MacArthur, Boeing, Others Provide $500,000+ for New Business Model for Arts Organizations
CHICAGO—The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), embarking upon its third decade as the world’s first year-round presenter of American tap dance and contemporary percussive arts, has announced the establishment of the Collaborative Space for Sustainable Development (CSSD—working title), which will serve as a shared, affordable and eventually self-sufficient education, rehearsal and administrative facility.
CHRP’s CSSD has secured financial support of more than $500,000 to date. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is providing $275,000 over four years toward the CSSD’s development and implementation. This crucial contribution follows lead support for program development from The Boeing Company, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Pamela Crutchfield and the Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development. Most recently, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation approved $120,000 of support, and the James S. Kemper Foundation and the Polk Bros. Foundation committed funding. Jenner & Block LLP and ProTen Realty Group are providing pro bono support.
CHRP’s mission and 21 years of program development are rooted in community organizing and collaborative action. “The gift from MacArthur, which may be the largest ever to an institution dedicated to American tap, is significant in a national and international context for the tap dance field,” commented CHRP Founder/Director Lane Alexander, who was appointed last week to Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s Arts and Culture transition team. “It demonstrates that the funding community has confidence in the singular value of this new initiative and is comfortable with a non-mainstream institution leading the way.”
About the Collaborative Space for Sustainable Development
CHRP’s CSSD will centralize and professionalize the administrative, rehearsal and education space needs of several resident companies, as well as numerous additional arts space users. The facility will maximize space, equipment and shared service use through a well-designed suite of facility and service options customized and economized for each participant.
CSSD will be managed as a CHRP program initially, with collaborating resident companies to include:
Jump Rhythm Jazz Project
Kalapriya, Center for Indian Performing Arts
Luna Negra Dance Theater
Ping Pong Productions, which facilitates collaborations between Chinese and international artists
River North Dance Chicago
CSSD is creating a physical space for smaller and mid-sized organizations to stabilize operations and pursue facility-centric program growth opportunities as resourcefully and cost-effectively as possible. CSSD will provide a long-term platform for stability and growth in several key areas by:
responding to the near-universal need among small and mid-sized dance and other arts organizations for professional administrative, rehearsal and education spaces as well as a desire to unify as many organizational functions as possible in a single location creating a venue that will allow arts organizations to develop and maximize earned income from tuition-based education programs while lessening reliance on subsidies
enabling longer-term program planning as well as enhancing the potential scope and impact of tuition-based education programs managing the facility, mitigating many users’ current space management burdens Initial funding has supported the hiring of respected arts administrator Suellen Burns as program director. CSSD has a lead space option in downtown Chicago and continues to pursue additional funding, which would facilitate a development timeline culminating in a grand opening in fall 2011.
The brainchild of CHRP Founder and Director Lane Alexander, CSSD grew from CHRP’s two-year strategic planning process, led by then-Board Chair Susan Oppenheimer (Ph.D., organizational development), which produced a plan for 2010–12 focusing on long-term opportunities for collaborative space and earned income development. In cultivating other prospective resident companies, CHRP found many groups that cited similar priorities, as well as the need to streamline operations and reduce overhead, as both fundamental challenges and untapped opportunities.
Most cultural institutions in the United States, regardless of size, have experienced declining ticket revenue while education programs have held steady or grown. The medium- to long-term trend may require cultural institutions to recalibrate the balance between performance and education, and CSSD will create a sustainable platform for that purpose. In studies funded by the Chicago Community Trust and the MacArthur Foundation, as well as from a market survey donated to CHRP by the Boston Consulting Group and CSSD’s more informal information-gathering, there was a strong desire for centralized space for meetings, performances and classes.
“We are proposing to alter the traditional business model by offering arts groups the opportunity to shift their reliance on earned revenue from ticket sales and contributed income to self-sustaining revenue via educational programming,” commented Alexander.
About CSSD Program Director Suellen Burns
Suellen Burns was program manager, then executive director, of Arts Bridge, the nation’s first business incubator for the arts, which doubled the number of groups it served during her eight years. Burns led Arts Bridge’s 1997 facility project, developing and securing a new home for its Incubator Program as anchor tenant in the Athenaeum Theatre Building, a multi-purpose arts complex. Burns’ experience also includes positions with Friends of the Chicago River, Suzuki-Orff School for Young Musicians and Guild Complex. She has lectured on organizational development and arts stabilization at dozens of local and national forums. She served as project leader, contributing author and contributing editor for Incubating the Arts, a book published by the National Business Incubation Association in 2000.
About Chicago Human Rhythm Project
Founded in 1990, Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) builds community by presenting American tap dance and contemporary percussive arts in world-class and innovative performance, education and community outreach programs. During the last 20 years, CHRP has produced multiple community-based collaborations including shared revenue programs, concerts and touring opportunities, including:
annual National Tap Dance Day concerts, featuring an array of tap and percussive dance artists a shared revenue program designed to assist Chicago’s budding tap community to build capacity through audience development, created in 2001
Thanks 4 Giving, another innovative shared revenue program launched in 2005 as part of its annual Global Rhythms concerts at the Harris Theater, through which CHRP has partnered with more than 100 Chicago-based nonprofits to raise funds for a wide variety of service agencies participation in the 5th Anniversary Beijing International Dance Festival, assembling 70 artists to represent the United States CHRP’s vision is to establish the first global center for American tap and percussive arts (The American Rhythm Center), which will create a complete ecosystem of education, performance, creation and community in a state-of-the-art facility uniting generations of diverse artists and the general public.
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places and understand how technology is affecting children and society.