Five Foundations Collaborate to Launch ArtsLab Initiative

The Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation has announced a collaboration with the Bush, F.R. Bigelow, Mardag, and Saint Paul foundations to bolster community vitality and cultural life in portions of Minnesota.

ArtsLab, as the three-year, $1.85 million initiative is called, will work to build programmatic and operational capacity among small arts groups in the Twin Cities and northwest Minnesota. By late summer, the collaborative will choose eight nonprofits from the seven-county Twin City metro area and eight nonprofits from northwest Minnesota — areas chosen for their relatively high concentrations of existing arts organizations — to participate in the initiative.

ArtsLab will provide participants with tools and activities to maximize their depth and stability; strengthen the arts leadership pool; and improve the quality of life in the communities they serve. To promote shared learning and best practices while strengthening organizational infrastructures, the selected participants will be divided into two peer groups, each addressing the unique challenges and needs of the communities they serve. In addition to modest operational support, the initiative will provide an in-depth organizational assessment process, quarterly peer-learning gatherings, consultative support, and opportunities for distance learning.

"As a collaborative, ArtsLab benefits from the shared knowledge, relationships, and financial backing of some of our region's most dedicated arts advocates," said Carleen Rhodes, CEO of the Saint Paul Foundation. "Joining forces with such committed colleagues is exciting, capitalizing on years of combined investments to help vital arts leaders do their best work to support all our communities."

"Funders' Collaborative Launches $1.85 Million ArtsLab." McKnight Foundation Press Release 01/14/2008.