The Cycle is a framework for guiding growth and ensuring viability within arts organisations. The Cycle was developed by Michael Kaiser and is based upon his years of experience working with arts organisations around the world.
After a lot of research and investment in learning how to apply The Cycle we, at art4u, have decided to adapt it as the model to guide our conversations with arts organisations.
In its simplest form The Cycle is a process that begins with great art. That alone, however is not enough to sustain or build a viable arts organisation. Having made a commitment to great art, you need to market that art to a growing family of supporters, and you have to devote time and resources to growing and nurturing your family of supporters.
Having done that those supporters will purchase tickets, donate funds, become volunteers and help to enlist further members of the family.
Clearly there is a lot more to applying The Cycle than simply following that formula. First and foremost, The Cycle is an assessment tool. It enables you to identify areas for improvement. Secondly it serves to guide your board and management team and lastly it enables you to review progress.
Some people believe The Cycle is centric to the USA where traditionally the bulk of arts funding has been from institutional or individual donors and customers. In other countries, including Australia, there has been a greater reliance upon public funding for arts. This is changing. The recent Commonwealth four year funding process for the arts saw a reduction in funding levels and many applicant organisations miss out on funding. This signals that in future arts organisations in Australia will have to pay a lot more attention to how they build their family – which is, of course dependent upon creating great art.
Creating great art is not just the domain of large, national arts organisations. Art is great because people want to pay money to view or participate. Then afterwards they want to talk about it. Great art can be traditional or it can be edgy. Great art is never boring art. Are you offering something different this year and next year? If not, why would I remain loyal to you?
The Cycle is not a substitute for disciplined business management. In fact, its application demands exactly that. It is not a silver bullet. I can benchmark your organisation against The Cycle very quickly, however it takes a minimum of 3-5 years of disciplined management to acheive high quality outcomes. As business managers you still need to engage in strategic planning, financial planning and implementing both artistic and operational plans.
The time to begin in now.
John Coxon is founder of art4u.australia and has more than two decades experience guiding and advising nonprofit organisations. John established art4u to provide art organisations in Australia with quality advice and guidance. If you would like to discuss The Cycle and how it may be applied to your arts organisation email John on firstname.lastname@example.org