News & Events

Notices for partners, news for artists, announcements from the field, job postings. Submit news items using our online form.

Join our 2019 New Orleans Host Committee!

Posted: Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 at 4:10 pm in News

National Performance Network is thrilled to return to New Orleans for its 2019 Annual Conference December 10-13 in collaboration with local Partners Ashé Cultural Arts CenterContemporary Arts Center NOLA and Junebug Productions

There are many ways you can help us shape our 2019 NPN Conference, which brings together 350+ arts leaders from around the country to explore building a more just and equitable world through the arts. Please fill out our interest form to let us know how you’d like to get involved, including our host committee.

ROLES & EXPECTATIONS OF HOST COMMITTEE MEMBERS

NPN staff relies on the generosity and knowledge of the host community in order to ensure that the meeting reflects and respects its community members’ voice and expertise. The list of roles and expectations below serve as guidelines for participation.

  • Commitment to anti-oppression and freedom of expression: In alignment with our organizational commitment to creating an arts sector rooted in justice, we are committed to ensuring a space that is free of racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, misogyny, classism, or other bias. Likewise, NPN supports the creation and touring of diverse original work and we encourage artists to show that work without compromise. We expect any work presented in any space hosted by NPN, as well as any hosts and partners in our convenings and other activities, will honor these ethics.
  • Participate in ongoing planning in advance of the conference (no more than to two full committee meetings with NPN staff; periodic sub-committee meetings as needed)
  • Attend the Annual Conference (Host Committee members are waived registration)
  • Help inform NPN’s understanding of goals and issues critical to the local community
  • Help identify members of the local community as attendees, speakers, panelists, etc.
  • Help promote the conference to the local community

In addition to the above general expectations, we also have three identified subcommittees:

  • ARTIST SELECTION: Nominate and select local artists for showcases, performances, workshops, etc.; and help identify local artists as attendees, speakers, and panelists
  • AMBASSADORS: Help organize art/culture tours, neighborhood tours, or other activities that showcase the city beyond the conference meeting site
  • SPONSORSHIP: Assist in making contacts with potential funders, identify opportunities for in-kind support, and help develop sponsorship strategies

PLANNING BENCHMARKS FOR LOCAL HOST COMMITTEE

  • MAY: Host Committee members finalized
  • JUNE: Circulate call for content to local community; Invite/nominate local artists as featured performers
  • JULY: Select local artists as featured performers
  • AUGUST: All content finalized; all culture tours finalized
  • AUGUST: Circulate call to local artists for attendee scholarships; selection in September
  • SEPTEMBER: Registration opens
  • SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER: Circulate conference promotion to local community
  • DECEMBER 10-13: NPN 2019 Conference!

Seeking LANE Research Associate

Posted: Sunday, April 28th, 2019 at 9:25 pm in News

Overview: The National Performance Network (NPN) contributes to a more just and equitable world by building power for artists; advancing racial and cultural equity in the arts presenting field; fostering relationship-building and reciprocity between individuals, institutions, and communities; and working towards systems change in arts and philanthropy.

NPN seeks a Research Associate for the program Leveraging a Network for Equity (LANE). LANE is an initiative that engages arts organizations of color and geographically isolated arts organizations in a four-year process to support their leadership and organizational health. The 4-year process includes regular convenings, capitalization funds, and subsidized consulting from a curated pool of consultants.

Work Relationship/Accountability: This position is a contracted administrative position that requires coordinating information from multiple sources. The majority of work can be done remotely but a minimum once-a-week, in-person meetings at the NPN office are required. Additional meetings may be required during high volume work periods. This position reports to the LANE Specialist.

Time Commitment: Duties will require 20 hours per week. Hours may vary depending on the volume of work.

Compensation: This is a one-year contract compensated at $25,000 per annum to be paid in monthly installments. The Consultant Coordinator is an independent contractor. The position includes no benefits or healthcare and NPN/VAN will not be responsible for payroll taxes.

Responsibilities/Duties

  • With guidance, review relevant LANE files for context and understanding of the evaluation process to date
  • Contribute to the finalization of the current assessment framework for the analysis of collected data that assesses social justice goals, growth in human capacities and organizational capacity building.
  • Act as a point of contact for the evaluation process, coordinating with with relevant NPN staff members, LANE cohort organizations and LANE’s assessment consultant partner as needed
  • Support in the implementation of document/data review and assessment of qualitative data required for the evaluation
  • Facilitate or support regular meetings with NPN Staff and assessment consultants.
  • Participate with LANE program staff in out-of-state convening with Cohort Participatory assessment team and future NPN meetings.
  • With LANE program specialist, guide evaluation and assessment strategy, including the engagement of LANE theory of change and cornerstones
  • Support in strategy for dissemination and application of learnings from the the evaluation process.
  • Develop tools and content for sharing LANE learnings including content creation such as writing.
  • Co-design forms of sharing evaluation findings with support from NPN communications.

Please submit a cover letter, resume and writing sample to Sage Crump, program Specialist at sage@npnweb.org. Search is open until filled.

The National Performance Network (NPN) provides equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to social and economic background, political affiliation or belief, race, color, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, mental or physical disability, national origin, current and/or former service member status, sexual orientation, health status, age, physical characteristics or marital status, and promotes the full implementation of this policy through a positive, continuing program of outreach. NPN actively encourages applications by all interested people who meet the above requirements.

Accepting nominations for Board of Directors

Posted: Thursday, April 25th, 2019 at 5:22 pm in News

Nominate yourself or your peers for the NPN Board of Directors! Board service offers individuals an opportunity to deepen their voice on behalf of our network, to shape and guide our future direction, and to engage with peers from across the country on the most pressing issues facing our sector.

The NPN Board is comprised of representatives from our national Partner organizations, artists, and nonprofit and business leaders. Our Board is a reflection of our commitment to racial and cultural equity, and we seek a dynamic Board that represents the diverse demographics, aesthetics, backgrounds, geographies, and skill sets essential to a healthy and informed organization. [see NPN’s current board]

Deadline for submissions is May 31, 2019.

Terms of service:

  • Board service begins September 1, 2017
  • Trustees are elected to a 3-year term, and may renew for a second 3-year term.
  • Trustees are expected to participate in 3 face-to-face Board meetings a year: March/April (2 days), September (2 days), and
  • December (half-day during the Annual Conference). NPN underwrites travel expenses for Board members and provides an honorarium to Board members who are independent artists.

Board members are asked to:

  • Maintain a commitment to the mission and values of NPN
  • Make a gift to the organization in an amount that is personally meaningful
  • Engage in leadership development and Board learning
  • Represent the interests of the organization as a whole, rather than individual interests
  • Advocate on behalf of NPN
  • Oversee the President & CEO
  • Accept fiduciary responsibility for the organization
  • Ensure the organization is in accordance with legal and ethical practices

Qualifications:

NPN seeks arts presenters, artists, as well as other leaders from the arts, philanthropy, nonprofit, and business sectors, and individuals working outside these systems. We welcome emerging and experienced leaders, including those who have not served on Boards previously. In particular, we seek:

  • Representatives from our national Partner organizations, including staff at all levels of leadership (executive, artistic, programming, educational, administrative and other staff) and individuals who serve on Partner organization’s boards
  • Independent artists of any discipline
  • Movement-leaders, activists, and organizers from social justice sectors outside of the arts
  • Individuals interested in new approaches to leadership, planning, and systems change
  • Individuals who bring critical perspectives from historically marginalized communities — in particular, trans folx, people with disabilities, and Native/Indigenous peoples
  • Leaders from remote rural communities
  • Leaders from New Orleans and the South
  • Individuals with experience and commitment to international engagement and exchange

NOMINATE NOW! Nominations deadline is May 31, 2019

Guest Post: Decolonizing Alaska

Posted: Tuesday, March 26th, 2019 at 2:42 pm in News

By Asia Freeman
Artistic Director, Bunnell Street Arts Center  

Emily Johnson is part of a brave new generation of artists that is leading Alaska’s cultural sector to become adaptive and resilient. Photo from her work “THE THANK-YOU BAR.”

Emily Johnson returns home to Alaska every year to spend time with her family during traditional times of subsistence harvest. During her stay, the Yup’ik artist makes time to share and collect stories that shape her work as a dancer, storyteller and Artistic Director of Catalyst. Here, at Bunnell Street Arts Center, she’s found a place where people have gathered for decades. Long before this was an arts center, it was a general store at the end of the road to the west.

Johnson is part of a brave new generation of artists that is leading Alaska’s cultural sector to become adaptive and resilient, placing equity alongside excellence through inspired, decolonizing approaches that force us to evolve. Their artistic works reflect deeper truths about who we are and how we support each other—in ways both necessary and challenging, Alaskans are shaped and forged by our environment, our shared history and each other.

Incubator of Alaska’s artistic innovators, Bunnell’s mission is to nurture and present innovative art of exceptional quality for diverse audiences. Through exhibitions, educational and touring programs, artists in residence and artists in schools Bunnell aims to reflect and connect diverse and disparate communities. Conversations, workshops and projects help Alaskans cultivate our identities and strengthen creative visions.  Due to geographic and cultural isolation we have few opportunities to access educational art experiences that truly reflect Alaska’s racial and cultural diversity. This arts center has been a powerful force in shaping and connecting Alaska’s cultural landscape for twenty seven years.

Revering this land and its stories has shaped and transformed me and my work as a curator at Bunnell Street Arts Center. Here, we examine, engage, challenge, and celebrate Alaska’s artistic resources, questions and opportunities. Today, on the leading edge of climate change, Alaskans adapt to survive. In ways both necessary and challenging, we are shaped and forged by our environment and each other.  For Bunnell, and for myself, a process of self-definition and transformation is happening in tandem with the decolonizing methods of the artists we present.

‘The history we always knew’

Bunnell Street Arts Center is located by a place called Bishop’s Beach, situated on the borderland of the Kenai River’s Dena’ina and the Sugpiaq, who are based across Kachemak Bay.

Bunnell is located by a place called Bishop’s Beach by the homesteaders, fox farmers and fisherman who began settling this area about 100 years ago. It’s situated on the borderland of the Kenai River’s Dena’ina and the Sugpiaq (Russian colonizers called them Alutiiq), who are based across Kachemak Bay. Here, an abundance of sea life has sustained rich cultures and attracted many pioneers.

In 1937, Maybelle and Arthur Berry erected the Inlet Trading Post, now home to Bunnell Street Arts Center, to serve these newcomers. The Inlet Trading Post was a kit general store, milled in Washington and unloaded on the beach from a steamship, probably ordered from Sears and Roebuck. At 32 by 64 feet, stocked with can goods from floor to ceiling, it was Homer’s first “big box” store.

That was the history we always knew. But long before it was called Bishop’s Beach, the Dena’ina people named this place Tuggeght. We learned this name from Johnson when she was Artist in Residence in 2016. Her project SHORE: Homer at Tuggeght subtly sparked Bunnell’s efforts to place equity and inclusion alongside excellence in every aspect of what we do.

Survival stories

As part of presenting SHORE, Bunnell and Catalyst joined Woodard Creek Coalition, a cross-sector partnership of community organizations situated in the Woodard Creek watershed, which bisects our town from the mountainside behind us to the beach in front of us. The coalition was created with the intention of daylighting the paved-over creek to mark its presence through paint and dance.

This project invited community stories that revealed the critical, leading role that the arts have in uplifting the intrinsic, age-old and evolving histories of this place. Through storytelling, feasting and dance, Johnson’s act of land acknowledgment taught us that right hereas in many other placescolonizers erased and suppressed history by taking Indigenous land and announcing new names. Through Johnson’s work, the power of land acknowledgement flows like hidden rivers beneath our feet

Similarly, a play about this land has deeply affected how we tell our story. In 2017, Bunnell co-commissioned Ping Chong + Company to create ALAXSXA | ALASKA (uh-LUCK-shkuh), a theatrical piece that weaves puppetry, video, recorded interviews and yuraq (Yup’ik drum and dance) in a collage of striking contemporary and historical encounters between Alaska Native communities and newcomers in our state. Performers Ryan Conarro, Gary Upay’aq Beaver (Central Yup’ik) and puppeteer Justin Perkins reveal little-known histories—at times humorous, at times tragic—and juxtapose them against their own personal histories as “insider” and “outsider” in the Last Frontier.

ALAXSXA | ALASKA audiences experience intimate encounters with a multimedia performance as epic as the changing landscapes of Alaska. We reflect on dozens of stories that alternately illustrate and challenge our impressions of the Great Land. ALAXSXA | ALASKA acknowledges that this place is built of many stories, and the colonial narrative that begins with Russian conquest, or the sale of Alaska to the U.S., or Statehood, is as deeply ingrained as it is discriminatory, exclusive and privileged. For many, especially non-Native Alaskans, hearing stories of survival—from ice-fishing to snow machine repair at 40 below—reminds us that the accounts of those who have survived over 10,000 years are here for those who are paying attention, like vast landscapes under a blanket of snow.

The most powerful occasion of witnessing ALAXSXA | ALASKA’s impact was, for me, in the village of Nanwalek. This village is only 10 minutes away from my home by plane—just a hop, skip and a jump across Kachemak Bay, where I’ve lived most of my life. But I’d never been there. Maybe because it’s off the road system. ALAXSXA | ALASKA drew a packed audience at Nanwalek’s K-12 school. After viewing excerpts of the play with the entire village, Chief Kvasnikoff invited everyone to a talking circle, including very small children.

We heard many courageous and powerful survival stories from families that were fractured as kids were shipped off to boarding schools, where Native languages were violently suppressed, and the ensuing intergenerational trauma of alcoholism, shame and violence.  It reminded me that the arts are poised to help Americans experience truth and reconciliation if we care to pay attention.

“Decolonization begins in how we meet each other,” Conarro said, “how we tell our stories.”

Challenging the narrative

The experience of presenting ALAXSXA | ALASKA and witnessing its effect on audiences and communities has shown me that Alaskans are ready to push away from the Great White Narrative toward truer stories. From a Creation Residency to two tours of Alaska (2017 and 2018), the piece has been game-changer, inspiring teachers, health-care providers, tribal leaders and youth to share their personal stories and challenge the narrative of Alaska that is taught in our schools.

Visual artists are taking up the cause, too. As the world’s attention shifts to the shrinking polar ice cap and the future of our planet, Alaska’s place in the world has moved from the fringe to the center. Widely considered a “resource state,” rich in extracts such as gold, fish, timber and oil, Alaska has been colonized for centuries by forces that divide and dominate this state’s identity.

Joel Isaak created a video installation, Łuqa’ ch’k’ezdelghayi “Visions of Summer,” in which his solo dance is projected on the back of a salmon skin screen.

Alaska’s art market has for decades reflected the colonization and repression that has defined the industrialization of Alaska—a stereotypical idea of Alaska featuring dog sleds and “Eskimos,” igloos and objects of native iconography often reproduced abroad. In reality, Alaska artists present expansive ideas of Alaskan culture and people in art that explores both endangered traditions and new constructs of identity. Alaska’s artists propose a confluence of indigenous and global materials, expanding and redefining the roles of tradition and technology to explore difficult territories and express new ways of being.

“I live a mixture of Western and indigenous culture,” Joel Isaak (Dena’ina – Kenai, Alaska) said. “I explore the freedom to exchange information and experiences. Decolonizing means embracing cultural reciprocity and working toward universal acceptance of human beings.

Isaak created a video installation, Łuqa’ ch’k’ezdelghayi “Visions of Summer,” in which his solo dance is projected on the back of a salmon skin screen. The installation is one of 31 artworks featured in Decolonizing Alaska, an exhibit produced by Bunnell that toured Alaska for three years and travelled to Washington D.C. In it, Alaska’s artists have been challenged and changed by the question: “How should we tell the stories of colonization?”

Artists respond, surfacing themes ranging from intergenerational trauma to resource management, and how the history of Alaska is told in our schools.For this exhibit, we embraced the challenge, and didn’t leave it to Alaskan Native artists. As a curator and visual artist, my feeling is that limiting the conversation to Indigenous artists only perpetuates colonization. Decolonization requires the concerted efforts and profound participation of both the colonizer and the colonized.

Reshaping traditions

The shared innovations, unconventional materials and respectful inquiry of Alaska’s working artists is beginning to dismantle a hierarchy of colonization and usher in a new era. In Alaska’s diverse artistic production, we see artist’s conversations connecting vast geographic distances and cultural experiences.

“I struggle with how many people draw boundaries and create categories about what kind of people and what kind of artists we are,” filmmaker Michael Walsh (Homer, Alaska)  “I fear this perpetuates colonization.”

Walsh’s 35mm screen-printed film on celluloid celebrates the charismatic power of the Inupiaq woman rapper, AKU-MATU.  “White man suppressed this power when he colonized Alaska, creating false divisions. I hope these divisions will dissolve in the 21st century and the voices of today’s leaders will resonate with the wisdom of our Indigenous ancestors and hopeful humans of the future,” he says.

“In my painting, St. Katherine of Karluk, I replace the symbolic elements of a Russian Orthodox icon with those of the Alutiiq people,” Linda Infante Lyons said.

Artistic invention and imagination are reshaping traditions. New possibilities for cultural identity and sustainability are emerging in an environment of innovation. Linda Infante Lyons (Alutiiq – Anchorage) painted a portrait of her maternal grandmother from Kodiak Island in a bold, revisionist telling of history that elevates a new, powerful view of Indigenous women.

“Rediscovering culture and recovering lost religious icons are important steps in decolonization, “ Lyons said. “In my painting, St. Katherine of Karluk, I replace the symbolic elements of a Russian Orthodox icon with those of the Alutiiq people… I am a living example of the melding of two cultures, the native and the colonizer. In this effort to represent the decolonization of Alaska, I acknowledge the assimilated icons of the colonizer, yet bring forth, as equals, the spiritual symbols of my Native ancestors.”

I share these artists’ hopes that new images of power reflect deeper truths about who we are and how we support each other. May we heal centuries of racism, suppression and shaming. May new images of powerful Indigenous women infuse Alaska with resilience and respect.

Photos courtesy of Bunnell Street Arts Center. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Asia Freeman was born in Mexico and raised in Alaska. After graduating from Homer High School she attended Yale College (BA, ‘91) and Vermont School of Fine Arts (MFA ‘97). Asia is a visual artist, an adjunct art instructor for the University of Alaska and a co-founder of Bunnell Street Arts Center, where she holds the position of Artistic Director.

LANE program launches new podcast

Posted: Friday, March 1st, 2019 at 1:24 pm in News

Our LANE team has launched a podcast exploring practical tools and concepts designed to transform the arts and culture field toward equity and justice. In Episode 1 of “TACtile: A Practical Guide to Transforming Arts & Culture,” Alpha Cohort members share their stories of transformation in a session recorded at our 2018 NPN Conference in Pittsburgh.

Listen on iTunes 
Listen on Stitcher 
Listen on Spotify

What is LANE?
NPN recognizes that there are significant racial and geographic barriers to the organizational health of many of our Partners. Leveraging a Network for Equity (LANE) addresses this inequity by amplifying the leadership of organizations of color and rural organizations through a four-year journey that builds their capacity to thrive.

ALPHA Cohort: Carpetbag Theatre (Knoxville, TN), Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas (Seattle, WA), Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana / MACLA (San Jose, CA), Myrna Loy Center (Helena, MT), Junebug Productions (New Orleans, LA), Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center (Denver, CO)

 

 

11 NPN artists awarded 2019 USA Fellowships

Posted: Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019 at 3:15 pm in News

Above: Photo of Allison Akotchook Warden by Nicholas Galanin. Below: Photo of Alice Sheppard.

NPN celebrates the announcement of the 2019 United States Artists (“USA”) Fellows, including 11 NPN artists. The 45 selected artists and collectives span all disciplines. Each will receive $50,000 in unrestricted funding.

“Each Fellow is a reminder of the breadth of our cultural landscape, and the 2019 cohort is yet another testament to how much incredible work is happening across the country,” United States Artists President & CEO Deana Haggag said. “From painters to podcasters to pop musicians, we’re lucky to have these artists reflecting our collective humanity and stirring the public’s imagination.”

Please join us in congratulating the following 2019 USA Fellows:  

DANCE

  • David Dorfman, Choreographer (New London, CT)
  • Lenora Lee, Dancer & Choreographer (San Francisco, CA)
  • Alice Sheppard, Dancer & Choreographer (Los Altos, CA)
  • Merian Soto, Dancer & Choreographer (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Yara Travieso, Choreographer & Filmmaker (Brooklyn, NY)

THEATER & PERFORMANCE

  • Charlotte Brathwaite, Director (New York, NY)
  • Complex Movements, Installation & Performance Collective (Detroit, MI)
  • Teo Castellanos, Theater Artist (Miami, FL)
  • Kaneza Schaal, Theater Artist (Brooklyn, NY)

TRADITIONAL ARTS

  • Allison Akotchook Warden, Multidisciplinary Artist & Performer (Anchorage, AK)

VISUAL ART

  • Wu Tsang, Filmmaker & Artist (Los Angeles, CA)

For more information, read USA’s press release.

10 NPN Artists Receive Creative Capital Awards

Posted: Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 at 12:14 pm in News

Photo courtesy of niv Acosta, “BLACK POWER NAPS.”

NPN celebrates the announcement of the 2019 Creative Capital Awards, including 10 Network-supported artists and projects. The 50 selected projects will receive up to $50,000 in project funding and an additional $50,000 in long-term career development support — a total value of $100,000.

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Brathwaite, “Forgotten Paradise: Gazette’s Sun.”

The projects were selected from a pool of over 5,200 applications, and they represent “some of the most exciting work being conducted in all disciplines,” according to Creative Capital’s press release (read more).

Please join us in congratulating the following artists:

NPN at and around APAP! 

Posted: Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 at 1:03 pm in News

Photo by Lance J. Reha.
Edisa Weeks/DELERIOUS DANCES, “Three Rites: Liberty”

Next week, we’ll join thousands of colleagues from around the country for APAP|NYC in early January. We’ve compiled a few of the many places that you can see and engage with NPN Partners, artists, board members staff and friends:

NPN CREATION & DEVELOPMENT FUND PERFORMANCES:

PROTOTYPE @ HERE ART

  • Graham Reynolds Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance @ BRIC

LIVE ARTERY @ NEW YORK LIVE ARTS (NPN PARTNER)

  • Abby Z and the New Utility: Radioactive Practice (Work-in-Progress)
  • Sean Dorsey: Boys in Trouble
  • Bill Shannon: Touch Update
  • Netta Yerushalmy: Paramodernities (3 Installments)

AMERICAN REALNESS

PMG ARTS SHOWCASE

  • Delirious Dance | Edissa Weeks: Three Rites

FUTURE OCEANS @ JCC MANHATTEN

  • Pavel Zustiak and Palissimo Company: Custodians of Beauty
  • Plus other work by New Orleans friends, creep cuts, Goat in the Road, Meryl Merman/Flock, Screaming Trapps and more!
  • RSVP: lu.rsvps@gmail.com 

Photo by Lydia Daniller
Sean Dorsey, “Boys in Trouble”

OTHER NPN PARTNER HOSTED WORK:

PREGONES THEATER/PUERTO RICAN TRAVELING THEATER 
Flaco Navaja: Evolution of a Sonero co-presented with Under the Radar Festival

PERFORMANCE SPACE NEW YORK
First Nation Dialogues: KIN
Conversation, Performance and Workshops curated by NPN Creation & Development Fund Artist Emily Johnson

Photo courtesy of Miguel Gutierrez
Miguel Gutierrez, “This Bridge Called My Ass”

A SELECTION OF THE MANY APAP SESSIONS
WITH NPN FRIENDS:

ASSOCIATION OF PERFORMING ARTS PRESENTERS

Note: We tried to include as many NPN friends as possible, but this list is not exhaustive! Please click on the links for more information.

If you have questions about connecting with NPN at APAP, contact Stanlyn Breve at stanlyn@npnweb.org.

NPN’s Next Chapter

Posted: Thursday, November 8th, 2018 at 8:04 pm in News

Dear NPN Friends:

Our strategic plan was born in a time of disruption, not just at NPN, but all around us — in our country, our communities and throughout our world. Over the last two years, this spirit has carried us through a holistic process of transforming the way we work. We’re excited to share some of the major changes and lessons from our planning process as well as what to expect from NPN moving forward.

Transformation takes time, and we have allowed our values to bloom as we have disrupted our processes, resisting the tendency to rush to outcomes. Moving forward, we recognize being nimble and responsive to the evolving needs of our constituents requires an intentional and ongoing practice of critical reflection, imagination and growth.

In this spirit of iteration, there is no final document. We plan to continue this process and share along the journey where we commit to change, reassert our values or set new intentions. I invite you to be part of this dialogue! In addition to the reflections and changes offered below, we’ve included some next steps and ways our colleagues can be part of this work.

Laying the foundation

Our mission articulates the four pillars through which all of NPN’s work — programs, practices and policies — will flow as we move forward:

  1. building power for artists,
  2. advancing racial and cultural equity,
  3. fostering relationship-building and reciprocity, and
  4. working toward systems change.

Mission: NPN contributes to a more just and equitable world by building and shifting power for artists; advancing racial and cultural equity; fostering relationship-building and reciprocity between individuals, institutions and communities; and working towards systems change in arts and philanthropy.**

Our vision reaffirms our long-standing focus on our core areas of impact — artists, our network of Partners, the communities with which our Partners engage and the broader cultural infrastructure (funders, colleagues, policy-makers, etc.) in which NPN is situated.

Vision: We envision a world in which artists have greater power and resources for meaningful, sustainable careers; strong networksmaximize their collective wisdom, resources and leadership; cultural infrastructure reflects deeper partnerships and more equitable practices and communities have greater capacity for civic engagement, representation and joy.**

**While these statements are not yet fully wordsmithed, the concepts and values they embody have been enthusiastically adopted by NPN staff and Board of Directors.

Summary of changes & impact on Network

  • Justice: NPN is committing to justice, as both an outcome and a practice. Advancing equity moves beyond diversity and inclusion, and prioritizes work of, by and for people of color, immigrants and Native and Indigenous peoples; people with disabilities; trans and LGTBQ people; people in rural communities and others who are systemically marginalized.
  • Belonging: We believe systemic disruption calls on us to engage in inclusive, spirited movement-building. We welcome everyone who is committed to the core principles in our mission to be part of our work, and we know our network composition will inevitably change as we put these values into practice. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to advancing equity in our field, and our intention is to foster a collaborative and reciprocal network where our entire learning community participates fully in this work in diverse and responsive ways.
  • On the move: In September 2018, NPN bid farewell to the Arts Estuary, which we operated as an office space for other arts nonprofits, a community gathering place and an event rental venue since 2014. Our new office allows us to streamline operations and opens up new partnerships for programs and gatherings in support of our New Orleans arts community.
  • International exchange: In this time of increased xenophobia, we assert our belief in global humanity. We have discontinued NPN’s stand-alone Performing Americas Program and U.S.-Japan Connection in order to better respond to our Partners’ international exchange activities, engagement with immigrant communities and support for artists working toward global justice. We invite Partners and other presenting organizations to participate in NPN’s survey on international engagement so we can focus our resources and attention where they can have significant and timely impact.
  • Return to “NPN“: In August, the Board of Directors adopted the return to National Performance Network (“NPN“) as our organizational name. This reflects our recent decision to clarify our artistic focus on supporting live, experiential exchange between artists and communities and to integrate the Visual Artists Network into this framework. We recognize “performance” does not adequately describe the full scope of our work, and while our Board considered a full name change at this time we wish to challenge ourselves to reimagine our work while still honoring the legacy embedded within the name NPN.

The process 

NPN approached strategic planning with a holistic examination of our history, operations, programs, finances, context within our sector and alignment with other social justice movements. We set out to address two major areas in parallel: to deepen our work in building a more just and equitable field, and to address significant, long-standing financial challenges. We entered this work with openness and humility, examining NPN’s internal practices, our outward-facing programs and the systems in which we are rooted.

External teams: Our planning engaged with the expertise of consultants Justin Laing and Ian David Moss (overall strategic planning), Nonprofit Finance Fund (financial assessment and capitalization planning), a collaboration with Creative Capital, MAP Fund and New England Foundation for the Arts (peer assessment), our Knowledge Building Initiative (KBI), led by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez and participation in Grantmakers the Arts’ racial equity committee.

Internal teams: Committees of NPN staff, Board members, artists and Partners developed strategies, outcomes and guiding principles around major impact areas within NPN:

  • Team Artists: advance equity through direct support to artists
  • Team Organizations: advance equity through direct support to arts organizations
  • Team Network: build a stronger network committed to systems rooted in justice
  • Team Praxis: model and advocate for more equitable organizational practices
  • Team Vernacular: embody our values in words

What’s next? 

    • Resource library: We are building an online library linking to readings, models for organizational practices, ways to evolve our language, and more. Do you have an article or model you believe is essential for advancing our work? Please share!
    • NPN’s identity: In 2019, we plan to share a new website, logo and branding to embody NPN’s values and offer a platform for more collaborative information-sharing. Stay tuned!
    • Engaging artists: In December, we will host a roundtable of artists to explore how NPN can better build and shift power for artists.We will also develop a survey, in collaboration with Grantmakers in the Arts’ Support for Individual Artists committee, to develop priorities for expanded support for artists within NPN.
    • Founding documents: We are working with writers and visual communicators to fine-tune NPN’s new mission, vision, values and guiding principles.
    • Network composition: In December, our Partners will explore ways we can foster greater collaboration and resource-sharing within the network. And throughout the year, our Partnership committee, Board and staff will be developing a new evaluation process for current and potential Partners. We expect to begin a new process in FY20.
    • Quarterly updates: We want to share more about upcoming opportunities, programming changes, highlights from our network and lessons learned in cultural policy and philanthropy. Look for in-depth quarterly updates, as well as more regular blog posts and social media stories.

    Thank you to all who have walked this journey of reflection and transformation with us, including the NPN staff and Board of Directors, Strategic Planning Chair Shannon Daut and all who have shared feedback, advice and inspiration throughout this process. We are so grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Lambent Foundation for their support of our strategic planning and for being such extraordinary thought partners to NPN.

    Onward!


Caitlin Strokosch
President & CEO

Weekly Roundup // Oct. 22, 2018

Posted: Monday, October 22nd, 2018 at 8:27 pm in E-Newsletters

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