Why Should YOU Take the Building Austin’s Creative Capacity Survey?

Jan 29, 2015 - 10:35 am

The Cultural Arts Division of the Economic Development Department has contracted arts research and consulting firm WolfBrown to conduct an assessment of what professional development opportunities are currently offered in the community. Artists and arts organizations are invited to take the Building Austin's Creative Capacity survey through March 14, 2015.

Why Should YOU Take “Building Austin’s Creative Capacity” Survey?

There’s more to having a successful creative practice than just being creative. In order to produce creative work on an ongoing basis, you need know-how, connections, and access to resources (time, space, money, equipment, materials, and a place to perform, exhibit, or sell your work). Without these, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to produce much work, no matter how great your creative genius is. This is true for nonprofit arts and culture organizations as well as for individual creatives.

With Individual Creatives, some get the resources, support, and infrastructure they need from an employer. Those are individuals whose creative goals line up with the needs of a business or nonprofit organization. As salaried employees, they may be in the rare position to focus on their creative work, while someone else takes care of the fundraising, bookkeeping, tech support, marketing – the business-side of their work.

Mostly, Creatives have to make their creative practice happen on their own steam. Some Creatives support their creative practice by working a day job. Some become the sole proprietor of their own business or go on to create a nonprofit organization around their creative work. For many, the ability to maintain their creative practice depends on a mix of things: doing as much as possible themselves, keeping their costs low, and getting help and support from friends and colleagues when they need it.

Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations also need know-how, connections, and access to resources in order to continue producing work that audiences and consumers desire to access. Similar to the passionate individual creative following their vision, the work of organizations is driven by the organization’s vision and their public benefit mission.

But they still need that business acumen to succeed in a world that is short on financing and that must constantly deal with space and resource constraints.  Small, emerging organizations are building their business capacity at the same time they are building and producing creative work to share with their constituents. Mid-range and large organizations may have some similar issues as the smaller organizations, but because these organizations may own or have long-term rent and numbers of staff to support, they must constantly address sustainability issues.

In developing a “Needs Assessment” of Austin’s Creative Sector, we soon adopted the phrase “Building Creative Capacity” to describe our effort to take a comprehensive look at the support structures needed for Austin’s individual creatives and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations to perform at their optimum level and to build capacity and sustainability over time.

With the two surveys that are a part of the Building Austin’s Creative Capacity: Assessing the Service Needs of Our Creative Community initiative, the Cultural Arts Division seeks to gain a better understanding of what Austin’s Creatives need in order to “take their creative practices to the next level;” that is, to increase their level of production, the quality of their work, and/or the sustainability of their operations.

To assess the current level of Creative Capacity in the community it’s important that we hear from as many of you individuals and organizations as possible in order to understand your specific challenges and needs. And, in thinking about building Austin’s creative capacity as a whole we also need to think about networking and coordination among organizations and individuals, so that all Creatives are able to find out about, access, and take advantage of the opportunities and resources that will help them strengthen and grow their creative practice.

In a culturally vibrant and creative community such as Austin, there’s often someone who knows the answer to your question, who has the resources that you need, or can teach you what you want to learn— you just need to know who that person is. Beyond making those connections, however, there are likely some gaps in the support infrastructure that can be addressed strategically in order to help Austin’s Creatives sustain and expand their creative practices. Identifying those gaps and opportunities is one of the goals of this initiative and the key to Building Austin’s Creative Capacity.

Whether you are an Individual Creative or you represent a Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organization, please take Building Austin's Creative Capacity SURVEY by March 14, 2015. The City of Austin recognizes the contribution that you all make to the Austin economy, the cultural vitality of the City, and the social wellbeing of the community. The information gleaned from the Survey will enable the Cultural Arts Division and other service providers to identify, develop, and deliver programming, workshops, and relevant topics to address your needs in the most effective manner possible.

Collage of artists and workshop participants