Leveraging a Network for Equity (LANE)
Over the last decade, NPN/VAN has seen arts organizations of color leave the Network or close their doors. Long-term NPN/VAN Partner stability is an ongoing struggle for organizations of color, geographically isolated, and/or small to mid-sized community-based groups. The loss of these organizations is significant and weakens the field as a whole. While there are many contributing factors, the financial challenges of these organizations represent decades of marginalization by the arts funding infrastructure. To address this issue within the Network, NPN/VAN is partnering with the Nonprofit Finance Fund® (NFF) to pilot a capitalization project that moves beyond a conversation about the importance of equity into strategy and action.
Leveraging a Network for Equity (LANE) is a collaborative program with NFF that delivers methodology and resources to strengthen the financial and organizational health of the NPN/VAN Network. As an existing Network with a focus on relationship building and community NPN/VAN is uniquely positioned to tackle this issue. NFF provides the analytic basis, requisite data, training, and planning for a comprehensive initiative that addresses the financial capacity and capitalization needs for long-term stability of these critical arts organizations.
LANE is an eight-year initiative with three phases. Phase 1 (2015-2016) involved diagnostics, education and planning. We used convenings, surveys, individual conversations, financial analyses, along with feedback from a national advisory committee, to understand the strengths and challenges of Partners in the Network. Points such as limited knowledge on the diverse ways capital can be implemented, challenges with facilities, gentrification and displacement of core audiences, and staff capacity, including succession, were key issues that need to be addressed. The LANE program was designed to support organizations as they navigate these nuanced challenges.
NPN/VAN and NFF are currently engaged in Phase 2 (2016-2020) of LANE. This phase engages a cohort of six partner organizations in a four year process designed to enhance sustainability. The process includes organization- and cohort-level financial analyses, seminars that will help participants use financial information in decision-making, and assessments designed to identify core needs that will inform next steps toward financial strength and flexibility. Cohort members have access to general operating support, recovery capital, change capital, technical assistance and a team of consultants to help them to manage their current situations and to experiment with new possibilities with mitigated risk. LANE also provides support for the entire NPN/VAN Network through technical assistance, specialized learning opportunities, access to consultations with field specialists, and facilitated peer exchanges with cohort participants.
LANE has been embraced and generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.