“Outside Perspectives" Provide a Clear View

Recipient: Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Challenge: Develop a plan to stabilize internal growth and look toward long-term sustainability—three years into a transition to a permanent home
Solution: Work with a consultant to produce an organizational assessment report and a multi-year organizational development plan.
Results: Rivendell learned what it already does well. In the struggle to maintain a small arts organization in a competitive environment, the group often focused on budget challenges or artistic dreams beyond its reach. It was gratifying and empowering for Rivendell that this plan emphasized “signs of success.” This energized everyone to look forward to recommendations for how to do it better. Two-years after completion of the grant, Rivendell was been able to realize the impact of implementing the plan. It has seen steady, increased growth in all the areas it identified. It continues to follow the plan that was developed and staff and board are confident in the organization’s ability to continue steps toward sustainability.
Impact: A deep-dive organizational assessment, coupled with identification of key organizational goals, resulted in a three-year organizational development plan.
AWF Support $10,800 to conduct an organizational assessment and develop a three-year organizational plan to support the company’s vision

The Project:

In 2014 Rivendell received a grant of $10,800 from the Arts Work Fund to work with Cheryl Yuen to conduct an organizational assessment and develop a three-year organizational plan to support the company’s vision. The organizational development plan was built from the assessment report and organized recommendations, goals and signs of success around eight operational areas: artistic program; board development and leadership; staffing and human resources; marketing, audience and community engagement; financial management; financial development; systems, technology and culture; and facilities. The assessment report was presented in fall 2015, and the organizational plan was approved in March 2016. Board and staff have set timelines and allocated responsibilities for each activity recommended to ensure ongoing implementation.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of an “outside perspective” is a clear view of what needs to be done. The operational plan organized recommendations by subject area and suggested priorities. Rivendell has been able to customize the recommendations as it continues to put the plan into practice and implement improvements. A primary change to Rivendell’s operations has been the implementation of policies and procedures that define roles and guide processes. These new practices have strengthened the organization by expanding authority and responsibility beyond the founder and by building an administrative structure for the company that is independent of any one person. For example, Rivendell established ongoing committees for audience development, fund development, and board development. These committees benefit Rivendell long-term by broadening leadership in these areas and bringing additional skills, perspectives, and networks to bear on the work.

The Arts Work Fund invests in the financial sustainability, management, governance and growth capacities of small arts and cultural organizations located in the Chicago metropolitan region.

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