Why It’s Important: Can Arts and Cultural Partners Help Anchor Institutions Find Their Soul?

Anchor institution? Small and scrappy arts organization? Can working together vitalize both?

“Anchor institutions” are the major, long-standing nonprofit organizations. Hospitals, universities, United Way, community foundations. They work hard to be engines of growth for their communities, often buying from local and/or minority and/or women-owned businesses, re-purposing old buildings, employing more local individuals. Economic drivers.

But what about the arts?

This article from Non-Profit Quarterly shows that anchor institutions frequently ignore cultural-, social-, and community-based methods of building up the community. Meanwhile, arts and cultural institutions such as museums, artist groups and specialty theater groups, have been using non-economic methods for years.

Cultural institutions – especially smaller, younger ones — also struggle to revitalize their communities while avoiding gentrification.

In the words of the author, “with an explicit equity focus, this result can be avoided.” Anchor institutions and cultural institutions can learn from each other.

Regardless of which kind of nonprofit you are – a large, anchor institution or a cultural institution – if one of your strategic goals is to build a stronger, vital community, this article has food for thought.

If a you want to have a board session to assess your role in revitalization – or any other aspect of planning — please let me know. I’m happy to talk.

Watch for more posts about important articles. If you see an article you think everyone should read, please send it on. Or if you want to talk about facilitation, governance or planning for your organization, I’d love to have that conversation.

More eyes – more articles – more wisdom!

-Susan Detwiler