The research shows we can help.

When a small cohort of artists took advantage of Pentacle’s nextSteps support system, they achieved 39% higher income over the course of 18 months. Let us help you reach the next level by putting our expertise to work for you.

Executive Summary: Top Takeaways

  • ART made a significant difference in the lives and artistic work of eight New York City-based artists in the capacity-building cohort, helping them move to the next level of sustainability.
  • More than 70% of the capacity cohort met or exceeded projected financial targets.
  • The average income growth FY17-19 for the capacity group was 39% in contrast to 6% for the comparison group.
  • Comprehensive team-based administrative services accelerated the development and implementation of short and long-term planning, a more robust artistic vision, and administrative infrastructure for dance makers in the capacity group.
  • Team building among artist, mentor and administrator entailed developing clear roles, responsibilities, and communications strategies.
  • Developing trusting relationships and creating successful strategies took about one year before results began to appear.
  • Artists in the capacity cohort felt that the working relationship with their administrative staff was one of the most productive aspects of the program. All artists expressed a desire to continue working with their administrator beyond the program period.
  • All eight artists in the comparison cohort stayed engaged and participated from 2017-2019. They received a baseline and exit assessment from the external team that provided analysis and recommendations about creating an even stronger administrative foundation and business infrastructure. (One artist could not attend the exit assessment due to touring performances.)
  • An ongoing challenge for most participants in both cohorts was securing unrestricted general operating expenses to support staff positions, increase compensation, and fund marketing and communications.
  • Many ART participants in both cohorts noted efforts to push the process to improve equity, access, and inclusion within the dance ecosystem comprised of presenters, festivals, artist residencies, and financial supporters (individuals, foundations, corporations, and government).

PENTACLE BACKGROUND

For over 40 years, Pentacle has fostered the careers of a broad range of performing artists/companies who reside in the U.S. and abroad. At its core, Pentacle believes in the unique and critical role the artist plays in our society, and that art and artists inspire communities to seek to attain their highest aspirations for the world. Pentacle collaborates with performing artists to design and provide unique and robust programs of support at critical stages in their careers, while broadening the sphere of influence performing artists can attain through cross-sector partnerships in multiple communities across NYC and the U.S. Pentacle has helped many artists move from emergent to renowned over the past forty years including Urban Bush Women, Eiko and Koma, Mark Morris, Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, David Rousseve, Michelle Dorrance, Reggie Wilson, Kyle Abraham, LA Dance Project, Nora Chipaumire and more recently John Heginbotham, Kyle Marshall and Ephrat Asherie.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS and METHODOLOGY

Pentacle engaged the services of Hollis Headrick/Arts and Cultural Strategies (ACS) at the outset of the project to design and implement a methodology for evaluation. ACS employed two complementary research tracks. The first was a Developmental Evaluation (Patton 2010) to develop rapid, real-time feedback in user-friendly forms that helped to inform Pentacle’s organizational learning as ART was developed and to measure how well the program functioned and changed over time. The second part was to assess the impact and outcomes of the ART hypothesis. It used mixed methods: self-reported baseline data (October 2016) and exit data (June 2019) taken from questionnaires completed by participants in both the capacity-building group (cohort) (n=8) and comparison group (cohort) (n=8) and pre and post-interviews. Research instruments also included surveys with open and closed questions to track the evolution of artistic vision, number and types of performances, changes in administrative structure, and financial position. Mentors for capacity group artists submitted quarterly reports (n=10 for each artist) that documented the extent to which artists made progress against key indicators from January 2017-June 2019. [See assessment and mentor report forms in the Appendix].

Capacity and comparison group artists attended baseline and exit assessment interviews that reviewed artistic vision, performances, residencies, and administrative practices that were in place at the beginning and at the close of the ART program. The same team of two experienced independent advisors from the dance community used a comprehensive questionnaire completed by each artist to guide the baseline and exit interviews. The topics included:

  • Artistic mission and vision
  • Performance history, touring, and repertory creation
  • Financial history
  • Artistic and administrative expenses
  • Earned income
  • Contributed income
  • Administrative structure

To assess the possible respondent bias in self-reported baseline and exit questionnaires and surveys in the capacity group, data was correlated with quarterly mentor reports, administrator reports, a ClickTime timesheet application, and artist interviews with independent assessors to improve validity. The reliability of self-reported measures from the comparison group may have decreased somewhat without the correlation of administrator and mentor reports.

The research design tested Pentacle’s hypothesis that by providing eight dance artists with comprehensive, capacity-building services over 2.5 years, at least 75% of those artists would increase their earned income, contributions, and in-kind resources. In addition, because of the limited resources widely available for dance artists, it was hypothesized that this group of eight artists would experience an increased amount of various artistic successes over other similarly qualified artists in the comparison cohort who were pursuing the same goals, but without access to the same infrastructural resources.

CAPACITY-BUILDING GROUP PROJECTED OUTCOMES:

  1. Short-term: Artistic Vision and Capacity-Building Plan: All eight artists will develop with mentors: a) an artistic vision plan and b) a management plan to support their unique artistic vision.
  2. Long-term: Capacity-Building Plans: Artists will have access to tools that help them build capacity, including a) digital marketing materials, b) general use fundraising materials, c) enhanced social media presence, and d) a financial framework to support ongoing fiscal operations, budgeting, grant writing, board development and regulatory reporting requirements.
  3. Increased Income: Six out of eight artists (75%) will experience the following results: a) increased earned income by 10%, b) increased residencies/in-kind resources by 10%, and c) increased contributions by 15%.
FootPath Diversity Data

COMPARISON GROUP PROJECTED OUTCOMES

1) Short-term: Artistic and Financial Assessments: All eight artists will receive baseline and exit assessments identical to those of the capacity group, highlighting existing strengths and areas that need attention.

2) Understanding & Exposure. Six of eight (75%) will have a better understanding of their current financial and artistic position by the conclusion of ART and will experience increased public exposure after the public release of the ART Report.

ARTIST SELECTION

In summer 2016, ART issued an open call to a group of diverse dance artists to submit Letters of Inquiry for the program who would be vital to advancing new voices in the New York City Dance Community. The eligibility criteria stated that applicants:

  • be an artist based in New York City, leading an artistic entity or identify as an independent dance artist, with financial annual income less than $250,000,
  • be willing to participate in either the capacity-building or comparison group for the 30 months of the study,
  • provide documentation of artistic and financial history,
  • show artistic merit demonstrated by a body of work through work samples, and
  • have an articulated vision that conveys a desire and commitment to develop their careers and move to the next level of visibility and sustainability.

Eighty-one (81) responses were received, and in the summer and fall of 2016 two advisory review panels comprised of independent artists, presenters, managers, and funders were convened, facilitated by the program researcher from ACS. Designed to be limited in scope, it was important to create two target groups that closely mirrored each other in order to have accurate and productive research. The panel process recommended 18 artists for the project, using an aggregate matching process that was informed by a matrix of over 20 attributes documenting the artistic, financial, and administrative dimensions of each artist. The 16 artists in the final selection exhibited the same general composition of relevant characteristics.

The participants were divided equally into a capacity and a comparison group. As dance makers, the two groups exhibited an almost identical financial status profile, functioning as either a sponsored project or a 501(c)3 not for profit organization. The capacity group included seven sponsored projects and one not for profit organization. The comparison group had six sponsored projects and two not for profit organizations.

Each artist in the capacity group received a $2,000 stipend restricted to support the implementation of relevant ART infrastructure projects. The comparison group received no direct services. Each artist in the comparison group was awarded a $1,500 honorarium for participation in ART, disbursed in three installments in 2016, 2017, and in July 2019 when the program ended.

Capacity-building cohort: Jeremy McQueen/The Black Iris Project, Stefanie Batten Bland/Company SBB, raja feather kelly/the feath3r theory, Francesca Harper/The Francesca Harper Project, Kimberly Bartosik/daela, Davalois Fearon/Davalois Fearon Dance, Will Rawls, and Antonio Ramos/Antonio Ramos and the Gang Bangers.

Comparison cohort: Andre M. Zachery/Renegade Performance Group, Bryan Strimpel & Shaina Branfman/B.S. Movement [BAIRA], John Zullo/Zullo Raw Movement, Marjani Forte-Saunders/Marjani Forte & Works, Miro Magloire/New Chamber Ballet, Ni’Ja Whitson/The NWA Project, Pam Tanowitz/Pam Tanowitz Dance, and Zoe Rabinowitz/Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre.

The 17 New York City artists who participated in ART are diverse in their demographics — the majority, 60%, are artists of color, 50% are women-led companies, and one artist identified as non-binary. The demographic profile of such a small sample of dance makers is not comparable to broad comprehensive surveys of the New York City fiscally sponsored dance artists and the wider dance community conducted by Dance NYC in collaboration with several research partners. Refer to Advancing Fiscally Sponsored Dance Artists & Projects 2017 and State of NYC Dance and Workforce Demographics 2016 for detailed analysis of this sector.

THE SUPPORT FRAMEWORK: MENTORS and ADMINISTRATORS

Complementary to the process of selecting artists, Pentacle issued an open call for arts administration mentors/advisers to work with a designated artist from the capacity-building cohort on an on-going basis to 1) create an artistic vision plan, 2) set goals for capacity building to support the vision plan, 3) create a work plan with support from a dedicated ART administrative associate, 4) meet regularly, and 5) adjust the work plan as needed to accommodate any changes in the dance environment or the artist’s goals. Mentors/advisors were selected who had an average of 20 years experience in arts administration, knowledge of the marketplace, excellent leadership skills, good communication skills, and a commitment to help emerging artists. The mentors could work as many as 200 hours with their artist during the 2.5 years. Due to the high level of expertise among the mentors and their employment at other organizations, it is unlikely that the ART capacity group would have had access to them outside of this program.

Listed below are the mentors who were engaged. ART managers matched mentors with each artist based on the artist’s ART program application, goals for ART participation, and the qualifications and experience of the mentor. After adjustments, the final artist/mentor teams were:

  • Barbara Bryan, Executive Director, Movement Research and Will Rawls
  • Phil Chan, Cultural Curator, IVY, Cathy Zimmerman, independent curator, producer and consultant, and Jeremy McQueen
  • Boo Froebel, Consultant, DeVos Institute of Arts Management and Kimberly Bartosik and Francesca Harper
  • Fernando Maneca, Marketing & Communications Director, BAX and Antonio Ramos
  • June Poster, consultant, former booking representative Rena Shagan Associates and Davalois Fearon
  • Brian Rogers, Co-Founder & Artistic Director of The Chocolate Factory Theater and raja feather kelly
  • Sarah A.O. Rosner, Founder & Owner of A.O.PRO(+ductions); Producer, Gibney and Stefanie Batten Bland

To support the relationship and administrative goals developed by the artists and mentors, new ART Administrative Associates (the administrators) were hired, most from within Pentacle who were employed full time in other Pentacle departments. Senior management at Pentacle coached administrators when they encountered unfamiliar tasks requested by artists and when extra support was needed to meet deadlines for fundraising, special events, or performances.

ART administrators served as a liaison between Pentacle and the artist-mentor-administrator team, and they worked an average of 10 hours a week dedicated to serving one or more artists to provide tailored administrative and management support.

Tasks may have included (not in priority order):

Organizational Support

  • Meetings with the artist and/or mentor to establish priority assignments for the artist
  • Bookkeeping, fiscal reporting and/or allocation

Artistic Administration

  • Rehearsal scheduling and dancer correspondence
  • Presenter research
  • Contract revisions

Development

  • Funding research and management of grant schedules
  • Grant writing and individual donor correspondence

Marketing and Promotion

  • Creation and management of social media and/or marketing content
  • Website assistance

The support framework for the capacity group was implemented beginning in January 2017. Pentacle organized initial meetings with each team of administrator, artist, and mentor. After the initial meetings with their artists, the mentors completed baseline reports, which outlined each artist’s artistic vision and capacity plan. The administrators began an online performance calendar for capacity group artists to track and promote their performances.

Mentors submitted their first quarterly report in April 2017 documenting the goals and activities that took place with their artist from January-March 2017. Mentors continued to submit quarterly reports throughout the ART program (January 2017-June 2019) providing a running record to track and assess changes in the artist’s progress in the following areas: Artistic and Vision Process (including current and pending performances), Income (Earned and Unearned), Administrative Structure, and Opportunities (if the artist has taken advantage of announcements or initiatives from Pentacle).

In February 2017, the ART team met to discuss new internal procedures to guide how administrators work with their artists. For example, administrators may work only at the Pentacle office, with the exception of off-site events approved by the program director, and administrators must submit their hours dedicated to ART at the end of each month. To better track administrative and mentor hours, Pentacle began using ClickTime, a timesheet application that integrated with Pentacle’s Salesforce database. The ClickTime reports allowed Pentacle staff and researchers to examine how much time administrators and mentors were spending on tasks and projects with the artists.

The complete 2017-19 ClickTime snapshot summarizes the top five priority tasks on which mentors and administrators focused approximately 75% of their time (out of 100%).

FootPath Snapshot Data