Wrapping up the Wallace Initiative

After four great years, we’re wrapping up the Bay Area Wallace Initiative.  We hope you’ll continue to find the resources collected on this blog valuable.  If you’re new here, a good place to start is the overviews of each year of the initiative:

You can also search the different categories to find information on our public workshops, research by Alan Brown and others, artist commissions and much more.

We’d like to leave with you with these thoughts  from Kary Schulman of Grants for the Arts, one of the lead partners in this project (adapted from her remarks at the Beyond Dynamic Adaptability conference) :

In this remarkable four year initiative over $6M went to 11 San Francisco organizations who made a commitment to engage more people deeply in the arts. And almost $1.5M came to The San Francisco Foundation and Grants for the Arts to help many more organizations increase attendance and deepen public engagement.

When we started this program almost exactly 4 years ago: late October 2007, there were organizations which had no website, twitter was what birds did, “bloggers” were found late at night in their pajamas in their parents basements, Facebook had been available to the public for less than a year, and was still seen as a college thing,

“Audience development” was the term we all used when what we really meant was no more than “butts in seats” and the most prominent “audience engagement” technique was the after-show audience talk back. Which sent most audience members fleeing into the night.

And oh, incidentally, California had not yet officially been declared “majority minority”—that is a state where no racial, ethnic or cultural group had a majority of the population.

And also almost exactly, four years ago (December 2007 according to the National Bureau of Economic Research) the recession officially began.

But if the economy supplied the lemons, the Wallace Foundation supplied the sugar for our lemonade:

With a focus on new communication technologies and techniques, and on the changed demographics of the Bay Area, over the last four years The Bay Area Wallace grant:

  1. Awarded $50,000 in commissions to over 40 artists
  1. With our partner Theatre Bay Area, jumpstarted and subsidized the Big List, now the largest audience data base in the US.
  1. Developed a comprehensive Bay Area Arts guide calendar apps for iphone and android
  1. Subsidized two major area-wide conferences: Dynamic Adaptability in January 2010, and Beyond Dynamic Adaptability in October 2011.
  1. Created dozens of workshops, panels and hands on trainings on all aspects of engaging audiences reaching hundreds of organizations and thousands of participants
  1. Subsidized dozens of arts workers to attend conferences and professional development activities
  1. And most importantly, regranted almost half a million dollars directly to dozens of organizations through the NAMP boot camp and Leveraging Social Media projects.

The Wallace initiative was about giving you, the arts community, ideas and tools for engaging and entertaining your audiences and inviting them into fuller participation in your work.  The Bay Area arts community is now far better positioned to reach more people, engage them more deeply, and to share these strategies with others, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous recession, than we were in 2007.  We thank Daniel Windham and everyone at the Wallace Foundation for this investment in our community.

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In 2008, The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) embarked on a four-year funding partnership to encourage systemic and sustainable structural change in the relationships of Bay Area arts organizations to their audiences, supported by the Wallace Foundation. Community offerings during the grant period (2008-2011) included seminars, workshops, large public convenings, implementation grants, development of a regional shared mailing list, and expansion of the SFArts.org website.


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