Since our founding in 1985, Arts & Business Council of Chicago (A&BC) has engaged with over 1,100 unique arts organizations and entrepreneur artmakers across our city’s 77 culturally diverse communities to provide the business support and expertise they need to grow and thrive.
We believe that our services provide effective capacity-building to independent artist-entrepreneurs and arts organizations through sequenced, equitable support as they build balanced, sustainable businesses and develop capable, engaged leaders. Furthermore, we believe ourselves to be sensitive to the cultural and organizational contexts that matter to these partners and artmakers. But without data and input from the people and organizations most directly affected by our work, we couldn’t be sure.
In May of 2022 we began to gather information in order to validate our assumptions and uncover new insights. Our study was comprised of 14 preliminary stakeholder interviews followed by a broader survey sent to over 800 members of the same stakeholder groups, which were: Leaders and board members of arts organizations served by A&BC Past and current Business Volunteers for the Arts® Independent artist-entrepreneurs who have engaged with A&BC Individuals representing corporate supporters of A&BC.
We asked these stakeholders for candid feedback about our effectiveness against our core organizational objectives. We’re grateful for and humbled by both the positives and the encouragement to do better. We heard three themes most prominently:
CONNECTIONS – We draw together individuals who benefit personally and professionally from knowing one another and building community and camaraderie together.
LASTING IMPACT – We build capacity in Chicago’s cultural and business sectors and develop confident and capable arts leaders.
RELEVANCE – Our expertise is meaningful and effective because it is specific to Chicago’s creative economy, and provides tangible, action-oriented guidance to those we serve.
Our colleague Pierre Lockett, Founder and Executive Director of Forward Momentum Chicago (FMC) expresses what makes our work unique and essential in these times.
“The thing that I find most significant [about] BVA is that knowledgeable experts in their field [worked] with us hand in hand, side by side, not to create cookie cutter processes or outcomes, but to help us develop projects that would really benefit us as an organization. And while I received important information to guide the organization, I also had an opportunity to talk about some of the personal growth areas that I wanted to excel. I don’t think we would be anywhere near as successful as we are today without the support we’ve received from [BVA].”
Learn More about our work with Forward Momentum HERE
Read More about the Impact Report HERE