Investing in organizations to pursue an artistic risk.
What does artistic risk look like? What kind of support is needed to allow organizational risk taking?
In 2012, Barr and the Klarman Family Foundation launched the Barr-Klarman Arts Capacity Building Initiative. Its goal was to strengthen the long-term financial health of a group of 30 Boston-area arts organizations. Over five years, the foundations provided unrestricted operating grants, complemented by training and technical assistance on topics the organization leaders identified as priorities. Along the way, they grappled with the question:
- What’s the capital structure that best supports our mission, and that enables us to be nimble and adaptive to a changing environment?
The resulting discussions lead to an exploration of organizational and artistic risk-taking, particularly what it meant to experiment with new ideas, ways of working, cultural expressions, and ways of reaching different audiences. What are the ways that artistic risks can manifest?
So as part of the Initiative, the foundations also established an artistic risk fund, with the purpose of providing risk capital for projects that would take organizations out of their comfort zones, that had potential to change how they worked.
Seven Stories of Taking Artistic Risks
To document the journey and impact of the seven projects that were funded, we commissioned a series of videos. Each video centers on one organization and, through the eyes of its leaders, tells the story of their organization, the risk they pursued, what happened, and what they learned. We hope their stories engage and inspire you as they did us, so that others might pursue (and support) more of this kind of work.
The Theater Offensive
The Theater Offensive’s Mission is to present the diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer lives in art so bold it breaks through personal isolation, challenges the status quo, and builds thriving communities.
Hyde Square Task Force
Hyde Square Task Force has been working for more than two decades to develop the skills of youth and their families so they are empowered to enhance their own lives and build a strong and vibrant urban community.
The Boston Center for the Arts
Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) is a not-for-profit performing and visual arts campus that supports working artists to create, perform and exhibit new works; develops new audiences; and connects the arts to community.
West End House
West End House is an innovative and vibrant youth development agency that ensures that young people are succeeding academically, exploring and mastering the arts, developing career readiness skills, and adopting healthy lifestyles.
The Institute of Contemporary Art
In 2016, the Huntington Theatre Company took an artistic risk producing the world premiere of a play featuring both Deaf and hearing actors. Their film features the Huntington’s continuing efforts to learn more about, and deepen their partnership with the Deaf community.