype a specific innovation project.
In the New Pathways for the Arts program, we have intentionally designed its three elements to enable growth in the adaptive capacity of participating organizations via three different approaches: a sequence of six hands-on Workshops with on-site follow-up, an opportunity for an individually facilitated “deep dive” into Incubating Innovation, and a variety of online learning tools to capture and reinforce new approaches and lessons learned.
1. Hands-on Workshops and On-Site Coaching: The Adaptive Organization
The series of linked half-day Workshops are for leadership teams from up to 20 local cultural organizations, spread over approximately 12-15 months. Each organization participates with a consistent team of artistic, board and staff leaders (3 – 4 individuals) attending all the events. The Workshops, led by EmcArts staff and guest faculty, together constitute a curriculum in innovation and adaptive change, grounded in the situations and real issues of each organization.
This program element provides an entry point to developing the awareness of organizations about innovation, devising responses to their adaptive challenges, and building the necessary skills and capacities to effectively design and implement an innovative initiative. To leverage the learning from each Workshop, regular follow-up coaching visits by an EmcArts facilitator begin after the third Workshop, and online activities between the Workshops are used to carry the learning back home and enroll wider groups of stakeholders in the work.
The Workshops relate to core tenets of Adaptive Capacity. Each is built on the research findings of eminent authorities in the discipline of organizational change; the work in each session fuses those insights with the practical real-life challenges the participants are facing.
2. Individualized project facilitation: Incubating Innovation
Recognizing the importance of individualized interventions that acknowledge organizations “where they are” and assist them in becoming more adaptive, Incubating Innovation offers a full immersion in a major innovation project, with the larger aim of leveraging significant increases in adaptive capacity and, potentially, organizational transformation. The program provides a three-phase framework over 12 months for organizations that already have a “half-baked” idea for innovation in response to a complex adaptive challenge, in order to design, prototype and finalize an innovative strategy, while developing new capacities to continue to adapt purposefully in the future. The idea behind this program strand is to give participants the opportunity to accelerate their thinking around an urgent adaptive challenge by providing a framework to propel and focus their response – and then prototype it repeatedly before considering a full launch. The prototyping work is supported by a $40,000 grant to each organization. In addition, $3,000 is made available to each organization to work with a content expert during the Phase 2 Intensive Retreat.
3. Activating Learning: Capture, Documentation and Dissemination
Participants in the New Pathways program as a whole constitute an innovation “laboratory” whose research and findings may influence not only each other, but also the future direction and approach of the arts and culture sector nationally. For this reason, EmcArts places a strong emphasis on capturing, documenting and sharing the learning from each organization’s journey. The program design therefore includes resources to develop field knowledge about innovation and engage the arts sector in dialogue around emerging practices. These include making video profiles, audio/slidecast profiles, and written case studies, as well as creating podcasts and webinars. All the materials are housed at www.ArtsFwd.org, EmcArts’ site devoted to dialogue and learning about innovation for the arts sector.