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Introducing Jennifer DeDominicis, our Organizations Strategy Advisor

The current operating context for arts organizations has brought about considerable questions and challenges for arts leaders, from looking for a new business model that fits the times, to seeking new audiences to fill the seats, to determining programming to attract these new audiences, and many more. Beneath these questions often lie deeper worries about the viability, stability, and longevity of the organization and the role of the arts in contemporary society.  

The Future Focus Funding Program was developed to support organizations in undertaking some of this work, however the past two years of this funding program highlighted an additional need for arts organizations as they prepared a path forward; a thought partner who could bring expertise and perspective to their work in this area, and who did not require a successful funding application to access. They needed someone who was equipped to guide a conversation, help them to identify the underlying problem to be addressed, and apply strategic thinking and decision-making frameworks to identify solutions. Organizations of all sizes have reported feeling out of their depth tackling such daunting challenges effectively while simultaneously running the day-to-day tasks of programming art, selling tickets, and raising money. 

To better support organizations to tackle these questions, to co-develop strategies to move forward, and to address foundational concerns, the Rozsa Foundation, Calgary Arts Development, and the Calgary Foundation have engaged an Organizational Strategy Advisor, Jennifer DeDominicis of Distill Consulting, who will be available to arts organizations to consult with over the next twelve months, with no cost to the arts organization.  

With a collaborative coaching mindset, Jennifer will work to “co-realize” a way forward with arts organizations She brings experience in strategic planning, leadership, and non-profit work and has specialized in iterative and strategic operational adaptation. Her core tenet and way of working is to equip clients with the skills to identify and articulate their challenges and by her use of co-creation methodologies to cultivate collaboration and understanding moving forward. Put simply, Jennifer embraces the importance of learning in her work. Her goal is not just to identify a new path forward for arts organizations, but to embark on an adaptive exploration of future directions with arts organizations. 

We recently met with Jennifer to discuss how her role as a resource for the arts community will work and got to enjoy her calm and creative mind for ourselves! Her calendar will be available to the community to book a short preliminary conversation about the challenges faced by the organization and the big questions being investigated. You will find a link here and are invited to book a 20- to 30-minute meeting as of today. 

The next steps following your meeting will depend on the conversation! There is no singular process in place, as we hope each meeting will result in unique and organization-specific outcomes, be they further conversations with Jennifer, more internal discussion, or preparing a funding application.  We encourage everyone to have that first meeting to help gain some clarity on which step makes the most sense.  While Jennifer will report back around trends emerging from her conversations, the specifics of her conversations with arts organizations will be held in confidence and not reported back to the funders. 

There are some important notes to be clear about: 

  • You do not need to be applying for funding to book a meeting with Jennifer. 

  • You do not need to talk to Jennifer before applying for funding. 

  • Your meeting with Jennifer is not tied to any specific funding deadline. 

  • However, if you are planning to apply to a certain intake date, please allow enough time after your conversation with Jennifer to adapt, change, modify, or rewrite your application should you wish, or to do some more internal work and apply later instead. 

While engaging an Organizational Strategy Advisor is another way we are seeking to support the community in connection with the goals of the Future Focus program, it is intended to be a barrier-free way for organizations to receive some external perspective support in facing whatever challenges they are seeking to discuss. We are very excited to have Jennifer on our team and by the possibilities that having her available offers to the arts community. Our hope is that by providing a resource to speak with about complex issues, the arts community can continue to take steps to build strong plans, and a stronger sector overall.  

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