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Springboard for the Arts' mission is to support artists with the tools to make a living and a life, and to build just and equitable communities full of meaning, joy, and connection. Founded as an independent nonprofit in 1991, Springboard for the Arts has an innovative 30-year history of supporting artists making a living and a life and artist-led community development work.

With offices in St. Paul and Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and working nationally, we’re a small and ambitious organization that gets things done. We dream big about a different world that attends to an ecosystem that supports everyone to live and love as they wish while treading gently on this only planet we share. Everything we do, we strive to model a more holistic and more equitable ecosystem in order to make a greater difference. If you have questions, or want to learn more, meet our staff, or be in touch!

In 2021, Springboard released a new strategic plan, with updates to our mission, vision, and guiding principles. Read more about what drives our work below, or see the whole plan here.

Springboard for the Arts Mission Graphic

MISSION

Springboard for the Arts' mission is to support artists with the tools to make a living and a life, and to build just and equitable communities full of meaning, joy, and connection.

Artists Are Essential Graphic

ARTISTS ARE ESSENTIAL

We support, celebrate and develop individual creative practice, cultural traditions and the broader field of artists as meaning-makers, storytellers, creative thinkers and change agents, so that they are recognized and valued as key contributors to healthy, equitable communities.

Vibrant & Just Local Economies Graphic

VIBRANT & JUST LOCAL ECONOMIES

We seek to create vibrant and just local economies where artists can make a living and a life.

Human-Centered Systems Graphic

HUMAN-CENTERED SYSTEMS

Through engaging artists, we aim to change policies and structures so that they are informed by and created to support the needs, assets and health of the people who hold the least amount of power within those systems.

EQUITY IS THE FOUNDATION FOR ALL OUR WORK

Springboard’s scope is to provide infrastructure, ecosystem and support to artists and communities across Minnesota, the Upper Midwest and the nation. Springboard is for everyone. We know that to be truly “for everyone” means we need to address the recurring inequities that exist in the arts, nonprofit sector and broader economic systems that have prevented “everyone” from equitable access and opportunities.

Across all our programs we start with our intention to increase accessibility and to prioritize communities that are under-resourced. As a baseline all our programs prioritize:

- People who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Native
 - People who are LGBTQIA+
 - People in rural places
 - People with disabilities

We acknowledge that there are additional communities that experience systemic marginalization and extraction, including because of gender, religious belief, geography, and poverty. While these identities may not be defined in our prioritized groups, our goal is to always ask Who benefits?,” “Who is being left out?andHow can we make this program more accessible to more people?

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

How we work is as important as what we do.

By artists for artists
We incorporate the expertise and experience of artists into creating effective and relevant programs and tools to support the interests and needs of artists and communities. We use the broadest definition of who an artist is and build our work through an intentional and creative process using collaboration, communication, iteration and play.

Abundance over scarcity
The tools we make for artists are intentionally designed to be widely usable, shareable and replicable. We strive to create an ecosystem of support for creative people with as few barriers as possible. We share what we have, what we’ve learned, and our goal is to create welcoming and generous environments, both in person and virtual.

Start with collaboration
We seek mutual respect, trust, commitment, and reciprocity with all our partners. We don’t go it alone. We help artists collaborate with existing resources and systems, both because there is abundant potential in those partnerships, and because systems will be strengthened by artists’ contributions. We build bridges and mechanisms to connect artists as partners in system change.

Think big, start small
Our work is characterized by optimism that change is possible, and belief that the boldness and creativity of artists can address the challenges facing our communities. We try new things and learn by doing. We respond to big issues by piloting lots of little projects in our own neighborhoods and communities. This approach allows us to be responsive in times of great need and plant many seeds for deeper more sustained movement building work.

WHO IS AN ARTIST?

An artist is anyone who thinks creatively about the world and their dynamic place in it. Our definition of artist is broad and includes visual artists, performers, writers, music creators, culture bearers, makers, artisans, storytellers, social conveners, idea purveyors, imaginaries, visionaries, students, teachers, organizers and nurturers. Artists are a powerful natural resource and they exist in every place and community. Springboard helps artists define success for themselves – economic success, recognition, a supportive community, respect, social change, and more. Our work strives to illuminate the value and possibility of a more full and complex conception of artists and their roles.