Artists Thrive aims to identify the things that help artists pursue their vision and to enable communities to benefit from the arts in all aspects of life. Resources and tools within Artists Thrive help artists, arts organizations, and other groups that work with artists collaborate and craft meaningful stories about why art-making matters.
The initiative began in 2016 when a group of arts professionals and artists produced the first draft of this field-wide assessment rubric. Through multiple rounds of feedback, Artists Thrive was publicly launched in 2017. Artists Thrive is driven by a leadership team of artists and diverse collaborators from different sectors and communities across the country and is supported by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.
To understand what could be possible with Artists Thrive, consider this story of systems-change:
In 2009, the Community Food Security Coalition created Whole Measures for Community Food Systems as a national, field-wide planning and evaluation framework. They wanted a holistic approach to food access, food producers, and the various impacts of food production and consumption. This framework helped the sector identify its core, shared values, and expanded their measures of success beyond outputs. By including measures such as justice and fairness, strong communities, healthy people, and thriving economies, they underscored the complex and interconnected nature of their work. As more and more organizations used this Whole Measures tool, improved practices started to go to scale and perceptions of what was important to the field began to shift. Over time, this tool gained momentum and became a true driving force for the sector, even ultimately being embraced by the USDA as a framework for working in communities and schools across the U.S. More details about the Whole Measures suite of tools can be found at: www.wholecommunities.org/resources.
Artists Thrive began by reading a book...
The Social Profit Handbook: The Essential Guide to Setting Goals, Assessing Outcomes and Achieving Success for Mission-Driven Organizations by David Grant
The Social Profit Handbook offers those who lead, govern, and support mission-driven organizations and businesses new ways to assess their impact in order to improve future work rather than merely judge past performance. For-profit institutions measure their success primarily by monetary gains. But nonprofit institutions are different; they aim for social profit. How do you measure the success of these social profit institutions, where missions are focused on the well-being of people, place, and planet? Drawing upon decades of leadership in schools and the foundation and nonprofit worlds, author David Grant offers strategies—from creating mission time to planning backwards to constructing qualitative assessment rubrics—that help organizations take assessment back into their own hands, and improve their work as a result. His insights, illustrated by numerous case studies, make this book a unique organizational development tool for a wide range of nonprofit organizations, as well as emerging mission-based social venture businesses, such as low-profit corporations and B Corps. The Social Profit Handbook presents assessment and evaluation not as ends in themselves but as the path toward achieving what matters most in the social sector. The result: more benefits to society and stronger, more unified, more effective organizations prepared to make the world a better place.
2015 - Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation grantees convene and share interest in creating a formative assessment tool. A subset of this group agrees to craft the initial tool.
2016 - Initial surveys (I Am An Artist and I Work With Artists) are shared for feedback.
2017 - Inaugural Summit in Berea, KY (Summit is also hosted here in 2018 & 2019)
2020 - Shift to an online Summit due to COVID-19 pandemic (continues online in 2021)
2021 - Working groups meet virtually to revise existing survey tools and craft the first draft of the I Teach Artists in Higher Ed survey tool.
2022 - 6th Annual Summit (and first hybrid Summit) held in Winston-Salem, NC & online. pSnap partnership launched to offer goal software to community. A new website is released with the revised survey tools.