Six Chicago Arts Organizations Chosen for Innovation Bootcamp Pilot Project

CHICAGO—Alphawood Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (collectively known by the acronym AD3) selected six Chicago arts non-profit organizations to participate in its pilot Innovation Bootcamp program.  The goal is to cultivate unconventional thinking to address chronic, and often common, operational challenges to small organizations’ capacity and sustainability.

Scarcity of resources, lack of administrative infrastructure, and the risks that come with experimentation are some of the barriers small organizations face. Greater Good Studio, a design firm focused on social impact, will provide a series of group workshops and individualized coaching sessions through which the selected organizations will learn to harness and apply their inherent creativity to an issue they wish to address. The process will involve developing an eye toward identifying their own unique needs and assets and creating tailored solutions that can immediately be put into practice.

Eligible applicants had to be a Chicago area arts or arts education organization with a budget under $1.5 million currently receiving support from one of the participating funders.  Ninety-two organizations submitted applications. Six were chosen: Free Street Theater, Haymarket Opera Company, the National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial, The New Colony, The Seldoms, and Woman Made Gallery.

Each a funder that supports small arts organizations, the individual members of AD3 joined forces in late 2013 to share insights from their respective grant-making programs and to explore the possibility for a collective effort that would offer deeper impact for individual organizations and the small arts field as a whole. Interested in developing a fresh approach that would tap the creative intelligence and adaptability for which small arts organizations are known, the Innovation Bootcamp model was born.

The Bootcamp will begin in May and include a culminating event December 1st at the Chicago Cultural Center where participants will share their solutions and experience of the process with the public.

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