As I See It | Clint Riley | Consulting Associate

Arts and Culture Organizations Spark Creative Strategies to Engage Amid Crisis

When initially faced with canceled performances, shuttered institutions, and postponed events, many arts organizations and cultural venues struggled with the unknown.

How long will this last? Will we survive? What will our new normal look like on the other side of the pandemic?

Undaunted and filled with creative determination, artists responded quickly with new works to inspire us. They returned us to treasured masterpieces, giving much needed comfort or catharsis. Although many were immediately unemployed, they focused on their practice because this is something they can do when possibilities are limited.

Quickly, the most strategic leaders turned to their organization’s purpose: communicating universal humanity and connecting us to one another.

They began facilitating dialogues between artists and consumers in intriguing new ways, utilizing virtual technology as the connector. In just a few days, we saw rise to volumes of past recordings and releases of new performances streaming online, and museums made collections available to view from a new perspective—some with accompanying commentary to enlighten us.

Operationally, we are seeing North Texas nonprofit arts and cultural organizations’ policies evolve and relax. “No refunds, no cancelations” are no more. (Or at least for now.) Box offices are identifying ways to create value today with a promise of tomorrow.

Arts and culture fundraisers are taking this opportunity to reach out to donors and partners simply to check on their well-being. To ask how their families are and ask if the organization can do anything for them. Reminding them we are here to fill a need in our community.

If art is about nothing else, it shares the essence of who we are and the common desire to say “I am here.” Now, as we are more physically distant, we need that human connection more than ever. By tending to its relationships with employees and patrons in real and impactful ways, loyal supporters of arts and cultural organizations will remember them. It is time to get back to basics and focus on our practice. During a crisis, we have the rare opportunity to do something special. This is when we are needed.

About the Author

Clint Riley joined M. Gale & Associates in 2019. He has spent a majority of his career in arts, culture and education. Prior to joining M. Gale, Clint was President and CEO of Texas Center for Arts + Academics. He has also served in positions with The Santa Fe Opera, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Dallas Theater Center, and Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Clint holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in mixed-media printmaking from the College of Santa Fe and he received his BMA from Cox School of Business and his MA in Arts Management from Meadows School of the Arts, both affiliated with Southern Methodist University. Clint and his wife currently reside in Benbrook, Texas. 

Every nonprofit in North Texas has been affected by COVID-19. The M. Gale & Associates team has written insightful blogs that have been posted on our social media and can be found on our website. Topics have covered leadership, working remotely, the role of the professional fundraiser and more. Our team also remains available for one–on–one conversations.

Have questions for Clint? Email him at clint.riley@mgaleassociates.com 

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