Send Me An Angel

Written by: Fargo Inc

Photo by J. Alan Paul

TO Metro Angel Investors

FROM The Arts Partnership (TAP)

Investing in an organization with a proven track record that could far exceed expectations in assisting with employee attraction, retention and economic growth across the metro if funded more robustly. In short, TAP needs increased capital to move the dial on the arts’ capacity to serve the metro in its (and your) current needs.

Is your interest piqued? Let me provide answers in anticipation of questions you may have

Who are your current supporters?

TAP has many supporters, but you could reach out to Sanford, Forum Communications, Gate City Bank, Bell Bank or any of the three City Mayors. Each of these entities has a long history of supporting The Arts Partnership.

We continue to hone our business acumen through professional development opportunities and extensive meetings and readings from leaders in the field.

This past year alone, I traveled to the CEOs for Cities conference (now renamed Forward Cities) where I met with leaders from all across the country and learned about a number of important initiatives happening in other communities. My biggest takeaway was that if we are waiting for someone else to “fix” our community, we’re going to be waiting a long time. We are the leaders to make the changes, so get together and get to work.

I met with Richard Florida of “The Rise of the Creative Class” fame to learn about his new research and book “The New Urban Crisis.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

I was in Washington, DC for Americans for the Arts Advocacy Day and met with staffers from both Senator Heitkamp’s and Congressman Cramer’s offices, as well as connecting with arts leaders and other elected officials who understand and support the value of the arts from across the country.

In December at a Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues breakfast, we presented the findings of the incredible comprehensive economic study we conducted with Americans for the Arts on the impact the arts are making in our community. You can find that information on our website, but the short answer is this: in 2015, the arts nonprofit sector generated $41.6 million in this community. That’s a significant piece of the economic metro pie any way you slice it.

And that doesn’t include any of the for-profit arts entities, such as Jade Presents concerts, local galleries, the Gate City Bank theatrical productions at the Dome and more.

If we are waiting for someone else to “fix” our community, we’re going to be waiting a long time. We are the leaders to make the changes, so get together and get to work.

I visited many communities to meet with their arts and economic leaders. We know we don’t need to reinvent the wheel where arts investing is concerned, but rather, we need to introduce more models of excellence that we can adapt to fit our community.

To that end, we received a follow up Consensus Council grant to bring a number of the leaders I met with to our community, so that they are talking peer to peer with our business leaders. Those conversations will happen in the spring of 2019.

Finally, we invited Dave Viotti, founder of Silicon Valley business Smallify, to the Metro to work with business leaders and our board and staff to find and develop the common ground where the business sector understands the value of the arts to serving their bottom lines. We look forward to unveiling those findings throughout this academic year.

What is your value proposition?

TAP cultivates the arts in the community through a four-pronged approach: advocate for and communicate about the arts; create networking opportunities and provide grant funding to arts organizations and artists. In short, we amplify the arts for the benefit of everyone.

There is no metro agency that covers such a broad arts spectrum. TAP represents fine and craft arts. Instrumental and vocal arts, theatrical arts and film. Performance art and dance. Culinary arts. Spoken word and literary arts. Professional, collegiate, K-12 and volunteer arts organizations. Individual artists of all stripes and interests.

  • Our capacity to communicate about the arts is immense. From our weekly relationship with The Forum to our weekly KFGO radio programs, to our blog and social media writing, TAP generates thousands of pieces of content about the arts in the metro every year.

This is content you can use to entice employees and business investors, too.

  • We represent the massive collective that is the arts. We advocate directly and effectively with all three City governments, major corporations, starts ups, foundations, nonprofits, educational centers, service clubs, individuals and more.
  • We will advocate about the quality and quantity of the arts to any investor or employee you are trying to bring to the metro.
  • TAP fields questions, creates content and makes introductions for those who want to engage with the arts. We routinely connect artists or arts organizations to businesses, other nonprofits, schools and more. TAP is the arts hub that connects the various spokes that make the metro thrive.
  • We help your employees think more creatively in the workplace through Art WORKS.
  • We will manage grant dollars for the arts from you efficiently, transparently and effectively.

This year, TAP awarded more than $125,000 to arts organizations through the City Arts Partnership grants, Sanford Health merit awards and Otter Tail Corporation dollars. We awarded nearly $20,000 to artists through the Jade Presents and the Individual Arts Partnership grants. In addition, TAP funded artists at more than $15,000 through our various programs: Community Supported Art, ArtWORKS and ChalkFest.

What do you need?

The Arts Partnership needs increased corporate and private investment to do this work better. The three-year goal is to match the $100,000 City Arts Partnership dollars with corporate giving to double the size of the grants we award annually.

In 2015, the arts nonprofit sector generated $41.6 million in this community.

TAP wants to encourage risk taking through its funding programs. Our largest grant award this year is $10,000; however, with a $20,000 grant, an organization might create new programming aimed specifically at millennials or bring in an outside exhibit that draws in families or leverages those dollars to create a new staff position.

When the arts are able to think and act bigger, their work will have an even more robust impact on the community, which will directly assist in attraction and retention, economic growth and creative placemaking. All these elements are of current concern to those working in the economic, infrastructure and planning of the metro as well as you, the private sector. The Arts Partnership is singularly poised to make this happen with your investment.

I look forward to talking with you about all of this and more.

The Arts Partnership President and CEO Dayna Del Val contributes a monthly column that explores the ways the local arts and business communities can work together to create economic opportunity and add aesthetic value to Fargo.

The Arts Partnership

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Brady Drake is the editor of Fargo INC!