Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Creative Response to Tough Times

By Ben Thiem, Director of Member Services

On Tuesday morning I attended an event at the Chicago Cultural Center that was hosted by the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Illinois Arts Alliance, and the Arts and Business Council of Chicago. The topic of the event was The Creative Response to Tough Times and covered a variety of issues all relating to being a non-profit facing this tough economy. The event included a keynote speaker, and he was followed by a panel discussion. I’ve been digesting the information for a couple days now and just wanted to share a few highlights that I took from it.

  • Stay true to your Mission – I’ve heard this mantra numerous times throughout the last several months and heard it again on Tuesday. Your mission sets you a part from other organizations. It is your niche. Now is not the time to change it.
  • Be Brave, but not Ignorant – Don’t be afraid to take some calculated risks with your programming provided that they are true to your mission.
  • Re-think Your Model –Newspapers, non-profits, and other organizations are failing because their model is broken. What is the new model? Not just that, but what is YOUR new model? New earned revenue generators probably need to be a part of that model. What assets do you have because of your mission that are unique and can be cultivated or adapted for new revenue? Sharing resources with another organization may be part of that new model too.

Those are just a few thoughts I garnered from the discussion. Thanks to all of the hosts for their involvement. It really was an excellent event. If you were there, what did you get out of it? They are planning on leading similar events throughout 2009, so watch for announcements and I encourage you to be at the next one.

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