The National Performance Network, including the Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN), is made up of cultural organizations that have committed themselves to stewardship of the cultural ecology in their communities through the arts. Partners maintain a dual commitment to actively nurture and support the work of local artists while at the same time catalyzing new encounters with artists from other communities.
As an artist-centered network NPN/VAN is unique in its origins and structure. As an interconnected partnership among diverse communities and artists, NPN and VAN Partners are presenters that reflect a cross-section of urban and rural communities, and are ethnically, culturally, geographically and stylistically diverse, ranging in size from two-person organizations to large arts centers. One-third of Partners identify as culturally specific organizations.
The Network is an invaluable mechanism for sharing resources across boundaries of race, geography, aesthetics and organizational cultures. NPN/VAN Partners share information about trends in the field, best practices, and the artists whose works circulate within, between and beyond their communities. NPN/VAN Partners function as an applied learning community through which new ideas, techniques and art move around the country. More than simply a service organization, the Network is a “practical think-tank” of cultural centers dedicated to improving society through independent, innovative creative expression.
NPN/VAN values long-term relationships, so Partners remain part of the Network as long as their organizational work and commitment to NPN/VAN’s mission and values remain active. The overall size of the Network is kept small enough to facilitate in-depth conversations, active participation, and sustainable relationships that have measurable impact over time. As Partner organizations change and evolve, some choose to leave the Network to pursue other goals. This gradual and inevitable process allows the Network to remain dynamic by periodically inviting new Partners to join through a deliberate process that involves the board, staff, and current NPN/VAN Partners.
In March 2016 NPN/VAN announced the addition of ten new Partners, concluding a two-year process that balanced a number of factors simultaneously, including geography, aesthetics, and cultural diversity; values and mission alignment; and expanding new opportunities for artists. The addition of these organizations expands the Network to 77 NPN and VAN Partners in 47 cities and 31 states across the country.