By Laura Zabel
Published on National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1/27/2016
Every city has just six artists. Or six community leaders. Or six innovators. I’m kidding … maybe your city has seven. I make this joke because in just about every community I visit, there are about six people that show up on everyone’s list for funding, for recognition, for recommendation. These six artists, leaders and innovators are almost always doing really amazing work, work that is powerful, important and in need of support. They’re at the top of everyone’s list for a reason – but they can’t do everything.
Effective place-based change needs to be rooted in broad and diverse citizen power. Every community needs a steady supply of leaders, artists and innovators with the capacity, agency and skills to have a positive impact – not just a chosen few. To contribute to long-term impact and equity, we need to look beyond, or behind, the usual suspects and leaders. Nonprofits and foundations need to work in a hyper-local way to help build and recognize leadership that is truly from and of the communities we hope to serve. But how should we go about this?
In our work at Springboard for the Arts, we are obsessed with systems and mechanisms that support power and agency of local creative leaders. Our goal is to foster direct relationships and capacity in the communities where we work, and we measure success by the degree to which those relationships can continue without us.
Read more here.